Top Artists – The Police (and Sting)

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc

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  • A vintage A&M British import pressing with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Much of the stuff we manage to acquire from overseas is in less-than-audiophile playing condition – these were popular records in their day, and they got played plenty, so the clean condition of this pressing came as a very pleasant surprise
  • Sting’s pulsing bass lines and the massive assault of Copeland’s kick really come to life here – you won’t believe how BIG and powerful the bass is on this record
  • Along with Ghost in the Machine, we think this album captures The Police at their songwriting and performing peak
  • “Reggatta de Blanc stands the test of time as one of the greatest albums of the post-punk and new wave era, improving in almost every way upon The Police’s debut album.”

This A&M LP has a very PUNCHY LOW-END, the kind you need to drive this rhythmically charged music.

Though it lacks some of the midrange “prettiness” of the half-speed, it’s obvious that this copy presents the music much more correctly.

This is Reggae-Rock; it needs good tight bass and plenty of it to propel the music and keep the rhythm on pace, and half-speed mastered records never get the bass to sound deep, solid and punchy the way full-speed-mastered records do.

This and Ghost In The Machine are my two favorite Police albums. Reggatta, like Ghost, is consistently good from start to finish. It also has the distinction of being the only Police album that has a real Guitar Solo, heard on the song “It’s Alright For You.” With a seriously blistering guitar break that really kicks the song into high gear, you have to wonder why Andy Summers chose to play that way so rarely.

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The Police – Outlandos d’Amour

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  • One of the best copies to hit the site in quite a while – Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • Few audiophiles (I’m guessing) know how well recorded this album is – you need just the right UK pressing to show you what’s really on the tape
  • Roxanne, So Lonely, Can’t Stand Losing You all sound amazing on these Shootout Winning (or close to them) sides
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Although Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland were all superb instrumentalists with jazz backgrounds, it was much easier to get a record contract in late-’70s England if you were a punk/new wave artist, so the band decided to mask their instrumental prowess with a set of strong, adrenaline-charged rock, albeit with a reggae tinge. ” 

Import soft cardboard covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is VG+.

What’s amazing about this copy? There are SWEET HIGHS and AMBIENCE that we didn’t think were possible – and it ROCKS! Whatever it’s doing, it sure doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

Not only does the high end exist, but it sounds sweet and doesn’t rip your ears out of your earsockets (trust me, I’m a doctor). This is vitally important in songs like “Roxanne” where Andy Summers’ reggae influenced guitar can sound squawky and brittle if there is too much compression.

Sting’s vocals are detailed, present, and you can really hear his background vocals separate themselves away from the lead, obvious on this copy in a denser track like “So Lonely”.

There’s a ton of punchy bass which actually equates to a ton of life and energy on this album. If Stewart Copeland’s kick drum isn’t punching you in the chest, then you’re missing out on some of the fun. We even heard ambience around the cymbals, and that is information most copies of the album simply cannot resolve.

This is clearly one of the BEST copies of Outlandos d’Amour we have ever heard. (more…)

The Police – Synchronicity

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  • This stunning pressing of the band’s final studio album boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Clearly better than every other pressing we played – when you can hear it sound this good you may just come to appreciate how good the music is
  • Every Breath You Take and Wrapped Around Your Finger are amazingly big, rich and Tubey Magical here
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Few other albums from 1983 merged tasteful pop, sophistication, and expert songwriting as well as Synchronicity did, resulting in yet another all-time classic.”

This music can have real Rock and Roll POWER — if you’re lucky enough to own a pressing with the energy of the master tapes inscribed in its grooves. Some have it and some don’t.

Welcome to the world of analog, where no two copies sound the same and most are nothing special. (No two covers of this album look the same either. Get a pile of them out and see if you can find two that match. It’s not easy.) (more…)

The Police / Synchronicity – Listening in Depth

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More Albums with Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

Hot Stamper Albums with Choruses that Are Good for Testing

The choruses get LOUD and are so POWERFUL on the best copies they make a mockery of most of the pressings out there.

