Top Artists – Talking Heads

Letter of the Week – “People let me tell you…it’s sent a chill up and down my spine…”

More of the Music of Talking Heads

More of the Music of David Bowie

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Hey Tom, 

Just got my Super Hot Stampers of Remain In Light and Station To Station;. I was very much looking forward to the arrival of theses LPs…I was not disappointed. Verily, I was completely floored!

First, my apologies. I have been reading your website for over two years, gleaning information to help me find Hot Stampers, or at least good sounding records. I had not made a purchase until this past week. I was starting to feel guilty; you have given me so much great direction and guidance over these years, and I had not supported you in the proper way.

So I made a modest purchase of these two records, to assuage my guilt and support your efforts. You will be getting much more business from this satisfied customer.

I have Remain In Light on LP, CD and even the FLAC file release. My new Hot Stamper truly puts these recordings to shame. No, really, TO SHAME! If this ever gets on the Better Records Testimonials: “People let me tell you…it’s sent a chill up and down my spine…”!

I really can’t believe how well balanced the sound is: great bottom end, mids are pronounced and the shrillness is GONE! No smear anymore! Breathtaking.

My copy of Station to Station is just as wonderful.

I’ve been convinced of “Hot Stamper” recording for quite some time now, thanks to Tom and the BR crew; I’ve found some great recordings after conducting my own modest shoot-outs. Found some real gems. But the best results that I have ever got, and there are only a few, have now been easily matched and outstripped by my first BR purchase!

Rob

Talking Heads’ Masterpiece – More Songs About Buildings and Food

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of More Songs.

Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

I don’t think these guys (and gal) ever put together a better group of songs. The ultimate pressings of Little Creatures go a step further sonically, but the best copies of this one can sound incredible, if not quite Demo Disc worthy.

We’re huge fans of late ’70s / early ’80s Art Rock and New Wave music, and these guys are obviously some of the best in the biz. I’d be hard pressed to name another act from the era who put out so many good records.

Along with this album, More Songs About Buildings And Food, Fear Of Music, and Little Creatures are all works of genius. ’77 is full of good ideas, but it doesn’t sound like a fully realized work of art the way the next four albums did.

Key Test Tracks

With Our Love turned out to be one of the better tests for side one. The picking of the rhythmic guitar in the intro told us just about everything we needed to know about smear, veiling and resolution. On most copies the instrument is simply blurry, the notes mashed together. When you get a copy with its transients intact, resolving properly and clearly right there in front of you, you have the makings of a Hot Stamper side one.

My other test track for side one was Warning Signs. This is a great track for evaluating transparency and bass. On the average copy you’d never know how much ambience exists around the drums. Hint: it’s a lot.

Our favorite copies have a fair amount of WHOMP down low, giving the bass guitar that rich, beefy sound that we’re simply crazy for here at Better Records. Once you’ve heard a copy with well-defined, note-like bass, nothing less will do.

Artists Only

A great test track for side two is Artists Only. The guitars in the intro section are almost unbearable to listen to on most copies. I recognize that I am somewhat sensitive to harsh high frequencies, but I’m literally in pain when I listen to an overly compressed, overly midrangy copy. There’s got to be a better way!

Wait, there is. Find a copy that actually has a sweet top end. It makes all the difference.

Take Me to the River

One of the best sounding tracks on the album is the awesome cover of Al Green’s Take Me To The River. Most copies are very skimpy with the amount of bottom end information you get.

Pay attention to the opening before the keys start. The best pressings give you texture on the bass that you won’t find on most. When everything’s working right you’ll also hear ambience around the organ that’s nowhere to be found on the average pressing.

The bass should be tight, punchy, and fairly deep. We wouldn’t mind if some of the tracks were mixed with a bit more punch to the bottom end, but far be it from us to tell Brian Eno and Rhett Davies how to do their jobs. At least on some copies the bass has the kind of power that brings a song like Take Me To the River to heights you probably never imagined it could go.

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Talking Heads – Fear of Music

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More Brian Eno

  • This outstanding Talking Heads LP boasts Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • I’d be hard-pressed to name another group from the era who put out more groundbreaking yet accessible records than the Talking Heads
  • Producer Brian Eno wasn’t shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing; the texture of Eno’s synthesizers gives the music depth and character
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the music is becoming denser and more driving… with lyrics that match the music’s power… its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did”
  • If you’re as big a Talking Heads fan as we are, this is a classic from 1979 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1979 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

As huge fans of this band, it was a major thrill for us to complete a shootout for this album recently. We found that the best copies had wonderful transparency, meaty bass, Art Rockin’ energy and a refreshing overall freedom from distortion.

