Top Engineers – Eddie Offord

Yes – Fragile

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  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides – Roundabout and Long Distance Runaround are guaranteed to blow your mind
  • Thanks to Eddie Offord’s superb engineering, this is some of the best High Production Value Rock Music ever recorded    
  • AMG 5 stars, a founding member of our Top 100, and the second of the band’s three Must Own Prog Rock Masterpieces*
  • “Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album… it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed.”

*The other two, of course, being The Yes Album (earlier in 1971) and Close to the Edge (1972).

We doubt you’ve heard too many (if any) rock records that sound as AMAZING as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the better. How many Yes records will let you do that? This one will. That’s what you get for your money — the kind of sound that can blow your mind over and over again for as long as you live, or at least as long as your hearing holds out. (more…)

Yes – Fragile – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

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FRAGILE is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries. Below you can find a letter one of our good customers wrote about his Hot Stamper pressing.

Our good customer Franklin wrote us a nice letter to let us us how much he loved his Fragile Hot Stamper. He’s so right: that was one AMAZING sounding record!

Just listened to the Yes album Fragile. FANTASTIC!!!!! I didn’t know Yes LPs could sound like this. Any Yes LPs I’ve ever heard were harsh sounding and after a couple of minutes my ears would start to hurt. Thanks!

Regards,
Franklin

Thanks, Franklin, for your enthusiastic letter. Is this the same famously “compromised” recording that MF complained about while extolling the virtues of the mediocre Analogue Productions LP? Now you and I both know two things: how wrong they are, and how amazing this record can really sound — when you’re lucky enough to have a truly Hot Stamper like the very one you played. (more…)

Yes – Close To The Edge – 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.

The toughest nut to crack in the entire Yes catalog! We’ve been trying for years to bring you Hot Stamper copies of this one, but it is hasn’t been easy. Here’s the copy that proved to us just how much this album can cook if your stereo is up to it and you’ve got the right pressing.

We went through Imports, Plain Ol’ Domestics, White Label Promos and what have you, and no other copy had two sides this strong.

Before I even get into the sound of this copy, I want to issue a word of caution. Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and you should ideally be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record AND your cables. This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

The Sound We’ve Been Searching For

We’ve started and abandoned this shootout multiple times in the last few years, because the typical sounding copy is just painful to listen to, and the better pressings weren’t what we had hoped for. Where was the tubey magical analog sound with the HUGE whomp factor that we’ve heard on the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album?

Folks, when we played this copy in the evening, when the electricity around here is really cookin’, the sound of this copy was INCREDIBLE ON BOTH SIDES. Everything we had hoped for from this album was finally happening — three-dimensionality, tubey electric guitars, punchiness to the bottom, silkiness to the top, and amazing amounts of energy. It never quite reached the ultimate heights of the top copies of Fragile of The Yes Album, but it sure sounds good when you get it to sound right.

Let’s think about it. This is a COMPLEX recording, with HUGE organs, light-speed changes, lots of multitracking, and just an overload of information. Can you imagine how irritating that can sound on a third-rate copy with your stereo having any issues at all? We didn’t have to imagine it — we lived through it!

But that’s exactly what made playing this album last night so rewarding. We had finally gotten the sound we had been searching for from Close To The Edge, and it was anything but easy. The toughest peaks to climb are the ones you feel best about standing on top of once you’ve made it, and I have no doubt that many of you will be able to get there, just as we did, as long as you’re willing to work for it. Are you up to the task? (more…)

John Lennon – Imagine

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

This is the highest rated copy of Imagine to ever hit the site! As crazy as that sounds, it’s true — these are next to impossible to find, they tend to cost big bucks when you do track them down, they’re almost always noisy, and they very rarely sound very good. If it wasn’t ridiculously difficult to find Hot Stamper pressings of Imagine, it certainly would not have taken us until 2015 to offer one.

This is the highest rated copy of Imagine to ever hit the site! As crazy as that sounds, it’s true — these are next to impossible to find, they tend to cost big bucks when you do track them down, they’re almost always noisy, and they very rarely sound very good. If it wasn’t ridiculously difficult to find Hot Stamper pressings of Imagine, it certainly would not have taken us until 2015 to offer one.

