Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

Queen – Hot Space


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side one, Double Plus (A++) on side two, this copy took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best copies – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the others
  • Disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music all found their way onto this 1982 release
  • The monster hit Under Pressure with none other than Mr David Bowie closes out side two

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Foreigner – Head Games

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Head Games

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  • This outstanding copy of the band’s third album earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • One of the better copies from our recent shootout – big, bold and lively with a punchy bottom end 
  • With plenty of energy, killer rock bass, and clear, present vocals, this pressing has all the key qualities we look for in a Foreigner record
  • 4 stars: “Foreigner continued its platinum winning streak on Head Games, the band’s third album… and the supergroup’s successes would continue well into the ’80s.”

This copy showed us just how good this album can sound — BIG, rich and ENERGETIC.

As I’m sure you know, there is a Mobile Fidelity Half-Speed Mastered version of this album currently in print and I can only imagine how terrible it sounds. If any of our Hot Stamper customers have purchased the current release, I would be interested in hearing how you think it stacks up against this copy.

What’s key to the sound of Foreigner’s records? Obviously, the big one would have to be ENERGY, a subject we have discussed at length here on the site.

Next would be punchy ROCK BASS, followed by clear, present vocals. Those would be the big three. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Penguin

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout  
  • This early Reprise LP is a huge step up from most – this copy is full-bodied, smooth and musical – classic Fleetwood Mac sound
  • One of my favorite songs on the album is one of Christine McVie’s best from this period, Did You Ever Love Me – on this pressing it’s rich and sweet exactly the way it should be
  • “Fleetwood Mac’s first album made after the departure of Danny Kirwan features the additions of guitarist Bob Weston and singer Dave Walker… This album gave Fleetwood Mac its best U.S. chart showing yet…”

This is the rare copy that strikes the right balance between richness and texture. So many copies sacrifice one for the other, but not here. Fully extended on both top and bottom, with big bass and plenty of energy, this pressing is getting Penguin right. 

On the best pressings, the sound is positively JUMPING out of the speakers in a way that is completely unexpected. We often talk about the size of the soundfield on a particular pressing, side to side, bottom to top, and even more often about the energy found on one copy relative to another. On this copy, we were surprised by a Penguin that was bigger and more energetic than most of the pressings we heard in our shootout. (more…)

Art Garfunkel – Breakaway

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Both sides are transparent, open, and spacious, with dramatically more life and energy than the typical pressing. The bottom end on this copy is surprisingly meaty as well, with far more punch than most of the pressings we played. 

The keyboards are full and rich, the guitars ring just right. This copy is killer in practically every way. You will be hard-pressed to imagine it sounding much better than it does here.

The problem with this album is that, for whatever reason, practically every copy you find is, to some degree, grainy, harsh and shrill in the loudest passages of the music. When the music gets loud, the sound often becomes strained and unpleasant. A copy like this one that doesn’t do that is the exception, not the rule. (more…)

King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues In Aspic – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

For King Crimson, it doesn’t get much better than this original Island SUNRAY Label British Import LP. It sounds great in all aspects — quiet, TRANSPARENT, DYNAMIC and full of energy. The sound JUMPS right out of the speakers practically the instant the needle hits the groove. (You better watch your volume knob if you value your equipment!) 

Like any KC record, this album alternates its soft parts and its heavy parts. The soft parts sound oh so sweet and delicate, each intricacy revealed to perfection by the out-of-this-world recording quality, while the heavy parts sound big and bold, augmented by Fripp’s meaty, fuzzed-out guitar and Bill Bruford’s savage percussion.

What’s uncanny about this pressing is how the softness and heaviness play off each other, transitioning into one another, without losing a thing. With most prog rock records, once the bombast starts kicking in, all the intricacies of the midrange and top end get washed out. But when this pressing’s rockin’, the subtle contribution of the mellotron in the background can still clearly be recognized, floating above the clouds, tying everything together, with all of Bill Bruford’s intricate percussion effects along for the ride. (more…)

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Charisma double LP was the uncontested winner of our shootout, earning a whopping 12 PLUSES across all four sides! In fact, this is BY FAR the best we’ve ever heard this album sound. After our last shootout — in which no side earned a top grade — we had almost given up hope of finding a true White Hot Stamper copy. Well, folks, our perseverance has finally paid off and this copy is the proof! When you find a killer pressing this complex, theatrical music really WORKS. 

No other copy in our shootout came close to this one. The bass, which can lack weight on the typical copies, is big and solid throughout, and the vocals are present and rich with great ambience. Bigger and more present, richer and fuller, with more space and transparency, this copy is absolutely As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) for this album!

This recording is always going to have a few issues. Certain tracks — particular the more rocking, guitar-heavy material — are ALWAYS going to get a little hard in the midrange, but on a good copy the issue is much less apparent and doesn’t get in the way of the music. And the more open, spacious keyboard and acoustic -driven songs which comprise the bulk of the album can sound really wonderful! (more…)

Sting – Nothing Like The Sun

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Nothing Like The Sun

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Sting’s killer double album from 1987 arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound for sides one and three and outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on sides two and four. The sound here is clearly bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any other contender in our recent shootout. Features phenomenal contributions from legendary musicians, including Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Hiram Bullock.

Note that this copy won the shootout for side four. No copy earned the full Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grade on that side, which basically means that the first three sides of the album sounded better than the fourth for some reason. If we had had five more pressings to play, it’s likely that one of them would have had sound comparable to the first three sides, but that would have made for one very long afternoon. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Some Nice Things I’ve Missed

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Some Nice Things I’ve Missed

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • The album features Sinatra singing some of the biggest hits of the day by artists such as Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Jim Croce, and Bread
  • Released in 1974, this is probably the last good album the man made outside of She Shot Me Down from 1981

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The Flying Burrito Bros. – Burrito Deluxe

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Burrito Deluxe

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  • A superb copy with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are exceptionally low-distortion, lively, solid and dynamic – just what this music needs
  • This vintage pressing has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 49 year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from those tapes) 
  • “Indeed with this album, Hillman and Parsons carved a substantial place in music history as one of the most influential bands of all time.” 

This vintage A&M pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Phil Collins – Hello, I Must Be Going!

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Hello, I Must Be Going!

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  • As Good As It Gets Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish for Collins’ second studio album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • This is the last of the albums Phil recorded in analog, and of course the sound is big and rich – you will not believe all the space and ambience on this copy
  • Includes Phil’s killer version of the Supreme’s classic, “You Can’t Hurry Love”
  • 4 stars: “… the album is still a winning follow-up that shows Collins to be in full control of songwriting and production. It may be a shade less impressive than Face Value, but that was a hard act to follow. 

Fortunately, the recording quality of this album is still analog and can be excellent, thanks to hugely talented engineer and producer Hugh Padgham (Peter Gabriel, Genesis, The Police, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.). (more…)