Top Artists – The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys – The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album

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  • With two INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this early (original?) Capitol pressing is without a doubt the best sounding pressing we have ever played
  • This copy gets the midrange perfectly, and since that is where The Beach Boys’ voices are, that puts it ahead of everything else we heard
  • What’s shocking to those of us who have played The Beach Boys records by the bucketful is how RICH and OPEN the best pressings of this album are
  • You will have an awfully hard time finding another Beach Boys album that sounds as good as this one, and you may just find that it simply can’t be done
  • 4 stars: “This mix of favorites and originals makes this a balanced holiday album that should please both Beach Boys admirers and those unfamiliar with the group

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate solid, palpable, and real Beach Boys singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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The Beach Boys – Spirit of America

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  • The Beach Boys compilation follow-up to Endless Summer finally arrives on the site with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides mated with two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy get the midrange right, and since that is where The Beach Boys’ voices are, that puts it well ahead of the other pressings we played n the first two sides
  • “Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Beach Boys, this 1975 release surely belongs in your collection

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The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds: Analogue Productions Takes on the Hot Stamper

One of our good customers has started writing a blog which he calls

A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below is a link to a comparison Robert Brook carried out between two pressings of Pet Sounds – the Analogue Productions pressing and one of our Hot Stampers.

We’ve written quite a bit about the album, and you can find plenty of our Reviews and Commentaries for Pet Sounds on this very blog.

Pet Sounds: Analogue Productions Takes on the Hot Stamper

I have never heard the AP pressing, and have no plans at this time to play one, mostly because not a single one that I have heard on my system was any better than awful.

You can read some of my reviews here:

Analogue Productions

I wrote a very long review of their disastrous Tea for the Tillerman, which you may find of interest:

Cat Stevens / Tea for the Tillerman – This Is Your Idea of Analog?

And followed it up with a two part exegesis on the 45 RPM version. We are nothing if not thorough.

Surfer Girl Takes MoFi Spit to a New Level

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More Recordings that Are Good for Testing Sibilance

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP reviewed and found wanting.

I played the MoFi pressing of this record many years ago, some time back in the early ’90s if memory serves, and at the time I could hardly believe that the good people of MoFi would release a record that was so ridiculously SPITTY. The sibilance is positively out of control, the result of their wacky cutting system and phony EQ and who knows what else.

But then I remembered that there has never been a title produced by these people with sound so bad that they would have cancelled its release. {This is a classic case of begging the question. I really have no idea why some of their titles that exist only on test pressing — Pearl for one — never saw the light of day. It is possible that it was cancelled because it sounded worse than even the hard-of-hearing Powers That Be at MoFi could tolerate. Doubtful, but possible.)

The audiophile public was clamoring for remastered pressings of their favorite albums and MoFi saw it as an opportunity to serve them.

In other words, to paraphrase a famous wag, their fans had spoken and now they must be punished.

It started with their execrable remastering of Katy Lied and continued all the way to the turgid muck of the Anadisc series and beyond. Those who have visited our Hall of Shame have seen many of their worst productions on display. If we had more time to write listings for them I’m sure I could come up with double or triple the number that are in there now. 


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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The Beach Boys – In Concert

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In Concert

  • Wonderful Double Plus (A++) sound on all four sides – this is only the second copy to ever hit the site, and it’s a good one!
  • Fairly quiet on the fourth side – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – the other three sides plays Mint Minus Minus
  • “Beach Boys in Concert was the final live album to be issued — excluding archival vault releases — capturing the seminal American combo as a viable, hard-working rock & roll band with timeless material instead of the parody that Mike Love so perfectly embodied during their final years. This is the way the Beach Boys deserve to be remembered.” – 4 Stars

We’ve raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance – Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire – Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

The Beach Boys In Concert will never join that rarefied list, but the better copies are clearly giving us a picture of the band pleasing their fans in the early ’70s, right here in the good old U.S. of A.

Note that we have never heard good sounding copies of either of the two previous Beach Boys concert albums, so for a live recording of The Beach Boys this is pretty much going to be it. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari

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More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

  • The band’s debut album finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A copy like this is a rare audiophile treat – here are The Beach Boys’ marvelous harmonies from 1962, sounding as rich, warm, clear, natural and lively as you could ever hope to hear them 
  • “… afford[s] a glimpse of the group as they sounded when they were a true band in the studio, before most of their parts were played by session musicians.”

We have to admit we were wrong about the early Beach Boys pressings sounding like the bad Capitol Beatles LPs we know all too well. As we discovered in our recent shootout, some of them can sound great.

There are also amazing sounding reissues, and this is one of those.

The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the band front and center. (It’s a mono pressing of a mono recording so the band had better be in the center or something is definitely amiss.) The highs are extended and sweet. The bass is tight and full-bodied. Very few early Beach Boys records offer the kind of sound you will hear on this pressing, and on both sides no less. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

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Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

  • This insanely good pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to them on both sides
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • The Beach Boys revolutionized the popular music of the day with their genius for harmony, and a killer copy like this has their voices sounding the way they should
  • 5 stars: “The group here reached a whole new level in terms of both composition and production, layering tracks upon tracks of vocals and instruments to create a richly symphonic sound.”

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The Beach Boys / Pet Sounds – A DCC Shootout

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Pet Sounds

Sonic Grade: D to C+

Not long ago [2014 or so] we pulled out the three copies we had in our leftover stock of DCC vinyl and gave them a spin. They weren’t awful, but they weren’t very good either. They sounded like most Heavy Vinyl we’ve played over the years: airless, blurry, smeary, two-dimensional, dull and opaque.

Not surprisingly (to us anyway) one copy was quite a bit better than the other two. I would say that the sound of the three copies would plot on a curve from about a D to maybe a C+, so let’s figure the average would be around a C- or so.

I’d be surprised if the DCC Gold CD didn’t sound better. More often than not it does. (Kevin Gray’s lousy cutting system would not be involved and that is almost a guarantee that the sound would improve markedly.)

The no-longer-surprising thing about our Hot Stamper pressings of Pet Sounds is how completely they trounce the DCC LP. Folks, it’s really no contest. Yes, the DCC is tonally balanced and can sound decent enough, but it can’t compete with the best “mystery” pressings that we sell. It’s missing too much of the presence, intimacy, immediacy and transparency that we’ve discovered on the better Capitol pressings.

As is the case with practically every record pressed on Heavy Vinyl over the last twenty years, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a pronounced sterility to the sound. Modern remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing. Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a bad case of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can try turning up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want; they simply refuse to come to life.

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The Beach Boys – Sunflower

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  • A KILLER copy of Sunflower with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • This pressing is surprisingly rich and smooth, with excellent bass and the kind of breathy immediacy to the vocals that only vintage vinyl can offer
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Sunflower] signaled a creative rebirth for the band, a return to the beautiful harmonies and orchestral productions of their classic mid-’60s material.”

This album — like Surf’s Up, which was released just after it — can really sound wonderful on a good pressing. If you love Pet Sounds, you’ll find plenty of the Beach Boys’ signature harmonies here, all recorded with real richness and warmth. (more…)

The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA



  • An excellent reissue pressing of this Beach Boys classic from 1963 – this one earned Double Plus (A++) grades for sound or BETTER – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big, open, rich, full-bodied and spacious, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right)
  • 4 stars: “The real breakthrough… The LP was a huge hit, vital to launching surf music as a national craze, and one of the few truly strong records to be recorded by a self-contained American rock band prior to the British Invasion.”

NOTE: Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.

It’s hard to find great sounding Beach Boys records, so when we first heard a Hot Stamper of this title we were blown away. The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right). The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others by a long shot (more…)