Top Artists – Richard Thompson (also Linda Thompson)

Richard Thompson – Strict Tempo!

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  • Richard Thompson’s superb instrumental album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • The sound is anchored by an exceptionally fat, rich, punchy low end on the best copies, and this pressing shows you just how big and punchy it can get
  • An original Elixer pressing, Thompson’s own label
  • “… on Strict Tempo! Thompson lets loose on an instrumental collection of traditional British and Celtic jigs and reels, with a swinging Duke Ellington cover thrown in for variety and one new original offered as the finale… it shows one of the finest guitarists on Earth showing just how well he can play, and that’s always a pleasure to hear.”

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Richard & Linda Thompson – Sunnyvista – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

It took two copies, each with a single White Hot Stamper side, to create the All Time Best Sounding version of Sunnyvista, an album AMG calls “…the wittiest and most joyous album Richard & Linda made together.”

None of the domestic copies we played were more than passable, and even worse, most of the Brit originals we played were almost as smeary, veiled and opaque. There was only one way to get top sound on both sides, and that was to make a Two Pack with the best two sides of the best two copies. The two good sides here just KILL the competition in every way.

They’re bigger, more present, more energetic and just plain more FUN than any other sides we played. If you’re a fan this is the only way we know of to hear this album sound the way it should.

Just in case you don’t care to take our word for how mediocre the average side is, play the “bad” sides of the two records, both of which earned a single plus grade (A+) — they were doing some things right, but for the most part left a lot to be desired. When you play them you will no doubt hear what we mean. (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – Pour Down Like Silver – Our Shootout Winner from 2015

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

The biggest problems with this record would be obvious to even the casual listener: gritty, spitty vocals; lack of richness; lack of bass; no real space or transparency, etc. etc.

When we came across this copy we knew we had something special as it had very few of the problems above. 

The Carthage pressings did not do well in our shootout, no surprise as these early Island records were mastered at one of our favorite cutting houses here in the Southland. (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – The Best Sounding Record of the Decade?

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Without a doubt this is the best record Richard and Linda Thompson ever made together, possibly the best record Thompson was ever involved with, but it also holds one other important distinction, one of great interest to us audiophiles: it’s the BEST SOUNDING record he (they) ever made as well.

As I was playing the finalists for side two (at ear-splitting levels I might add) an odd thought crossed my mind. Where had I heard this kind of monstrous, punchy bass and these soaring, perfectly distorted guitars, so big and so powerful, before? There was something about the sound – the awesome energy, the freedom from compression or spatial restraint of any kind – that was strangely familiar from another shootout.

After a minute’s deliberation the answer came to me: I was remembering the feeling I got from the White Hot Stamper of Led Zeppelin II we played not long ago.

Yes, that’s the album that it most closely resembles. As outlandish as it may seem, the rock power of Shoot Out the Lights has much more in common with the rock power of Zep II than any other record I can think of.

To be sure, the vast majority of people, including the vast majority of audiophiles, have never heard a top quality RL Zep II played at extremely loud levels on a big speaker system in a dedicated room. Nor in all probability will they ever have the chance.

But I sure have, quite a few in fact. If anyone knows that sound I do. I’ve dedicated the past forty years of my efforts in audio to reproducing records with the Big Rock Sound like Zep II. There’s really none bigger in my opinion. (more…)

Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking

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  • The band’s very well-recorded third album is here, and this early British Island pressing is killing it, with stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • A copy like this is a rare audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Fairport Convention
  • A superb collection of songs, including two previously unreleased Bob Dylan tracks, as well as Sandy Denny’s first foray into songwriting, with the achingly powerful “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”
  • 5 stars: “Unhalfbricking was a transitional album for the young Fairport Convention, in which the group shed its closest ties to its American folk-rock influences and started to edge toward a more traditional British folk-slanted sound.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Hot stamper fans of Fairport Convention, British Folk Rock, Richard Thompson and the like should not expect to see another copy of this album for years to come. It took us a couple of years to get hold of enough clean copies with which to do this shootout, and the only quiet one with top quality sound was this very pressing.

Forget the dubby domestic LPs on A&M and whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – the early UK vinyl is the only way to fly on Unhalfbricking

The “haunting, ethereal” vocals of the lovely Sandy Denny are sublime here. Some of you may recognize her voice from a ditty called “Battle of Evermore,” found on a grayish ’70s rock album that no one even bothered to give a name. Wonder whatever became of that group? No doubt by now their story is lost to the sands of time. I have to say I thought the music was pretty good though. (more…)

Richard Thompson – Amnesia – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

Original pressing. EXCELLENT SOUND — big and lively! With Mitchell Froom producing and Tchad Blake engineering this is to be expected.

The best songs here are Turning Of The Tide and Waltzing For Dreamers, but the others are lovely too. (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright…

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

The first White Hot Stamper of this 1974 classic to make it to the site, and it’s wonderful on both sides. Rich, full-bodied, with big bass and gobs of studio ambience, this is the way this music was meant to be heard. Kurt Loder writing in Rolling Stone noted that there’s “not a single track that’s less than luminous.” 

This is one of my favorite Thompson albums from the old days. In my opinion, and in the opinion of practically every serious critic around the world, this is some of their very best work. (more…)

Richard Thompson – Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years – Reviewed in 2001

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

Another top outing on TWO clear vinyl LP’s from the master of modern electric folk music. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The sound is excellent and the music is some of the best Richard Thompson has ever made. If I had to choose one later Richard Thompson album, this would probably be it.

Almost every one of these is very slightly dished, but this should not have any effect on the sound, which is excellent. Thompson’s lovely duet with his son on Persuasion is worth the price of the album.

Letter of the Week – Shoot Out The Lights

Shoot Out The Lights

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Recently purchased The Hot Stamper of R&L Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights. What a wonderful copy! Easily put to shame the copies I have on hand by a long shot. It’s great to hear a copy of this record that does the music justice. An exceptional find on your part. Great doing business with you.

Jim S.

 

Shoot Out The Lights – Loud Versus Live Versus The Heavy Vinyl Reissue

Shoot Out The Lights

 

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Here’s a thought: if 180 gram records are supposed to be an improvement over the original pressings, why is it that they NEVER sound Big and Bold like this pressing? And I do mean never; I’ve played hundreds of them over the years and have yet to hear this kind of sound on any of them. At this point I would have to conclude that it is simply not possible.

If you have big speakers, a large listening room and like to play your records loud, there is no modern reissue that will ever give you the thrill that a record like this can. (Of course, to fully appreciate the effect it obviously helps if you have a White Hot Stamper copy to play.)

Loud Versus Live

I’ve seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I could never make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because it’s not on the record that way. That’s why live music can’t be duplicated properly in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener or his stereo.

Having said that, when you actually do turn this record up, way up, you get the feeling of hearing live music, and that’s not easy to do! Only the best recordings, in my experience, can begin to give you that feeling. We discuss this subject in a number of commentaries under the heading of Turn Up Your Volume.
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