Top Artists – Richard Thompson (also Linda Thompson)

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – The Best Sounding Record of the Decade?

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Without a doubt this is the best record Richard and Linda Thompson ever made together, possibly the best record Thompson was ever involved with, but it also holds one other important distinction, one of great interest to us audiophiles: it’s the BEST SOUNDING record he (they) ever made as well.

As I was playing the finalists for side two (at ear-splitting levels I might add) an odd thought crossed my mind. Where had I heard this kind of monstrous, punchy bass and these soaring, perfectly distorted guitars, so big and so powerful, before? There was something about the sound – the awesome energy, the freedom from compression or spatial restraint of any kind – that was strangely familiar from another shootout.

After a minute’s deliberation the answer came to me: I was remembering the feeling I got from the White Hot Stamper of Led Zeppelin II we played not long ago.

Yes, that’s the album that it most closely resembles. As outlandish as it may seem, the rock power of Shoot Out the Lights has much more in common with the rock power of Zep II than any other record I can think of.

To be sure, the vast majority of people, including the vast majority of audiophiles, have never heard a top quality RL Zep II played at extremely loud levels on a big speaker system in a dedicated room. Nor in all probability will they ever have the chance.

But I sure have, quite a few in fact. If anyone knows that sound I do. I’ve dedicated the past forty years of my efforts in audio to reproducing records with the Big Rock Sound like Zep II. There’s really none bigger in my opinion. (more…)

Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking

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  • The band’s very well-recorded third album is here, and this early British Island pressing is killing it, with stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • A copy like this is a rare audiophile treat – here is the rich, warm, clear, natural and lively sound you want for Fairport Convention
  • A superb collection of songs, including two previously unreleased Bob Dylan tracks, as well as Sandy Denny’s first foray into songwriting, with the achingly powerful “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”
  • 5 stars: “Unhalfbricking was a transitional album for the young Fairport Convention, in which the group shed its closest ties to its American folk-rock influences and started to edge toward a more traditional British folk-slanted sound.”

These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.

Hot stamper fans of Fairport Convention, British Folk Rock, Richard Thompson and the like should not expect to see another copy of this album for years to come. It took us a couple of years to get hold of enough clean copies with which to do this shootout, and the only quiet one with top quality sound was this very pressing.

Forget the dubby domestic LPs on A&M and whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – the early UK vinyl is the only way to fly on Unhalfbricking

The “haunting, ethereal” vocals of the lovely Sandy Denny are sublime here. Some of you may recognize her voice from a ditty called “Battle of Evermore,” found on a grayish ’70s rock album that no one even bothered to give a name. Wonder whatever became of that group? No doubt by now their story is lost to the sands of time. I have to say I thought the music was pretty good though. (more…)

Richard Thompson – Amnesia – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

Original pressing. EXCELLENT SOUND — big and lively! With Mitchell Froom producing and Tchad Blake engineering this is to be expected.

The best songs here are Turning Of The Tide and Waltzing For Dreamers, but the others are lovely too. (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – I Want To See The Bright…

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

The first White Hot Stamper of this 1974 classic to make it to the site, and it’s wonderful on both sides. Rich, full-bodied, with big bass and gobs of studio ambience, this is the way this music was meant to be heard. Kurt Loder writing in Rolling Stone noted that there’s “not a single track that’s less than luminous.” 

This is one of my favorite Thompson albums from the old days. In my opinion, and in the opinion of practically every serious critic around the world, this is some of their very best work. (more…)

Richard Thompson – Action Packed: The Best of the Capitol Years – Reviewed in 2001

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

Another top outing on TWO clear vinyl LP’s from the master of modern electric folk music. It doesn’t get any better than this.

The sound is excellent and the music is some of the best Richard Thompson has ever made. If I had to choose one later Richard Thompson album, this would probably be it.

Almost every one of these is very slightly dished, but this should not have any effect on the sound, which is excellent. Thompson’s lovely duet with his son on Persuasion is worth the price of the album.

Letter of the Week – Shoot Out The Lights

Shoot Out The Lights

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

Hey Tom,   

Recently purchased The Hot Stamper of R&L Thompson’s Shoot Out The Lights. What a wonderful copy! Easily put to shame the copies I have on hand by a long shot. It’s great to hear a copy of this record that does the music justice. An exceptional find on your part. Great doing business with you.

Jim S.

 

Shoot Out The Lights – Loud Versus Live Versus The Heavy Vinyl Reissue

Shoot Out The Lights

 

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Here’s a thought: if 180 gram records are supposed to be an improvement over the original pressings, why is it that they NEVER sound Big and Bold like this pressing? And I do mean never; I’ve played hundreds of them over the years and have yet to hear this kind of sound on any of them. At this point I would have to conclude that it is simply not possible.

If you have big speakers, a large listening room and like to play your records loud, there is no modern reissue that will ever give you the thrill that a record like this can. (Of course, to fully appreciate the effect it obviously helps if you have a White Hot Stamper copy to play.)

Loud Versus Live

I’ve seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I could never make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because it’s not on the record that way. That’s why live music can’t be duplicated properly in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener or his stereo.

Having said that, when you actually do turn this record up, way up, you get the feeling of hearing live music, and that’s not easy to do! Only the best recordings, in my experience, can begin to give you that feeling. We discuss this subject in a number of commentaries under the heading of Turn Up Your Volume.
(more…)

Fairport Convention – What We Did On Our Holidays

More Richard Thompson

More Fairport Convention

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

This RARE Island Sunray British Import LP has Super Hot Stamper sound, full of the Tubey Magic you expect from a British Folk album in 1969 (and the unavoidable sonic shortcomings you should expect if you know much about this band and their records). It’s without a doubt the nicest copy we have ever seen, the acquisition of which was purely a matter of luck, as early pressings are virtually impossible to find in anything but beat-to-death condition.  (more…)

Shoot Out The Lights – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

More Richard Thompson

More Shoot Out The Lights

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SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it. 

I’ve seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I’ve never been able to make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because they’re simply not on the record that way. That’s why live music can’t be reproduced faithfully in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener, or his stereo.

Having said that, when you actually do turn this record up, way up, you get the feeling of hearing live music, and that’s not easy to do. Only the best recordings, in my experience, can begin to give you that feeling. (And of course it helps to have big dynamic drivers.) (more…)

Richard & Linda Thompson – Shoot Out The Lights – Bigger, Taller, Wider, Deeper

More Richard Thompson

More Shoot Out The Lights

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what to listen for (WTLF).

One of the qualities we don’t talk about nearly enough on the site is the SIZE of a record’s presentation. Some copies of the album don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. Other copies do, creating a huge soundfield from which the instruments and voices positively jump out of the speakers. 

When you hear a copy that can do that, needless to say (at least to anyone who’s actually bought some of our best Hot Stamper pressings) it’s an entirely different listening experience.

With constant improvements to the system Shoot Out is now so powerful a recording that we had no choice but to add it to our Top 100 list in 2014, but we would go even further than that and say that it would belong on a list of the Top Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time. (more…)