Top Artists – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

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  • Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this vintage copy of the Stones’ 1981 release will be very hard to beat
  • The midrange is both rich and clear, with Jagger’s vocals front and center, exactly where they belong
  • The piano has real weight, the grungy guitars are suitably distorted, and the tonal balance is correct from top to bottom – our classic Hot Stamper sound in a nutshell
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Tattoo You captures the Stones at their best as a professional stadium-rock band… “Waiting on a Friend” and the vigorous rock & roll of the first side make Tattoo You an essential latter-day Stones album, ranking just a few notches below Some Girls.”
  • If you’re a Stones fan, this title from 1981 is one of their better later releases
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

In the tradition of other late ’70s / early ’80s Stones albums (Some Girls, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock And Roll), the sound is a bit raw at times, but a copy like this one gives you the kind of energy, body and richness to make for some very enjoyable serious listening.

The sound here is big and rich, with more “meat on the bones” as we like to say. The guitars are chunky and powerful, which exactly the sound you want for a song like Start Me Up, which leads things off here. The best sides have more extension up top and more size to the soundfield as well.

As with any Stones album, don’t expect any sonic miracles. Hot Stampers aren’t going to turn this into Tea For The Tillerman. If you want to hear an amazing sounding Demo Quality record, this ain’t it, but if you love this music and are frustrated with the sound of the typical pressing, I bet you’ll enjoy the heck outta this one. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Dirty Work

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  • An original domestic pressing with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • These sides had the presence, bass, and dynamics that were missing from most other copies we played
  • “…a handful of songs have a spry, vigorous attack – ‘One Hit (To the Body)’ is a classic, and ‘Winning Ugly’ and ‘Had It With You’ have a similar aggression.”

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The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street

  • This is Exile raw and real the way it should be – full-bodied and punchy with great vocal presence and plenty of grungy rock and roll energy
  • 5 stars: “Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones’ best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock.”
  • If you’re a Classic Rock fan, this Must Own Classic from 1972 surely belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

All four sides here have the kind of bass, energy, and presence that is essential for this music to rock the way it wants to. A copy like this conveys the emotional power of The Stones’ performances in a way that most pressings simply fail to do.

This shootout is always a struggle, an uphill battle all the way. You’d have to find, clean and play a ton of copies to come up with four sides that can do this music justice. We’re sure that Stones fans and Hot Stamper die-hards are going to be very pleased with this copy.

This vintage Artisan mastered pressing (the only ones that have any hope of sounding good) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

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  • You’ll find superb grades on both sides of this early pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • It’s got weight, punch, energy and fullness – qualities key to the best sounding pressings
  • A Top 100 Title, with a surplus of great songs – “Miss You,” “Beast of Burden” and “Shattered,” all sounding shockingly good, thanks to the engineering skills of Chris Kimsey
  • 5 stars: “Opening with the disco-blues thump of ‘Miss You,’ Some Girls is a tough, focused, and exciting record, full of more hooks and energy than any Stones record since Exile on Main St. Even Their rockers sound harder and nastier than they have in years.”

This is the Stones’ last truly great album. All Music Guide gives it the same 5 star rating that they awarded Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers. With hits like “Miss You,” “Shattered,” and “Beast Of Burden,” it’s easy to see why.

Most copies are too thin and grainy for serious audiophile listening, but this one is a different story. It’s not easy to find great sound for The Stones, so take this one home for a spin if you want to hear this band bring these songs to life in your very own listening room.

Not many copies have this kind of clarity and transparency, or this kind of big, well-defined bottom end. The sound of the hi-hat is natural and clear on this pressing, as are the vocals, which means that the tonality in the midrange is correct, and what could be more important than a good midrange? It’s where the music is.

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Listening in Depth to Sticky Fingers

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Reviews and Commentaries for Sticky Fingers

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

Here are some albums on our site you can buy with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

A QUICK TEST: The best copies have texture and real dynamics in the brass. The bad copies are smeared, grainy and unpleasant when the brass comes in. Toss those bad ones and start shooting out the good ones. Believe me, if you find a good one it will be worth all the work.

Even through the noise of the bad vinyl you can hear the audio magic. The sound is exactly what you want from a Stones album: deep punchy bass and dynamic grungy guitars. This record is to be played loud like it says on the inner sleeve and the surface noise is to be ignored. The louder you play it, the less bothersome the noise will be. This album ROCKS and it was not made to be listened to in a comfy chair with a glass of wine.


