This commentary was written after a review I spotted online prompted me to crack open one of the Classic Records 200 gram Peter Gabriel titles and play it. Let’s just say the results were less than pleasing to the ear. Bernie Grundman had worked his “magic” again and as usual I was at a loss to understand how anyone could find his mastering in any way an improvement over the plain old pressings.
I had a discussion with a reviewer for an audiophile web magazine concerning his rave review for the Peter Gabriel records that Classic pressed. I just played one, and it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. But of course it’s not right either. Not surprisingly, reviewers have a tendency not to notice these things. I’m not exactly sure how these people are qualified to review records when the most obvious tonal balance problems seem to go unnoticed, but I can hardly be surprised.
A Bad Record Tells You… What?
Which brings up something else that never fails to astonish me. How can an equipment review be trusted when the reviewer uses bad sounding records to evaluate the equipment he is testing? Aren’t we justified in assuming that if said reviewer can’t tell he is listening to a bad recording, he probably can’t tell whether the equipment under review is any good either?
A bad recording tells you nothing about the equipment it is playing on. Worse, it might complement the faults of the gear and end up sounding tonally correct. If you use So Long So Wrong as a test disc, what are you testing for, the bad sounding vocals or the bad sounding guitars?
With a digital recording such as this, the margin for mastering error is very slim. Most copies just aren’t worth the vinyl they’re pressed on. They can sound harsh, gritty, grainy, edgy, and thin. We love this music and we know there are great copies out there, so we keep picking these up. More often than not, we’re left cold.
This is a digital recording, and most of the time it is BRIGHT, SPITTY and GRAINY like a typical digital recording, which plays right into our prejudices. After hearing a bad copy, what audiophile wouldn’t conclude that all copies will have these bad qualities? After all, it’s digital. It can’t be fixed simply by putting it on vinyl.
Ah, but that’s where the logic breaks down. Proper mastering can ameliorate many if not most of a recording’s sins. When we say Hot Stampers, we are talking about high quality mastering doing exactly that.(more…)
A KILLER shootout winning UK copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides, on quiet vinyl too
The overall sound here is incredibly big and full, with punchy bass and energy that’s off the charts
Probably his most consistent recording, with the estimable Robert Fripp on guitar – some of his most innovative mainstream music
A 4 1/2 star: “…stunning slices of modern rock circa 1978, bubbling with synths, insistent rhythms, and polished processed guitars, all enclosed in a streamlined production that nevertheless sounds as large as a stadium.”
This is one of our favorite Peter Gabriel albums around here, and may well be the best recording he ever made. The typical copy, though, barely hints at just how good this album can sound. Only the best early British pressings have any hope of sounding this good.
Thankfully the second PG album does not suffer from the digital spit, grit and hash of So and Security. It’s arguably his best recording overall with superb dynamics and a clean, punchy rock sound that perfectly fits the music. Some of the cymbal crashes on the hot copies of this album really CRASH.
This is The Peter Gabriel Rock and Roll Album. To my knowledge he never made another.(more…)
A stunning sounding copy with shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
Killer throughout – bigger, bolder, more bass, more energy and presence, and the list goes on
Clearly the hardest of the first five PG records to find with good sound and decent vinyl, which is why these rarely make the site
“…much of the record teems with invigorating energy (as on Slowburn, or the orchestral-disco pulse of Down the Dolce Vita), and the closer “Here Comes the Flood” burns with an anthemic intensity that would later become his signature in the ’80s.”
Tubey Magical Richness and breathy vocals are the hallmarks of a good British PG 1.
Unlike any that follow, the sound varies greatly from track to track on the first PG album, as does the music. You know you have a good copy when the best sounding tracks sound their best. That may seem like a tautology but is in fact the only way to judge a side when the songs sound this different from one another.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
On side one the fourth track, Excuse Me, with its barbershop quartet harmonies, has (potentially — it depends on how good your copy is) Demo Disc Quality Sound.
On side two of the best copies Waiting for the Big One will indeed be big, as well as powerful and above all dynamic.