Top Engineers – Geoff Workman

Queen / Jazz – Rockin’ Out with Fat Bottomed Girls

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses

There is a tendency in the recording to be a little “hot” tonally on the vocals and snare. The better copies like this one keep it under control, with the lesser copies getting much too lean and gritty to play loudly. What good is a raver like Fat Bottomed Girls if you can’t turn it up and really rock out with it? 

Roy Thomas Baker is back on the scene here for Jazz, his first production with the band since 1975’s A Night at the Opera, and the last time he would work with Freddie and the boys.

On side one check out the low harmony vocal on the first track. The big kick drum is also a treat. RTB loves his bass, that’s for sure.

Both sides should have an open, extended top end and a solid, rich bottom. Our best copies were big and clear with plenty of rock bottom end and Whomp Factor.

We Love Dynamic Choruses, and These Are Amazing

This is one of the rare pop/rock albums that dramatically changes levels as it moves from the verses to the choruses of many its songs, especially the anthemic Fat Bottomed Girls. Mustapha, the first track on side one, has a huge finish as well. It can take a record like this to open your ears to how compressed practically every rock album you own is.

The sad fact of the matter is that most mixes for rock and pop recordings are just too safe. The engineers and producers believe that the mixes have to be safe for the average (read: crap) stereo to play the record.

We like it when music gets loud. It gets loud in live performance — why shouldn’t most of that wonderful energy make it to the record?

News of the World is incredibly dynamic and powerful in this respect, our pick for the best recording by the band, but Jazz on its best cuts is not very far behind it.

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The Cars on Nautilus – Ouch!

Sonic Grade: F

This Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP is pure mud — compressed, thick and congested, a disaster on every level, much like their atrocious remastering of Candy-O.

If you own this Audiophile BS pressing (NR-14) and you can’t hear what’s wrong with it, you seriously need to reconsider ditching your playback system or getting another one.  It is doing you no favors.

Our Nautilus pressing here is yet another one of those Jack Hunt turgid muckfests (check out City to City #058 for the ultimate in murky sound), is incapable of conveying anything resembling the kind of clean, clear, oh-so-radio-friendly pop rock sound that producer Roy Thomas Baker, engineer Geoff Workman and the band were aiming for.

The recording has copious amounts of Analog Richness and Fullness to start with. Adding more is not an improvement; in fact it’s positively ruinous.

More of The Cars

More Records that Sound Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels


FURTHER READING

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Here’s a good question:

How come you guys don’t like Half-Speed Mastered records?

Letter of the Week – “So I put on my Better Records A+++ copy of the same title. Voila! The sound became magical.”

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

Hey Tom, 

I went to a ‘listening party” at a local high end audio retailer. People were invited to bring a record, have it professionally cleaned, and played back on as many as three different systems ranging from about $3,000 to over six figures for the complete system.

I brought my Hot Stamper of Clear Spot by Captain Beefheart that I got from you.

I know. That’s like cheating, right?

As usual, the record blew all listeners away.

I had one person tell me that, while the style of music wasn’t his cup of tea, it sounded so compelling he wanted more.

So I put on my Nautilus SuperDiscs (Listen To The Difference) pressing of The Cars Candy-O.

Sounds okay. But this is supposed to be a “SuperDisc”. Okay does not cut it.

So I put on my Better Records A+++ copy of the same title. Voila! The sound became magical. (more…)

King Crimson – In The Wake Of Poseidon – Heavy on the Mellotron

  • King Crimson’s second studio album debuts on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • This pressing is Big and Tubey, with clear, breathy vocals, especially critical to the success of the a capella opening track, “Peace – A Beginning”
  • This lovely original Island Pink Label British Import LP has a beautiful textured cover and plays as quiet as we can find them, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The record…, however, has made an impressive show of transmuting material that worked on stage (“Mars” aka “The Devil’s Triangle”) into viable studio creations, and “Cadence and Cascade” may be the prettiest song the group ever cut.”

If you love the sound of a vintage All Tube recording of the mellotron — whether by Led Zeppelin or The Moody Blues — you will find that Robin Thompson has got hold of a very good sounding one here. Thompson is of course the engineer for the first King Crimson album, so his recording skills as regards the instrument are well established.

Note that the British Island pressings for this album as well as the first are by far the best sounding, assuming you have a good one. What is interesting about early Island LPs is just how bad some of them are. And let me tell you, we’ve paid the price in time and money to find out just how bad some Island Pink Labels can sound. (more…)