- An outstanding copy of Buckingham’s first solo album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- The sound here is rich, full-bodied and lively, with solid and present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around
- You can thank Richard Dashut for the superb recording quality, and Better Records for finding a copy of the record that sounds as good as this one does
- September Song was an inspired choice – it might just be the best song on the album
- “. . . this album to me covers a wide spectrum of emotion and musicality that is hard to find in solo departures like this one. The music carries a funny, kind of goofy vibe throughout . . . but Buckingham isn’t afraid to get serious and pull out dramatic day-to-day human circumstances . . . and let the audience become captivated by his minimalist approach that seems to fit in each time.”
- If you’re a Lindsey Buckingham fan, a killer copy of his album from 1981 surely belongs in your collection
We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life.
The list is purposely wide-ranging. It includes some famous titles (Tumbleweed Connection, The Yes Album), but for the most part I have gone out of way to choose titles from talented artists that are less well known (Atlantic Crossing, Dad Loves His Work), which simply means that you won’t find Every Picture Tells a Story or Rumours or Sweet Baby James on this list because masterpieces of that caliber should already be in your collection and don’t need me to recommend them.
Which is not to say there aren’t some well known masterpieces on the list, because not every well known record is necessarily well known to audiophiles, and some records are just too good not to put on a list of records we think every audiophile ought to get to know better.
Out of the thousands of records we have auditioned and reviewed, there are a couple of hundred that have stood the test of time for us and we feel are deserving of a listen. Many of these will not be to your taste, but they were to mine.
Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone, Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. He was apparently quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are straightforward and unerringly melodic.
The co-leader here is Danny Kirwan and he rocks the hell out of this album. Three of the best songs the band ever did, regardless of incarnation, are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy, all written by Kirwan (with the help of others). His guitar work on these three songs is blistering.
Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without these tracks. Of course they are consistently missing from all such compilations, at least the ones with which I am familiar. The sad fact is that few people miss them because few people have ever heard them.
- This STUNNING copy of Tusk boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all FOUR sides
- The best sounding tracks are killer here – clear, rich, warm, full-bodied, with all the hallmarks of high-production-value analog throughout
- These vintage pressings have the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 40 year old tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copy of those tapes)
- 5 stars: “McVie and Nicks don’t deviate from their established soft rock and folk-rock templates, and all their songs are first-rate… Because of its ambitions, Tusk failed to replicate the success of its two predecessors, yet it earned a dedicated cult audience of fans of twisted, melodic pop.”
- If you’re a fan of Late-’70s pop, especially the kind with a harder edge, this is a Must Own from 1979 that belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1979 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here. (more…)
- It’s the impossibly rare copy that’s this lively, solid and rich… drop the needle on the title track and you’ll see what we mean
- “Arguably the first consistently strong album Fleetwood Mac ever recorded [not true, Kiln House is] … 1972’s Bare Trees is also the album where the band finally defines its post-blues musical personality.”
This period of Fleetwood Mac, from Kiln House (1970) through Mystery to Me (1973) — both are albums I would put at the top of my list to take to my Desert Island — has always been my favorite of the band. I grew up on this stuff, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is a positive THRILL to hear it sound so good!
Until not that many years ago we simply were not able to successfully shootout Bare Trees, Fleetwood Mac’s wonderful album from 1972. The pressings we were playing just didn’t sound very much like Hot Stampers to us. British, German, Japanese, domestic originals, domestic reissues; all of them left much too much to be desired.
Thankfully we can tell you that the best copies sound a whole lot better now than they did then. (more…)
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
I’m on my fourth Hot Stamper now, and I’m having a wonderful experience overall. I wanted to touch base regarding order #3398, which is a Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl) of Rumors. The sound is overall a delight, and although I have yet to do a head-to-head shootout with my 45rpm “audiophile” copy, I can sense I will prefer the copy I bought from you overall.
However, I really crave absolutely silent vinyl for this album, especially for The Chain. When the band comes to a halt, and there’s nothing but silence, it’s perfect. The particular copy I bought is pretty quiet when the music is playing, but the surface noise during quiet/silent passages is a bit of a disappointment for me. This leads me to believe that if a White Hot Stamper of Rumors popped up on your site, I would definitely want to buy it, in the hopes that the vinyl would be even quieter throughout. Do you think a White-Hot copy of Rumors is on the horizon?
I believe your policy is that I’ve got 30 days to return this one for money back, and then 12 months to exchange it, with some reduction. Knowing me, I’m going to want to get a white hot copy next time I see one listed, and I’d really love to do it sooner rather than later. (I say this assuming that one of the things that would separate a super hot from a white hot would be the level of background noise.)
Firstly, the surface noise grades and the sonic grades are not related as a rule. Some records sound great and are noisy, some records sound great and are quiet, and nobody knows which are which until they get cleaned and played.
My advice would be to return the record so that we can eventually get you one you will be happy with. We do the shootout once or twice a year, so we should be able to find you a better sounding copy. A quieter copy is another matter. We could do a shootout for 8-10 copies and find none that were any quieter than the one we sold you. We know what to listen for now, the quiet parts of The Chain. But that does not mean that out of the copies we play in any given year a copy with Super Hot grades would be quieter than the copy we sent you.
