Top Artists – Willie Nelson

Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson…. – Wanted! The Outlaws

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  • An outstanding pressing of this superb compilation album with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • When we first dropped the needle on a random copy of the album we were SHOCKED at how good it sounded – this recording is a real sleeper
  • The talents of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser come together under a unifying theme that “gave the album a cohesion and freshness it might have otherwise lacked”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [the album] marked the industry’s recognition of the changing times, and as the center point of a campaign to publicize Nashville’s new ‘progressive’ breed, it worked like a charm. It quickly became the first country album to sell more than a million copies, and it boosted the careers of all involved.”

Our first Waylon Jennings album! Most of his albums from the ’60s are hard and honky in the extreme, but this one from the ’70s is a whole nother animal. It’s rich, with exceptionally natural reproduction of these varied artists’ voices. As we noted above, we were very, very impressed.

It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Tougher Than Leather

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

The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.  

The sound is big, open, rich and full. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others big time.

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.

This original Columbia LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Phases And Stages

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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages. It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why.  (more…)

Willie Nelson – Yesterday’s Wine

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with both sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades, just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Incredibly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big bottom end and wonderfully present vocals
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus 
  • “Yesterday’s Wine should also take its rightful place among his best-loved works… “Family Bible,” “Me and Paul,” and the title track are all particularly fine examples of Nelson’s songcraft. As a whole, Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.” – All Music

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Willie Nelson & Family – Honeysuckle Rose

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  • Honeysuckle Rose finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on all FOUR sides
  • This surprisingly well recorded live album has the kind of smooth, rich, tonally correct analog sound we thought they had forgotten how to achieve by 1980, but here it is!
  • 4 stars: “The soundtrack to Honeysuckle Rose is… a collection of songs by Willie Nelson and his Family band as well as a host of friends… Nelson’s readings of his own tunes like “On the Road Again,” and others are solid, inspired, and rollicking. His versions of tunes written by Kris Kristofferson (“Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again”), Rodney Crowell (“Angel Eyes”), and Lee Clayton (“If You Could Touch Her at All”) blow away the studio versions.”

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Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger

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  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy will be very hard to beat – reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • Willie is front and center – this copy is guaranteed to fill your listening room with The Red Headed Stranger’s uniquely gifted voice and guitar
  • Big time kudos upon the album’s release: #183 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and Number One on CMT’s 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music. In 2010, it was inducted to the National Recording Registry
  • 5 stars: “… a concept album about a preacher on the run after murdering his departed wife and her new lover, told entirely with brief song-poems and utterly minimal backing… a phenomenal blockbuster…”

If you made the mistake of buying the awful Impex Heavy Vinyl pressing that came out in 2011 — the CD has better sound, if that tells you anything — all is not lost. Here’s your chance to hear how good the album can sound!

It took us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble. The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. He’s clearly one of our favorite male vocalists, and this superb copy will show you why. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Taking Another Crack at Willie and Nat

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

Hello team,

I’ve been a little distracted here, I got married over the weekend! So, haven’t done as much listening over the past couple of weeks. However, I did have a chance to listen to Stardust and Love Is The Thing. They were both different than their Classic Records and Analogue Productions counterparts. Willie sounded a little smoother, more organic, and more integrated. The strings on Love Is The Thing were very different, more pronounced and emotional, but Nat’s voice, and the sound overall, sounded a little strident, maybe “too” hot. I’d like to send them both back to you, and if you have a chance to send back the discs I sent to you I’d very much appreciate it. All told, the two big sets of Better Records are really incredible, and only serve to make my want list grow. Here’s to you and the next set!

Douglas

Doug,

I, along with the two other guys in our listening panels, sat down to play the Heavy Vinyl you sent us, and the long and short of it is that we were astonished that records that sound that bad actually were ever produced.

Nat is wrong six ways from Sunday, and Willie is not so much wrong as just not very good. Nat: “F”, one of the worst heavy vinyl disasters of all time, and Willie: “D” sound, more like a bad CD than a record. There are many pressings of this album that are not good, but this version is probably worse than most of them, hence the D grade. The old Classic pressing is probably better, and it would earn about a C grade.

I suspect the CDs of both these pressings are much better sounding than this vinyl. The DCC gold is definitely better by a long shot, and the plain old Willie CD is probably a step up as well.

I will be writing a review with more depth down the road, taken from my notes. How these records can be enjoyed by anyone is beyond me. Some of the worst sound I have ever heard, and I have heard plenty!

Take any and all of the above for what it’s worth.

Best, TP

Whoa!

I am surprised! Very different take from what I’m hearing at home – would it be okay for me to take another week or two to do some more A/B listening of Stardust and Love Is The Thing on my system?

I’d like to reread “what to listen for” and really do a deep comparison of a couple tracks on each.

* Really * appreciate your time and feedback!

Douglas

Douglas,

How did your shootout go? (more…)

Willie Nelson – Stardust – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

Finding this LP after a day of searching through about twenty mostly run-of-the-mill (and frustrating) copies was nothing short of a REVELATION! Yes, we had found a handful of wonderful sounding copies, but we were holding our hopes out for something that would really knock our socks off.. Sure, there were some solid A’s and even a few A+’s — those are grades we give to records that sound right, not to records that blow our minds. When we dropped the needle on this copy, it was like lighting the fuse on the dynamite in our heads. A living breathing Willie Nelson had suddenly appeared right in front of us.

Finally, here was the sound that lived up to the hype. Veil upon veil had lifted. (more…)

Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind

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  • With two insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this copy earned Top Honors in our most recent shootout
  • Just drop the needle on Bridge Over Troubled Water to hear Willie and his bandmates doing what they do best
  • Both sides are clean, clear, open and spacious with a huge three-dimensional soundstage and a solid bottom end
  • …Throughout the late ’70s, Nelson’s freewheeling, organically eclectic music was not just the biggest thing in country, it was also some of its best, most adventurous music… At the time, it was a huge, huge hit — his biggest ever, actually, spending 22 weeks at the top of the country charts…”

This is one of Willie’s best-known and best-loved albums, and when you get the right copy the sound can be excellent. This copy is guaranteed to be a big step up from any other copy you’ve heard. With these grades, at these kinds of prices, it had better be!

Fans of Stardust are going to go crazy over this one. It’s another solid album full of Willie belting out heartfelt renditions of standards. Once again, he’s backed by a top-notch backing band of industry session masters. The arrangements are splendid — just drop the needle on Bridge Over Troubled Water to hear these guys doing what they do best.

Much like Stardust, a top quality pressing of this record is a real treat for the audiophile, no matter where they may be on the audio scale. The transparency and clarity on the best copies will be nothing less than astonishing. Even if your system isn’t at its best, a great copy of this record will still be musical and involving. On the other hand, if you’ve spent the time and energy to really get your stereo cooking, you’re going to be in for some amazingly soulful country-tinged midrange magic! (more…)

Willie Nelson – The Troublemaker

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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it’s one for the ages! It’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. One of our very favorite male vocalists, this copy will show you why — both the sound and the music are superb in all respects. (more…)