Top Artists – Van Morrison

Van Morrison – Into The Music – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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

Two incredible sounding sides for this great Van Morrison album, one that Allmusic calls one of his best records! Not a lot of casual Van Mo fans are familiar with this album, but after a big shootout we were left very impressed with the sound of the best pressings and the quality of the music throughout. Morrison’s catalog after the early ’70s leaves plenty to be desired, but this one is a real return to form.

Side one is richer and fuller than most copies with much better bass. You get excellent presence and energy that are missing from the typical copy and the overall sound is clean, clear and natural. We gave it an A++ grade.

Side two is even better — A+++ all the way. It’s unusually dynamic with real immediacy, lots of texture to the instruments and amazing separation letting you hear every last detail. Most copies weren’t nearly this rich and practically none of them were this solid down low.

If you need a new Van Morrison album in your life and you want to have one with excellent sound, give this White Hot copy of Into The Music a spin — we think you’ll be as impressed as we were. In fact, we guarantee it… or your money back! (more…)

Van Morrison – Wavelength

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

Richer, warmer and bigger than most of the other copies we played, with the kind of smoothness that’s essential to the album’s enjoyment. His biggest selling album to date? Seems hard to believe but that’s what is says on Wikipedia – it went gold in 3 months. 

What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and on and on down through the list.

When we can get all, or most all, of the qualities above to come together on any given side we provisionally award it a grade of “contender.” Once we’ve been through all our copies on one side we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides matched up. (more…)

The Band – The Last Waltz

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  • The Band’s second live album returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) Hot Stamper sound or close to it on all SIX sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, dynamic and natural sounding with low end weight, midrange smoothness and powerful, punchy bass
  • Features an A-list of brilliant artists, including Van Morrison, Ringo Star, Joni Mitchell, and Muddy Waters, just to name a few
  • 4 stars: “It’s the Band’s “special guests” who really make this set stand out — Muddy Waters’ ferocious version of “Mannish Boy” would have been a wonder from a man half his age, Van Morrison sounds positively joyous on “Caravan,” Neil Young and Joni Mitchell do well for their Canadian brethren, and Bob Dylan’s closing set finds him in admirably loose and rollicking form.”

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Van Morrison – Astral Weeks – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE! Here’s a stunning copy of Astral Weeks with a side one that just can’t be beat. We recently had the chance to play quite a few of these, and this one was just UNSTOPPABLE on side one. Side two is also very good and the vinyl plays relatively quietly throughout, between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus. It might be ages before another Hot copy hits the site, so grab this one before it’s gone for good!

I don’t think there’s too much I can tell you about Astral Weeks that’s going to convince you to buy it or not. It’s obviously one of the man’s two masterpieces and one of the most beloved albums of its time.

This is just the second Hot Stamper copy ever to hit the site, because it’s too hard to find clean copies of this album that sound good. Standard Green Label pressings can fetch around $100 on Ebay, so we just can’t afford to pick these up in the kind of numbers we need to get repeated Hot Stamper shootouts going. (more…)

Van Morrison – Veedon Fleece – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

HOT STAMPERS DISCOVERED for a mostly forgotten gem from Van Morrison’s early catalog! We managed to pull together enough reasonably clean copies for this shootout, which took us YEARS. Most of the copies we played weren’t even in the arena with this one, which earned grades better than A+ on both sides. The All Music Guide calls this album “brilliant” as well as “every bit the creative equal of its more famous predecessors”.

Both sides of this original Warner Brothers pressing have excellent energy and presence with nice extension up top. There’s plenty of weight to the bottom end and the piano sounds just right. Most copies weren’t nearly this rich, warm and sweet. (more…)

Van Morrison – A Sense Of Wonder

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of this early pressing of Morrison’s album from 1985 
  • This is probably the last domestically pressed record he made that still has the kind of sound we look for in a Hot Stamper
  • “Over the years, Morrison has gathered around him a band that plays, like the best jazz ensembles, with effortless empathy. The group follows him through all his moods and meanderings, from the lilting cadences of “Tore Down à la Rimbaud” and “Ancient of Days” to the stately auguring of “Let the Slave” and the airy, triumphal shimmer of “A New Kind of Man.” A Sense of Wonder is serenely uplifting. With astonishing commitment and profound belief, Van Morrison continues to push forward into the mystic.”

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Van Morrison – Saint Dominic’s Preview

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • It’s unusual (to say the least) to find copies of Moondance or Astral Weeks that sound anything like the better copies of Saint Dominic’s Preview (or His Band and Street Choir for that matter)
  • One of the best sounding Van Morrison recordings thanks to the superb engineering skills of Donn Landee at Wally Heider’s
  • 5 Stars in Rolling Stone: “The coexistence of two styles on the same record turns out to be very refreshing; they complement each other by underscoring the remarkable versatility of Van’s musical imagination… the best-produced, most ambitious Van Morrison record yet released.”

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Van Morrison – His Band And Street Choir – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

This is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD PRESSING of Van Morrison’s underappreciated gem! This is the album that came out between Moondance and Tupelo Honey, but for some reason it don’t get no respect. We think that’s insane — the material on this album is top-notch and the sound on the best pressings is out of this world! (more…)

Letter of the Week – Van Morrison

Van Morrison

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

Hey Tom,    

The Van Morrison blew me away. The difference between a 1 [Hot Stamper A+] or 2 [Super Hot Stamper A++] and the WHS 3 [White Hot Stamper A+++] is staggering. I have consistently been amazed at the improvement with the 3+ copies. Just when I don’t think it can get better a 3+ copy shows me how wrong I am.
My listening is improving as well, or more accurately I’m getting spoiled.

Mike H.

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

More Van Morrison

More Astral Weeks

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  • This WB Green Label pressing has STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides for Van The Man’s 1968 groundbreaking, introspective classic – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This record lives or dies by the quality of its Tubey Magical Midrange, a sound modern records rarely begin to reproduce
  • It takes us years to find enough clean copies to do a shootout – these originals are not sitting in the bins at your local store anymore, they’re displayed behind the counter for a hundred bucks or more a pop 
  • 5 stars: “Astral Weeks is a justified entry in pop music’s pantheon. It is unlike any record before or since; it mixes together the very best of postwar popular music in an emotional outpouring cast in delicate, subtle musical structures.”

The original cover is actually in the original shrink!

I don’t think there’s too much I can tell you about Astral Weeks that’s going to convince you to buy it or not. It’s obviously one of the man’s (many) masterpieces, his most unique and original contribution to the music of his time, and one of the most beloved albums in his canon. (more…)