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Hot Stamper

Average White Band
Average White Band

  (Item #: averaavera_1802) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • You'll find very good Hot Stamper sound from beginning to end on this AWB album, clearly their masterpiece
  • There's not a weak track on the album - if you've forgotten how good this music, here is your chance to get reaquainted
  • "AWB embraced soul and funk with so much conviction that it was clear this was anything but an "average" white band." - Allmusic 4 1/2 Stars
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Average White Band - Average White Band

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: averaavera_2007) 



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

FREAKISHLY GOOD SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We’ve been playing this record for years, but we’ve sure never heard it sound like this! The bass -- so crucial to this music -- is ABSOLUTE PERFECTION. Keepin’ It To Myself sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD!

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Average White Band - Cut The Cake

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: averacutth_2017) 



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

We've always been big fans of their AWB album, but it was only recently that we discovered how good Cut The Cake can sound on the right pressing. Most of the copies we've heard over the years have sounded flat and dry, but we got a hold of a hot one here! All Music Guide calls it "one of their finest, most engaging albums" and when it sounds this good, we sure aren't going to argue!

Check out the title track and School Boy Crush for some funky fun with great sound!

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Anita Baker - Giving You The Best That I Got

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: bakergivin_2013) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Anita Baker LP has an AMAZING A+++ SIDE TWO and a great A+ - A++ side one, both very quiet, giving you excellent sound for this '80s soul classic! We remembered this as a good recording and were still surprised with how good the best copies sounded. All Music Guide gave it four out of five stars, calling it "far superior to most of 1988's uninspired R&B releases."

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Super Hot Stamper

Anita Baker
Rapture

  (Item #: bakerraptu_1901_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This quiet-storm classic earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER for sound on both sides and plays on exceptionally quiet vinyl to boot
  • Rapture is one of the best sounding recordings from the era - with all due respect to Whitney Houston, if I could only have one album of '80s female vocals, it would have to be this one
  • Key to the sound is richness and Tubey Magic, along with strong midrange presence, and on this Super Hot Stamper you get all three
  • 5 stars: "Rapture gave Baker one moving hit after another, including "Sweet Love," "Caught up in the Rapture," "Same Ole Love," and "No One in This World."
See all of our Soul and R&B albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Bee Gees et al.
Saturday Night Fever

  (Item #: beegesatur_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, on all four of these outstanding sides
  • There's real Bee Gees vocal magic here - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Stayin' Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, More Than a Woman, Jive Talkin', and even A Fifth of Beethoven all sound great
  • It's no walk in the park to find a copy with sound this good and exceptionally quiet vinyl, 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..."
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Bee Gees et al. - Saturday Night Fever

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beegesatur_2016) 



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

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.

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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Young Americans

  (Item #: bowieyoung_1808_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Superb sound for Bowie's one and only Soul album with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We think you'll agree this is a surprisingly well recorded, especially when you have a copy that sounds as good as this one - it's big and solid with punchy bass and real immediacy
  • This is the record that turned me on to David Sanborn, whose sax work here is nothing short of a revelation
  • One of our favorites by Bowie, with so many killer tracks: Young Americans, Fascination, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Across the Universe and, of course, Fame
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White Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Young Americans

  (Item #: bowieyoung_1810_1903) 

Our Price: $349.99
Sale Price: $299.00 (You save $50.99 / 15%)


  • One of the better copies of Bowie's soul album to hit the site this year - incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on one
  • This vintage pressing is simply bigger and fuller than the competition, with massive amounts of energy and rich punchy bass
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl too - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout - they don't come any quieter
  • One of our favorites by The Man, with so many killer tracks: Young Americans, Win, Fascination, Somebody Up There Likes Me, Across the Universe and, of course, Fame
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David Bowie - Young Americans

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: bowieyoung_2007) 



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

THE BEST SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD FOR THIS ALBUM! We’ve been playing this album for years, but we’ve sure never heard it sound like this. Both sides have BIG, FULL-BODIED SOUND that takes this soulful music to an entirely new level.

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David Bowie - Young Americans

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bowieyoung_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn's saxophone sounds like it's coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

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David Bowie - Young Americans

What to Listen For

  (Item #: bowieyoung_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

The average RCA copy of this album is bright, grainy and hard to some degree, like most RCA pressings I come across. If you've been stuck with an average copy, you're not going to believe how smooth and sweet the best ones sound.

This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn's saxophone sounds like it's coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

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The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Brubeck And Rushing

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brubebrube_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Minty looking Columbia Six Eye Demo LP has SUPERB SOUND and some of the quietest Six Eye vinyl I’ve ever heard. If you’re a fan of either Dave Brubeck or Jimmy Rushing you can’t do better than this album. The sound is as close to perfection as I can imagine. I think it would be practically impossible to find a better copy than this.