Track Commentary

Side One

Brown Sugar

If Brown Sugar makes you want to turn up the volume, you have a good copy! That song tends to be just plain irritating on most copies. You need a hot copy to listen to it at the level the Stones want you to: LOUD.

Sway
Wild Horses

Demonstration Quality Sound! Listen to those choruses. When have the Stones’ voices been recorded better? Never! None more times.

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

My favorite test track for side one. The Stones have never been better. If you have a copy with rock solid bass and a transparent midrange, you have yourself a real Demo Track here. (Assuming you have the big speakers with plenty of power needed to play it.)

You Gotta Move

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The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet

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  • An outstanding vintage London pressing of this surprisingly well-recorded Stones album from 1968, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout and fairly quiet vinyl, all things considered
  • The long lost Tubey Magic of these early pressings has them sounding better than we ever thought possible with the audio equipment of the day
  • This is exactly the way you want Beggars Banquet to sound and it sure doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it
  • One of a select group of Rolling Stones Must Own titles we prize above all others – Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed round out the trio
  • 5 stars: “Basic rock & roll was not forgotten, however: ‘Street Fighting Man’… was one of their most innovative singles, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’… was an image-defining epic.”

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Letter of the Week – “I had NO IDEA there was this much difference between copies.”

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

Hey Tom,   

Wow! this copy of Exile on MS is amazing! It sounded fantastic before my amps even were warm.

The drums sound like they are in the same room as the room with the microphone; the horns sound like……. well like… horns.

The copy I had before was brand new and sucked. This $350 copy is worth the dough and I am surprised. I

am tempted to stop buying vinyl at all unless it has been pre-tested by your team (this will be tough).

I had NO IDEA there was this much difference between copies.

Brian S. 


FURTHER READING

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The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled

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  • You’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this outstanding pressing of The Stones’ 1964 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • This is the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones
  • “The Stones’ debut knocked The Beatles from the chart summit… They were on their way.” – BBC Review
  • If you’re a fan of the early Stones, their debut from 1964 belongs in your collection.

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no modern reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered, and with that sound in mind you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here.

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The Rolling Stones – Stripped

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Virgin import pressing with all four sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it
  • One of the best records from The Rolling Stones in the last 25 years!
  • Compiled from live performances at The Paradisco Club, Amsterdman, Holland; The Olympia Theatre, Paris, France; and rehearsals in Tokyo, Japan, Lisbon and Portugal
  • “Patched together from an embroidery of tour rehearsals and live club dates in Paris and Amsterdam, the project was an extension of acoustic sets the group introduced on the North American leg of the Voodoo Lounge tour. The concept offered an invigorating opportunity to dust off some rough gems from the past that no longer felt at home on sloping stadium stages.”

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Letter of the Week – “When I think of all the money I’ve spent on those sites…”

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Reviews and Commentaries for Exile on Main Street

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

Hey Tom, 

I just wanted to thank you for the expedited shipping for The Stones Exile on Main Street that I recently purchased (UPS delivered on time for once!).

I look forward to my next purchase from you, especially since I never buy from Acoustic Sounds, Music Direct, or eBay anymore. When I think of all the money I’ve spent on those sites…

Cordially,
Christopher

Christopher,

Happy to get you the record quickly, glad UPS is doing its job.

As for the other record dealers you mention, it is indeed sad that so much money is being wasted on so much bad vinyl.

But whose fault is that, really? How many audiophiles have heard of us and yet never tried one of our Hot Stampers. At least 95% would be my guess.

Mediocrity is the operating principle by which the world is governed. Most folks will never go beyond the average, and as far as I can tell, that’s just fine by them.

Some come to know better, and it’s good that you are one of those lucky few. Hearing is believing, and once you’ve heard the difference, buying Heavy Vinyl pressings from the hacks who sell them would be like taking a giant step backward in your audio journey. Almost like starting over.

The audiophiles who can’t or won’t put in the work to get their stereos and their ears working right deserve the sound they’ve settled for. It’s no more complicated than that.

We can save a few — here are some that have written us letters thanking us for doing so — but most will simply never find out how mediocre most of the records in their collections are.

And now you have a killer copy of Exile on Main Street. What could be better?

Best, TP


FURTHER READING

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