Records We Don’t Like for Their Music

Humble Pie – Humble Pie

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

Both sides here are Super Hot – solid, big and fat with grungy guitars. Exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides, mostly Mint Minus. A classic Glyn Johns rock recording from 1970 – he was really on a roll at the time. If you like a big bottom end on your rock records, this is the album for you.

This, their third album and first for A&M (which probably explains the master tape sound on domestic vinyl), is one of the few Humble Pie titles we’ve found that can offer honest-to-goodness Hot Stamper sound. There is no mystery in this case; the sound comes courtesy of none other than Glyn Johns. He knows Heavy British Rock like nobody else on the planet, or did at the time anyway. If you want fat, meaty drums and guitars — think Who’s Next, Sticky Fingers or A Nod Is As Good As A Wink — Glyn is your man. (more…)

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Trilogy – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

This British Island Sunray LP has THE BEST SOUND WE’VE EVER HEARD for this album; it ranks right up there with the best sounding copies of the first album, a Top 100 Demo Disc! From The Beginning has the kind of analog magic that made it a staple in practically every stereo store I walked into throughout the ’70s. (Even if the crappy speakers they were demonstrating didn’t have much bass, this record had the kind of bottom end that would make you think they did.)  (more…)

The Crusaders – Chain Reaction – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

The Crusaders – Chain Reaction

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

When you play the MoFi against a Hot Stamper, the audiophile version reeks of phony top end EQ, compression and sloppy bass. (What half-speed mastered record doesn’t?) So if you could use a little jazz-funk in your musical diet, this is the ticket. (more…)

Dire Straits – Alchemy: Dire Straits Live – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

Two of the sides of this original Vertigo British pressing are two of the best we played in our recent shootout, with transparency and spaciousness only hinted at by most of the copies we auditioned. 

Of course, this being a live rock album, clarity and detail are not at the top of the list of qualities were looking for. We’re after ROCK AND ROLL ENERGY more than anything else, and that means vocal presence, a solid bass foundation and plenty of dynamics. We want this music to come alive in your listening room and this is the copy that can do it! (more…)

Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms – Simply Vinyl Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

This older Simply Vinyl pressing (with the gold SVLP sticker) actually sounds pretty good. It certainly is one of the most ANALOG sounding versions I’ve heard, high praise in my book.

We’ve recommended it in the past. It’s a nice record (if you can get your hands on one) but it’s not really a match for our Hot Stamper pressings. The multiple copies we auditioned did darn good for a Heavy Vinyl reissue and substantially better than the average pressing, hence the “B” grade. Simply Vinyl seems to have done a good job here.

Correction: an unnamed mastering engineer at the label did a superb job. Simply Vinyl isn’t in the business of mastering ANYTHING. They leave that up to the pros at the record labels. Sometimes those guys screw it up and sometimes they get it right. (more…)

Queen – Hot Space

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  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy of Hot Space took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best pressings – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the rest
  • 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
  • “Hot Space is an essential cog for Queen completists… [it] has invention and ideas to spare.”

Queen albums in general are notoriously hard to find good sound for, and Queen albums from 1982 are probably even harder.

We’re guessing this album’s appeal is probably limited to fans of the band, but for those of you who want something different, or to hear Under Pressure sound good, we offer Hot Space with White Hot Stamper sound. (more…)

Dire Straits – Communique

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  • This stunning sounding copy of the band’s sophomore release earned shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides
  • Simply bigger and fuller than the competition, this vintage pressing has massive amounts of energy and rich punchy bass 
  • If you’re a fan of the band’s debut release, you’ll find much to like on this underappreciated follow up
  • It is insanely difficult to find good copies of this album, which is why we’ve only had a handful of Hot Stampers hit the site in all these years
  • “…an album full of the delicate subtleties that make Mark Knopfler shimmer — that deep tobacco-soaked voice, the quick, fluid guitar, and the wit behind many of his lyrics… a rich, abundant source of beauty.”

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Yello – One Second

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One Second

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this UK copy of the band’s 1987 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • This British pressing boasts a wonderful combination of material, performance, and sonics from these German Studio Wizards
  • A true Demo Disc for everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound
  • “…pounding drums, emotional vocals, downright evil backgrounds and completely zany, crazy and fun experiments in music production.”

Killer sound for this famous audiophile recording! The British and German import copies in our experience are the only ones that are made from master tapes; the domestic copies we played were not competitive, being clearly sourced from dubs. (more…)

Dire Straits – Love Over Gold

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  • A stunning UK import copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from beginning to end 
  • Incredibly big, punchy, dynamic, transparent and musical throughout – you won’t believe it
  • These top quality copies of Love Over Gold are far more natural than the any pressing you have ever heard
  • “Certainly a quantum leap from the organic R&B impressionism of the band’s early LPs and the gripping short stories of Making Movies, Love Over Gold is an ambitious, sometimes difficult record that is exhilarating in its successes and, at the very least, fascinating in its indulgences.” – Rolling Stone

We pick up every clean copy we see of this album, domestic or import, because we know from experience just how good the best pressings can sound. What do the best copies have? REAL dynamics for one. And with those dynamics you need rock solid bass. Otherwise the loud portions simply become irritating. A lack of grain is always nice — many of the pressings we played were gritty or grainy. Other copies that were quite good in most ways lacked immediacy and we took serious points off for that. (more…)

Genesis – Abacab

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  • Excellent sound throughout with both sides of this vintage UK pressing earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or better
  • Forget the thin sounding domestic pressings – these British sides are rich, full-bodied and spacious with real bottom end weight
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Abacab was where this new incarnation of the band came into its own. Working with producer Hugh Padgham, the group escalated the innovations of Duke, increasing the pop hooks, working them seamlessly into the artiest rock here… as bright, bold, and jagged as the modernist artwork on the cover.”

know of. Tons of bass too. We also quite like the big drums and meaty guitars he was able to bring to XTC’s English Settlement (a record we just never see anymore; wonder where they all went?). (more…)