Top Artists – Eric Clapton, Cream, Blind Faith, etc.

Letter of the Week – “…as if I were sitting in that Southern California recording studio all those years ago.” 

More of the Music of Carole King

More of the Music of The Eagles

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

Hey Tom, 

First a short thank you. I was slow in ordering a record I needed for an audiophile’s friend’s birthday this week, and you guys got it to me. There is a personal service aspect of your team that just adds to the quality of the product. As to that…..

This morning I went to my record collection looking for the right one to listen to with morning coffee at the start of a beautiful Friday. I came across the very first Hot Stamper I ever purchased from you. A copy of Carol King’s Tapestry. I remember the nervousness I felt when making that first “investment”…. Have to tell you, it sounds even better today. The dynamic range, the lingering cymbal clash, the clarity of James Taylor’s acoustic guitar…as if I were sitting in that Southern California recording studio all those years ago. 

BTW… I had a very cool experience last week. My boss is friends with a guy who’s name is Herb Tobin. Herb bought an ocean front house in a small berg north Miami called Golden Beach back in 1982. He bought it from a Miami recording studio that use to be called Criteria, later changing their name to the current The Hits Factory. My boss arranged for us to have lunch with Mr. Tobin on my birthday. By now, you no doubt have guessed the address….461 Ocean Blvd. Not only did Eric Clapton stay there and was so inspired at the turning point in his life that time meant he named the album, and used the image looking back from the beach at the back of the house in 1974 as the album cover. The Eagles also stayed there while recording Hotel California.

We met Mr. Tobin out for lunch and he told me many stories of all the strange, and some unwelcome visitors he has had since 1982. One most welcomed visitor was in the 1990’s he got a call from Clapton’s agent and Eric wanted to bring his wife by and show her the house. They ended up having lunch out on the back patio, where the palm tree is on the album cover. Eric autographed 10 records for Mr. Tobin that day and he had 4 left plus one he had framed. My boss made arrangements with Mr. Tobin in advance and he gave me one…. I am having it framed. I have always loved that record, since ’74. Not looking for agreement, but I have never been able to warm up to any of the Cream, Derek and the Dominos, etc. and anything after what are for me the 4 best (461; Backless; No Reason to Cry; and There’s One In Every Crowd), is simply not my cup of tea. But 461 for me is not only Clapton’s best work, it is one of my top 10 albums of all time. Something totally authentic about it.

Wanted to share a little with you of the impact all your good work makes. (more…)

Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard

More Eric Clapton

  • An outstanding UK pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, strong rhythmic energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these British LPs simply capture more of the 461 midrange magic than they do
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the pop concessions on the album don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ ‘Willie and the Hand Jive,’ the traditional blues ‘Motherless Children,’ Bob Marley’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ or Clapton’s emotional original ‘Let It Grow.'”

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff. (more…)

Derek and the Dominos – Layla

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Eric Clapton

  • Some of our favorite Clapton songs are here: Bell Bottom Blues, Tell The Truth, Little Wing, Layla and Have You Ever Loved A Woman?
  • One of the most difficult albums to find audiophile sound for, but a lot easier for us now that we know what pressings can actually sound good
  • Clapton’s greatest album: “But what really makes Layla such a powerful record is that Clapton, ignoring the traditions that occasionally painted him into a corner, simply tears through these songs with burning, intense emotion.”

Outstanding sound for all four sides of this classic album. Unless you plan on playing a very big pile of copies you will be hard-pressed to find a copy with sound like this. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I recently changed my entire system and now all of my Better Records are sounding spectacular.”

More of the Music of Eric Clapton

More Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Eric Clapton

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

Hey Tom, 

I just listened to the Eric Clapton Unplugged White Hot Stamper I purchased from you.

All I can say is AMAZING. I’ve been a customer of yours going back about 15 years ago. I recently changed my entire system and now all of my Better Records are sounding spectacular.

I can’t wait to hear the Crosby, Stills, Nash White Hot stamper I just purchased from you.

Thanks

Dave

David,

We could not be happier to hear that news!

The better your equipment, the better our records sound, that is just a fact.

Hope you like that CSN album, it’s a bitch to find a copy that sounds like the ones we sell. It’s no demo disc but is real and correct in a way that not one out of a hundred copies are.

Best, TP

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Eric Clapton – Journeyman

More Eric Clapton

  • A superb import copy with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Forget the commonly dry-sounding domestic copies – the pressings mastered in Germany and the UK were the only ones good enough for us to put in a shootout
  • Rich, lively, spacious – the right pressings are surprisingly good-sounding for a recording from 1989
  • The big hit was “Pretending,” but “Bad Love” (both went to Number One) won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… a laid-back and thoroughly engaging display of Clapton’s virtuosity. On the whole, it’s the best studio album he’s released since Slowhand.”

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Eric Clapton – Self-Titled

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More Debut Albums of Interest

  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish on this early UK Polydor pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Man, what a revelation to hear this old favorite sound so rich and open – you’ll have a VERY difficult time finding one that sounds this good lying around in your local record store’s bins, that’s for sure
  • Spaciousness, richness and freedom from grit and grain are key to the best pressings, and here you will find all three
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Throughout the album, Clapton turns out concise solos that de-emphasize his status as guitar god, even when they display astonishing musicality and technique.”

