This nearly White Hot Stamper (on two sides) was the CLEAR WINNER in our Hooligans shootout, a pretty big step up from the next best copy, and WORLDS BETTER than the average Hooligans album. I’ve known how good this record can sound for more than twenty five years, but how many have you seen make it to the site in Hot Stamper form? Exactly one copy, with exactly one Hot Stamper side. Here’s a direct quote from the listing about that side one (which has the fabulous early hits with superb sound):
Since it’s almost impossible to find good sounding pressings of those songs, I’m glad it was side one that came out so good. If you’re a fan of the early Who — and who isn’t — you will get a thrill from this album. And of course you get all the music on the other sides; they just don’t sound very good.
This is the problem with the record — the average MCA Crap-for-Vinyl copy is just a grainy, edgy mess. Before we started using our proprietary cleaning techniques — and thanks to the Walker Enzyme cleaning fluids — we just could not get four sides to sound good enough or play quiet enough to satisfy.
Of course now that has all changed. We managed to find some superb sounding sides with fairly quiet vinyl, something that would have been well out of our reach only a year or two ago. So much for the law of diminishing returns, one of the oldest, most wrongheaded and pernicious canards in audio. (See the commentary in the column on the left.)
Triple Plus? Not So Fast
However, not all ills are curable, and we failed to find a single side that we felt truly deserved the vaunted A Triple Plus rating. Two to Three, yes, a few qualified, but with such different sounding tracks cobbled together on the same sides, balancing the mastering would have had to have been a nightmare. Perhaps this is as good as it gets; only time will tell. Not that many of the good copies have survived in clean shape, so finding more is not that easy, but we will get on the stick and start digging around. The few good ones we found make it all worthwhile. (more…)