Top Engineers – Eddie Kramer

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. 

A TRULY STUNNING COPY of this classic album! Both sides here are rich, warm and full-bodied with tons of energy and presence. It just doesn’t get much better than this, folks! We gave side two a Four Plus grade — note that we don’t even have a graphic for that! — and side one was also very strong.

Side two earned the rare Four Plus grade (making it the first copy of Houses ever to do so, I believe) with an insane combination of clarity, presence, size, richness, transparency, bottom end punch and more. Side one is not quite in the same heady league but is certainly very strong with a Double Plus grade. You’re going to have a ridiculously hard time finding another copy that can hold its own against this one. Frankly, I don’t think it can be done without the kind of operation we have here! (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. 

Zep fans, rejoice — PHYSICAL GRAFFITI HOT STAMPERS ARE HERE! We thought this day might never come. As you probably know by now, most copies of this album just plain suck!

After making some improvements in our evaluation process (minor tweaks to the room and the stereo, plus some new steps in our cleaning process) and — let’s face it — some seriously good luck, we’ve finally been able to track down a few killer copies of Zep’s monster double album.

If you’ve been waiting for The Ultimate Kashmir Experience, today is your lucky day.

Though we’ve known forever that many of you were eager for them, we just weren’t sure we’d ever have Hot Stampers for Physical Graffiti. There are a number of factors at play here. First off, you’ve gotta have a whole lot of copies around to do a shootout, and clean copies of this album sure ain’t cheap. When we’re doing a shootout for a title like The Stranger, Toto IV, or even Rumours, we can afford to pick up any nice-looking copy we see without breaking the bank. Not so with this one — minty copies don’t come cheap, and most of them sound so bad that it ain’t worth the risk. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Rainbow Bridge – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Jimi Hendrix

Rainbow Bridge

xxxxx

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

THE NEW ALL-TIME CHAMPION FOR SIDE ONE! We played over a dozen copies this week, split evenly between domestics and Brit imports — and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED the competition.

Drop the needle on Dolly Dagger or Pali Gap and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for this album, plus an unbelievable amount of Tubey Magic. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Concerts – Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

More Jimi Hendrix

The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

xxxxx

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

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you’re in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you’ll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin’.

That’s the true test of a good live rock record — the louder you play it the better it sounds! (more…)

Donovan – The Hurdy Gurdy Man – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More Donovan

More The Hurdy Gurdy Man

xxxxx

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

The 1968 sound here is GLORIOUS — rich, sweet, Tubey Magical and very, very Analog.

Side one is where you will find The Hurdy Gurdy Man and it is crazy good sounding here. No wonder: Hurdy Gurdy was engineered by Eddie Kramer and produced by none other than John Paul Jones.

Donovan records tend to be hit or miss affairs, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could not find a bad track on either side of the album. Most are in fact quite wonderful. 

Both Yellow Label Epics and Orange Label Epics fared well in our shootout. (We could find no Blue/ Black later labels to play.) Finding any pressing with clean surfaces was another matter, but we managed to have a pretty healthy group with which to do our shootout.

Some of these tracks may remind you more than a little of Pentangle. Danny Thompson, that band’s amazingly talented and unusually well recorded double bassist, just happens to be the bass player on the album. Go figure. Tony Carr does most of the drumming as he has on many of Donovan’s albums from the period. Needless to say, the rhythm section is first rate. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Cry of Love

More Jimi Hendrix

The Cry of Love

xxxxx

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

With Eddie Kramer and Robert Ludwig on the payroll, doesn’t this record have to be spectacular?

Good, yes, but spectacular? Not really. Some copies just don’t rock, and those copies lose a huge number of points for that shortcoming on a Monster Rock record such as this. Some are leaned out, some have no real top end — as Murphy’s Law makes clear, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

More Jimi Hendrix

Are You Experienced

xxxxx

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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there’s plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It’s going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you’ve been playing, we guarantee you’ll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one. 

Ready to go on a trip? You’ve come to the right place. While the sound is not Demo Quality on every track, the acid-drenched soundscapes created by Jimi and engineer Eddie Kramer are certainly going to be exciting to the kind of audiophile who still digs Classic Rock. Unfortunately, most copies are missing a lot of the magic — the space, the tubes, the ambience, the size, the weight. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love

More Jimi Hendrix

Axis: Bold As Love

xxxxx

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

What a copy! Super rich and full-bodied with a wide, tall soundstage and plenty of punch, this is exactly the right sound for this music. It sure ain’t easy to find good-sounding Hendrix records, and most copies of Axis are positively painful. You need rich, full tonality and plenty of space up top if this album is going to work, and on those counts this copy certainly delivers! 

(more…)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – War Heroes – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

More Jimi Hendrix

War Heroes

xxxxx

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

Hendrix fans, we have a very special record for you, with one very special quality that sets it well apart from other Hendrix records you may have heard in the past: THE BEST HENDRIX SOUND EVER. Side two of this copy beats any studio release we’ve ever heard, any postmortem release, any release we’ve ever had on our turntable. We love Hendrix, but finding good sounding pressings of his most famous albums is practically impossible. (Note that no Hot Stamper listing exists for Are You Experienced just to cite one example.) 

But here’s one, a White Hot copy in fact, with the kind of sound you always dreamed Hendrix records could have. It’s right here on this side two, and side one is very nearly as good!

We played about half a dozen copies this week, split between domestics and Brit imports — and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED most of the competition. Drop the needle at the start of side two and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has some of the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for any Hendrix album, plus an unbelievable amount of tubey magic. The sound is WALL to WALL. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

More Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix In The West

xxxxx

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

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is, and a pressing like this allows you to really hear the live Jimi Guitar God Magic.

Rock and roll Legend EDDIE KRAMER, the man who engineered these live recordings, really knocked it out of the park. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED. (more…)