Hot Stampers

Gilbert and Sullivan / Overtures / Ward – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

SUPERB sound on BOTH sides, with side two earning our coveted White Hot Stamper sonic grade for the kind of rich, sweet Living Stereo sound that we audiophiles love. The sound is nothing short of amazing on the White Hot side. This is a Top Shaded Dog in every way.   

That lovely texture on the strings tells you that the pressing itself is partly responsible for the superb sound — the lack of smear being a pressing issue, not a mastering or recording one. For naturalness, this one earns a score of ten out of ten.

This is an incredibly good sounding side, clearly the best side two of the three copies we played in our recent shootout and by far the best I have ever heard this music sound (only natural when you take into account the continuously improving stereo and room).

The hall is HUGE: spacious and open as any you will hear, but not at the expense of richness or fullness. The orchestra is solid and full-bodied, yet the woodwinds and flutes soar above the other sections, so breathy and clear. How did the Decca (recording) and RCA (mastering) engineers succeed so brilliantly where so many others have failed, failed right up to this very day?

Who knows? It’s still a mystery that has not been explained, to my satisfaction anyway. (more…)

Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies – Stokowski – Reviewed in 2010

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Rhapsodies – Stokowski

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

I’m a big fan of this title. The string tone is rich and dark and just wonderful. If you want an exciting record with outstanding Living Stereo sound — dynamic, with strings to die for, and an energetic performance, this is the one! Don’t let the White Dog fool you. I doubt if the average Shaded Dog is any better. This record sounds just right to me. Listen to how clear and correct the triangle is.  (more…)

B.B. King – Lucille

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Lucille

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  • Lucille (the album, not the guitar) finally comes to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout 
  • An exceptionally hard album to find with good sound, but here it is – clean, clear and spacious with a solid bottom end – qualities that bring out the best in B.B.’s Blues
  • It has taken us years to find clean copies with the right stampers for Lucille, but finally our efforts have paid off with this Hot Stamper copy
  • “Lucille is an album alive and pulsing with a beautifully thick blues soul that is showcased everywhere, from Mr. King’s roaring vocals to the blazing brass in the background.”

Lucille is by far the toughest ’60s B.B. King record to find nowadays in audiophile playing condition. Most copies are just beat, and the ones that aren’t tend to be rare and pricey. The reason for all of the above is simple enough: it’s one of the man’s most consistently enjoyable, best sounding albums. Who can blame people for playing it to death when the music is so good?

Mobile Fidelity remastered the record in the ’90 for their for their consistently awful Anadisq series on Heavy Vinyl, and we used to sell it, albeit somewhat reluctantly. It’s not nearly as bad as most of their catalog from the period, but I would it goes without saying that our Hot Stamper pressing will show you a Lucille that a Heavy Vinyl pressing or Half-Speed can only hint at. (more…)

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (Security) – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Security is finally here, and man does this album sound better than I remember it from back in the ’70s when I first played a copy. Stereos have come a long way since then, along with a host of other things that help records sound better, such as cleaning fluids, room treatments and all the rest. 

Now you can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that simply was never possible before, picking out all the drummers and counting all the layers of PG’s multi-tracked choruses.

For all you PG fans it’s been a long time coming. We’ve wanted to do this album for years but kept running into a roadblock we could not find our way around: the fact that most copies are thick, opaque, turgid, veiled — pick your favorite adjective for mud, most copies fit the profile. Nice clean copies would come in, sound murky and get filed away, as if aging them would bring out the transparency we were hoping to find but never could. Until now. Now we can clean them and play them better, and like we always say, if you clean and play enough copies, something good will come of it. (more…)

Bob Dylan & The Band – Before The Flood – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

One of the great Live Classic Rock albums of all time, now available in White Hot Stamper form! We recently undertook a massive shootout for this spirited double LP and three of the better sides from the whole shebang are on this here pressing. Sides one and two each earned our top grade of A+++, while side four clocked in at A++. Side three, as is often the case, was not quite up to the same standards. 

We feel that the best material is contained on the other three sides, so we doubt this will be a dealbreaker for many of you. (more…)

Willie Nelson – The Troublemaker

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The Troublemaker

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  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is an excellent copy from our most recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find
  • “The Troublemaker is Willie Nelson’s first all-gospel album, but country gospel in his hands doesn’t sound like traditional country gospel — it’s a Willie album, through and through… Consequently, it’s every bit as wonderfully idiosyncratic as any of his other mid-’70s work and, in some ways, even more so, because inspirational songs and religious material are usually not given arrangements as imaginative and free-spirited as this… “

This Columbia LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years. (more…)

Paul Desmond – Desmond Blue

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Desmond Blue

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  • Paul Desmond’s phenomenal 1962 release finally arrives on the site, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is vintage Sixties Living Stereo at its best – big, rich and Tubey Magical like you will not believe
  • A “highly innovative and meticulously crafted work,” this collection is brimming with delightful jazz classics, including “My Funny Valentine,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “Body and Soul”
  • 4 stars: “… lush, reflective, thought-provoking, and soul-stirring. This work is quite a plus for any listener and especially those who consider themselves avid fans of Paul Desmond.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These original Living Stereo pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here. (more…)

The Band – Music From Big Pink – MoFi’s Ruinous EQ Destroys Another Classic

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Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

In 2012 the new MoFi put out another remastered Big Pink. Since their track record at this point is, to be honest, abysmal, we have not felt the need to audition it.

It’s very possible, even likely, that they restored some of the bass that’s missing from the originals. But bad half-speed mastered bass — poorly defined, never deep and never punchy — is that the kind of bass that would even be desirable?

To us, it is very much a problem. Bad bass is just plain annoying. Fortunately for us it is a problem we have to deal with much less often now that we’ve all but stopped playing half-speed mastered records. (more…)

B.B. King – Blues On Top Of Blues

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Blues On Top Of Blues

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last on this 1968 pressing, BB King’s fourteenth studio album
  • This is the album he made right before Lucille, so the man was definitely on a roll and doing some great work in the late ’60s
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Featuring brassy arrangements by Johnny Pate, it presents King’s sound at its fullest without sacrificing any of his grit or sophisticated swing … the material is very strong throughout.”

Watch for more B. B. King albums coming to the site soon. Some of the Bluesway pressings we’ve auditioned recently have had exceptionally big, rich, lively sound, and that’s the way we like to hear our music. There are plenty of dogs in the King canon, especially in the ’70s, so you have to be a bit careful with the man’s recordings, but good titles in the ’60s with excellent sound can still be found if you’re willing to do the work (or you’re willing to let us do it for you). (more…)