Top Artists – Al Stewart

Al Stewart – Past, Present & Future

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One of the few good copies of this album we’ve ever heard! Side one of this domestic pressing is a stunner, rating between A++ and A+++ with excellent sounding bass, incredible transparency and lots of energy. The vocals sound just right and the overall sound is wonderfully clean and clear. Side two wasn’t quite as amazing but still beat the pants off most of the copies we had — it was rich and full enough to earn an A+ grade.  

It took us ages to track down copies of this album that didn’t sound flat, boring, and stuck in the speakers. We played a large number of Brit and domestic copies, and while both versions can sound lovely on the best pressings, there are certainly plenty of bad sounding versions out there from both countries.

This is the album that comes before Modern Times, Year Of The Cat and Time Passages in the Al Stewart discography, so if you’re a fan of any of those albums I imagine you’ll find a lot to like here. (more…)

Al Stewart – Zero She Flies

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This is an AMAZINGLY RARE CBS Import LP.  We were pleasantly surprised when we flipped to side two and heard lots of tubey magic. The sound was rich and full with Al’s voice both present and natural.

It’s very unlikely that I will find another copy anytime soon and who knows if it would sound as good as this one does anyway. It’s certainly not likely to be in this kind of IMMACULATE condition either. Side two is where the real Hot Stamper action is on this record. If it were part of a Hot Stamper shootout we guess that side two would rate about A++. (more…)

Al Stewart – Time Passages

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  • A stunning Shootout Winning early British pressing – the first “Triple Triple” (A+++) to hit the site in many years
  • Standout tracks include Song on the Radio and Time Passages (an edited version of which made it all the way to #7 on the Pop charts)
  • “… this is exceptionally well-crafted, from Stewart’s songs, where even three-minute songs seem like epics, to Alan Parsons’ cinematic arrangements and productions… one of Al Stewart’s very best albums.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

Our Hot Stampers of Year Of The Cat are always a big hit, and this, the 1978 follow-up, shares many of the same qualities. Alan Parsons is a pretty good producer and engineer it turns out. This copy is richer and sweeter than most, with a big, bold, three-dimensional sound that perfectly suits the kind of Big Productions that are his stock in trade. The bigger the better we say! (more…)

Al Stewart – Orange

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  • Stewart’s fourth studio album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two, mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • At the right levels on the right system, this early import pressing will present you with a living, breathing Al Stewart standing right between your speakers
  • This is the more folky side of Al Stewart – it also features none other than a Mr. Rick Wakeman on piano and organ
  • 4 stars: “… the first signs of the mix of acoustic and electric guitar sounds that he would perfect on his next album, Past, Present and Future, two years later… gets something of the beat and the sound that Stewart would refine in achieving his subsequent success”

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Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

For the first time on our site, TRIPLE PLUS MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We play stacks of copies of this one a few times every year, but I don’t recall ever hearing one that sounded so correct from the first song to the last.

Let me tell you — when this album sounds as bad as most copies do, the music just plain does not work. So many copies add a nasty layer of grit to the vocals, and the effect is positively painful. This copy shows you a Year Of The Cat that is just not available on the typical copy, and certainly not on the MoFi pressing either.

This White Hot Stamper is the UNDISPUTED WINNER and Current Heavyweight Champion of our latest Hot Stamper shootout for Al Stewart’s Masterpiece, Year of the Cat. How come more of these don’t turn up on the site? Simple — most copies of this record just plain SUCK. We kept asking ourselves Where is the Famous Alan Parsons’ Dark Side of the Moon Magic that’s supposed to be on this recording? This record was THE Demo Disc in every stereo store in town when it came out back in the day, but we could not find any correlation between that fact and the sound we were hearing on copy after copy. The full, rich sound we knew so well from other Alan Parsons’ productions was simply nowhere to be found.

Until this bad boy copy came along. Folks, here is the True Audiophile Demo Disc Sound you remember. It wasn’t all a dream. It was real! Rich acoustic guitars, tubey-magical sweetness on the vocals, ambience around everything and everyone, huge amounts of space revealed by the breathtaking transparency of this pressing, top and bottom extension completely unlike the average copy. Everything that this album was supposed to do was finally happening when we dropped the needle on this side one. Talk about BIG SOUND, here it was! (more…)

Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat

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  • A stunning Shootout Winning copy and the first Triple Triple (A+++) to hit the site in years
  • This killer pressing knocked out everything we could throw at it on both sides
  • With engineering by Alan Parsons, the best pressings are every bit the Audiophile Demo Discs you remember
  • The best sides have Tubey Magical acoustic guitars, sweet vocals, huge amounts of space, breathtaking transparency, and so much more
  • Allmusic 4 1/2 stars: “A tremendous example of how good self-conscious progressive pop can be, given the right producer and songwriter — and if you’re a fan of either prog or pop and haven’t given Al Stewart much thought, prepare to be enchanted.”

Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end. This album can sound really wonderful (what else would you expect from an Alan Parson’s production?), but the typical pressings just can’t bring it to life. This one is a HUGE step up, miles away from the gritty, almost unlistenable copies we hear so often. (more…)

Al Stewart – Year Of The Cat – Is the MoFi Good or Bad?

More Al Stewart

More Year Of The Cat

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Sonic Grade: D to B-

If you own the typical MoFi version of this album you happen to own one of the All Time Mastering Disasters of the modern era. Ridiculously boosted at both ends, their version is all but unlistenable on a high end stereo. 

Some copies are worse than others, so we are conservatively giving MoFi’s pressing a sonic grade of D. We’ve played some in the past that clearly deserved an F (F as in Failing), but we also once played one that sounded pretty good, which we describe below. If you’ve played half a dozen MoFi copies and plucked out the best one, yours might be good too. If you haven’t heard a bunch, chances are slim that yours is any better than awful.

There’s only one way to tell of course, and that’s to pull it off the shelf and give it a spin. You may be shocked at just how hyped-up it has gotten since the last time you heard it.

If you play your records back on an old console, with maybe a blown woofer or two, okay, I can see how the sound of the MoFi might work. But I’m guessing most of you have something better than that, and since you do, one of our Hot Stamper pressings will absolutely positively blow your mind, showing you the real Year of the Cat. We guarantee it. (more…)