Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

Fleetwood Mac – Heroes Are Hard To Find

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  • A STUNNING copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first 
  • Both sides here are super clean, clear and open, providing lots of space for the musicians to occupy. It’s not midrangy, but instead, rich and full, with sweet, silky vocals. This is the sound you want on Heroes Are Hard to Find
  • “… the album is one of their most cohesive yet diverse… Heroes is a minor gem that retains its effortless pop charms and contains some buried jewels in the extensive Fleetwood Mac catalog.” – All Music 

Biggest Problems

Hard, midrangy vocals are far and away the biggest problem we ran into on copy after copy. The other problems we encountered are the ones common to all records: smear, lack of top or bottom end, opacity, etc.

What to Listen For

On side one, listen for the quality of the tambourine reproduction on the first track. If your copy has no top end — most will not — that tambourine will underwhelm and the brass that carries the song will probably lack the kind of harmonic extension and clarity that help distinguish the different horns from each other. They won’t sound right individually or collectively. (more…)

Toto – IV

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  • You’ll find stunning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this copy of Toto’s Must-Own Masterpiece 
  • Huge and clear with the kind of smooth, rich, Tubey sound you sure don’t hear on too many ’80s pop albums
  • Rosanna and Africa are both knockouts here – we’ve rarely heard them with this kind of weight, scale and energy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “It was do or die for Toto on the group’s fourth album, and they rose to the challenge… Toto IV was both the group’s comeback and its peak …Toto’s best and most consistent record.

If more records sounded like this we would be out of business (and the CD would never have been invented). Thankfully we were able to find this TOTO-ly Tubey Magical copy and make it available for our customers who love the album. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – 4 Way Street

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It’s not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four!

Three Shootout Winning White Hot Stamper sides out of four! These three sides handily blow other copies out of the water, with the size, space, presence and energy that only the finest pressings are capable of. If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this is the only copy that will let you do it. No other copy we’ve ever played rocked the way this one rocked! For three quarters of the “concert”, YOU ARE THERE. (more…)

Dire Straits – Communique

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

Forget the dubby domestic pressings and whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – the UK LPs are the only way to fly on Communique. If you’re a fan of the band’s debut release, you’ll find much to like on this underappreciated follow up. (more…)

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This copy is a FLUKE — we guarantee you have never heard a copy sound even remotely this good. We sure haven’t, and we’ve probably played fifty or more. This copy found itself running way ahead of the pack and never looked back. Two A+++ sides back to back — what are the chances?

Telegraph Road does something on this LP that you won’t hear on one out of twenty pressings: It ROCKS. It’s got ENERGY and DRIVE. (more…)

Dire Straits – Making Movies

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

Making Movies finally makes the grade on this White Hot Stamper copy! We’ve tried this one a few times over the years, very rarely having anything to show for it. The typical copy of this album tends to be dry, spitty, grainy, and somewhat dull, robbing the music of much of its charm. These guys obviously know their way around a studio — many of you must know just how good their first album can sound — so we’ve always been frustrated at what we hear on copy after copy that hits out table. 

Making Movies finally makes the grade on this White Hot Stamper copy! We’ve tried this one a few times over the years, very rarely having anything to show for it. The typical copy of this album tends to be dry, spitty, grainy, and somewhat dull, robbing the music of much of its charm. These guys obviously know their way around a studio — many of you must know just how good their first album can sound — so we’ve always been frustrated at what we hear on copy after copy that hits out table. (more…)

Styx – In Pieces Of Eight

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  • A superb sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Here is the kind of sound we want on our ELP, Yes and Queen-like multi-layered Proggy Pop Rock – big, full-bodied and lively
  • 4 Stars: Styx’s feisty, straightforward brand of album rock is represented best by “Blue Collar Man,” an invigorating keyboard and guitar rush… reaching number 21, with the frolicking romp of “Renegade” edging in at number 16 only six months later… the rest of the album includes tracks that rekindle some of Styx’s early progressive rock sound, only cleaner. Tracks like “Sing for the Day,” “Lords of the Ring,” and “Aku-Aku” all contain slightly more complex instrumental foundations…”

Who likes their Wall of Sound small and closed-in? Certainly not Big Speaker guys like us. By all accounts this band wanted their records to sound good, or at least as good as their contemporaries (and the bands that inspired them, name-checked above). There’s no shortage of production polish here and on the best pressings the sound really works. (more…)

Carly Simon – What to Listen For

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Carly Simon – Carly Simon

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Too many copies we played erred on the hi-fi-ish side, with not enough warmth. The copies that sound incredibly clean and clear just didn’t do much for us; they weren’t able to convey the intimacy and emotion of the music.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience playing CDs of some of your old favorites. You keep wondering why you liked the music in the first place. Don’t blame the music. Blame those crappy CDs.  (more…)

Genesis – Trespass

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  • Only the second Shootout Winning copy to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER! Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides 
  • About as quiet as these British copies come – Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “… “tasteful, subtle and refined” – Melody Maker

This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even 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.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

Stoneground Play It Loud – Bad Direct Disc Music & Sound

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Sonic Grade: F

An awful Direct to Disc recording. The bad sound and pointless music — this is the kind of crap we audiophiles used to put up with back in the ’70s before we had much of a clue — means that it clearly belongs in only one place on our site: the Hall of Shame