Top Producers – Phil Ramone

Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years

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  • This outstanding early Columbia pressing boasts top quality sound from start to finish
  • An extremely tough album to find with the kind of big, spacious, Tubey Magical sound this pressing offers
  • Clean, clear and open are nice qualities to have, but the richer, smoother, less gritty, more natural sounding copies are the ones that win shootouts
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…he was never more in tune with his audience: Still Crazy topped the charts, spawned four Top 40 hits, and won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Vocal Performance.”
  • If you’re a Paul Simon fan, this has to be considered a Must Own Title of his from 1975.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The overall sound here is big and rich. You get texture to the instruments (check the strings in the title track) but a smooth quality to the vocals instead of the grit and strain you hear on most copies. There’s good extension up top and weight down low. (more…)

Billy Joel – Glass Houses

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER from first note to last on this vintage Columbia pressing
  • The sound is just right for this album full of rockers – big, rich and punchy with actual space and dynamics
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Some of the man’s biggest hits are here: “You May Be Right,” “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles … That’s not a detriment; that’s the album’s strength.”
  • If you’re a Billy Joel fan, this title from 1980 is surely one of his most significant releases

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Billy Joel / Songs in the Attic

More of the Music of Billy Joel

  • Incredible Demo Disc live rock concert sound with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • This one has it ALL — the sound has so many wonderful ANALOG qualities when you get a good copy — the hardness of the typical pressing just disappears, leaving surprisingly transparent and sweet sound on virtually every track
  • The WHOMP FACTOR here is off the scale. There are few studio recordings that have these kinds of dynamics. We forget how compressed most of them are. It takes a record like this to show you how much LIFE there is in LIVE MUSIC
  • “Songs in the Attic is an excellent album, ranking among his very best work… even if Joel wasn’t a celebrity in the early ’70s, his best songs of the era rivaled his biggest hits.” – 4 Stars

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Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

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  • The sound is big, warm and full-bodied – it’s much more present and clear, and not nearly as harsh or gritty as far too many of the copies we played were
  • Great songs including “Kodachrome,” “Loves Me Like a Rock,” “Was a Sunny Day” (and you probably know most of the other 7)
  • 5 stars: “Retaining the buoyant musical feel of Paul Simon, but employing a more produced sound, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon found Paul Simon writing and performing with assurance and venturing into soulful and R&B-oriented music.”
  • If you’re a Paul Simon fan, this has to be considered a Must Own Title of his from 1973.
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Most pressings don’t have anywhere near this kind of openness and transparency — and they don’t have this kind of richness or warmth either. It’s a real treat to hear these great songs finally get the sound they deserve.

On most pressings, Simon’s voice is a spitty, gritty mess — sure it’s present, but where is the sweetness and warmth? Well, as a copy like this proves, more of those qualities made it to the tape than you might think

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Billy Joel – 52nd Street

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Reviews and Commentaries for 52nd Street

  • You’ll find Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two of this killer copy, the best sounding album Billy Joel ever made
  • Side two is especially clean, clear and present, yet still rich and full-bodied — you’ll have a hard time finding a better sounding pressing on the planet
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • 4 stars on Allmusic, Grammy award for Album of the Year, and Billy Joel’s best batch of songs, even better than The Stranger
  • “…he dazzles with his melodic skills and his enthusiastic performances… not only… one of the biggest-selling artists of his era, but one of the most enjoyable mainstream hitmakers”

In our opinion this is the Best Sounding album Billy Joel ever made, and when you hear this pressing you’ll understand why.

We heard some amazing sound coming from the grooves of 52nd Street, but let’s give credit where credit is due — the recording and mastering engineers involved with this album. Jim Boyer and Ted Jensen can both take great pride in the SUPERB work they have done here. (more…)

Billy Joel – An Innocent Man

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this copy of Joel’s ninth studio album
  • Dynamic and open, with driving rhythmic energy – this early pressing brings this great batch of songs to life
  • Jam packed with hits: An Innocent Man, The Longest Time, Tell Her About It, Uptown Girl, Leave a Tender Moment Alone, and more – seven singles in all
  • 4 stars: “[H]e’s effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles, from the Four Seasons send-up “Uptown Girl” and the soulful “Tell Her About It” to a pair of doo wop tributes, “The Longest Time” and “Careless Talk.” Joel has rarely sounded so carefree either in performance or writing, possibly due to “Christie Lee” Brinkley, a supermodel who became his new love prior to An Innocent Man.”

Both of these sides have the huge soundstage and startling clarity and immediacy that characterizes this album, but they also add an ingredient missing from most we heard — a full, rich, musical midrange!

On many pressings, the vocals can get hard and harsh on the uptempo tracks (“Uptown Girl” is a notable offender, and never sounds quite as good as the rest of the album), but this copy manages to fix that problem (mostly) without sacrificing transparency or top end.

This was a monster in its day, generating a Number One hit and seven total single releases out of the ten songs that comprise it. Seven out of ten, not a bad track record. We couldn’t find a weak song on the album either, which is surely one of the reasons it sold seven million copies in the states alone. (more…)

Phil Ramone Is One of Our Favorite Producer-Engineers

Phil Ramone one of our favorite engineers and producers.

Click on the links below to find our in-stock Phil Ramone engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries. 

Phil Ramone Engineered or Produced Albums with Hot Stampers

Phil Ramone Engineered Albums We’ve Reviewed

Phil Ramone Produced Albums We’ve Reviewed

More of Our Favorite Engineers

 

 

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Billy Joel – The Nylon Curtain

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  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this pressing of Joel’s 1982 release is excellent from top to bottom  
  • The sound is tonally correct, open and spacious with plenty of hard-rockin’ energy for the more uptempo tracks
  • Allentown, Pressure, Goodnight Saigon, Laura, She’s Right On Time – some of Joel’s biggest hits are here
  • “Since this was an album about Baby Boomers, he chose to base his music almost entirely on the Beatles, the pivotal rock band for his generation. Joel is naturally inclined to write big melodies like McCartney, but he idolizes Lennon, which makes The Nylon Curtain a fascinating cross between ear candy and social commentary. ” – Allmusic

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Billy Joel / 52nd Street – Listening Track by Track

More of the Music of Billy Joel

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Billy Joel

We heard some amazing sound coming from the grooves of 52nd Street, but let’s give credit where credit is due — the recording and mastering engineers involved with this album. Jim Boyer and Ted Jensen can both take great pride in the SUPERB work they have done here.

The first two tracks on side one really tell you everything you need to know about the sound of the side. It’s all about balance.

Big Shot

Big Shot is a big, balls-out rock song that packs a lot of punch. Typically the problem you run into is compression. When you get too much compression, the top end becomes pinched and shrill. You can hear this on Billy Joel’s vocals in the verses and in the guitar solo during the outro. Most copies make those squealing guitar notes rip your head off. The best copies give you a full-bodied Billy Joel; if he doesn’t sound right, what’s the point? Next!

Also, listen to the cymbal crashes throughout the song. They should really sound like cymbals and not like someone making explosion noises through a walkie-talkie. (Believe me, this analogy hurts me too, but they can really sound god-awful on some pressings.) (more…)

Billy Joel / Songs in the Attic – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

More of the Music of Billy Joel

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Billy Joel

Sonic Grade: F

Records with too much bass and especially too much top end can’t be turned up loud.

The louder you play them the worse they sound.

Try playing the average MoFi at a loud volume. All that extra 10k starts to make your brain hurt.

The CBS half-speed of this album is like that. It’s frustrating — the music makes you want to turn it up but the sound says forget it.

Not the good pressings. They sounds BETTER when you play them loud.