Top Artists – Blood, Sweat and Tears

Two Reviews of Child Is Father to the Man – Fremer Vs. Better Records – You Be the Judge

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Reviews and Commentaries for Blood, Sweat and Tears

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In 2010 MF reviewed both the Sundazed and Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl pressings of the album. I think his review is mistaken on a number of counts, and mostly unhelpful. The commentary below will discuss his errors in detail, in the hopes that you, dear reader, will not make the same mistakes yourself. 

He talks about his history with the album for a while, and then notes:

Anyway, the original “360 Sound” edition of this record sounds fantastic. It’s a high quality Columbia studio recording, with vivid harmonics, impressive transparency and dynamics, shimmering highs and tight extended bass. The soundstage is expansive and the images tightly presented. I’m not sure it can get much better than the original given how well-pressed Columbia records were in those days, especially if you have a clean original.

We, however, seem to hold precisely the opposite view. I quote from our review:

Why did it take us so long [to do a Hot Stamper shootout]? Let me ask you this: have you ever played this album? The average copy of this record is a sonic MESS. Even the best copies have problems.

We then go on to discuss in detail what most copies do wrong and what to listen for in order to find a copy that gets it right. (More on that later.) (more…)

Blood, Sweat & Tears – Blood, Sweat & Tears 3

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  • A STUNNING sounding copy and the first to hit the site in over 7 years! Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • Both sides here have the BIG JAZZ-ROCK sound — stretching from wall to wall and floor to ceiling, with energy and power that only a handful of albums can begin to compete with
  • This copy shows you just how good Roy Halee’s engineering used to be, comparable to his brilliant work on BS&T’s previous album, the one we extol to this day as (probably) the best sounding rock record ever made
  • David Clayton-Thomas remained an enthusiastic blues shouter, and the band still managed to put together lively arrangements, especially on the Top 40 hits “Hi-De-Ho” and “Lucretia Mac Evil”… BS&T 3 was another chart-topping gold hit.” – All Music

An amazing sounding copy! The brass is rich, solid, and present, with correct timbre for every instrument from the bass trombone all the way up the scale to piccolo trumpet. This is exactly the sound we were looking for and couldn’t find — until we played this copy. No other side one could touch it. It’s BIG down low, bigger than any other copy by far. The vocals are clear and present. The huge 30+ member chorus on the first track works on this copy; it doesn’t most of the time. It obviously presents a real challenge to any engineer, but Halee is up to it, judging solely by the sound on this very copy. Mastering and pressing issues end up making that chorus sound small, thin and opaque most of the time.

Lucretia MacEvil, a minor hit, has more compression than the rest of the side, to make it more radio-friendly of course, but here it holds up much better than on most copies. (more…)

Blood, Sweat & Tears – Self-Titled

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  • Both sides of this outstanding original 360 pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound and play reasonably quietly, all things considered
  • The only versions of the album we sell are the 360 originals, but most of the dozens plus stamper numbers we know cannot hold a candle to this pressing
  • The sound is HUGE, rich, dynamic and POWERFUL – BS&T is a permanent member of our Top 100 and a Demo Disc par excellence
  • This is surely Roy Halee’s engineering masterpiece, and here’s the kind of pressing that, given the right equipment, room, and setup, can really make our case
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Their finest moment and a testimony to the best of the jazz/rock movement … The album is bold, brassy and adventurous.”

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Is the Average Record Really Worthless? – We Do the Math (So You Don’t Have To)

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What follows is an excerpt from a much older letter in which the writer made the case, as best he could, that spending lots of money on records is foolish when for a dollar one can buy a perfectly good record at a thrift store and get exactly the same music and decent enough sound.

We think this is silly and, with a few rough calculations, a heavy dose of self-promotion and not a little bullying, we set out to prove that the average record is worthless. Prepare to confront our sophistic logic. (Yes, we are well aware that our reasoning is specious, but it’s no more specious than anybody else’s reasoning about records, so there.)

Jason, our letter writer, points out this fact:

Your records are a poor value in terms of investment. Until you convince the whole LP community that your HOT-STAMPER choices are the pinnacle of sound a buyer will never be able to re-sell B S & T for $300. Even if they swear it is the best sounding copy in the world.

We replied as follows:

If records are about money, then buying them at a thrift store for a buck apiece and getting something halfway decent makes perfect sense. As the Brits say, “that’s value for money.” If we sell you a Hot Stamper for, say, $500, can it really be five hundred times better? (more…)

Blood, Sweat & Tears – Child is Father to the Man

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  • Absolutely amazing sound throughout, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • This copy will show you just how big, full-bodied, lively and POWERFUL this music can be on the right pressing
  • Not many records on this site are harder to find with top quality sound and reasonably quiet surfaces
  • 5 stars: “Child Is Father to the Man is keyboard player/singer/arranger Al Kooper’s finest work, an album on which he moves the folk-blues-rock amalgamation of the Blues Project into even wider pastures… One of the great albums of the eclectic post-Sgt. Pepper era of the late ’60s.”

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The Turn Up Your Volume Test – Blood Sweat and Tears

Dear Reader,

We have just recently moved our record business to our new Shopify store. None of the links to the old site will work anymore. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope to be able to rectify the situation soon. For now please check out Better Records, Mach II, home of the ultimate vinyl pressing, the White Hot Stamper.

