Top Engineers – Eddie Kramer

Humble Pie / Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore

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  • This original pressing on the custom A&M label is ROCKIN’ with superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on all four sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner – mostly quiet vinyl too
  • Performance is one of the best sounding – perhaps even THE best sounding – Hard Rock concert albums we’ve ever heard
  • Engineered by the legendary Eddie Kramer, what other live rock record sounds this good?
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… [O]ne of the classic double-live albums of the ’70s: a two-LP set from a band that were earning a reputation as in-concert monsters, grinding out a living on a circuit that brought them from coast to coast in America… this was heavy, improvised blues rock where live moments trumped the studio… “

Performance – Rockin’ The Fillmore on the right original pressing is one of the best — if not THE best — rock concert albums we have ever played. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with the band, this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than FCA on even the best copies.

Grungy guitars that jump out of the speakers, prodigious punchy deep bass, dynamic vocals and drum work — the best pressings of Rockin’ The Fillmore have more live FIREPOWER than any live recording we’ve ever heard. Who knew?

Eddie Kramer, King of the Rockers

What Eddie Kramer did for Led Zeppelin II he’s done for Humble Pie on this album, and that’s saying a lot. If Zep II is the hardest rocking studio album in the history of the world, Rockin’ The Fillmore is its close companion, the hardest rockin’ live album in the history of the world.

This is VERY hard rock, recorded, mixed and mastered to be played good and loud. If you have the system for it this record can sound like you wheeled a stack of Marshall amps into your listening room and cranked them up to 10.

If you like the raw, distorted guitar sound that Free captured so well on their albums you are going to love Frampton’s guitar tone here. (I saw him in concert about twenty years ago and he played a set like this one — all hard rockin’, all of the time, and very, very loud. By all accounts he deeply loves that kind of music, even though for the most part he gave up recording it a long time ago.)

Top 100? Next time we update the list this album has got to go on it. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III

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  • Outstanding sound throughout with each side earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight down low and lots of space around all the instruments, this copy is guaranteed to rock like nothing you have ever heard
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You, Gallows Pole, Tangerine and That’s the Way are just a few of the tracks that have truly Demo Disc sound
  • “On their first two albums, Led Zeppelin unleashed a relentless barrage of heavy blues and rockabilly riffs, but Led Zeppelin III provided the band with the necessary room to grow musically. While there are still a handful of metallic rockers, III is built on a folky, acoustic foundation that gives the music extra depth.”

Drop the needle on Since I’ve Been Loving You and turn it up good and loud. Robert Plant will be right there between your speakers, and your jaw will be on the floor!

Cue up Tangerine on side two for a taste of rich, sweet, Tubey Magical Analog Sound. The acoustic guitars are lush and delicate, the bass is deep and well-defined, and the vocals are completely natural and free from bad mastering or phony EQ. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Cry of Love

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  • An insanely good sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish; fairly quiet vinyl too!
  • Big, bold Hendrix sound — powerful energy and presence plus huge size and space
  • The first and probably best of the posthumous Hendrix albums, with Angel, Ezy Rider, Freedom, Drifting and more
  • VH1 called it “the greatest posthumous classic rock record of all time” and they just might be right!

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…)

Led Zeppelin II – Led Zeppelin II

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  • A stunning copy that is absolutely guaranteed to rock your world like no other – QUADRUPLE Plus (A++++) on side two and nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) on side one
  • With Mint Minus Minus grades or BETTER on both sides, the surfaces are exceptional for this title, but there are some marks that play, carefully noted in the body of the listing below
  • The sound is freakishly good – we created a Top Ten list just to put this album at the top of it
  • We long ago gave up on anything but these killer RL (and SS) pressings, because nothing else comes close
  • With copies selling for $1000+ on ebay, sometimes $3k+, we’re having to pay big bucks for Zep II these days, but if any album is worth it, it’s this one

CONDITION ISSUES:

  • On side one, there’s a mark on the first track that makes about ten light to medium pops. At the beginning of the third track there are five to seven light ticks. There are some intermittent ticks on Thank You, the last track on this side and the hardest one to find playing quietly.No inner groove damage, which is rare in and of itself.
  • On side two, there’s a mark at the end of track five that makes six light ticks. Note that the basic playing condition of this side is as quiet as any copy we have ever listed and quieter than 95% of those that actually did make it to the site.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl not withstanding. If you can tolerate the surfaces on this pressing you are in for some amazing music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.


Please note: we award the Four Plus (A++++) grade so rarely that we don’t have a graphic for it in our system to use in the grading scale shown above. We rarely find records with this kind of sound, just a few times a year at most — this is the only one on the site at this time. When you hear this copy you will know why we gave side two that fourth plus!

Quick Notes for Side One

Meaty bass and guitars. Big energy. Just not as spacious and resolving as the best. 2.5+

Quick Notes for Side Two

So much bass! The most yet and it’s huge! Big size and space, really gets huge and jumps out. I love it! Awesome. 4+ (more…)

Traffic – Mr. Fantasy

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

This early Pink Label import pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides, making this one of the best copies to hit the site in many years, if not THE best.

We used to think that The Best of Traffic had better sound, but in a head to head comparison with this very copy, we were proved WRONG.

Big, full-bodied and lively, with huge amounts of space and off the charts Tubey Magic, the sound here is Hard to Fault.

This is one of the best sounding Traffic records ever made. Musically it’s hit or miss, but so is every other Traffic record, including my favorite, John Barleycorn. The best songs here are Heaven Is In Your Mind, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Coloured Rain. The first of these is worth the price of the album alone, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful example of late ’60s British psychedelic rock. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

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You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies. To take just one example, just listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character.

This clarity allows you to recognize — perhaps for the first time — the special contribution each makes to the finished song.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

The Song Remains the Same
The Rain Song

Check out the guitars — the sound should be warm, sweet and delicate. There are some dead quiet passages in this song that are almost always going to have some surface noise. Most copies start out a bit noisy but almost always get quieter as the music goes along.

Over the Hills and Far Away

This is a great test track for side one. It starts with lovely acoustic guitars before the Monster Zep Rock Chords come crashing in. If both parts of the song sound correct and balanced, you more than likely have a winner. And the bigger the dynamic contrast between the parts the better.

Turn your volume up good and high in order to get the full effect, then stand back and let the boys have at it.

The Crunge (more…)

Carly Simon – Carly Simon

More Carly Simon

Carly Simon – Carly Simon

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  • Both sides of this original Elektra LP earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades for their sound and play exceptionally quietly
  • Legendary producer and engineer Eddie Kramer lends his talent to this album and knows how to get the best sound
  • That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be is the killer track here and it sounds fantastic on this copy
  • Can you believe that the producer and engineer of Carly’s 1971 debut here is none other than Eddie Kramer!?  

It’s not an audiophile knockout like Dark Side of the Moon, nor is it trying to be. The richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies are exactly what you’d be looking for on this heavily-produced pop album, and this copy gives you that sound like no other copy you’ve ever heard. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy – Our 4 Plus Shootout Winner from 2010

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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 (A++++) 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

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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

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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…)