Both sides here are excellent. capturing the essence of what Lennon and Phil Spector (and let’s not forget Yoko, who also gets a producer credit here) were going for. The sound is big, lively and very open — most copies aren’t nearly this transparent. It’s also very rich and full-bodied (especially on side one) with excellent presence. The bottom end is solid and punchy and Lennon’s vocals sound natural and clear throughout. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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More Pictures at an Exhibition

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

This Minty looking original Island British Import LP has some of the best sound we have ever heard for this album. This copy KILLED a bunch of other Brit imports we played it against. It wasn’t even close. This pressing was so much more TRANSPARENT — you could hear into the crowd in a way that no other copy managed to let you do. When the band started playing the sound was much more clear and present than the other Brit copies we played.  (more…)

Yes – The Yes Album

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The Yes Album

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  • A Big As Life copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides – I’ve Seen All Good People is mindblowing on this side one
  • You haven’t begun to hear the power and size of Yes’s brilliant third album until you’ve played one of our Shootout Winning early domestic pressings
  • A Top 100 Album and the band’s best sounding record if you ask us (although Fragile can sound absolutely amazing too, just not as smooth and rich)
  • “Organist Tony Kaye, guitarist Steve Howe and bass player Chris Squire play as though of one mind, complementing each other’s work as a knowledgeable band should.”

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl, as is the case on this side two. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the imperfections of this pressing you are in for some amazing Yes 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.


Drop the needle on this bad boy and you will find yourself on a Yes journey the likes of which you have never known. And that’s what I’m in this audiophile game for. The Heavy Vinyl crowd can have their dead-as-a-doornail, wake-me-when-it’s-over pressings that play quietly. I couldn’t sit through one with a gun to my head.

With the amazing Eddie Offord at the board, as well as the best batch of songs ever to appear on a single Yes album, they produced both their sonic and musical masterpiece — good news for audiophiles with Big Speakers who like to play their records loud.

These guys — and by that I mean this particular iteration of the band, the actual players that were involved in the making of this album — came together for the first time and created the sound of Yes on this very album, rather aptly titled when you think about it. (more…)

Yes – Close To The Edge

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Close To The Edge

  • An amazing copy of this Prog Blockbuster, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second – super quiet vinyl too, as quiet as any copy we have ever listed
  • An incredibly complex recording, with huge organs, light-speed changes and an abundance of multi-tracked parts   
  • A recording that will push even the highest quality, most heavily tweaked stereo to its limits – if you can play this record good and loud, you can play anything
  • 5 stars: “Close to the Edge represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years. In 1972, Close to the Edge was a flawless masterpiece.”

This vintage Atlantic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

[Much of this commentary is somewhat outdated. We prefer the best UK Island pressings overall, although the bass on the top domestic copies is still hard to beat.]

TWO SUPERB SIDES! We just finished a MAJOR shootout for this great album, and this Top Copy is going to make an AMAZING Demo Disc for the Lucky Man who takes it home! If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the bass power this album demands, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually WILL rock your world. 

The sound is as BIG, as BOLD, and as DYNAMIC as recorded rock music gets. The presence and immediacy are off the charts! The highs are silky sweet and the bottom end is strong and solid. You’re going to have a hard time finding another copy so open, spacious, and transparent. Side one rates A++, beating all but the very best Pink Label Brit copies, and side two is As Good As It Gets (beating all comers for whomp factor). (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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More Tarkus

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

This British Island Sunray pressing has EXCELLENT A++ SOUND on BOTH SIDES. If you prog rock junkies are looking for your next fix, this killer copy is the hot ticket! Both sides have got it going on; you won’t find this kind of energy, transparency, or presence on most copies out there! This one is full of tubey magic on both sides, yet clean, clear, and open throughout. The transparency is OFF THE CHARTS. 

The domestic copies we’ve played aren’t even in the same arena, and the typical Brit copies tend to be a bit turgid. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Wild Planet, Greatest Hits, The Cars and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event at Audio Connection, in Verona, NJ (where I purchased my stereo).

I played the B-52s, Wild Planet, “Party Out Of Bounds”, on their cost-no-object flagship system.
It was spectacular!  

I played other titles that were also spectacular, such as Sly And The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” and The Cars’ “Good Times Roll” (all purchased from your store).

A couple of other pressings were very good, but not as impressive (Cat Stevens’ WHS, for example). And my WHS of ELP’s “Take A Pebble” had a fair amount of sibilance (a song I had not previously played). But overall, a wonderfully musical experience.

Great job unearthing / identifying these gems! (more…)