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Ray Charles - All Time Great Country & Western Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: charlallti_2011) 



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

EXCELLENT SOUND and mostly quiet vinyl throughout, the big highlights being an A++ side three and an A+++ side four! We finally found enough copies of this album to do another proper shootout, and this one was one of the very best. Drop the needle on side four to find out just how amazing Ray Charles can sound on vinyl when you've got a killer pressing. The vocals are silky and breathy with natural texture and amazing presence. You will not believe how much tubey magic you get on this side!

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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
The Best Of

  (Item #: charlbesto_1803_1808) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • An excellent sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Like any compilation the sound varies from track to track, but most of the material here sounds WONDERFUL
  • This collection of instrumentals gives you a taste of Ray's prowess at the piano, with surprisingly good sound to boot
  • All these recordings are from the late 50s, including a live performance from the Newport Jazz Festival
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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
The Best Of

  (Item #: charlbesto_1810_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An amazing sounding copy: Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • Like any compilation the sound varies from track to track, but most of the material here sounds WONDERFUL
  • This collection of instrumentals gives you a taste of Ray's prowess at the piano, with surprisingly good sound to boot
  • All these recordings are from the late 50s, including a live performance from the Newport Jazz Festival
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Ray Charles - The Best Of

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: charlbesto_2007) 



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

This Atlantic anthology White Label Promo has EXCELLENT SOUND. Like any compilation the sound varies from track to track, but most of the material here sounds WONDERFUL! Both sides play quietly, mostly Mint Minus throughout.

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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
The Genius of Ray Charles

  (Item #: charlgenius_of_1904) 


  • This KILLER 2-pack boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • It's incredibly rich, full and tubey throughout, as Ray tackles both big band classics and string-backed ballads from the Great American Songbook, all with truly magical results
  • Robert Christgau noted that "Charles tried many times, but except for Modern Sounds, he never again assembled such a consistent album in this mode."
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Charles' voice is heard throughout in peak form, giving soul to even the veteran standards."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Have a Smile With Me

  (Item #: charlhavea_1709_1809) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides this copy was one of the best we played in our recent shootout
  • The richness in the vocals and the wonderfully Tubey Magical sound makes this copy especially impressive
  • It's not easy to find a Ray Charles record from the Sixties that plays this quietly: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • AMG writes, "...He elevates the material with soulful vocals and good arrangements, particularly when the Raeletts back him up (as they do on half the tracks)."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul

  (Item #: charlingre_1807_1811) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Outstanding sound throughout with both sides rating a Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • These sides are super big and full-bodied with lots of energy and a nice extended top end
  • "The high points are very high -- "Busted," his hit reworking of a composition by country songwriter Harlan Howard, is jazzy and tough, and one of his best early-'60s singles..." - All Music
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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Ingredients In A Recipe For Soul

  (Item #: charlingre_1809_1902) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • Insanely good sound throughout with both sides earning shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • These sides are doing it all right -- richer, fuller, better bass, more Tubey Magic, and the list goes on!
  • "The high points are very high -- "Busted," his hit reworking of a composition by country songwriter Harlan Howard, is jazzy and tough, and one of his best early-'60s singles..."
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Ray Charles - Love Country Style

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: charllovec_2007) 



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

This ABC White Label Promo LP is one of the BEST SOUNDING Ray Charles records we have ever heard! This is analog at its best: rich, warm and sweet with tons of TUBEY MAGIC.

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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Modern Sounds In Country & Western...V. 2

  (Item #: charlmoder_2_1810_1901) 

Our Price: $349.99

  • You'll find incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this stereo copy of Charles' 1962 follow up to Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
  • Features Ray's Big Band with the Raelettes on one side and the legendary Jack Halloran Singers on the other
  • Finally, here is the right sound for these acclaimed songs you know well, classics such as You Are My Sunshine; Your Cheating Heart; Oh, Lonesome Me, and nine more
  • 5 stars: "Vol. 2 defied the curse of the sequel and was just as much of an artistic triumph as its predecessor … the miracle is that Charles' hurt, tortured, soulfully twisting voice transforms the backgrounds as well as the material; you believe what he's singing."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Modern Sounds In Country & Western...V. 2

  (Item #: charlmoder_2_1811_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this stereo copy of Charles' 1962 follow up to Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music
  • Features Ray's Big Band with the Raelettes on one side and the legendary Jack Halloran Singers on the other
  • Both sides are big, open, and lively - just the right sound for this acclaimed album full of songs you know well
  • 5 stars: "Vol. 2 defied the curse of the sequel and was just as much of an artistic triumph as its predecessor, if not as immediately startling."
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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles & Betty Carter
Ray Charles & Betty Carter

  (Item #: charlraych_1902_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound for this hard-to-find vintage stereo pressing
  • Ray's 1961 release here showcases two of the most soulful singers to ever share a microphone, both at the height of their powers
  • Includes the now "controversial" Baby It's Cold Outside (no one has ever recorded it quite like these two), People Will Say We're In Love, Side By Side, and many more
  • 4 stars: "There is certainly a powerful, often sexy rapport between the two -- Charles in his sweet balladeering mode, Carter with her uniquely keening, drifting high register -- and they definitely create sparks in the justly famous rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside.""
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Ray Charles / Betty Carter - Ray Charles and Betty Carter

DCC Reviewed & Recommended

  (Item #: charlraych_dcc) 



Sonic Grade: B+

Folks, I have to hand it to Steve Hoffman -- this is the BEST SOUNDING DCC LP we have played in years.

