Top Producer-Engineers – Tom Dowd

The Allman Brothers – Eat a Peach

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More Southern Rock

  • Boasting excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on all FOUR sides, this copy was doing just about everything right – reasonably quiet vinyl too for an early Capricorn pressing
  • These superb sides have the immediacy that will put these wild and crazy southern rockers right in your living room
  • The heartfelt radio-friendly songs such as “Melissa” and “Little Martha” keep up the energy and add to the enjoyment factor
  • 5 stars: “The record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it’s hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of ‘Little Martha’ conclude the record, since this tribute isn’t just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman’s immense talents and contribution to the band.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1972 is clearly one of their best
  • The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Allman Brothers – Transparency, Energy, and Whomp

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Reviews and Commentaries for Southern Rock Albums

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 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…)

Herbie Mann – Returns To The Village Gate

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Hot Stamper Pressings of Superb Jazz Recordings in Stock

  • Herbie Mann’s 1963 release makes its Hot Stamper debut on this early Atlantic Blue & Green label pressing with phenomenal you-are-there sound
  • You won’t believe how good the Live Jazz Club sound captured on this album is, but it might take a White Hot Stamper pressing like this one to really make the case
  • This is an exceptionally well recorded jazz flute album, and if you want to hear this kind of sound, you going to need an early ’60s pressing, because none of the reissues we played even came close
  • “By 1961, flutist Herbie Mann was really starting to catch on with the general public. This release, a follow-up to his hit At the Village Gate…features Mann in an ideal group with either Hagood Hardy or Dave Pike on vibes, Ahmed Abdul-Malik or Nabil Totah on bass, drummer Rudy Collins and two percussionists. Mann really cooks on four of his own originals, plus ‘Bags’ Groove,’ blending in the influence of African, Afro-Cuban and even Brazilian jazz.”
  • A Jazz Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of Bossa Nova music
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Eric Clapton – 461 Ocean Boulevard

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  • An outstanding UK pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Big and full-bodied with wonderfully breathy vocals, strong rhythmic energy and virtually none of the smear that plagues so many copies
  • As good as the best domestic pressings can be, these British LPs simply capture more of the 461 midrange magic than they do
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…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.'”

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

Derek and the Dominos – Layla

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Eric Clapton

  • Some of our favorite Clapton songs are here: Bell Bottom Blues, Tell The Truth, Little Wing, Layla and Have You Ever Loved A Woman? just to name a few
  • One of the most difficult albums to find audiophile sound for, but a lot easier for us now that we know what pressings can actually sound good
  • Clapton’s greatest album: “But what really makes Layla such a powerful record is that Clapton, ignoring the traditions that occasionally painted him into a corner, simply tears through these songs with burning, intense emotion.”

Outstanding sound for all four sides of this classic album. Unless you plan on playing a very big pile of copies you will be hard-pressed to find a copy with sound like this. (more…)

Rod Stewart / Atlantic Crossing – Thick, Dull and Dubby on British Vinyl

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More records that have the potential to sound their best on the right domestic pressing.

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.

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.

I remember bringing back a few Brit copies from England many years ago and being surprised that they were so thick, dull and dubby sounding. Of course, they were; the album was recorded right here in the good old US of A. The master tapes are here. The Brit pressings sound dubby because they are made from copy tapes.

If there is any doubt, the following is a list of the studios in which Atlantic Crossing was recorded.

  • A&R, NY
  • Criteria, Miami, FL
  • Wally Heider, Los Angeles, CA
  • Hi Recording and
  • Muscle Shoals Sound, AL

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John Coltrane / Coltrane’s Sound – Forget the ’70s Reissues

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Recordings that Sound Their Best on the Right Early Pressing

This is yet another superb Tom Dowd recording of Coltrane in his prime, with support from the brilliant McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones.

