Top Artists – Willie Nelson

What’s the Right Grade for the CBS Half-Speed of Willie Nelson’s Stardust?

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More Stardust

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Sonic Grade: B to F, depending on the copy

This Hot Stamper CBS Mastersound LP has the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for the half-speed of this title. It KILLED the other two CBS Audiophile Stardusts we played. If you think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that any two records — domestic, import, audiophile, 180 gram, or otherwise — sound the same, then you simply need to do a shootout or two with records like these to be disabused of that notion.

One copy was awful; I’d have to say it’s one of the worst sounding audiophile pressings I’ve ever played. Somebody is going to buy it thinking it somehow guarantees them a higher quality pressing, and to that person I say, think again. That’s not the way it works.

This copy, on the other hand, sounds so good you’d think it was one of our hand-picked multi-hundred dollar Hot Stamper pressings. (One of them sold for $750, FYI.) It may not be the ultimate copy, but it sure sounded amazing to us. On the half-speed scale we give it Two Pluses. That’s the highest grade we’ve ever given ANY half-speed; from guys who can’t stand half-speeds as a rule, that’s high praise indeed. 

Check out Audiophile Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Stunningly good Triple Plus (A+++) from the first note to the last; you’ll have a hard time doing any better than this
  • The overall sound here is big, full, solid and musical with excellent bass and none of the harshness that plagues most copies
  • This is the first Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and we’ve been trying for a long time! Not so many good sounding copies out there…
  • “Make no mistake – the deceptively relaxed arrangements, including the occasional strings, not only highlight Nelson’s clever eclecticism, but they also heighten the emotional impact of the album.”

See all of our Willie Nelson albums in stock

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Tougher Than Leather – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

 


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side one and almost as impressive on side two, this is as good a copy of Tougher Than Leather as can be found
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s unique voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy not heard on other copies
  • This is the first Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and we’ve been trying since 2011! Not that many good sounding copies out there…
  • As one Amazon reviewer wrote “This is a must buy album for any true Willie Nelson fan. This is good Willie – THERE IS NO BAD WILLIE!”

See all of our Willie Nelson albums in stock

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.

The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others big time.

This original Columbia LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Pretty Paper

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Vocal Classics

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Willie Nelson – Pretty Paper

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

Imagine the sound of a Hot Stamper Stardust, but instead of Pop Standards you hear Willie, his voice still in its prime, singing Christmas songs, backed by similarly tasteful and understated arrangements. That’s what you get on this copy of Pretty Paper in a nutshell.

Released just a year after Stardust in 1979, many of the same musicians are featured, as well as the same producer, the amazing Booker T.. And the most shocking thing of all is just how good the sound is.

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Next to Stardust I’d have to say this is the best sound Willie has ever had. It’s so rich, smooth and natural — in other words, analog sounding — that it puts to shame what has come to be expected from pop recordings over the course of the last thirty years.

Yes, records used to actually sound like this, as hard as that may be to believe after playing so many dismal sounding modern recordings, modern reissues and audiophile “product”. A good pressing of this album is one of the best reasons I can think of to own a high quality turntable these days. I find it hard to imagine that the CD would sound remotely as good.

Note that this record sounds even better when played loud, no doubt the result of having no trace of phony top end boost and very little processing throughout, unlike — you guessed it — much of the vinyl product being produced today. (And of course all digital releases, which should go without saying to anyone reading this commentary I suspect.) Many if not most pressings of the legendary Stardust album have some phony top added to the sound. The good ones — meaning the Hot Stamper copies — are the ones that sound more like this: natural up top and and throughout the midrange.

Side One

A+ Hot Stamper sound, It has some of the all-too-common veiling we heard in our shootout compared to the best copies we played. Willie’s voice is not quite as breathy here on track one but it seems to get better as the record plays. Not quite as rich and full as the best but still quite nice.

Side Two

The sound is natural and smooth but somewhat opaque. We grade side two A+.

Vinyl Condition

Mostly Mint Minus, very nice! Click on the Sonic Grade tab for more specific information.