Top Artists – Neil Young

Neil Young / After the Gold Rush

More of the Music of Neil Young

Reviews and Commentaries for After the Gold Rush


  • After the Gold Rush returns to the site after more than a one year hiatus, here with excellent Double Plus (A++) Tubey Magical sound or BETTER on both sides of this early Reprise pressing
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl too, at the high end of Mint Minus Minus, the kind of vinyl we rarely find on early pressings of this album (which are of course the only ones that do well in our shootouts)
  • A very difficult record to find these days with the right stampers and audiophile playing surfaces
  • This is the vinyl embodiment of the Classic Analog Rock sound we love – smooth, rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear
  • 5 stars in Allmusic, Top 100, and a Demo Disc that is guaranteed to knock your socks off
  • “It’s a magnificent, style-setting album which saw the Canadian’s elevation to rock hero. For those who like their emotion raw.”
  • If you’re a Neil Young fan, and who isn’t?, this classic from 1970 belongs in your collection.

Folks, a Hot Stamper collection of the Greatest Rock Records of All Time would not be complete without a knockout copy this album. That’s why it’s been a Better Records All-Time Top 100 Title right from the start.


Letter of the Week – “I’ve been thinking about buying a record from you for twenty years.”

More of the Music of Neil Young

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Neil Young

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

Hey Tom, 

Thanks for the Tonight’s The Night hot stamper! It is by far the greatest sounding copy I have ever heard. I’ve been thinking about buying a record from you for twenty years. I finally pulled the trigger and it is everything I hoped it would be. Truly a delight! I’ve already taped it so I can drive around listening to it on my Nakamichi deck in my car. Looking forward to Time Fades Away. Thanks a million!


Dear Allen,

Glad to hear it!

I had a Nak deck back in the 80s, loved it until it broke and it was too much money for the younger, poorer version of Tom Port at the time to fix. Adjustable azimuth was unbeatable. I loved my Dragon for playback. I still have plenty of cassettes I made back in the day. And they still sound great to me.


Neil Young – Time Fades Away

More Neil Young

More Live Recordings of Interest

  • This early Reprise pressing is close to the BEST we have ever heard, with killer Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) Front Row Center sound throughout – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • A huge step up from practically every other copy we played in our most recent shootout – full-bodied, smooth and musical, the classic sound of Neil Young at his performing peak
  • 4 stars: “…sounds very much of a piece with Tonight’s the Night and On the Beach, albums that explored the troubled zeitgeist of America in the mid-’70s in a way few rockers had the courage to face. If the performances are often loose and ragged, they’re also brimming with emotional force… Time Fades Away ranks with the bravest and most painfully honest albums of his career… it isn’t for everyone, but you may be surprised by its powerful effects.”

Unlike most “live” albums this one was made direct to tape, with no fixes or overdubs, and on the best pressings that warts-and-all approach really pays off. There’s good weight, real openness, and the tonality on these better copies is both rich and sweet. This kind of sound can put you right in the front row.

Finding a copy like this is no walk in the park. The stamper numbers are all over the map, providing little if any guidance. Also, since the album didn’t sell all that well and was never released on CD, there just aren’t that many clean copies floating around. Complicating matters even further, the eight songs here were recorded at seven different shows, so the sound, of course, varies a bit from track to track. It took a long time and a lot of work to make sense of it all, but you Neil Young fanatics are going to get a thrill out of the sound on a Hot Stamper copy — guaranteed. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / 4 Way Street

More David Crosby

More Stephen Stills

More Graham Nash

More Neil Young

  • A vintage copy featuring superb Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them on all FOUR sides – hard to find this one quiet nowadays, so fans should take note than not many unscratched copies are going to make it to the site
  • This live album gives you the “naked” sound of the real thing – the real voices and the real guitars and the real everything else, in a way that would never happen again
  • Bill Halverson worked his magic, but only the best pressings let his genius shine the way it does here
  • 4 1/2 stars: “4 Way Street, released in April of 1971: a live double-LP set, chock-full of superb music distilled down from a bunch of nights on that tour that more than fulfilled the promise of the group.”
  • Rolling Stone raves that “Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young are all performers of unquestionable talent, and mostly because they stay out of each others’ way, 4 Way Street must surely be their best album to date.”

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It’s not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four!

The Naked Sound of Live Music

The song “Triad,” just to cite one example, presents us with a lone David Crosby and his acoustic guitar. It’s as real sounding as anything I’ve ever heard from the band. Listening to that natural guitar tone brings home the fact that their studio recordings (and studio recordings in general) are processed and degraded compared to what the microphones must have picked up.

This live album gives you the “naked” sound of the real thing — the real voices and the real guitars and the real everything else, in a way that would never happen again. (Later CSN albums are mostly dreadful. Fortunately, later Neil Young albums, e.g., Zuma, are often Demo Discs of the highest quality.)

Side two, our favorite of the four, gives you authentically Live Neil Young from 1970; no other live Neil Young record contained material from this era until the recently released Live at Massey Hall album (1971), which is superb and belongs in your collection on CD. (I admit to not having heard the vinyl.)

What To Watch Out For

If the singers get hard and shrill in the louder passages, then what you have is a pretty typical pressing. Add grit and grain, smeared transients, opacity, surface noise and a lack of weight down low and you’ll know why it takes us years to find enough copies to shoot out — because this is what most pressings sound like.

As you have surely read on the site by now, this band has put out more bad pressings of good recordings than practically any I can think of. Here is an excerpt from our review of their first album that discusses the issue in more depth.

