1977

Bonnie Raitt / Sweet Forgiveness – One of Bonnie’s Best

  • Full-bodied and warm, with harmonically rich guitars as well as real immediacy to Bonnie’s heartfelt vocals, this is the classic sound of Seventies Rock
  • The sound is big, bold, clear, rich and dynamic, which wouldn’t mean anything if the music weren’t good, but this actually happens to be Bonnie’s best album in our opinion, with Home Plate a close runner-up

I learned recently that Jack Haeny is one of the two engineers on this album, which goes a long way toward explaining the excellent ’70s analog sound. He worked on The Pretender, Don’t Cry Now, and many of the early and quite wonderful sounding albums Judy Collins did for Elektra in the earlier part of the decade. This guy knows sound.

(A good copy of The Pretender is an amazing Demo Disc that will put 99% of all the rock records you’ve ever played to shame. But the truly Hot Stamper pressings are few and far between, so most audiophiles have no idea how well recorded that album is.) (more…)

Haydn / Toy Symphony with Marriner on a Japanese Soundphile Pressing

Hot Stamper Orchestral Pressings Available Now

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! This is the best sounding Toy symphony you will ever hear!

[Not true! We did the shootout in 2022 and found out that the original EMI pressing is even better, a classic case of Live and Learn.

OUR REVIEW FROM MANY (10? 15?) YEARS AGO

I discovered how good this Japanese EMI Soundphile Series recording is almost 20 years ago [that would have been in the early 90s]. In that time I can say that I think I may have run across at most two other copies. This is a tough one to find!

But it’s worth the effort, because all the little toys that play along with the music just JUMP out of the speakers. The recording is so transparent and the toys are so well miked it’s like hearing this work for the first time, or live.

This album can easily become a favorite Demo Disc — it has that kind of “you-are-there” sound. This recording was made at Abbey Road in 1976 under the direction of the two Christophers. Perhaps that accounts for the quality of the recording.

The Eine Kleine on side two is also very nice, although I wouldn’t say it’s world class the way The Toy Symphony is.

FURTHER READING

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Foreigner – Self-Titled

More Foreigner

More Debut Albums of Interest

  • Foreigner’s debut album ROCKS onto the site for only the second time ever with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • A truly superb recording with huge, powerful, dynamic sound – the Tubey Magical richness of these sides will have your jaw on the floor
  • Includes two of the biggest FM hits from 1977 – “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice” – and we guarantee you’ve never heard them with as much rock and roll energy as they have on this copy
  • 4 stars: “As pure rock craftsmanship goes, Foreigner was as good as it got in the late ’70s.”

What’s key to the sound of Foreigner’s records?

Obviously, the big one would have to be ENERGY, a subject we discuss at length on our blog. Next would be punchy ROCK BASS, followed by clear, present vocals.

Those are the big ones, and we are happy to report that this copy had the best Foreigner sound in all three areas.

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Steely Dan – Aja

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Reviews and Commentaries for Aja

  • Presenting a STUNNING copy of Steely Dan’s magnificent Jazzy Pop breakthrough album
  • Punchy, full and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out the jazzy funk in the music
  • A Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album and a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing like this
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records … a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest. “

Folks, there’s not much I can tell you about this copy of Aja that’s going to make you want this record, other than to say this: If you’re in the market for a superb pressing of what’s gotta be the most beloved Steely Dan record they made, look no further. It’s right here. (more…)

Bill Withers – Menagerie

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  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • Big, rich and smooth — this is vintage analog after all ** this is just the right sound for this music
  • Includes Withers’ signature hit, “Lovely Day” as well as “Lovely Night For Dancing”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Where his Sussex material was slyly eclectic, touching on a number of different styles, this album is more cohesive, a smooth album that points the way toward quiet storm while retaining a warm soulfulness, largely due to Withers’ wonderful voice.”

