Top Artists – Neil Young

Neil Young- Tonight’s The Night – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

A KILLER COPY of one of the very toughest Neil Young albums to find with Hot Stamper sound is right here for the taking, folks. Side one earned an A++ grade while side two beat all comers to earn its A+++ rating. It is beyond difficult to find good sounding copies of this album. We see maybe one or two clean originals with Hot Stamper potential every year, so don’t expect to see a ton of these hitting the site. The music is OFF THE CHARTS, of course, and the sound here is AMAZING.   (more…)

Neil Young – Live Rust – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

SUPERB SOUND ACROSS ALL FOUR SIDES! Neil Young and Crazy Horse are really tearing it up here, and on a White Hot copy like this the sound is amazingly REAL. Full and spacious with plenty of weight and presence, this gets you as close to the stage as any copy of this album can.

This KILLER live set, the ultimate Neil Young concert collection, combines brilliant early material, such as “After the Gold Rush,” with his wonderful middle-era material, including the amazing “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” and “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” and “Tonight’s the Night.” (more…)

The Band – The Last Waltz

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  • The Band’s second live album returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) Hot Stamper sound or close to it on all SIX sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Rich, dynamic and natural sounding with low end weight, midrange smoothness and powerful, punchy bass
  • Features an A-list of brilliant artists, including Van Morrison, Ringo Star, Joni Mitchell, and Muddy Waters, just to name a few
  • 4 stars: “It’s the Band’s “special guests” who really make this set stand out — Muddy Waters’ ferocious version of “Mannish Boy” would have been a wonder from a man half his age, Van Morrison sounds positively joyous on “Caravan,” Neil Young and Joni Mitchell do well for their Canadian brethren, and Bob Dylan’s closing set finds him in admirably loose and rollicking form.”

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Neil Young – Harvest – Our Shootout Winner in 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame since 2008.

Harvest is undeniably one of the most beloved albums in all of classic rock. We get letters all the time from customers hoping to get their hands on Hot Stamper copies, but we’ll never have the supply to keep up with the demand. It’s a tough nut to crack, because a Hot Stamper Harvest has to get so many things right — the lovely pedal steel guitar on Out On The Weekend, the LSO on A Man Needs A Maid and There’s A World (engineered by Glyn Johns), Neil’s grungy electric guitar on Alabama, and so much more. 

Many copies we played would work for the heavy songs and then fall behind on the softer numbers. Others had gorgeous sound on the country-tinged numbers but couldn’t deliver any whomp for the rockers. (more…)

Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

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  • An exceptional pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like nothing else we played all day
  • “Hawks and Doves has a homey feel. “Little Wing,” bare and haltingly lyrical with its miked harp and unaccompanied acoustic, is simpler than anything on the folky Comes a Time, and the rest of the music is defined by Ben Keith’s laconic dobro and steel and Rufus Thobodeaux’s sawing fiddle.” Robert Christgau (A-)

On side one the second track has an especially intimate vocal, worth checking out. Flip the record over and listen to how full-bodied the piano is on the first track on side two. This is the sound of ANALOG. So many copies are dry and edgy, as is the CD I would guess, but here the sound is smooth, natural and enjoyable. (more…)

Neil Young – Zuma – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

The highest rated copy to ever hit the site, with Master Tape Sound on BOTH SIDES! This Reprise pressing has two INCREDIBLE SOUNDING (and QUIET) White Hot A+++ sides. If you are looking for a hard-rockin’ Neil Young album that boasts Demonstration Quality sound powerful to blow away just about any rock record in your collection, this is the hot ticket. Everything you could ever wanted from this album is here. It is nothing short of a knockout!

The sound is big, bold, and wide; it fills the room the moment the needle hits the grooves. The vocals have incredible immediacy and all of that Neil Young texture. The bass is AMAZING — deep, punchy, and tight, with lots of WHOMP. The clarity and transparency are stunning, and there’s tons of life and energy. Most copies we find do at least a few things right, but this is the rare copy that gets just about EVERYTHING right. (more…)

Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

A great (A++) side one backed with an AMAZING (A+++) side two, this is without a doubt one of the very best sounding copies of Rust Never Sleeps we have ever had the privilege of playing here at Better Records. Side two simply cannot be beat. Drop the needle on Powderfinger to hear the Crazy Horse sound at its best — the raging guitars, the big meaty bottom end, and the kind of immediacy that puts Neil Young and his band of misfits right in your listening room. 

