Top Producers

The Rolling Stones / Out of Our Heads – Mono or Reprocessed Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed into stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

James Taylor – JT

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  • This KILLER copy of an exceptionally well-recorded album boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • It’s a superb recording – a member of our Top 100, in fact – but it takes a pressing like this to show you just how BIG and LIVELY it can sound
  • The big hits Your Smiling Face and Handy Man both sound great here – thanks Val Garay!
  • 4 stars: “JT was James Taylor’s best album since Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon because it acknowledged the darkness of his earlier work while explaining the deliberate lightness of his current viewpoint, and because it was his most consistent collection in years.”

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Rod Stewart – Atlantic Crossing

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  • You’ll find truly exceptional Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this vastly underrated Rod Stewart classic
  • One of the few to hit our site over the 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
  • It’s the last consistently good record Rod Stewart made – I bought it when it came out and I listen to it to this very day
  • AMG awards 4 1/2 stars and raves, “Three Time Loser and Stone Cold Sober catch fire,” and on this copy we guarantee they do

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

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…)

Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Pretzel Logic

More Top 100 Rock and Pop Albums

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  • Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum of the guitars, along with the kind of richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern remasterings.
  • Becker and Fagen spared no effort in the recording of this album – the mix is PERFECTION
  • A Top 100 Album and our pick for The Best Sounding Steely Dan Recording of Them All
  • 5 stars: “Steely Dan made more accomplished albums than Pretzel Logic, but they never made a better one.”

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Wes Montgomery – Movin’ Wes

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  • Movin’ Wes finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything you have ever heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded group occupies
  • “The guitarist is in excellent form here, playing a nimble solo on the up-tempo waltz ‘Senza Fine’, as well on old favourites from previous albums like ‘Born To Blue’ and ‘West Coast Blues.”

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Elton John / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – A Heavy Vinyl Winner!

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Sonic Grade: B (or better)

[I think these are the labels for the copy we played, It came out around 2000-2005. It’s not Speakers Corner, Simply Vinyl or Back to Black. Those are labels best avoided in our experience.]

Hey, they really did a good job with this one. We are going to listen to it again at a later date to see if our initial impressions were correct [I guess by now it should be clear that we are never going to do that, sorry], but it sure sounded good to us when we played it recently during our big GYBR shootout. 

I’m guessing no domestic copy can beat it, and certainly no audiophile half-speed mastered pressing can hold a candle to it. Those records are pretty awful. (more…)

Deodato / Prelude – Our Shootout Winner from 2017

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Yet Another Well Recorded Album that Should Be More Popular with Audiophiles

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Listen to the trumpet on the second track on side one — it’s so immediate, it’s practically JUMPING out of the soundfield, just bursting with energy. Rudy can really pull off these big productions on occasion, and this session was clearly one of them. If you have the kind of stereo that’s right for this music (the bigger the better) you could easily find yourself using this record as a demonstration disc. It’s very unlikely your audiophile friends have ever heard anything like it.

Both sides are especially full and rich. The congas are present in the mix and very full-bodied — this allow them to really drive the rhythmic energy of the music. We know this because the copies with congas that were veiled or thin never seemed to get up go. The bass on these two sides was some of the best we heard as well.

The top is most often the problem with these CTI pressings. Both sides here seem to give you all the top end that was on the tape.

There is wonderful transparency and openness to the soundstage, as well as less congestion in the loudest parts. Also Sprach (2001) is on side one of the album and it is KILLER here.

Both sides are also surprisingly sweet and Tubey Magical, nice qualities for a CTI record to have since so many of them are aggressive and edgy to the point of distraction. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Carly Simon’s No Secrets

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The immensely talented engineer ROBIN GEOFFREY CABLE worked his audio magic on this album. You may recall that he recorded a number of the greatest sounding rock records of all time, Elton John’s self-titled second album and Tumbleweed Connection, both in 1970, as well as this album and Nilsson Schmilsson in 1972, with Richard Perry producing.

One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise. Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will give you the kind of rich, sweet sound that brings out the best in this music.

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Talking Heads – Fear of Music

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  • This Talking Heads LP boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • I’d be hard-pressed to name another group from the era who put out more groundbreaking yet accessible records than the Talking Heads
  • Producer Brian Eno wasn’t shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing; the texture of Eno’s synthesizers gives the music depth and character
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…the music is becoming denser and more driving… with lyrics that match the music’s power… its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did”

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