95% of all the pressings of this album I’ve ever played have been disappointing. They’re almost always wrong, each in their own way of course. Some are dull, some are shrill, some are aggressive, some have no bass — every mastering fault you can imagine can be heard on one copy or another of this record. The bottom line? If you want to buy them and try them from your local record store, plan on spending hundreds of dollars and putting in years of frustrating effort, perhaps with little to show for it in the end. This is one tough nut to crack; it’s best to know that going in.


Neil Young – Hawks and Doves

More Neil Young

More Country and Country Rock

  • The trick on this album is to find rich, smooth, edge-free sound, and this copy delivers those qualities like few that 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-)
  • If you’re a serious Neil Young fan, this title from 1980 is surely worth hearing on a top quality pressing like this one

On side one, the second track, The Old Homestead, 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, Stayin’ Power.

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.


Neil Young – American Stars ‘N’ Bars

More Neil Young

More Country and Country Rock

  • Side one of this album was recorded just before Comes A Time and it shows — the music is country-flavored and relaxed
  • Side two’s material was recorded throughout the ’70s and has more of the dark, heavy sound that we know and love from albums such as Zuma and Tonight’s The Night. The tracks on side two seem to have a little more sonic potential
  • Superb sound for some really great songs, including Like A Hurricane and Star Of Bethlehem 
  • If you’re a Neil Young fan, this 1977 album should fit nicely in your collection

Rolling Stone writes of Neil Young:

Although he may be circling in a peculiar and seemingly haphazard manner (some claim he has as many as nine unreleased albums), Neil Young has a very good chance to be the most important American rock & roll artist in the Seventies. Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and others must be considered, of course, but I don’t know anyone who goes after the essences with as much daring as Young. I don’t know anyone who finds them like he does either.

This Album

This album consists of tracks recorded over the course of three years, so naturally there is some variation between songs, particularly on side two. Star Of Bethlehem, one of the most underrated Neil Young songs ever, sounds great here with strong vocal presence and an open, spacious top end.


Letter of the Week – “I know in one sense you’re only doing your job but who the hell else does what you do?”

Reviews and Commentaries for Deja Vu

Reviews and Commentaries for After the Gold Rush

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

Hey Tom, 

Just received Deja Vu – so good. I have never ever heard the vocals sound so natural and so full of power and energy.

The only similar record I have is After The Gold Rush and I got that from you guys too.

I know in one sense you’re only doing your job but who the hell else does what you do?

Thanks again guys for a brilliant record, a fantastic piece of history and art that I can hear whenever I want to.



Thanks for your letter. Those are two of our favorite records too, with sound that is hard to beat once you figure out which stampers are the ones with the potential for top quality sound.

These two records have a lot in common as it turns out.

Both are The Best Sounding Album produced by either the group or the artist.

Both are Must Own Records from 1970.

Both are of course in our Rock and Pop Top 100. Deja Vu is actually a member of our Top Ten, a rarefied group indeed.

Both are Rock Demo Discs for Big Speakers that Play at Loud Levels.

Both are members of The Core Collection of Well Recorded Rock & Pop Albums.

And, lastly, both are records that sell for large sums of money and rarely can be found in stock.

If we were to compile a list of records that are worth whatever you have to pay for them, these two would be right at the top of that list too.


Buffalo Springfield – Again

  • Buffalo Springfield’s sophomore release is back on the site with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Tubey Magical Analog sound or close to it from from start to finish – unusually quiet vinyl for an ATCO original as well
  • Consistently brilliant songwriting and production: “Mr. Soul,” “A Child’s Claim To Fame,” “Expecting To Fly,” “Bluebird,” “Hung Upside Down,” “Rock & Roll Woman,” “Broken Arrow” and more!
  • A true Desert Island Disc – 5 stars: “…this record stands as their greatest triumph… its classic status cannot be denied.”
  • If you’re a fan of The Buffalo Springfield, this early pressing from 1967 surely belong in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1967 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • 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 of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. This band’s second and third albums are both good examples of records many audiophiles may not know well but should.

Listen to the vocal harmonies — you can separate out all the parts much more clearly on these Hot Stamper pressings. You can really hear precisely who’s in there and what part they are playing in the vocal arrangement. I can’t remember ever hearing it sound so clear. The best copies really let you hear into the music. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I assumed that there must be some better sounding pressings out there. Now here they are.”

More of the Music of Neil Young

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein

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

Hey Tom, 

The West Side Story I picked up from you a few months ago was just something else. I was sitting on my couch watching the stage as Tony and Maria sang through the WSS songbook. I mean, there they were. Sure Mono has a particular feel and you can only quiet down an old 6-eye so much, but it was just beautiful.

I was very happy with what I received. All four records sound wonderful and are well worth the outlay. I have had several copies of “El Rayo-X” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”.

They sounded quite good but I assumed that there must be some better sounding pressings out there. Now here they are.

Paul S.


Thanks for your letter. We love all those albums!

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Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night

More Neil Young

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Neil Young

  • An original (and very cool) Black Label Reprise pressing of Neil Young’s brilliant sixth studio album with superb Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • You get clean, clear, full-bodied, lively and musical ANALOG sound from first note to last
  • With no marks that play and minimal signs of use, this copy has surfaces that even picky audiophiles (are there any other kind?) can appreciate
  • 5 stars: “…Young’s musical expression of grief, combined with his rejection of the stardom he had achieved in the late ’60s and early ’70s … was immediately recognized as a unique masterpiece by critics, and it has continued to be ranked as one of the greatest rock & roll albums ever made.”
  • If you’re a fan of Mr. Young — and what audiophile wouldn’t be? — this dark classic from 1975 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.