Top Artists – The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead – Aoxomoxoa

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  • This original Green Label Warner Brothers LP has STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • These sides were doing everything right — big, full-bodied and present with tons of energy and a nice extended top end
  • “When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene.” – All Music 

NOTE: This is the later remixed version from 1971. We found it far better sounding than the original 1969 mix. If you’re interested in the original mix, we have some of those copies with lower grades but if you want the best sound, this copy is definitely the way to go.

This vintage Warner Brothers Green Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1969
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Aoxomoxoa

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

St. Stephen
Dupree’s Diamond Blues
Rosemary
Doin’ That Rag
Mountains Of The Moon

Side Two

China Cat Sunflower
What’s Become Of The Baby
Cosmic Charlie

AMG Review

When the LP hit the racks in the early summer of 1969, Deadheads were greeted by some of the freshest and most innovative sounds to develop from the thriving Bay Area music scene. The disc includes seminal psychedelic rockers such as “St. Stephen,” “China Cat Sunflower,” and “Cosmic Charlie,” as well as hints of the acoustic direction their music would take on the Baroque-influenced “Mountains of the Moon” and “Rosemary.” The folky “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” — which itself was loosely based on the traditional “Betty & Dupree” — would likewise foreshadow the sound of their next two studio long-players, Workingman’s Dead (1969) and American Beauty (1970).

Grateful Dead – Wake Of The Flood

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  • Stunning sound throughout with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • A difficult album to find audiophile quality sound for, this is one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • “Wake of the Flood was certainly as good – if not arguably better than – most of their previous non-live efforts.”

This is the album that comes after American Beauty on the Grateful Dead timeline, and while it’s certainly not in the same league as that masterpiece, there’s still a lot of good music on here. The All Music Guide gives it four stars out of five and calls it “certainly as good — if not arguably better than — most of their previous non-live efforts”. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Grateful Dead

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  • KILLER sound throughout for this original WB Gold Label pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both sides here are super rich and full-bodied yet still clean, clear and open with tons of energy and a great bottom end
  • A copy like this lets you hear what the band was going for without the grit and congestion (not to mention godawful surfaces) that you find on the typical pressing
  • “… a valiant attempt to corral the group’s hydra-headed psychedelic jug-band music on vinyl…” – All Music

We just finished a big shootout for this title and it was pretty difficult. The best Gold Label originals and Green Label pressings can be superb, but most of them are noisy and many of them don’t sound any good. Those of you who are familiar with this music are sure to be surprised at how good these songs sound here.

Unfortunately, Viola Lee Blues, the last track on side two, never sounds all that good. It’s pretty easy to imagine that high-fidelity audiophile-quality sonics were not what these guys were going for in 1966. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Blues For Allah

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Blues For Allah

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  • A stunning sounding copy of this Grateful Dead classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Probably the last essential Dead album – this pressing has especially silky, sweet vocals, good presence and energy, punchy bass and a spacious soundfield
  • “The Dead went into a state of latent activity that lasted until the spring of [1975] when the band reconvened to record Blues for Allah… Obviously, the time off had done the band worlds of good, as Blues for Allah — more than any past or future studio album — captures the Dead at their most natural and inspired.”

This fun and funky mid-’70s Grateful Dead LP has two excellent sides. This album features the extended workout of “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot” into “Franklin’s Tower” — a fan favorite which remained a staple of Dead shows into the ’90s. On an energetic and tubey magical copy like this one, it’s a trip!

Shakedown Street and Terrapin Station have their moments but are certainly not as consistent as this album. (more…)

Grateful Dead – Europe ’72

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  • Stunning sound throughout with all six sides of this epic live collection earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • “No record album can replace a live appearance by the Dead — but those who can’t get enough of this exceptional band will be kept busy for a good little while with this one.” – Rolling Stone
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The band mixes a bevy of new material with revisitations of back-catalog favorites. Sadly, this European jaunt would be the last of its kind to include the formidable talents and soul of founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who was in increasingly fragile health. Although few in number, his contributions to Europe ’72 are among the most commanding not only of this release, but of his career.”

*NOTE: A mark makes three light ticks near the end of track one, Truckin’.

All six sides of this White Hot Europe ’72 have the best sound we have ever heard for the album!

A bunch of classic Dead songs that never appeared on a studio album are here in their definitive versions, including He’s Gone, Jack Straw, Brown-Eyed Woman, Ramble On Rose and Tennessee Jed. (more…)

Grateful Dead – American Beauty – An Honest-to-Goodness Hot Stamper MoFi

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed

This is a Mobile Fidelity LP with SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND. The transparency and presence in the midrange is OUT OF THIS WORLD. The bass actually sounds in control on this copy, there’s no typical bloated MOFI bass to be found here. This is the best sounding Mobile Fidelity American Beauty we have ever heard. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s hugely better than we expected. 

The Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead

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  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side two and a Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy was one of the best in our most recent shootout
  • A Top 100 album, and a truly superb recording of the Dead at the peak of their creativity (along with American Beauty)
  • We love the amazingly rich, weighty and huge bottom end found on the truly killer sides such as these
  • 5 stars in Allmusic: “The lilting Uncle John’s Band, their first radio hit, opens the record and perfectly summarizes its subtle, spare beauty; complete with a new focus on more concise songs and tighter arrangements, the approach works brilliantly.”

This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the control room hearing the master tape being played back, or, better yet, the direct feed from the studio, this is the record for you. It’s what Vintage Analog Recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Workingman’s Dead is Dead as a Doornail on Rhino Records

Workingman’s Dead

Rhino Records has made a mockery of the analog medium I tell you!

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

The 2003 Rhino reissue on heavy vinyl of Workingman’s Dead is absolutely awful. It sounds like a bad cassette. The CD of the album that I own is superb, which means that the tapes are not the problem, bad mastering and pressing are. (more…)

The Grateful Dead – American Beauty


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2018

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  • Only the second Triple Triple (A+++) copy to hit the site in the last five years – you won’t believe how good this record sounds!
  • Man, are quiet copies of this album getting hard to find, and pricey too
  • This is one of Stephen Barncard’s greatest recording achievements – the richness and clarity are really something here
  • 5 Stars All Music Guide, a Top 100 album – “American Beauty remains the Dead’s studio masterpiece.”

See all of our Grateful Dead albums in stock

We managed to find enough clean early pressings to get this always fun shootout going once again, and this copy took top honors on both sides. This is an amazingly well-recorded album — and a member of our Top 100, of course — but it takes a special copy to let the recording’s qualities shine, and this copy is as special as they get – Triple Triple!

Drop the needle on any track — I guarantee you’ve never heard this band sound so good, or your money back.

If you’re looking for a mindblowingly good copy of the Grateful Dead’s masterpiece, you’re going to have to act quickly, because our supply is extremely limited. I understand if you want to write the Dead off based on their later output, but you just can’t deny the power of this album. (more…)