Top Producers – Tom Dowd

Derek and the Dominos – Layla (2 LPs) – Remastering the Remaster (and Keeping It a Secret)

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NEWSFLASH! [circa 2010]

Noticing that this title had recently come back into print, and remembering that we used to like the SVLP of Layla, we decided to order a current copy of the album from SIMPLY VINYL. Soon enough it came in, we played it, and we were pretty shocked to hear that the damn thing sounded just plain AWFUL.

Was I wrong about it before? Only one way to know. I pulled out my old Review Copy from way back when it first came out and sure enough that early pressing sounded dramatically BETTER than the new one. The stampers were completely different of course; someone had remastered it recently and ruined it.

The earlier SVLP pressing, though no award winner by any means, was at least a good record. This new pressing was nothing but a piece of crap. 

Our Old Comments

Simply Vinyl did a great job with this one, one of the most problematical recordings in the history of rock. This music will never sound as good as we want — just get that notion out of your head — but at least this pressing gets the overall sound right. It’s a lot better than 90% of the copies out there.

We stand by those remarks.

If you want a better sounding Layla, one of our famous Hot Stamper copies, you can be sure that one of these days we will do the shootout and again and have something with much better sound to offer.

The price will be many hundreds of dollars though, so for those of you who do not want to spend that kind of money, this is the best sound and vinyl quality we know of at anywhere near the price.

Atlantic Crossing – The Last Good Rod Stewart Album

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  • You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last on this vastly underrated Rod Stewart classic
  • One of the few to hit our site in the last four years, and for that we apologize – Atlantic Crossing should be enjoyed by everyone in Hot Stamper form
  • This is some of the best Muscle Shoals rock- and soul-inflected pop from producer Tom Dowd we know of
  • AMG raves that “Three Time Loser and Stone Cold Sober catch fire,” and on this copy we guarantee they do

The last consistently good Rod Stewart album? Atlantic Crossing definitely gets my vote.

The copies we liked best were the biggest and richest, the least thin and dry. Many of the brighter copies also had sibilance problems which the richer and tubier ones did not.

What do the best pressings give you?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music? The best copies rock like only “The Memphis Horns and three-quarters of Booker T. and the MG’s” can. We’ve been playing this record (at least I have) since it came out in 1975 and love the way it can sound on the better pressings.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitar notes, not the smear and thickness so common to most LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Domestic Vs. British Vinyl

On some of the Rod Stewart albums that we happen to know well, the British pressings are clearly superior; the first two Rod Stewart albums come immediately to mind. After that, strange as it may seem, all the best pressings are domestic. This album is certainly no exception. (more…)

The Allman Brothers – … At Fillmore East

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  • A big, hard-rockin’ copy with STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and three other sides that rate a Double Plus (A++) or better 
  • This is one of the all-time great live albums, and with a copy like this one YOU ARE THERE at the Fillmore
  • The WHOMP factor here kicks up the excitement – here is the low end foundation that lets the extended guitar jams work
  • 5 stars: “At Fillmore East is like a great live jazz session, where the pleasure comes from the musicians’ interaction and playing… The pinnacle of the Allmans and Southern rock at its most elastic, bluesy, and jazzy.”

This is one of the all-time great live albums, and with a copy like this one you are there at the Fillmore. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Derek and The Dominos

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Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

The best copies of Layla are Tubey Magical, energetic, and tonally balanced. Most importantly, they sound CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard — that is, unless you’ve gone through a pile of copies the way we do.

We have a special designation for such a pressing. We call it As Good As It Gets. When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT.  (more…)

Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard – Stick with the UK Pressings

 


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  • One of the best copies to eve hit the site with an amazing Triple Plus (A+++) side one and and excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, tons of energy and none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these early British LPs seem to capture more of the 461 magic
  • “…the pop concessions on the album don’t detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it’s Johnny Otis’ “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the traditional blues “Motherless Children,” Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” or Clapton’s emotional original “Let It Grow.” ” – All Music

See all of our Clapton, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominoes albums in stock

It is insanely tough to find copies that aren’t murky, overly smooth and/or lifeless. If you’re a fan of this music and want to hear it come to life, this pressing should be just the ticket.

This album has some of Clapton’s best material, including Motherless Children and the famous cover of Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff.

Tom Dowd recorded this album at Criteria in Miami, which is where Layla was recorded. I’d say the sound here is substantially better than what you get on that album, for the most part. Even when you find a great pressing of Layla, it’s still pretty much a diamond in the rough, but the sound on this album is consistently good — smooth, rich and natural. (more…)

Wheels of Fire and its Glaring Lack of Bass

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It’s EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues — trust me, most of them would make you cringe.

When you get a good copy, this music is AWESOME! For ’60s power trio hard rock, you just can’t do much better than the studio material.

White Room, Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign — this is the very essence of Classic Blues Rock. Unfortunately, the typical copy barely hints at the potential of this recording, and the audiophile pressings are even worse. (The DCC Gold CDs are especially bad in our opinion; they sound nothing like the good pressings we’ve played over the years.)

Where’s The Bass?

Most early pressings you find these days are thrashed beyond belief. We used to pick up every clean Plum & Gold label copy we’d find back in he day, but no more. We gave up. The Cream magic was just plain missing from the early domestic pressings. The problem is simple: a glaring lack of bass.

Let’s think about that. Cream is a power trio. The music absolutely demands a solid, weighty bottom end. Sacrifice the bass and the sound is just too lean to rock.

We can sum up the sound of the whomp-less copies in a word: fatiguing. As is always the case, some copies sound better than others, but none could give us the kind of bass that we were hoping for. (more…)

What to Listen For on Eat a Peach

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EAT A PEACH

What do high grades give you for this album? Unbelievably Tubey Magical guitars, huge whomp factor on the bottom end, incredible dynamics and life, shocking transparency and clarity, and the kind of immediacy that puts these crazy southern rockers right in your very own living room. The overall sound is impressively BIG, BOLD, and POWERFUL!

This and Live At Fillmore East are the two monumental albums these guys ever put out, and they have a lot in common. You know what you’re gonna get with the Allmans: dueling electric guitars, sweet acoustic guitars, energetic drumming, and full-bodied vocals throughout. There’s obviously a lot of exploration — two complete sides are dedicated to the song Mountain Jam — but the heartfelt radio-friendly songs such as Melissa and Little Martha keep up the energy and provide maximum enjoyment factor.

The Three Keys: Transparency, Energy, and WHOMP

A great copy like this one really lets everything that’s great about this music come through. You can easily pick out each of the musicians and follow their contributions over the course of the songs. The huge WHOMP factor throughout kicks up the excitement factor and sets the foundation for the extended guitar jams to work their Southern bluesy magic. The top end extends beautifully to bring out all the ambience and spaciousness of the Fillmore. (more…)