More of the Music of Traffic
More of the Music of Steve Winwood
Side one of this British Island Sunray pressing BLEW THE DOORS off the competition in our big shootout. It took the music to an entirely new level for us so we awarded it our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, a grade which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a given recording to a level we had no idea could even exist.
We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.
We no longer use this grade for a number of reasons we won’t go into here. Suffice to say, if you buy a White Hot Stamper pressing from us, you are getting the best sounding pressing we know to exist.
You are not going to believe how Tubey Magical this side one is. I guarantee you have never heard this band sound this amazing on record or your money back.
Side two lacks a little extension up top, but it’s still rich, warm, sweet, and above all, NATURAL. It’s open and transparent with three-dimensionality to the soundfield.
Music and Sound — Some Kind of Connection There
We think better sound creates in the mind of the listener a stronger and deeper appreciation of the music itself. This will not come as news to anyone on this site; that’s what it means to be an audiophile. True to form, the amazing sound of the best pressings helped us to really get into this album during our shootout.
Clearly, this is a Classic Traffic album that belongs in any serious collection. (Along with John Barleycorn Must Die, to our minds inarguably their masterpiece. Throw in The Best Of and you have most of the best music with the best sound on record by Traffic.)
For music this important and powerful, you do not want to waste your time listening to a run-of-the-mill pressing or some second-rate Heavy Vinyl reissue. You want a killer Hot Stamper, the kind of record that can really transport you to the world of The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, lacking presence and immediacy in the center of the soundfield.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundscape, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded as open and clear as that eighth or ninth one. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean original (or otherwise) copies with which to do a shootout?
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.