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The Alan Parsons Project – I Robot

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  • An outstanding early UK pressing of I Robot with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The overall sound is clean, clear and transparent – many copies tend to be overly smooth, but this one has the kind of clarity that allows the natural textures of the instruments to come through
  • 4 1/2 stars: “. . . that sense of melody when married to the artistic restlessness and geeky sensibility makes for a unique, compelling album and the one record that truly captures mind and spirit of the Alan Parsons Project.”

If you’re a fan of this album who has been playing a typical copy, or — even worse — one of the MoFi versions, you are sure to be impressed with the kind of sound this superb copy delivers. You get a strong, solid bottom end setting the foundation, which is exactly what you need to make a funky tune like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You come to life. (more…)

Lee Ritenour – Captain Fingers

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  • Captain Fingers finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • The sound is huge, spacious, lively, transparent and punchy – this is jazz fusion that really rocks
  • Full-bodied and warm, exactly the way you want your vintage analog to sound – the guitar is surprisingly real here

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Styx – Pieces Of Eight

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  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • Here is the kind of sound we want on our ELP, Yes and Queen-like multi-layered Proggy Pop Rock – big, full-bodied and lively
  • 4 stars: “Styx’s feisty, straightforward brand of album rock is represented best by ‘Blue Collar Man,’ an invigorating keyboard and guitar rush… reaching number 21, with the frolicking romp of ‘Renegade’ edging in at number 16 only six months later… the rest of the album includes tracks that rekindle some of Styx’s early progressive rock sound, only cleaner. Tracks like ‘Sing for the Day,’ ‘Lords of the Ring,’ and ‘Aku-Aku’ all contain slightly more complex instrumental foundations…”

Who likes their Wall of Sound small and closed-in? Certainly not Big Speaker guys like us. By all accounts this band wanted their records to sound good, or at least as good as their contemporaries (and the bands that inspired them, name-checked above). There’s no shortage of production polish here and on the best pressings, the sound really works. (more…)

Elton John’s Too Low For Zero – The Last in a Great Run

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides of this early British import LP – quiet vinyl too
  • There’s some real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals and plenty of rock and roll energy 
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues – the best song Elton’s done in the last 35 years – is killer here
  • One of engineer Bill Price’s best efforts behind the boards in the ’80s, and Chris Thomas’s production is State of the Art as usual
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 Stars: “Happily, this is a reunion that works like gangbusters, capturing everybody at a near-peak of their form.” 

Much of the production — the smooth, sweet harmony vocals, the rich, grungy guitars, the solid, warm piano — reminds me of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, one of the classics from back in the day when Gus Dudgeon was running the show.

Caribou (1974) and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975) have a similarly glossy, perfectionist approach to production as well of course. It was 1975’s Rock of the Westies that went off in another direction. (more…)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Long After Dark

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  • A STUNNING sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Both sides are brimming with Petty’s unique brand of “meat and potatoes” rock and roll
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Rich and full-bodied with tight bass, and brimming with Petty’s unique brand of straight ahead rock and roll, best exemplified by the radio smash You Got Lucky
  • Rolling Stone raves “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play a finely crafted brand of meat-and-potatoes rock. They shudder to a stop for the occasional ballad or showy guitar figure, but the next surging chorus is never far away. They’ve been honing that sound for five albums now, and Petty has gradually hoisted himself into the company of such masterful travelers of Route 66 as Seger and Springsteen. …overall, Long after Dark is Petty’s most accomplished record.”

Long After Dark boasts the monster rocker You Got Lucky and very good sound considering that the album was recorded in 1982, not an especially good year (or decade) to be recording rock music. (more…)

Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

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  • Black Sabbath’s fifth studio album finally makes its Hot Stamper debut, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and tonally correct
  • “an extraordinarily gripping affair”, and “nothing less than a complete success” — The Rolling Stone
  • 4 1/2 stars: “All things considered… Sabbath Bloody Sabbath was arguably Black Sabbath’s fifth masterpiece in four years, and remains an essential item in any heavy metal collection.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These vintage WB pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

No recordings will ever be made that sound like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is of course a CD of this album, quite a few of them I would guess, but those of us with a good turntable could care less. (more…)

The Rolling Stones / Out of Our Heads – Mono or Reprocessed Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed into stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Frank Sinatra – Swing Easy! And Songs For Young Lovers

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More Nelson Riddle

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  • This superb compilation of Sinatra’s two 1954 releases makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side two, and the vinyl is about as quiet as we can find it
  • Drop the needle at the start of side one and you will soon find a living, breathing Frank Sinatra standing between your speakers
  • Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1954, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by the legendary Nelson Riddle
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Sinatra plays around with the melodies without leaving them behind, delivering each line with precision. It ranks as one of his most jazzy performances, as well as one of his most fun and carefree records.”

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Elvis Presley – On Stage February 1970

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  • With superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last, right up there with our Shootout Winner, this original RCA Orange Label pressing is guaranteed to sound dramatically better than any copy you’ve ever heard
  • Here’s Elvis doing songs made famous by others, proving that he can still out-rock and out-soul practically anybody alive
  • With ten million copies sold to date, this album’s appeal has transcended its time and must be considered a true Elvis Classic
  • 4 stars: “”The Wonder of You” might not have been “That’s All Right” or even “Heartbreak Hotel,” but it was a towering performance by a singer who could, even then, run circles around virtually anyone in the business this side of Roy Orbison.”

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Harry Belafonte – Jump Up Calypso

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More Titles on Living Stereo

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  • Stunning sound for this Living Stereo pressing of upbeat calypso tunes; Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • This is a difficult album to find with good sound – for all practical purposes, this is As Good As It Gets, and worlds better than most pressings
  • You have to love the sound of those steel drums recoded through an All Tube Chain with mastering to match
  • Worlds better than the DCC and surely anything else on Heavy Vinyl
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Belafonte was an established all-around entertainer and actor by the time of this album, so it could be seen in a sense as a return to “roots” styles. In any case, it’s all-out calypso, with backing by the Trinidad Steel Band, and qualifies as one of his most energetic albums, even getting rambunctious at times.”

KILLER sound for this Living Stereo pressing that is guaranteed to trounce your DCC, assuming you have one. We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies are full of old-school RCA Tubey Magic, magic that DCC struggled and more often than not failed to achieve with their mostly awful remasters. Tubes are essential to bringing out the natural, relaxed FUN in Belafonte’s music, and DCC had no tubes in their cutting chain.

Unfortunately, the big hit “Jump In The Line” is not one of the better sounding tracks on this album. It has a bit of radio EQ, meaning it’s a little brighter and leaner in a way that’s designed to jump out of your AM radio, but not the best effect on a high resolution audiophile system. Still, on a copy like this it’s still musical and enjoyable; on many copies we played it was absolutely painful. (more…)