Let’s face it, this is a BIG SPEAKER record. It requires a pair of speakers that can move air with authority below 250 cycles and play at fairly loud levels. If you don’t own speakers that can do that, this record will never really sound the way it should.

It’s the kind of recording that caused me to pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Dynamic Speakers for as long as I can remember. You need a lot of piston area to bring the this recording to life, and to get the size of all the instruments to match their real life counterparts.

For that you need big speakers in big cabinets, the kind I’ve been listening to for more than forty years. (My last small speaker was given the boot around 1974 or so and I have never looked back.)

To tell you the truth, the Big Sound is the only sound that I can enjoy. Anything less is just not for me.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Synchronicity I

One of the two title tracks on this record (huh?), it’s also one of the quickest ways to hear what is happening sonically on this side. It’s a high energy, take-no-prisoners rock track that usually ends up sounding bloated and brittle on the typical pressing. However, when it’s cut right it’s amazing! The bass guitar and kick should be driving the track, not making you want to skip to the next one. Also, when you can hear the separation and detail in the multitrack army of Stings during the chorus, you’re in good shape.

Walking in Your Footsteps

Is that a pan flute I hear? More than likely it’s a synth, but if you can hear the “air” going through it and all of the ambience surrounding it, you’re not off to a bad start. Also, the percussion should actually sound like a drum and not like a stack of textbooks getting smacked. (more…)

Sting – The Dream Of The Blue Turtles

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts Hot Stamper sound on both sides
  • Sting surrounded himself with legitimate jazz musicians and together they created an album that incorporates the loose, relaxed feel of jazz into Sting’s distinct pop sensibility
  • Exceptionally big, full-bodied and musical, with exceptional presence for the most important element of the recording, Sting’s voice
  • 4 stars: “Sting incorporated heavy elements of jazz, classical, and worldbeat into his music, writing lyrics that were literate and self-consciously meaningful… he proves that he’s subtler and craftier than his peers.”

This album has long been a favorite among audiophiles and it’s pretty easy to see why. What Sting does here with jazz music is very similar to what Paul Simon later did with African music on Graceland.

Sting surrounded himself with legitimate jazz musicians and together they created an album that gives you the loose, relaxed feel of jazz mixed with Sting’s distinct pop sensibility.

There are elements of worldbeat, reggae, and soul here as well, but the album never feels disjointed. Sting managed to pull it all together to create a sound that is somehow unique and familiar at the same time.

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Letter of the Week – “…I am surprised at how muddy the bass sounds on the new one.”

Reviews and Commentaries for Ghost in the Machine

More of the Music of Sting and The Police

One of our good customers had this to say about a record he read about on the blog, the Nautilus pressing of Ghost in the Machine.

Hey Tom,   

Did you write something about the Nautilus record… I thought so, but I couldn’t find it.

[This Ghost in the Machine link will take you to it.]

This is one of my favorites from my teenage years and so I decided to do my own little test… Sterling vs. Nautilus vs. half speed abbey road reissue… it feels pretty clear the Sterling is tops with Nautilus close but I am surprised at how muddy the bass sounds on the new one. And just how tamped down the record sounds. Which is I guess your point.

Geoff

Geoff,

You now know more about this album than the typical audiophile expressing an opinion on the audiophile forums! You conducted a shootout, something most of them can’t be bothered to do.

You should not be surprised about muddy bass on half-speed mastered records, they all have it.

And tamped down? Tell me about it. Compressed and lifeless are two qualities the audiophile record can be guaranteed to deliver. How these companies get away with producing one shitty remaster after another is beyond me.  They’ve been making this junk for more than forty years and they’re still making it.

Welcome to the upside down world of the modern audiophile record. The worse they sound, the more audiophiles seem to like them.

Your shootout provided you with a good lesson to learn right from the start to set you on the right path.

Try this experiment: Take four or five UK pressings, clean them up and then compare them to any of the ones you played — the sound would be night and day better. And, after doing that shootout, one of the four or five would be a truly Hot Stamper pressing.

