Top Artists – Traffic

Traffic – Best of Traffic – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Traffic

Best of Traffic

xxxxx

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

This Island British Pink Label pressing has SOME OF THE BEST TRAFFIC SOUND YOU’LL EVER HEAR! We’ve been flipping out over Hot Stamper copies of this greatest hits comp for ages for a very simple, yet likely shocking, reason — the sound on the best copies can be BETTER than the best original pressings! How can that be you ask, dumbfounded by the sheer ridiculousness of such a statement? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. Follow me over the jump to find out. 

It’s a dirty little secret in the record biz that sometimes the master for the anticipated Hit Single (or singles) is pulled from the album’s final two track master and used to make the 45, the thinking being that the 45 is what people are going to buy, or, having heard it sound so good on the radio, cause them to buy the album. One way or another, it’s the single that will do the selling of Traffic’s music. (more…)

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die – Listening in Depth

More Traffic

More John Barleycorn Must Die

xxxxx

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For as you critically evaluate your copy of John Barleycorn Must Die.

The toughest test on side two is the first track, Stranger to Himself. Getting the voices right is practically impossible. If the voices are full, smooth, yet breathy and clear, you have that rare copy that actually gets the midrange right. Not many do.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Glad

The last portion of this track has some really interesting percussion and organ effects. Traffic were trying to break out of the standard pop song format by letting this song wander into psychedelic territory for a few minutes at the end. It’s now become my favorite part of the song.
The reason you want to pay close attention to this part is because it helps you to judge the transparency, immediacy, and top end extension for the whole side. It should be amazingly clear and open-sounding. On too many pressings, the percussion instruments are blurred and lost in the mix. On a Hot Stamper copy they’ll be right in front of you, allowing you to appreciate the interplay among the musicians as they contributed their various parts. (more…)

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

More Traffic

More Mr. Fantasy

xxxxx

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

More Traffic

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

xxxxx

  • 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

More Traffic

Traffic – Traffic

xxxxx

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…)

Traffic – Last Exit – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Traffic

Last Exit

xxxxx

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

More Traffic

Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory

xxxxx

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…)

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die

More Traffic

John Barleycorn Must Die

xxxxx

  • A stunning copy of this Traffic Classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to the last 
  • Both sides have the vintage analog sound we love – rich and smooth, with plenty of Tubey Magic, bottom end weight and studio space
  • Arguably their best album, certainly their most groundbreaking, original and involving – Low Spark would rank a close second
  • “…the band sounds utterly grounded. As the grooves percolate effortlessly along, it becomes clear that unity, not any technical skill, is what makes the music levitate.”

This killer United Artists LP has the sound we love on Barleycorn (and pretty much any Classic Rock album from the era). It’s rich, smooth, sweet; in short, it has the sound you find only on the best vintage vinyl.

Note that we do not say “original” — some of our highest scoring copies were on the second, plain brown label. We believe the term vintage is more accurate. “Old” works well too for that matter. Stick with the stuff from the ’70s and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief (not to mention dough) chasing after the kind of analog sound that is found practically nowhere else. (more…)

Hot Stamper Sharing Can’t Get Off the Ground, I Wonder Why?

Cheap_Hot_Stampers – Revealed

Wah! Nobody seems to want to play with me.

Could it be that the folks on the Hoffman forum have a poor grasp of the effort, time and money it takes to find Hot Stampers and, having committed to neither the effort, the time or the money, find that they have nothing of any value to contribute to this list?  Not one other record? Not even one?

Thank god it doesn’t keep them from criticizing those of us  who have found them by the thousands! (more…)

John Barleycorn Must Die – Listen for Winwood’s Left Hand

More Traffic

More John Barleycorn Must Die

xxxxx

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For.

We learned something new a few years back about John Barleycorn while playing an especially TRANSPARENT copy. This pressing made it clear — really, for the first time — exactly what Winwood was doing with his left hand on the piano during the song Glad.

There are two musical figures that alternate: one involving the lower notes, which tend to be blurry, obscured and murky on most pressings, followed by two, the right-handed higher notes, which are usually much more clear and audible in the mix.

Only the very best copies let us “see” the bass notes of the piano so clearly and correctly. Next time you’re in the mood to compare different pressings of Barleycorn, pay special attention to the lower notes of the piano on Glad. It is our contention, backed by mountains of evidence, that no two copies of the album will get that piano to sound the same. (It will also help if you have large dynamic speakers with which to do the test.)

What to Listen For (WTLF) – Side Two

The toughest test on side two is the first track. Getting the voices right is practically impossible. If the voices are full, smooth, yet breathy and clear, you have that rare copy that actually gets the midrange right. Not many do. (more…)