audiophile vinyl

Paul McCartney’s Must Own Masterpiece

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The best tracks here have the quality of LIVE MUSIC in a way that not one out of a hundred rock records do. It sounds like it’s recorded live in the studio, but of course that’s impossible, because Paul plays practically all the instruments himself! It just goes to show how good a multi-track studio recording can sound when done well.

In our experience, the real McCartney Magic is only found on the best domestic Apple pressings. We’ve never heard an import that did much for us, and the later CBS issues are hardly worth the vinyl they’re pressed on.

This album, like Unplugged and Band on the Run (and not a whole lot else) is SUPERB from start to finish. At the end of side two you want MORE. I wish I could say that about the rest of his discography.

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Cat Stevens Testimonial – I Wouldn’t Believe It If I Weren’t Hearing It!

Hot Stamper Pressings of Mone Bone Available Now

More Reviews and Commentaries for Mona Bone Jakon

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Our good customer Joel not only loved our slightly noisy but amazing sounding Mona Bone Hot Stamper, he found it to be pretty darn quiet to boot! He says it’s the Best $180 he’s ever spent on an LP. Seems like a lot of money for one record, but when the music and sound are this good who wants to argue with a happy man?

Hi Tom

I just spun the bargain tics and pops A+++ Mona Bone Jakon. I listened to this record hundreds of times growing up, but never like this! Silky smooth voices and guitars, so lifelike! Nice bass extension also… I have to laugh, because I think that the condition of this record is excellent!

Now I know how the other half lives! Listening to this hot stamper reminds me of my image of the rich man, eating only the center of the watermelon. These hot stampers are amazing, I wouldn’t believe it if I weren’t hearing it! Best $180 I’ve ever spent on an LP…

Joel

Joel, like it says in our commentary, We Love Cat too! Thanks so much for your letter. Enjoy one of the Greatest Folk Rock Records of All Time, finally sounding the way it should.

Best,
TP

We Was Wrong

When we said this album was not the sonic equal of Teaser and the Firecat or Tea for the Tillerman, boy, We Was Wrong and then some. Read all about it in this White Hot Stamper copy review below.

It’s been about a year since we last found Hot Stampers of this album, and having made a number of improvements to the stereo over that time, I’m here to report that this album got a WHOLE LOT BETTER, better than I ever imagined it could get. Mona Bone Jakon now ranks as a DEMO DISC of the highest order, every bit the equal of Teaser and Tea. To think that all three of these records came out in one fifteen month period is astonishing. The only other artists to have produced music of this caliber in so short a time would have to be The Beatles, and it took four of them to do it.

Which is not what we used to think, as evidenced by this paragraph from a previous Hot Stamper listing.

This album is one of Cat’s top four titles both musically and sonically. Tea and Teaser are obviously in a league of their own, but this album and Catch Bull At Four are close behind. The music is WONDERFUL — the best tracks (including I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light) rank right up there with anything from his catalog. Sonically it’s not an epic recording on the scale of Tea or Teaser, but with Paul Samwell-Smith at the helm, you can be sure it’s an excellent sounding album — on the right pressing.

That last line is dead wrong. It IS an epic recording on the scale of Tea and Teaser. This copy proves it! Now that we know just how good this record can sound, I hope you will allow me to borrow some commentary from another classic Cat Stevens album listing, to wit:

Right off the bat I want to say this is a work of GENIUS. Cat Stevens made three records that belong in the Pantheon of greatest popular recordings of all time. In the world of folk-pop, Mona Bone Jakon, Teaser and the Firecat and Tea for the Tillerman have few peers. There may be other recordings that are as good but there are no other recordings that are better.

When you hear I Wish I Wish and I Think I See The Light on a Hot Stamper copy you will be convinced, as I am, that this is one of the greatest popular recordings in the history of the world. I don’t know of ANY other album that has more LIFE and MUSICAL ENERGY than this one.

Quiet Vinyl

We used to have the worst luck trying to find quiet copies of this album. We naturally blamed the vinyl for the noise we heard, but in this latest shootout so many copies were so quiet that we now know better. It’s the CLEANING that makes the difference. This is of course one of the most important Revolutions in Audio of the last decade, along with too many others to mention here. Check out the link above to take advantage of the newest discoveries that can make your stereo sound better and your records quieter.


Further Reading

Record Cleaning Advice

Record Playback Advice

Turntable Setup Advice

Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake / Grossman – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)

More Classical ‘Sleeper” Recordings We’ve Discovered with Demo Disc Sound

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This budget Whitehall pressing is one of the most incredible SLEEPERS in the entire classical catalog, with SUPERB sound as well as performances of the highest quality from the Vienna Festival Orchestra. The sound is big and bold, spacious, open and sweet in the best golden age tradition. Superior pressings of this recording would give all but the best Shaded Dogs, Londons and Mercs a serious run for their money, beating most of them handily. Yes, it’s that good. The string tone and rosiny texture on side two are especially noteworthy.

