Top Artists – Traffic

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…)

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die

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John Barleycorn Must Die

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  • 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

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More John Barleycorn Must Die

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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…)

Traffic – The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys – Another Disgraceful MoFi Anadisq Release

 

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

Of course our Hot Stamper pressings are going to be better than the Anadisq LP from the mid ’90s. How much better? Words fail me. The MoFi was an out and out disaster. Perhaps some of the MoFi collectors didn’t notice because they had nothing to compare it to. God forbid they would ever lower themselves to buy a “common” pressing such as one of our domestic Islands.

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Had they done so what they would have heard is huge amounts of musical information that is simply missing from the MoFi pressing. (more…)

The Dirty Little Secret of the Record Biz Part 3

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Hits That Are Made from Dub Tapes

The sound of some songs on some greatest hits albums can be BETTER than the sound of those very same songs on 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. It’s a dirty little secret in the record biz that sometimes the master for the presumptive Hit Single (or singles) is pulled from the album’s final two track master mix tape and used to make the 45 single, the idea being that the single is what people are going to hear on the radio and want to buy, or, having heard it sound so good on the radio, go out and buy the album. One way or another, it’s the single that will do the selling of the band’s music. This is clearly the case with the albums of Traffic.
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