Top Artists – ZZ Top

ZZ Top / Fandango – Another Warners Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity

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Sonic Grade: C

Warner Brothers remastered Fandango in 2008, so we took some domestic pressings and put them up against their Heavy Vinyl LP. The results were mixed; most of our originals pressings were lackluster, many were noisy, and we just weren’t hearing anything with the sound we thought deserved to be called a Hot Stamper.

We shelved the project for another day. In the interim we kept buying domestic pressings — originals and reissues — in the hopes that something good would come our way.

Fast forward four years. It’s 2015. We drop the needle on a random pressing and finally — finally — hear a copy that rocks like we knew a ZZ Top album should. With that LP as a benchmark we got a shootout up and running and the result is the record you see here.

How did the WB remaster fare once we had some truly Hot Stamper pressings to play it against?

Not well. It’s tonally correct, with a real top and bottom, something that a substantial number of copies cannot claim to be.

But the sound is stuck behind the speakers, veiled, and sorely lacking in energy and excitement. The transparency is of course compromised on all these new reissues, and without transparency and resolution much of the audience participation on the first side is lost.

I won’t say the new pressing is boring. Let’s just say it’s a lot more boring than it should be. (more…)

ZZ Top – Eliminator

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  • A SUPERB copy of Eliminator with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last on this original Warner Brothers pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any pressing you have ever heard
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The songs alone would have made Eliminator one of ZZ Top’s three greatest albums, but their embrace of synths and sequencers made it a blockbuster hit, since it was the sound of the times.”

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ZZ Top – El Loco

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  • El Loco makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • “El Loco follows through on the streamlined, jet-engine boogie rock of Degüello, but kicking all the ingredients up a notch.”

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ZZ Top – Tres Hombres

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  • An outstanding copy of Tres Hombres with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • This is the right sound for this album – take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy with the size, clarity, balance and energy of this vintage pressing
  • A very difficult record to find with audiophile playing surfaces these days – this is one of the few “survivors” to have come our way over the last five years or so
  • 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy blooze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table.”

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ZZ Top – Fandango

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  • A superb pressing with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from top to bottom – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • From first note to last, the sound works for this music — tonally right, lively and plenty of top end extension
  • This is some of the grungiest guitar rock we’ve heard in a while and we were lovin’ every minute of it
  • “… they were a kick-ass live band… these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums…”

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ZZ Top – Deguello

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  • A STUNNING early pressing of Deguello with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear Cheap Sunglasses sounding big, bold and lively, this is the copy for you
  • A surprisingly good recording – here is exactly the kind of hard-rockin’ energy you want from these three guys
  • Excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses (an all-time classic), She Loves My Automobile, and more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top returned after an extended layoff in late 1979 with Degüello, their best album since 1973’s Tres Hombres… The trio is in fine shape here, knocking out a great set of rockers and sounding stylish all the time.”

The sound is big and full-bodied with excellent separation and real punch down low. You get real clarity and impressive immediacy. Turn this one up and let ‘er loose!

It’s not easy to find great sounding pressings for this band, which is why so few have ever made it to the site with Hot Stamper sound.

It’s a great album for these three guys, with excellent songs including Hi Fi Mama, Cheap Sunglasses, She Loves My Automobile and more. We aren’t going to claim to be the world’s foremost ZZ Top experts, but we know a great sounding rock record when we hear one, and this one impressed the heck outta us. (more…)

ZZ Top – Afterburner

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  • Afterburner finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Rock and Roll energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
  • A syth-rock followup to Eliminator featuring hits including “Sleeping Bag,” “Stages,” and “Rough Boy”
  • “Afterburner presented ZZ Top as dystopian blade runners, ascending to the sterile environs of their space compound instead of running around the desert killin’ varmints.”

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