Top Artists – Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna

Albums with Stevie Nicks Performing

More Fleetwood Mac

  • Both sides of this Hot Stamper pressing are punchy, big and clear, with plenty of hard rockin’ energy – exactly what you would expect from the team of Shelly Yakus and Jimmy Iovine
  • Two of her biggest hits are here (and they still hold up): Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around and Leather And Lace
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Equally engaging are less exposed tracks like the haunting ‘After the Glitter Fades.’ Hit producer Jimmy Iovine wisely avoids over-producing, and keeps things sounding organic on this striking debut.”
  • If you’re a Stevie Nicks or post-1974 Fleetwood Mac fan, this title from 1981 is surely a Must Own
  • We think this is the Stevie’s best sounding album. Roughly 150 other listings for the Best Sounding Album by an Artist or Group can be found here.

It’s easy to hear what the good pressings are doing. They’re big and rich, never thin nor harsh. They open up on the top end and go down deeper on the bottom. They’re smooth and full-bodied in the midrange. Stevie’s vocals are breathy and present. The energy of her performance drives the music the way you want it to.

In short, the best copies demonstrate the sound one could expect on a good Tom Petty album. Nothing surprising there; this album, like Petty’s, was produced and engineered by the same team, Jimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus. They’ve made some great records together, Damn the Torpedoes being the best of the bunch for sonics.

Bella Donna may not reach those exalted heights, but it’s still quite good, especially for 1981. As the decade wore on things went south very quickly, sonically and musically, so we must be thankful that this record came out early in the decade and not much later.

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Stevie Nicks – The Wild Heart

More Stevie Nicks

More Fleetwood Mac

  • This outstanding early Modern Records pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • The spacious size, vocal presence, bottom end weight and (relative) warmth throughout are exactly the sound you want for The Wild Heart
  • Features a host of stellar guest musicians, including Tom Petty, Mick Fleetwood, Steve Lukather (Toto), and even Prince, though he wasn’t credited on the album
  • 4 stars: “The Wild Heart sold to the faithful — it made the Top Ten, sold over a million copies, and spawned three Top 40 hits… if you loved Bella Donna, you would like The Wild Heart very much.”

It’s easy to spot the good-sounding copies. They’re big and rich, not thin nor harsh. They open up on the top end and go down deeper on the bottom. They’re smooth and full-bodied in the midrange. Stevie’s vocals are breathy and present. The energy of her performance drives the music the way you want it to.

In short, the best copies demonstrate the sound one could expect to hear on a good Tom Petty album. Nothing surprising there; this album, like Petty’s, was produced and engineered by the same teamJimmy Iovine and Shelly Yakus. They’ve made some great records together, Damn the Torpedoes being the best of the batch for sonics.

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Letter of the Week – “Oh my god can I hear what I am missing on all of the other nonsense.”

More Hot Stamper Pressings of Albums with Stevie Nicks Performing

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

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

Hey Tom,   

Well one thing I know for sure is the record matters A LOT. I have a handful of White Hots and oh my god can I hear what I am missing on all of the other nonsense. Even my Super Hots beat all of my other average stuff.

For example, my White Hot of Bella Donna is so far over the top of sounding like she is heard in the room that it’s scary. Same with my Bob Marley and Tom Petty. But in guessing they could be even better. I’m gonna update my cartridge and phono amp soon.

I noted:

The problem with audio systems is that you are always flying blind, never knowing what you are missing until you hear it. Again, more evidence to support the success of mediocre Heavy Vinyl.

TP

He added:

I relate to that. It’s like our race cars. It’s maddening to get into someone else’s race car…

I replied:

That analogy works better if the other race car in question has a flat tire or two and the owner of it cannot even tell that it does.

TP

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Stevie Nicks – Speculate Shmeculate

More Hot Stamper Pressings of Albums with Stevie Nicks Performing

More Entries in Our Critical Thinking Series

The sound of the typical copy can best be summed up in three words: thin, hard and bright.

When the sound is thin or hard or bright, the fun factor of this mainstream rock drops to zero.

Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around and Leather And Lace both sound great on the radio, why not on Warners vinyl?

We sure can’t blame Sheffield Labs, the original cutting house: all the copies we played — good, bad and otherwise — were originals and mastered by them.

Could it be the vinyl?

It could. It could be a lot of things, but speculating about them doesn’t really get us or you anywhere, so I’m going to stop doing it and just say we played a big pile of records and heard a lot of unpleasant sound. If you have the record you probably know what I mean.

Our Approach

In order to do the work we do, our approach to audio has to be fundamentally different from that of the audiophile who listens for enjoyment. Critical listening and listening for enjoyment go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing.

The first — developing and applying your critical listening skills — allows you to achieve good audio and find the best pressings of the music you love.

Once you have a good stereo and a good record to play on it, your enjoyment of recorded music should increase dramatically.

A great sounding record on a killer system is a thrill.

A Heavy Vinyl mediocrity, played back on what passes for so many audiophile systems these days — regardless of cost — is, to these ears, an intolerable bore.

If this sounds arrogant and elitist, so be it.

We set a higher standard. Holding our records to that higher standard allows us to price our records commensurate with their superior sound and please the hell out of the people who buy them.

For those who appreciate the difference, and have resources sufficient to afford them, the cost is reasonable. If it were not we would not grown to have a staff of ten doing the work we do. We would have gone out of business years ago. Businesses that do not satisfy the needs of their customers do not stay in business for long.*

Hot Stampers are not cheap. If the price wasn’t more than justified by the better sound quality and quieter surfaces, who in his right mind would buy them? We can’t really be fooling that many audiophiles, can we?

Some folks think the whole Hot Stamper thing is hogwash, a case of mass hysteria, a psychological syndrome that does exist and cannot be ruled out as a possibility. Maybe our customers are as delusional as most forum posters think they are.

Keep in mind that virtually none of the folks who write about us have ever heard one of our records, so that should help you decide how much confidence you should put in whatever explanations they might have to offer.

We think the best way to understand their skepticism is through the prism of cognitive dissonance. Here is an excerpt from our much longer piece on the subject:

This whole Hot Stamper thing makes no sense. It’s not possible. Your customers are wrong. They are deluding themselves. You guys are the ones who are suffering from cognitive bias, not me. You hear what you want to hear on these old records and you ignore what’s good about the new ones.

I’m pretty sure that must be what’s going on. How can everybody else be wrong and somehow you get to be right? That’s really absurd. You should be ashamed of yourself for ripping off gullible audiophiles who are too stupid to realize that what you are selling is the worst kind of snake oil. Either that or false hope. You’re cynically preying on those who have more money than sense and laughing all the way to the bank. That’s on you. There’s a sucker born every minute, and that’s why you will never run out of customers. Hah!

Fair enough. Well said. You figured out this whole thing must be a scam. Awesome. Good job.

As a bonus, you’ve just saved yourself a huge amount of work and avoided a lot of mental anguish. You proved yourself right without lifting a finger. (Well, you did some typing, so I guess that counts as lifting a finger. But it sure was easier than playing a record and critically listening to it. That sh*t is hard.)


Now that all that Hot Stamper stuff is out of the way, please allow me to point you toward the one book that explains all the problematical thinking we humans constantly engage in, this one.

In my experience, no other book explains more about audio and the audiophiles who pursue it, myself included. I guarantee that if you read this book you will never be the same. It is that eye-opening.

Kind of like playing your first Hot Stamper. Nothing is ever the same again. Even if it is a scam.

*Those in the business of making Heavy Vinyl pressings these days are giving some portion of the public what it wants, the portion of the record-loving public that doesn’t have very good playback equipment or especially well-developed critical listening skills. If you have either, you should have given up on the stuff a long time ago.

In 2007 we found ourselves in such a place and we’ve yet to have any doubts concerning the mediocrity of those records. When we play Heavy Vinyl pressings these days we are often dumbfounded, at a loss to understand their appeal, but twenty years ago we liked many of them just fine, so who are we to talk?


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