A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.
Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Manassas produced a number of good sounding sides on the original pressings, but we held back our highest sonic grade because even the best of the best still had problems. Most copies we played were a disaster: grungy, veiled, no real top end, grainy, stuck in the speakers, tubby bass — these and other problems were all too common. When a double album sounds like this it makes for a very long day.
After playing four or five bad sounding copies we almost threw in the towel. Everyone kept asking me: Does this record ever sound good?
I said I thought it did, I thought I heard a good copy or two when we listened to them in our preliminary rounds, but hey, maybe I was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.
But then a copy like this one came along, and we got down to the serious business of going through them all, trying to find the few that had the qualities this one did.
What were we listening for exactly? An absence of all the bad qualities mentioned above would be the easiest answer. Once you find a copy without the nasty grit and the grain so many of them have you quickly start to key into the lovely ambience that the best copies have, you start to notice the tubey magic, the richness and sweetness, the extension up top, the kind of transparency that lets you hear into the soundfield and pick out all the players — pretty much the same kinds of things you’re always looking for in a Hot Stamper pressing, except in this case you just had to be willing to look a whole lot harder. (more…)