Tubey Magic in 1979? Yes, analog was still alive and well then — both sides of this copy prove it. The disastrously synthesized ’80s were on their way but thankfully they hadn’t gotten here yet.

This is a live recording with minimal overdubs. Crazy Horse is of course widely recognized to be one of the all time killer concert acts of its day, so it’s a bit of a shame that most of the copies we played this week made us want to go to sleep. The not-so-Hot copies failed in a number of ways: thin guitars or vocals, overly dry or edgy sound, and insufficient presence, just to name a few. It was the rare copy that made us forget we were listening to a record and allowed us to really get into the music.

Needless to say we had this record playing very very loud. Twenty db less than at the live event, sure, at least, but very very loud for a 18×20 living room in the suburbs. (more…)

Neil Young – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This original Two Tone Super Hot Stamper pressing had condition issues — they all do don’t you know — but it also had KILLER Neil Young LIVE ROCK Sound. The best tracks have that Live-in-the-Studio quality, with minimal processing and maximum ENERGY. (Our commentary about Zuma to the left gets more heavily into the subject.) Suffice to say we love that sound.

Full-bodied and transparent, a combination that balances the best qualities of the recording beautifully, this copy has the goods. The sound is Big and Bold in the best Neil Young tradition, with studio ambience bouncing off the walls and into the open mics he favors. Not quite in the league with the likes of Gold Rush or Zuma, the best sounding tracks — and that does not mean all of them by any means — are a rough guide of what was to come as Neil and his engineer David Briggs got better and better, until they were As Good As It Gets. (For which they get no credit outside of Better Records of course.)

Sibilance Is Key

When the sibilance is cut clean, kept to a minimum and not grainy or gritty sounding, that’s the sign you have a copy with real Hot Stamper potential. This is one of those copies. (more…)

Neil Young – On The Beach – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

HOT STAMPERS FOR THIS NEIL YOUNG GEM FINALLY DISCOVERED. We’ve been trying for quite a while to find a copy of this album with the kind of wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling sound we get from the best copies of Zuma and After The Gold Rush, but it’s been quite the tough task. We love the music, but most of the copies we played left us wondering if we’d ever play one worthy of the Hot Stamper designation. Well, folks, I’m pleased to report that we’ve finally confirmed what we had imagined and hoped — that on the best pressings, this album can sound OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Before we get to discussing the sound of this album and this specific copy, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the string of superb albums Neil released from 1970 to 1976. I mean, look at these titles: After The Gold Rush, Harvest, On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, and Zuma. Not a dog in the lot, to say the least. I can’t think of anyone else besides Led Zep (first five titles) and The Beatles (pick ’em!) who put out at least this many killer albums consecutively. We consider each of those albums a work of genius, and after this week’s progress with On The Beach, we can proudly claim to have found copies of each with the sonic credentials necessary to bring you these masterpieces at their absolute best — exactly the way you want to hear them.

That Live In The Studio Sound

On the best copies, the title track is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s got that live-in-the-studio sound we recognize and love from Zuma, but in this case it sounds like it was recorded at three in the morning in a room full of pot smoke. When you play a Hot Stamper copy, the soundfield is HUGE — big, wide, and deep — and there’s lots of space around each of the instruments. You will not believe all the studio ambience, and you can probably catch a contact high from it. (more…)

Neil Young Harvest – We Review the Half-Speed Mastered Nautilus Pressing

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Sonic Grade: B-

We haven’t played a copy of this record in more than a decade, maybe two decades, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B-” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to see things differently now. 

In the early 2000s we wrote this review:

This is a SURPRISINGLY good sounding Nautilus Half-Speed mastered LP with AMAZING transparency. The sound here is DRAMATICALLY more natural than your average audiophile pressing. Just listen to the phony top end found on most MoFis to see what we mean. On this record you’ll hear none of the hyped-up highs that are MoFi’s claim to fame.

This Nautilus is sure to destroy a typical American pressing, which will tend to sound opaque, thick and dull. This wouldn’t really match up to our Hottest Stampers but you could sure do a lot worse. Although it’s a tad fat at the bottom, it still retains much of the warmth and richness found on the best copies.