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Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense

  • A wonderful sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are big, bold and dynamic, with the kind of energy that you rarely find outside the live event
  • “”A bona fide classic,” opined Neil Jeffries in a five-star review of the reissue for Empire, “a perfectly measured snapshot of a widely loved and respected band playing at the height of their powers … No other band could do this. No other music movie soundtrack sounds this good.”” Wikipedia

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Talking Heads – True Stories

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  • You’ll find Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this superb pressing
  • Here’s the midrange magic that’s surely missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the tapes (or, to be clear, a modern digital master copied from who-knows-what-tapes)
  • This is that rare copy with top quality sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl – it plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet as they ever do
  • “Despite its perfunctory nature, however, True Stories is not without its charms… ‘Dream Operator’ is one of the most affecting tunes Talking Heads ever recorded; the closing-credits theme ‘City of Dreams’ is similarly touching.”

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Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings and Food

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More Brian Eno

  • This pressing boasts very good Hot Stamper sound from the first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With Eno producing and Rhett Davies engineering, every track is (psycho) killer – truly this is a Must Own from 1978
  • 5 stars: “Brian Eno brought a musical unity that tied the album together, especially in terms of the rhythm section, the sequencing, the pacing, and the mixing.”

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Talking Heads – Little Creatures

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  • An outstanding pressing of Little Creatures with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – this one has the BIG BEAT sound we love
  • I ask you, what record from 1985 sounds better than Little Creatures?
  • These sides are rockin’ on tracks like Stay Up Late, Road To Nowhere, And She Was, Creatures of Love and more
  • Surprisingly big, punchy and open sound for this ’85 pop classic – a Top 100 album and longtime Better Records favorite
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Ear Candy …a pop album, and an accomplished one, by a band that knew what it was doing.”

We’re huge fans of Little Creatures, and when you hear a copy like this you’ll know exactly why. Not many records from this era sound as amazingly rich as this one, not in our experience anyway.

On the better copies, the sound is punchy, smooth & so ANALOG, with an especially beefy bottom end, the kind a good Big Beat Pop Album record needs. For a good reference think Get The Knack or Parallel Lines.

Tight, punchy, surprisingly deep note-like bass absolutely makes or breaks the sound on Little Creatures. Without the proper bass foundation this funky beat-crazy Talking Heads album can’t BEGIN to do what it’s trying to do: get your feet tappin’ and your body rockin’ to the music.

The better pressings are surprisingly dynamic, with a sweet, often silky top end. The drums are very well recorded throughout — you can really hear the room around that big kit. You will also find that the higher-rez pressings give David Byrne’s vocals the presence and breathy texture they need. The overall sound will be open, spacious, and sweet — even three-dimensional. (more…)

Talking Heads / More Songs About Buildings and Food – What to Listen For

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

With Our Love turned out to be one of our favorite tests for side one. The picking of the rhythmic guitar in the intro told us just about everything we needed to know about smear, veiling and resolution. On most copies the instrument is simply blurry, the notes mashed together. When you’ve got a copy with its transients intact, resolving properly and clearly right there in front of you, you have the makings of a Hot Stamper side one.

My other test track for side one was Warning Signs. This is a great track for evaluating transparency and bass. On the average copy you’d never know how much ambience exists around the drums. Hint: it’s a lot.

Our favorite copies have a fair amount of WHOMP down low, giving the bass guitar that rich, beefy sound that we’re simply crazy for here at Better Records. Once you’ve heard a copy with well-defined, note-like bass, nothing less will do.

Artists Only

A great test track for side two is Artists Only. The guitars in the intro section are almost unbearable to listen to on most copies. I recognize that I am somewhat sensitive to harsh high frequencies, but I’m literally in pain when I listen to an overly compressed, overly midrangy copy. There’s got to be a better way! (more…)

Talking Heads / Remain In Light – A Tough Title to Play

This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area most audiophiles neglect).

A word of caution: Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies — the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound — can have problems . Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

This recording ranks high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale. Do not attempt to play it using any but the best equipment.

It took a long time to get to the point where we could clean the record properly, twenty years or so, and about the same amount of time to get the stereo to the level it needed to be.

It’s not easy to find a pressing with the low end whomp factor, midrange energy and overall dynamic power that this music needs, and it takes one helluva stereo to play one too.

As we’ve said before about these kinds of recordings — Ambrosia; Blood, Sweat and Tears; The Yes Album; Dark Side of the Moon, Led Zeppelin II — they are designed to bring an audio system to its knees.

If you have the kind of big system that a record like this demands, when you drop the needle on the best of our Hot Stamper pressings, you are going to hear some amazing sound .

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Talking Heads / Remain In Light – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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HOT STAMPERS DISCOVERED AT LAST! We’ve been trying to find a great sounding copy of this album forever, and this is the week we finally succeeded. It takes an exceptional pressing to get all the elements correct — the funky bottom end; the processed, multi-tracked vocals; the Brian Eno production weirdness and so on.

This is a brilliant album but a typically problematic record. Most copies get some things right but fail miserably in other areas. There are smeary copies that can’t deliver the punchy bottom you need, grainy copies that make the vocals painful to listen to, and plenty of copies that are just too dark or flat sounding for anyone to enjoy. Note that the first track on both sides will sound the worst. The sound gets better, though, as you get further into the album. (more…)