Top Artists – The Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead – American Beauty – An Honest-to-Goodness Hot Stamper MoFi


Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed

This is a Mobile Fidelity LP with SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND. The transparency and presence in the midrange is outstanding. The bass actually sounds in control on this copy — there’s no typically bloated MOFI bass to be found here.

This is the best sounding Mobile Fidelity American Beauty we have ever heard. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s hugely better than we expected. 

Grateful Dead – Go to Heaven


  • With Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning sides or close to them, this copy had some of the best sound we have ever heard for Go to Heaven – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • Bill Kreutzmann noted, “If you go back and (re)listen to it, you’ll find that time has been very kind to Go to Heaven. It plays better now than it did back then. That’s still no excuse for the cover, though – all six of us, dressed all in white disco suits against a white background.”
  • Classic Rock Review wrote, “While this may be a far cry from the group’s lauded stage improvisation, it made for an enjoyable studio album which holds up decades later…. It still sounds good today and shows that this band had some vast talent away from the stage.”


Grateful Dead – In The Dark


  • A superb copy of the band’s 1987 return with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy has just the right sound for this music – rich and meaty, with powerful rhythmic energy
  • Includes comeback hit, “Touch Of Gray,” the band’s first number one single
  • 4 stars: “Although the album is unmistakable as the work of the Dead, much of it recalls the punchy, pungent production of Dire Straits’ recent work. It’s not the second coming of the Dead, but a more entertaining epilogue you couldn’t ask for.”


Grateful Dead – Skeletons From The Closet


  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • Both of these sides are out of this world — clean, clear and present yet still pretty rich and Tubey Magical with plenty of bottom end weight
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “… long-lived as a Grateful Dead primer… [it] remains a good introduction to the band’s early — and arguably best — work… Skeletons — for longtime fans — will always be a great disc for a lazy Sunday afternoon.” – All Music


Jerry Garcia (Compliments)


  • STUNNING sound for Jerry’s sophomore solo effort with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • “This was an opportunity for Garcia to do something different — to sing, to perform, and to arrange a variety of songs however he wanted. As a result, he surely sounded like he was having the time of his life…” – John Metzger, The Music Box


Grateful Dead – Shakedown Street


  • This original Arista LP earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades – you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this one does – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Midrange magic that’s no doubt 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)
  • Grateful Dead fans and completists will surely want to add this to their collection – it’s As Good As It Gets
  • “The rough-edged blues of “I Need a Miracle” and the Caribbean-tinged “Fire On the Mountain” would become set list staples, and their Latin-flavored version of The Rascals’ ’60s rock classic “Good Lovin'” is one of the band’s most beloved covers.” Amazon


Letter of the Week – Fresh Cream and Wake Of The Flood

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

Hey Tom,     

Just got the Fresh Cream and Grateful Dead albums….cranked up the rig and they sound WONDERFUL… surprise but LOTS of satisfaction! Thanks for your sale to enable this “poor” retired audiophile access to great sound….

Thanks for being such a unique person to have discovered what the audio world never really knew or appreciated or admitted to…and for making it available to others….

Best Regards,


Fresh Cream

Wake Of The Flood

The Grateful Dead – American Beauty – Our Shootout Winner from 2009


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

MASTER TAPE SOUND AND MOSTLY QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES, BABY! We went through all of 2008 without finding a single Hot Stamper copy of this great album, but today I am pleased to report that American Beauty Hot Stampers are back in stock at Better Records! Drop the needle on any track on either side — I guarantee you’ve never heard this band sound so good, or your money back. 

If you’re looking for a mindblowingly good copy of the Grateful Dead’s masterpiece, you’re going to have to act quickly, because our supply is extremely limited. I understand if you want to write the Dead off based on their later output, but you just can’t deny the power of this album. (more…)

Jerry Garcia – Garcia


  • Incredible sound throughout for this original Warner Brothers pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • These superb sides are doing everything right — clean, clear, full-bodied and musical with wonderfully present vocals and a lovely bottom end
  • “Garcia is nothing short of a full-bodied artistic expression from one of rock & roll’s most multi-faceted musicians. Both initiated Deadheads as well as enthusiasts of the burgeoning early-’70s singer/songwriter movement will find much to cherish on this recording as Garcia redefines his immense talents and seemingly undiluted musical potential.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars


The Grateful Dead – Workingman’s Dead – Watch for Strain in Jerry’s Voice

More The Grateful Dead

More Workingman’s Dead


Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

High Time tells you the most about the sound of side one on any given copy. If the pressing in question is lean, bright, grainy, transistory or aggressive in any way, Jerry Garcia’s voice will sound strained. Far from a professionally trained singer, he’s already straining to some degree on even the best copies. 

The better pressings have him sounding ever so slightly dull at the beginning of the track. As the song progresses he starts pushing his pipes pretty hard. The sound will become quite unpleasant if there is any added brightness when he tries to reach those high notes. (more…)