It’s hard to find copies of this album that give you the tubey richness and warmth that this music needs to sound its best. We’ve done this shootout a number of times over the years, but I can count the number of Hot Stamper copies that have hit the site on one hand.
A lot of copies seem to be EQ’d to put the vocals way up front, an approach that makes the voice hard and edgy. Copies like that sound impressive at first blush (“Wow, he’s really IN THE ROOM!”) but get fatiguing after a few minutes. When you get a copy that’s smooth, relaxed and natural, the music sounds so good that you may never want it to stop.
Our Hot Stamper Pressings from Years Ago
Side one is lively and present with a punchy bottom end and real depth to the soundfield. It’s also open and transparent with lots of natural ambience. Compared to the A+++ side two here, there’s a touch of grit and grain at times, but dramatically less than you get on most copies. We rated side one A++, which means you get excellent sound for Subterranean Homesick Blues, Maggie’s Farm, She Belongs To Me and a few more classic Dylan tracks.
Side two was UNSTOPPABLE — it was clearly As Good As It Gets based on years of listening and scores of copies auditioned over the years. Everything sounds right — the vocals and guitar sound wonderfully natural and correct with superb clarity and lots of richness and warmth.