Top Artists – Steve Winwood

Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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

HOLY COW! 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 the very rare grade of A++++ — that’s four pluses, my man!

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. We rate it A+ – A++, which means it delivers a good deal of magic. (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy

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

This early Pink Label import pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, making this one of the best copies to hit the site in many years, if not THE best.

We used to think that The Best of Traffic had better sound, but in a head to head comparison with this very copy, we were proved WRONG.

Big, full-bodied and lively, with huge amounts of space and off the charts Tubey Magic, the sound here is Hard to Fault.

This is one of the best sounding Traffic records ever made. Musically it’s hit or miss, but so is every other Traffic record, including my favorite, John Barleycorn. The best songs here are Heaven Is In Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Coloured Rain. The first of these is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful example of late ’60s British psychedelic rock. (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy – Our Shootout Winner from 2006

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

This British Sunray Label pressing has THE BEST SOUND I’VE EVER HEARD FOR THIS ALBUM! None of the Pink Label originals that we played had the deep, powerful, punchy bass that this pressing has, coupled with an extended, sweet top end.

This is one of the best sounding Traffic records ever made. Musically it’s hit or miss, but so is every other Traffic record, including my favorite, John Barleycorn. The best songs here are Heaven Is In Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Coloured Rain.

The first of these is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful example of late ’60s British psychedelic rock.  (more…)

Traffic – Best of Traffic – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Best of Traffic

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

This Island British Pink Label pressing has SOME OF THE BEST TRAFFIC SOUND YOU’LL EVER HEAR! We’ve been flipping out over Hot Stamper copies of this greatest hits comp for ages for a very simple, yet likely shocking, reason — the sound on the best copies can be BETTER than the best original pressings! How can that be you ask, dumbfounded by the sheer ridiculousness of such a statement? Well, dear reader, I’ll tell you. Follow me over the jump to find out. 

It’s a dirty little secret in the record biz that sometimes the master for the anticipated Hit Single (or singles) is pulled from the album’s final two track master and used to make the 45, the thinking being that the 45 is what people are going to buy, or, having heard it sound so good on the radio, cause them to buy the album. One way or another, it’s the single that will do the selling of Traffic’s music. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Steve Winwood

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday I was marveling at the bottom-end and overall clarity of my new Stevie Winwood album. I think it’s right up there with Miles of Aisles, which sounded so good it made my wife cry (seriously) . But as always, I came up with a dark thought: Are Hot Stampers the only way to get my system to sound this good? I have VERY few personally-selected LPs that can compete with a Hot Stamper. Even though I usually buy the “Budget” stampers, it looks like a future of hundred-buck-plus albums for me. (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy – Where’s the Bass?

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More Mr. Fantasy

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This Pink Label Original Island pressing has amazingly sweet, open, extended and transparent mids and highs. It has two major shortcomings: a lack of bass, and a fair amount of surface noise. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles and can put up with some surface noise and scratches, you are guaranteed to hear some wonderful sound in the best tubey Island tradition. 

Side two sounds better than side one; it has more bass and therefore is more tonally correct.

Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

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  • This is an outstanding Island Sunray domestic pressing offering spacious Tubey Magical Double Plus (A++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Low Spark is clearly one of the best sounding Proggy/Arty Rock records ever made – the space it recreates in your listening room is HUGE 
  • A Better Records Top 100 album and a real Demo Disc on a pressing that sounds as good as this one does
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The commercial and artistic apex of the second coming of Traffic… The standout was the 12-minute title track, with its distinctive piano riff and its lyrics of weary disillusionment with the music business. “

After doing the shootout for John Barleycorn recently, a record we love in spite of its problematic sound, this album was truly a breath of fresh air. I can honestly and enthusiastically say that the sound we heard on the best pressings was OUT OF THIS WORLD. This album is a permanent member of our Rock And Jazz Top 100, that’s how good it is. (more…)

Traffic – Traffic – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Traffic – Traffic

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

UNBELIEVABLE! Here’s an Island Pink Label pressing of Traffic’s self-titled second album that has a STUNNING side one, a GREAT side two, and plays close to Near Mint! It has been YEARS since we’ve had such a beautiful Pink Label copy, and I doubt we’ve ever heard a pressing on any label that could better this side one. The sound is as close to PERFECTION as we ever expect to hear for this music — super tubey magical, unbelievably transparent and tonally correct from top to bottom.  (more…)

Letter of the Week – Steve Winwood

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday I was marveling at the bottom-end and overall clarity of my new Stevie Winwood album. I think it’s right up there with Miles of Aisles, which sounded so good it made my wife cry (seriously) . But as always, I came up with a dark thought: Are Hot Stampers the only way to get my system to sound this good? I have VERY few personally-selected LPs that can compete with a Hot Stamper. Even though I usually buy the “Budget” stampers, it looks like a future of hundred-buck-plus albums for me. (more…)

Traffic – Last Exit – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Last Exit

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

This QUIET British Import Island Sunray (Pink Rim) pressing has THE BEST SIDE TWO WE’VE EVER HEARD, which is where the two extended live cuts are found. We played a bunch of these recently (nothing but Brits, the only way to go for this album) and no side two could keep up with this one. It’s got more extension up top, more weight down low, and more energy than we heard anywhere else.  (more…)