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Bee Gees et al. – Saturday Night Fever

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More 5 Star Albums

  • An OUTSTANDING copy of this ’70s classic with Double Plus (A++) sound on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • There’s real Bee Gees vocal magic here – “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “More Than a Woman,” “Jive Talkin’,” and more!
  • One of the most underrated tracks that holds up surprisingly well after all these years is “A Fifth of Beethoven,” and it sounds great here
  • It’s no walk in the park to find a copy with sound this good and vinyl this quiet, but here it is
  • 5 stars: “Saturday Night Fever is virtually indispensable as a Bee Gees album, not just for the presence of an array of songs that were hits in their own right but because it offered the Gibb brothers as composers as well as artists…”
  • If you’re a Bee Gees fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This copy of the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack has truly killer sound throughout, and that ain’t no jive talkin’! We collected a bunch of these and put them through the shootout process and were delighted to find out that some of the material on here can sound wonderful on the best pressings.

Like any compilation, some songs are going to sound better than others. The good news here is that most of the tracks you’d hope to be impressive actually are: “Stayin’ Alive,” “How Deep Is Your Love” and “Disco Inferno” are among the better-sounding songs here.

Find your favorite song on here, drop the needle, and see if the dramatically improved sound doesn’t bring back some special memories, and maybe even inspire you to bust a move!

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The Three / Self-Titled (45 RPM)

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • The transients are uncannily lifelike – listen for the huge amounts of kinetic energy produced when Shelly whacks the hell out of his cymbals
  • My favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later)
  • 4 stars: “One of Joe Sample’s finest sessions as a leader” – with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown, we would say it’s clearly his finest session, as a leader or simply as the piano player in a killer trio

If you want to hear the full six tunes recorded by The Three at that famous Hollywood session (which ran all day and long into the night, 4 AM to be exact), our 33 RPM pressings are your best bet.

If you want absolutely amazing, mind-blowing, you-are-there sound, a Hot Stamper 45 is the only way to go.

The music is so good that I personally would not want to live without the complete album. The Three is, in fact, my favorite Piano Trio Jazz Album of All Time; every one of those six tracks is brilliantly arranged and performed (if you have the right takes of course; more about that later). (more…)

Tom Waits – Foreign Affairs

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  • This early pressing was hard to fault – it will put Tom Waits right between your speakers, with a batch of great session players behind and to the side, all playing live in the studio
  • “The album contains more ballads than most of his records do, but they were the most effective vehicles for the kind of storytelling he was trying to get to. Produced and engineered by Bones Howe, Foreign Affairs was recorded live in studio by a quintet that included West Coast jazzmen Jack Sheldon on trumpet, saxophonist Frank Vicari, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Shelly Manne.

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Commodores – Self-Titled

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  • The band’s illustrious self-titled release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Punchy and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out both the pop-soul of “Easy” and the funk of “Brick House”
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and ‘life” 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: “The Commodores’ early years were spent on the Southern funk circuit, where their energetic, catchy tunes, and keyboard-oriented funk made them both a college and a radio staple… This collection highlights early up-tempo and ballad hits.”

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Genesis – Seconds Out

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More Phil Colllins

  • This is an excellent set of songs and a surprisingly good recording
  • After suffering through so much bad Genesis sound over the years — their pressings are all over the map — it was a real treat to hear the better copies of this one let these classic songs really come to life
  • “Indeed, part of the beauty of this album is the sheer flexibility of the band during this period — in addition to superb vocals by Collins throughout, the drumming by Chester Thompson is at least a match for Collins’ best playing.”
  • If you’re a Genesis fan, this title from 1977 is surely a Must Own.
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This live album from 1977 has some of the best Genesis sound we’ve heard. Their studio recordings are often a bit flat and dull, so it’s really a treat to hear those songs with this kind of big, open, dynamic sound! Phil Collins handles the lead vocals here, but he does a great job even on the Peter Gabriel material.

This vintage British Charisma pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)