This is not your usual Clapton album, and that’s a good thing because most Clapton albums are full of filler. Not so here — almost every song is good, and many are superb.

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Advances in Playback Technology Are More Than Blind Faith

More of the Music of Eric Clapton

More of the Music of Steve Winwood

Reviews and Commentaries for Blind Faith’s Debut

In a 2007 commentary for the Hot Stamper pressing of Blind Faith we noted that:

When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT. Like Layla or Surrealistic Pillow, this is no demo disc by any stretch of the imagination, but that should hardly keep us from enjoying the music. And now we have the record that lets us do it.

The Playback Technology Umbrella

Why did it take so long? Why does it sound good now, after decades of problems? For the same reason that so many great records are only now revealing their true potential: advances in playback technology.

Audio has finally reached the point where the magic in Blind Faith’s grooves is ready to be set free.

What exactly are we referring to? Why, all the stuff we talk about endlessly around here. These are the things that really do make a difference. They change the fundamentals. They break down the barriers.

You know the drill. Things like better cleaning techniques, top quality front end equipment, Aurios, better electricity, Hallographs and other room treatments, amazing phono stages like the EAR 324p, power cables; the list goes on and on. If you want records like Blind Faith to sound good, we don’t think it can be done without bringing to bear all of these advanced technologies to the problem at hand, the problem at hand being a recording with its full share of problems and then some.

Without these improvements, why wouldn’t Blind Faith sound as dull and distorted as it always has? The best pressings were made more than thirty years ago [thirty? make that fifty]; they’re no different. What has to change is how you clean and play those pressings.

The Good News

The good news is that the technologies we recommend really do work. Now Blind Faith, the record, can do what it never could before: sound so good you can find yourself totally lost in the music. The best copies, played back properly, make you oblivious to the album’s sonic problems because, for the most part, they really weren’t the album’s problems, they were, to some extent, your problems.

They were mostly post-groove; you just didn’t know it. This is how audio works. The site is full of commentary discussing these issues. Rest assured that no matter how good you think your stereo sounds now, it can get better if you want it to, and that’s good news if you’re a fan of albums like Blind Faith.

Of course, let us not forget the old Garbage In, Garbage Out rule. You must have a good pressing if you want this album to sound good, and that’s precisely where we and our famous Hot Stamper Pressings come in.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

Record Playback Advice 

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Cream / Fresh Cream – Yes, It Can Actually Sound Quite Good on Atco

More Cream

More British Blues Rock

  • Fresh Cream returns to the site with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this Plum and Tan Atco stereo original
  • The band’s debut album has much better sound than most of those that followed – it’s surprisingly Tubey Magical, with tons of studio space and lovely vocal presence
  • If all you know is the DCC pressing, or any other Heavy Vinyl pressing, you are in for quite a treat with this domestic Hot Stamper
  • The Atco pressings never win our shootouts, but they can still have sound that is quite a bit better than 90% of the pressings audiophiles seem to like
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “Fresh Cream represents so many different firsts, it’s difficult to keep count. Cream, of course, was the first supergroup, but their first album not only gave birth to the power trio, it also was instrumental in the birth of heavy metal and the birth of jam rock…”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1966 is clearly one of their best, and one of their best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1966 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG


We recently finished a shootout for this band’s hard-rockin’ debut album and were once again delighted to hear how good this music can sound when you get a pressing that sounds as good as this one does. Nothing the band did in the studio was as well-recorded as their first album.

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Cream – Wheels Of Fire

More Cream

  • Cream ROCKS on this insanely good UK import with KILLER Shoutout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides three and four
  • The power and energy of the live sides is off the charts, since off the charts is the kind of sound that wins shootouts — punchy, open, and spacious with bass and whomp you have never experienced for this music, guaranteed
  • Everything you’d want sonically from a live Cream recording is present on sides three and four – big-time presence, tons of life, tonal correctness, and loads of tubey magic
  • 4 stars: “…Clapton is at a peak here, whether he’s tearing off solos on a 17-minute “Spoonful” or goosing “White Room” toward the heights of madness. But it’s the architect of “White Room,” bassist Jack Bruce, who, along with his collaborator Peter Brown, reaches a peak as a songwriter…. [I]n many ways Wheels of Fire is indeed filled with Cream’s very best work, since it also captures the fury and invention (and indulgence) of the band at its peak on the stage and in the studio, but as it tries to find a delicate balance between these three titanic egos, it doesn’t quite add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. But taken alone, those individual parts are often quite tremendous.
  • If you’re a fan of Clapton and the band, this RSO UK import from 1968 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1968 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

It’s exceptionally difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues over the years, and it’s very rare to find a copy that sounds this good on all four sides. (more…)

Eric Clapton’s Debut Album – A Classic of Classic Rock

More of the Music of Eric Clapton

More Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Eric Clapton

We had a killer pressing a few years back which sounded a whole lot better than I ever thought the album could sound. Man, what a revelation to hear an old favorite sound so amazingly spacious and sweet.

I’ve been playing this album since 1970, the year it came out. Back then my collection was made up of albums by The Beatles, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills and Nash, America, Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Chicago, James Taylor, Spirit, The Band, Loggins and Messina, Blind Faith, Bread, The Who …

This was the music of my youth, and although many other artists and styles of music have been added to the playlist in the ensuing decades, Classic Rock still makes up a substantial portion of the music I play and enjoy today. (more…)