There’s a freedom from coloration on either side that is positively refreshing after playing most vintage classical recordings. (more…)

Townes Van Zandt – Flyin’ Shoes

More Folk Rock

More Country and Country Rock

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  • Flyin’ Shoes makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this original Tomato pressing
  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • The LIFE of the man’s music is captured on this pressing, and you can be pretty sure that that is simply not going to be the case with whatever they’re peddling to record buyers these days
  • 4 stars: “The melodies here are strong, the lyrics full of Van Zandt’s razor sharp insight, and the production is sparse and to the point, bringing to mind the inconspicuous polish of High, Low and in Between. The feel here is a balance between folk and country, with Van Zandt’s voice and guitar up front, letting the songs speak for themselves.”

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Fred Plaut Is One of Our Favorite Engineers

More Recordings by Fred Plaut

More of Our Favorite Engineers

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Fred Plaut is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Fred Plaut engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries. 

Frederick “Fred” Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label’s chief engineer.

Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia’s most famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.

Wikipedia

More Columbia 30th Street Studio Recordings

Reviews of Recordings Made at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio

Judy Collins – Colors of the Day: The Best of Judy Collins

More Judy Collins

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  • This superb compilation boast a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is especially rich, warm and natural, with exceptional immediacy to Judy’s vocals and Tubey Magic for days
  • Tons of breath of life, superb production and mastering, and some of the best sounding echo ever recorded
  • Note that Artisan cut this record a whole helluva lot better than DCC – the so-called audiophile label – ever did
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lovingly programmed (it leads off with her excellent country-pop hit ‘Someday Soon,’ an Ian Tyson classic), this is Collins at her finest… This anthology brings the ‘best-of’ collection to a new art form.”

I remember being a bit taken aback by how much better my original Artisan pressing sounded compared to the supposedly superior DCC, pressed at high quality Heavy Vinyl at RTI to the most exacting standards possible.

What finally turned me completely against DCC were the awful Paul Simon solo albums they remastered.  Two were released, two I had as unreleased test pressings, and all of them were barely second rate compared to a good original pressing.

So much for believing in DCC. Since that time we have learned that placing your faith in any record label or cutting operation is a mistake. You have to play the records to know how they sound. Nothing else works, and nothing else can work. (more…)

Al Di Meola et al. – Friday Night in San Francisco on Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D?

The Speakers Corner remastered Heavy Vinyl pressing of this famous jazz album has two big strikes against it from the get go. It’s both congested and hard.

When these guys are hell-bent on one-upping each other right off of the stage, even our best Hot Stamper pressings struggle with clarity, transparency and harmonic sweetness

Do you really want to add all the problems of the modern remastered heavy vinyl pressing to a  tape that has no small share of its own?

Congested and hard is the kind of sound Speakers Corner should be quite familiar with by now. You can hear it on plenty of their mostly mediocre pressings. Sourced from a digital tape of the master? Maybe, but who cares what tape was used to make this dog?

It’s a loser and should be avoided at any price.

Our Hot Stamper pressings of this very album will be dramatically more transparent, open, harmonically-correct, resolving of musical information, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are the most obvious areas in which heavy vinyl pressings tend to fall short, if our experience with hundreds of them over the last few decades has any bearing.

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Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

More Led Zeppelin

More Rock Classics

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  • Physical Graffiti finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides of this killer double album
  • Transparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical Richness coin, is key to the better pressings of this album, as well as many of our other favorite demo discs
  • Of course the main attributes that set the best copies apart from the also-rans are size, energy, weight, vocal presence and an overall freedom from grit and grain, and we guarantee that this copy will do better in all of these areas than any you have ever heard
  • 5 stars: ” Physical Graffiti captures the whole experience of Led Zeppelin at the top of their game better than any of their other albums.”

*NOTE: On side three, the intro to Track One, In The Light, plays Mint Minus Minus, but the rest of the side is quieter.

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume .

If you’ve been waiting for a seriously powerful Kashmir Experience, today is your lucky day. (more…)

John Klemmer / Straight from the Heart – Listening for the Tubey Magic Track by Track

More John Klemmer

Hot Stamper Audiophile Records with Surprisingly Good Sound

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Straight from the Heart. Here are more albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

The best copies give you dynamics and immediacy like you have rarely heard outside of the live event.

Hell, this record IS live; it’s live in the studio. It’s a direct to disc recording, what else could it be?

There is simply nothing getting in the way of the music. If you have the system for it, you can recreate the live sound of this session in a way that few other recordings allow you to do.

This copy had one quality not heard on most of the others: Tubey Magic. The sound is rich and full-bodied, practically free of grit and grain – this is the kind of sound one hears occasionally on the best tube equipment and practically nowhere else. Of course this is an all-transistor affair, but tubey sound is what ended up on the record, so go figure.

Many copies were slightly lean, making the sax a bit aggressive in places. The killer copies fill out the horn sound, giving it the needed weight and body that the real instrument would have, without adding a euphonically artificial richness that the real instrument wouldn’t. (more…)

David Grisman – Hot Dawg

More David Grisman

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  • David Grisman’s 1978 release finally arrives on the site – this STUNNING pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These vintage stereo sides are As Good As It Gets – they’re rich, smooth and full-bodied, with the Tubey Magic that’s missing from most copies
  • Transparency, speed and freedom from smear are key to the best copies – this one showed us just how good the record can sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: ” Grisman’s lively “Dawg’s Bull” and guitarist Tony Rice’s upbeat “Devlin'” set a high standard at the opening of the album, yet the remaining tracks continue to meet the high watermark of the first two songs.”

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