Those are what we sell. We save you all that work and expense and give you a better record than you could probably find on your own, but if you want to do your own shootouts, we have lots of advice on this very blog to help you do that. (more…)

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta

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  • This import pressing is a monster, with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them, and playing about as quietly as these imports ever do
  • Forget the domestic pressings, forget the Nautilus half-speed, forget whatever lame reissues have come or will come down the pike — if you want to hear this album right, a Hot Stamper import pressing is the only way to go
  • This album is an absolute classic — it leads off with Don’t Stand So Close To Me and never lets up
  • 5 Stars: “Zenyatta contains perhaps the quintessential new wave anthem, the haunting ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’… Zenyatta Mondatta remains one of the finest rock albums of all time.”

Finally, a killer copy of Zenyatta Mondatta worthy of the White Hot Stamper designation!

It is brutally difficult to find great copies of this album, which explains why only a handful have gone up since 2006. And given our expanded resources and refined shootout process, not to mention the expertise we’ve gained in the thousands of hours of listening we’ve done since that time, I have to believe that this is one of the best sounding copies we’ve ever found. Police fans, this is the ONE.

This copy was doing pretty much everything we wanted. The vocals are present, the bass is well-defined, the guitars have harmonic texture, and the drums are punchy and lively. I don’t think you could find a better sounding version of this album no matter how hard you tried.

As for the music, the album is an absolute classic — it leads off with Don’t Stand So Close To Me and never lets up. (more…)

Sting – Nothing Like The Sun

More Sting and The Police

  • An outstanding copy of Sting’s killer double album from 1987 with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on all four sides
  • The sound here is clearly bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than most copies we played it against
  • Features phenomenal contributions from legendary musicians, including Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Hiram Bullock
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece – playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening.”

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The Police – Ghost in the Machine on Nautilus Vinyl

Reviews and Commentaries for Ghost in the Machine

More of the Music of Sting and The Police

And to think we used to actually like the sound of the Nautilus pressings! They suffer from all the same shortcomings other Nautilus and similar half-speeds suffer from: the kind of pretty but lifeless and oh-so-boring sound that we describe in listing after listing. 

Three of the Best, Or So We Thought

I just did shootouts with three of the best Nautilus Half-Speeds: Heart, The Police’s Ghost in the Machine, and Little Feat. None of them sound like the real thing, and especially disappointing was one of my former favorites, the Little Feat album.

On the title track the Nautilus is amazingly transparent and sweet sounding. There are no real dynamics or bass on that track, so the “pretty” half-speed does what it does best and shines. But all the other tracks suck in exactly the same way Night and Day does. Cutting the balls off Little Feat is not my idea of hi-fidelity.

We put audiophile beaters up for sale every week. Each and every one of them is a lesson on what makes one record sound better than another. If you want a wall full of good sounding records, we can help you make it happen. In fact it will be our pleasure. Down with audiophile junk and up with Better Records. (more…)

Sting / The Dream Of The Blue Turtles – What to Listen For

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Most copies we played had that edgy, harsh, digital ’80s sound, the kind that makes us wince. Other copies lacked energy, others were just too bright, and most of them were full of grit and grain. When the brass sounds too thin, as it did on a majority of our copies, the sound is positively painful.

It’s another one of those albums that sounds like it was designed to “pop” out of your speakers. You can really picture this one playing at all the audio shows back in the day. They were probably playing a CD, and, for all we know, it may have even sounded better than the average vinyl pressing.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

If You Love Somebody Set Them Free
Love Is the Seventh Wave
Russians
Children’s Crusade
Shadows in the Rain

Side Two

We Work the Black Seam
Consider Me Gone
The Dream of the Blue Turtles
Moon over Bourbon Street
Fortress Around Your Heart

AMG Review

After disbanding the Police at the peak of their popularity in 1984, Sting quickly established himself as a viable solo artist, one obsessed with expanding the boundaries of pop music. Sting incorporated heavy elements of jazz, classical, and worldbeat into his music, writing lyrics that were literate and self-consciously meaningful… he proves that he’s subtler and craftier than his peers.