Tom Port – Better Records

 

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In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. I may be biased because I like the music so much, but played on a Big Speaker System a Hot Stamper pressing is nothing less than ASTOUNDING, the ultimate Demo Disc. It has the power of LIVE MUSIC.

You don’t find that on a record too often, practically never in fact. I put this record at the top of The Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time link (seen on the left) and said it was in a class of its own for good reason — IT IS IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN.

As I’ve noted before, this record is a milestone in the history of popular music. Not only is it The Most Successful Fusion of Rock and Jazz Ever. It’s also One of the Finest Recordings of Popular Music Ever.

The sound is nothing short of amazing. Just the drums alone are enough to win awards: the kick drum has real kick, the snare may actually be the best rock snare ever recorded, the cymbals shimmer like real cymbals; almost everything is right with this record. Especially the music.

Good Demo Disc, Good Test Disc Too

This is the kind of record that doesn’t fall into the “Good Demo Disc, Bad Test Disc” trap. It’s both a good Demo Disc and a good Test Disc; not too many records can make that claim. (Especially the kinds of records audiophiles tend to like.) The good copies of this album sound good on almost any system. But the better systems reveal qualities to this recording that you are very unlikely to have ever heard on another record. That’s the Demo side.

On the Test side, no matter what level your system is at, any change you make will be instantly obvious on this recording, for good or bad. Nothing can fool it. It’s too tough a test, the toughest I know of bar none. For this record to sound right, truly right, every aspect of its reproduction has to be at the highest level. Any shortcoming will be glaringly obvious. The record may still sound good, but it won’t really sound right. (Knowing what “right” means in this context makes all the difference in the world of course.)

If you want to improve your stereo, this is the record that will show you whether or not you’re making progress. (more…)

Child Is Father to the Man on Speakers Corner – What The Hell Were They Thinking?

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and a Heavy Vinyl Disaster if there ever was one (and oh yes, there are plenty).

Back in 2007 when this record came out, we auditioned one and were dumbfounded at the poor quality of the sound. We noted:

This is the worst sounding Heavy Vinyl Reissue LP I have heard in longer than I can remember.

To make a record sound this bad you have to work at it.

What the hell were they thinking? Any audiophile record dealer that would sell you this record should be run out of town on a rail. Of course that never happens, because every last one of them (present company excluded) will carry it, of that you can be sure.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, out comes a record like this to prove that it can.

More on Blood, Sweat and Tears brilliant debut, Child Is Father to the Man

After You’ve Played 100 Copies of the Album, What’s Left to Learn?

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A common misconception of many of those visiting the site for the first time is that we think we know it all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We definitely do not know it all. We learn something new about records with practically every shootout.

Case in point: the record you do NOT see pictured above. (The record we recently learned something new about — this, after having played scores and scores of copies over the years — will remain a secret for the time being. At least until we find another one.)

In 2013 we played a red label Columbia reissue of a famous ’60s rock record (again, not shown) that had the best side two we have ever heard. Up to that point no copy other than the 360 original had ever won a shootout, and we’ve done plenty. Lo and behold here was a reissue that put them all to shame.
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Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound

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A while back we did a monster-sized shootout for Blood, Sweat and Tears’ second release, an album we consider THE Best Sounding Rock Record of All Time. In the midst of the discussion of a particular pressing that completely blew our minds — a copy we gave a Hot Stamper grade of A with Four Pluses , the highest honor we can bestow upon it — various issues arose, issues such as: How did this copy get to be so good? and What does it take to find such a copy? and, to paraphrase David Byrne, How did it get here?

Which brings us to this commentary, which centers around the concept of outliers.

Wikipedia defines an outlier this way: “In statistics, an outlier is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.” In other words, it’s something that is very far from normal. In the standard bell curve distribution pictured below, the outliers are at the far left and far right, far from the vast majority of the data which is in the middle.

In the world of records, most copies of any title you care to name would be average sounding. The vertical line in the center of the graph shows probability; the highest probability is that any single copy of a record will be at the top of the curve near the middle, which means it will simply be average. The closer to the vertical line it is, the more average it will be. As you move away from the vertical line, the data point — the record — becomes less and less average. As you move away from the center, to the left or the right, the record is either better sounding or worse sounding than average. (more…)

Blood Sweat and Tears – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade – MoFi: D

We found a Hot Stamper copy for one of our best customers a while back and he wrote an incisive commentary which may be of interest to you. To see the results of his comparison between the Direct Disc Labs Half-Speed, the MOFI Anadisq, his original domestic pressing, and the Hot Stamper he bought from us, check out his letter.

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[I want to thank Roger Lawry for his extensive commentary on the BS&T’s second album. His critical listening skills are obviously quite well developed, especially since he agrees with me about what is the best sounding BS&T — the one I sold him! I will be adding some caveats in places to clarify a few issues, but basically Roger’s assessment is right on the money. I added the underlining below for emphasis.]

Hi, Tom:

I listened to 3 versions of the BS&T record and here is what I found (I wrote up a little review–you can use it on your website or laugh and delete it, whatever). (more…)