Top Artists – Steve Winwood

Letter of the Week – Steve Winwood

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday I was marveling at the bottom-end and overall clarity of my new Stevie Winwood album. I think it’s right up there with Miles of Aisles, which sounded so good it made my wife cry (seriously) . But as always, I came up with a dark thought: Are Hot Stampers the only way to get my system to sound this good? I have VERY few personally-selected LPs that can compete with a Hot Stamper. Even though I usually buy the “Budget” stampers, it looks like a future of hundred-buck-plus albums for me. (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy – Where’s the Bass?

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This Pink Label Original Island pressing has amazingly sweet, open, extended and transparent mids and highs. It has two major shortcomings: a lack of bass, and a fair amount of surface noise. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles and can put up with some surface noise and scratches, you are guaranteed to hear some wonderful sound in the best tubey Island tradition. 

Side two sounds better than side one; it has more bass and therefore is more tonally correct.

Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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  • This is an outstanding Island Sunray domestic pressing offering spacious Tubey Magical Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Low Spark is clearly one of the best sounding Proggy/Arty Rock records ever made – the space it recreates in your listening room is HUGE 
  • A Better Records Top 100 album and a real Demo Disc on a pressing that sounds as good as this one does
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The commercial and artistic apex of the second coming of Traffic… The standout was the 12-minute title track, with its distinctive piano riff and its lyrics of weary disillusionment with the music business. “

After doing the shootout for John Barleycorn recently, a record we love in spite of its problematic sound, this album was truly a breath of fresh air. I can honestly and enthusiastically say that the sound we heard on the best pressings was OUT OF THIS WORLD. This album is a permanent member of our Rock And Jazz Top 100, that’s how good it is. (more…)

Traffic – Traffic – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Traffic – Traffic

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

UNBELIEVABLE! Here’s an Island Pink Label pressing of Traffic’s self-titled second album that has a STUNNING side one, a GREAT side two, and plays close to Near Mint! It has been YEARS since we’ve had such a beautiful Pink Label copy, and I doubt we’ve ever heard a pressing on any label that could better this side one. The sound is as close to PERFECTION as we ever expect to hear for this music — super tubey magical, unbelievably transparent and tonally correct from top to bottom.  (more…)

Letter of the Week – Steve Winwood

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday I was marveling at the bottom-end and overall clarity of my new Stevie Winwood album. I think it’s right up there with Miles of Aisles, which sounded so good it made my wife cry (seriously) . But as always, I came up with a dark thought: Are Hot Stampers the only way to get my system to sound this good? I have VERY few personally-selected LPs that can compete with a Hot Stamper. Even though I usually buy the “Budget” stampers, it looks like a future of hundred-buck-plus albums for me. (more…)

Traffic – Last Exit – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Last Exit

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

This QUIET British Import Island Sunray (Pink Rim) pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO WE’VE EVER HEARD, which is where the two extended live cuts are found. We played a bunch of these recently (nothing but Brits, the only way to go for this album) and no side two could keep up with this one. It’s got more extension up top, more weight down low, and more energy than we heard anywhere else.  (more…)

Traffic – Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory

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Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory

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

Import versus domestic? You would be hard pressed to find better sound than on the best of these DOMESTIC pressings, and that includes Low Spark of High Heeled Boys!

We just finished a huge shootout for this album and didn’t find a copy that could hold a candle to this one in the huge stack we played. This may not be the best Traffic album ever, but on a copy that sounds this good it’s very enjoyable and certainly an impressive sonic spectacular. 

Side one earned an A+++ grade and side two was close behind at A++. The vocals sound just right and the percussion is full of energy, which really kicks up the excitement here. Check out how open, spacious and transparent the soundfield is, letting you appreciate everything that’s going on musically. (more…)

Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

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  • One of the best copies to ever hit the site — Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side, Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • The sound of this early British pressing is guaranteed to be dramatically bigger, richer, fuller and smoother than anything you’ve heard
  • Higher Love sounds great here. You won’t believe it! And there’s really not a bad track on the album
  • “The first undeniably superb record of an almost decade-long solo career … the passion long smoldering in his finest work explodes in the album-opening duet with Chaka Khan, Higher Love…” — Rolling Stone

Rich, solid and Tubey Magical, this copy is a huge improvement over most of what we played (all imports of course; see below). The vocals are nice and breathy, and the presence and energy here are off the charts. 

On the best copies the sound is spacious and high-resolution. The bright, dry, grainy, analytical sound is replaced with something warmer, richer, fuller, sweeter, smoother — in other words, more ANALOG sounding. (more…)