Just forget the later Red and Green Atlantic pressings. Every one we’ve ever played was flat, dry, and thin. They sound like most of the cheap reissues that Atlantic churned out in the ’70s.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some good sounding records on the Red and Green label, but you really have to know what you are doing — or be really lucky — to find them.

We’ve played them by the score, and found relatively few winners among a slough of losers. If you want to take your chances on some, knock yourself out, more power to you, but expect to come up with nothing to show for your time and money almost every time. That’s been our experience anyway.

And be very thankful if you happen to run into one of these early Atlantic stereo pressings, especially if it plays quietly. Few Classic Coltrane albums survived the jazz lovers of the day and their awful turntables


FURTHER READING

This record sounds best this way:

In Stereo

On the Right Domestic Pressing 

On the Right Early Pressing

John Coltrane – Giant Steps

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More 5 Star Albums

  • Coltrane’s Atlantic debut returns to the site on this KILLER vintage pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from the first note to the last – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • As is so often the case, the right stampers make all the difference in the world on this album, and these are some of the best, even though the label may not be the right colors
  • It takes us years to find a copy that plays as quietly as this one with no marks in the vinyl – it will be quite a while before another of its kind comes our way
  • It’s big, lively, tubey, present and very transparent – nothing we played could compete with it
  • Credit superb engineering from Phil Iehle and Tom Dowd, who would work on some of Coltrane’s most iconic albums at the label
  • 5 stars: “[Coltrane] was…beginning to rewrite the jazz canon with material that would be centered on solos — the 180-degree antithesis of the art form up to that point. These arrangements would create a place for the solo to become infinitely more compelling.”

As you might expect, the original Blue and Green label pressings have (potentially) superb sound on Giant Steps, but somewhat surprisingly — assuming you’ve heard a Nearly White Hot original — the Red and Green label pressings can sound every bit as good.

The Tubey Magical richness and warmth carried over into the ’70s, at least on some copies of this title, and we’re very glad they did, as finding clean original Coltrane albums from the early ’60s is not so easy these days.

If you know anything about this music, you know that Coltrane builds up a head of steam on practically every track on the album. He is blasting away here and it is a thrill to be sure. The soundfield opens up naturally, with real depth.

The clarity does not come at the expense of brightness or thinness of any kind. In fact, just the opposite is the case — the sound is so rich and tubey you will be practically bowled over by it.

The extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum is one of the qualities that often sets the better copies apart from the pack. All the top end and the deep bottom end weight and fullness that are so essential to the sound are simply not to be found on most pressings — but here they are.

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Ray Charles – Have a Smile With Me

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More Soul, Blues, and Rhythm and Blues

  • Have A Smile With Me returns to the site after more than a year with superb Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two mated to an excellent sounding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The richness in Ray’s vocals and the wonderfully Tubey Magical sound overall makes this killer copy especially impressive
  • It’s not easy to find a Ray Charles stereo pressing from the Sixties that plays this quietly, but marks in the vinyl are the nature of the beast with these early LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “…[Charles] elevates the material with soulful vocals and good arrangements, particularly when the Raeletts back him up (as they do on half the tracks).”

We search high and low for Ray’s records and have played them by the score over the years. We hope to keep a good supply on to the site in the coming years, so keep a close eye on the New Arrivals section.

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Rod Stewart – A Night On The Town

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  • Stewart’s 1976 release finally arrives on the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • You get clean, clear, full-bodied, lively and musical ANALOG sound from first note to last
  • 4 1/2 stars: “A Night on the Town isn’t a revival of Atlantic Crossing, it’s its inverse, with Stewart shining as an interpreter on the fast songs and writing the best slow ones, but it’s also its equal, proving that Stewart could still stay true to his open-hearted, ragged soul while on a big budget.”
  • If you’re a Rod Stewart fan, this title from 1976 is surely of interest, assuming you already have Every Picture Tells a Story and Never a Dull Moment and Atlantic Crossing – all three are Must Own Titles

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