To get you a quieter one is a matter of luck, it might take three or four shootouts to get that lucky.
But if you want to keep the copy we sent you and basically “rent” it until we can find you a quieter one in a year or two, that is one of your options. We are good either way, Rumours sells very quickly, lots of folks waiting for a nice copy to show up on the site.
I wrote this about your 45 copy:
This is a rock album — it needs to be played LOUD and it needs to be played on a DYNAMIC system.
Case in point: consider how quietly The Chain starts out and how loud it is by the end. Those kinds of macro-dynamics are very rare on a pop recording. Rumours has the kind of dynamics you just don’t hear anymore, which is why the killer copies are a such a THRILL to play on a big dynamic system fitted with a top-notch turntable! (more…)
Yet Another Important Lesson We Learned from Record Experiments Part one of this commentary concerns the random nature of record making processes. It can be found here.
A number of years ago we had the opportunity to crack open two brand new sealed copies of a recently remastered Heavy Vinyl pressing. We were told that with this record every effort was made to produce the highest quality product and to maintain the highest quality control throughout the production process, such that every copy produced, from first to last, would be more or less identical. Not just in terms of surfaces, but sound quality too.
To accomplish this feat the producer used the real master tape (we were told), had a well known mastering engineer do the mastering at a highly-regarded studio, then had a well-known audiophile pressing plant in Germany make the record, using the highest quality vinyl compounds available, in presses that meet the highest standards in the industry, operated by highly skilled professionals.
Long before any stamper could possibly be worn out it would be replaced. All the metal mothers and stampers would be made in a way designed to eliminate any possible variation. One and only one complete run would be made; if another was needed at some later date the whole process would have to be started over from scratch using the same strict quality controls.
No corners would be cut, nothing would be left to chance. Each one of the finished records would reflect the exceptional efforts brought to bear at every stage in the process. Every copy would be quiet, the sound would be of the highest audiophile quality, and, more to the point, every copy — from number 001 all the way to number 7,500 — would sound as good as any other.
As you might suspect, our opinion as to the possibility of these results being achievable is that they are not.
Bear in mind that this is an opinion supported by the playing of thousands and thousands of records, including sometimes more than a hundred of the same title, and having them all sound different to some degree.
So we proceeded to test the proposition that by exercising maximal control over all the known variables of record production, using the most exacting standards at each and every step, two copies of the same record, chosen at random, would sound the same.
We picked a song, cued it up and listened to it for a minute or so. Then we put the other copy on our table, cued up the same track and let it rip.
Falsified in Fifteen Seconds
Immediately the sound was different and, importantly, quite a bit better. The first big cymbal splash was brighter and more life-like, with more extended high frequencies. The bass was better too: deeper, as well as more solid and easier to follow. All of this was evident within the first fifteen seconds of playing the second copy. So much for controlling the variables.
The random variability inherent in the record making process cannot be overcome by best practices and high standards. The process is complex, not well understood, and surely stochastic; some parts of it can be controlled but not all the parts of it can be controlled, which means that the finished product will have some unavoidable element of randomness.
Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Bare Trees. Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.
Child of Mine
A real rocker from Danny Kirwan. If the electric piano is rich on your copy and you have some top end and space you are probably off to a very good start.
Sunny Side of Heaven
A wonderfully poignant, even melancholy instrumental track by Bob Welch. Not sure if that’s him on guitar but the playing is beautiful. The high point of side one.
This is where most of the best music on Bare Trees can be found. We like every song on this side.
If this song doesn’t get your blood pumping, you need to turn up the volume another click or two. There is tremendous energy and joy in this song, and it needs to be played loud to get those feelings across.
Spare Me a Little of Your Love
This is a tough track to get right. The Brit is smoother and sweeter, which works on this song. Bad copies can sound hard on Christine’s vocals as well as the chorus.
One of my all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. On a good copy this track sounds so sweet. The texture to the voices is right on the money — neither grainy nor dull.
Thoughts on a Grey Day (more…)
- A STUNNING original Warner Bros. pressing of Mirage, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom
- Most copies are washed-out, recessed, and lack weight, but this one will show you just how right this music can sound
- The producing-engineering team of Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut return to provide top quality Rumours-like production
- The album spent five weeks at Number One, probably on the strength of the amazingly fun single “Hold Me.”
It’s a surprisingly good album if you can find the right copy.
The mids and highs can be really silky and sweet. The whole album has that glossy sound, clearly the influence of Lindsay Buckingham and his production team. The sound of Fleetwood Mac in this period is their doing, and with a phenomenal run of success that’s rarely been seen in pop history, it’s hard to argue with either their approach to the material or the sound. It sounds like they used every track on the multi-track recorder and then some. (more…)
- With superb Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this vintage Reprise pressing of the 1975 self-titled album boasts outstanding sound
- A Rock and Pop Top 100 Title – their best recording bar none – the sound is Tubey Magical like no other Mac LP
- Unlike the MoFi, the best early pressings have huge amounts of deep bass, and if you’ve got the speakers to play an album with a bottom this big, you are in for a thrill
- 5 stars: “Fleetwood Mac is a blockbuster album that isn’t dominated by its hit singles, and its album tracks demonstrate a depth of both songwriting and musicality that would blossom fully on Rumours.”