We've been harshin' on DCC for quite a while now. Whenever we do a shootout for the Eagles or Doors or Bonnie Raitt or Queen or you name it, the DCC pressing almost always gets a serious drubbing from our listening panel. Not so here. This one took TOP HONORS against the other copies we played and was head and shoulders better sounding in practically every way.

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Ray Charles & Betty Carter - Ray Charles & Betty Carter

DCC Clear Vinyl Pressing

  (Item #: charlraych_dcc_clear) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another DCC LP debunked.

This Dunhill Compact Classics LP pressed on CLEAR VINYL is one of DCCs earliest forays into analog production. Unfortunately it sounds like a bad CD. In fact, you can be sure that Hoffman's CD murders it in every way. Don't waste your money.

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White Hot Stamper

Ray Charles
Sweet & Sour Tears

  (Item #: charlsweet_1804_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this Shootout Winning 1964 pressing - exceptionally QUIET vinyl for a vintage Ray Charles record (!)
  • This stereo pressing is the only way to hear these classic songs sound rich, powerful and free from coloration
  • A concept album filled with an eclectic collection of themed music, this release showcases Charles' innovative approach to recording
  • "...One is almost tempted to think that Charles was toying with audience expectations by mixing unabashedly sentimental slow tunes with the far more bluesy, satisfying, and upbeat numbers, such as his surprisingly brassy, punchy treatment of "Cry Me a River.""
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Ray Charles - The Genius After Hours

Top Quality Remastering Was Possible in 1985

  (Item #: charlthege_remastering) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on records.

Proof positive that there is nothing wrong with remastering vintage recordings if you know what you're doing. These sessions from 1956 (left off of an album that Allmusic liked a whole lot less than this one) were remastered in 1985 and the sound -- on the better copies mind you -- is correct from top to bottom.

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Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker (1969)

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: cockejoeco_1969_2016) 



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

I put this album up against the best Cocker has ever made. He released both of his first two albums in 1969, strikingly reminiscent of another band we revere, Led Zeppelin. (Small world: Jimmy Page plays on Cocker's first release.)

The consistently high quality of the material is another reason this album has to be considered a Must Own. Did Cocker ever release an album with more good songs than these? On side one alone you'll find Dear Landlord; Bird on the Wire; She Came in Through the Bathroom Window; and Hitchcock Railway. On side two: Something; Delta Lady; Hello, Little Friend; and Darling Be Home Soon.

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Super Hot Stamper

Joe Cocker
Joe Cocker (1972)

  (Item #: cockejoeco_1972_1901) 

Our Price: $89.99

  • This outstanding copy of Joe Cocker's patented Blue Eyed Soul Album rates a solid Double Plus (A++) on both sides and plays quietly to boot
  • The sound on this pressing is rich, full-bodied, warm and smooth throughout, with plenty of Vintage Analog Tubey Magic
  • Pardon Me Sir; High Time We Went and Black-Eyed Blues, Midnight Rider; Do Right Woman, Do Right Man and St. James Infirmary - so many of his best songs
  • "With 'St. James' Infirmary,' Joe Cocker has moved into a whole different sphere of musical activity, far distant from the rip-roaring anarchism of the Mad Dogs ... This album is, when all be said and done, riddled with meaningful soul." -- Rolling Stone
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Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: cockejoeco_1972_2007) 



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

This Hot Stamper Original A&M LP has BIG BOLD sound. It’s dynamic, punchy and spacious. Just listen to the drums on Black-Eyed Blues -- the way the percussion and bass mingle sonically with Alan Whites’ skins takes this listener right into the room where the magic happened. This is definitely the best sounding Joe Cocker record we have ever heard.

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The Joe Cocker You Don't Know

With A Little Help From My Friends

  (Item #: cockewitha_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Cocker's MASTERPIECE of White Soul, and, sadly, a Classic That's All but Forgotten.

We just finished our first shootout in over FIVE years for the album and were SHOCKED by how amazing the best copies can sound, even better than we remember them from last time around. Turn this one up good and loud and you’ll have Joe Cocker in all his raspy glory belting out With A Little Help From My Friends right in your very own listening room!

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Joe Cocker - With a Little Help From My Friends

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: cockewitha_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner releases. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"Speakers corner knocks one out of the park with this wonderful reissue! Those conga drums and the back-up singers sound so much better than I remember them! If you''re going to own one Joe Cocker album make it this one. It's a man-size serving of English Soul."

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Hot Stamper

Elvis Costello
Punch The Clock

  (Item #: costepunch_1803_1902) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • You'll find Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this Elvis Costello classic - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • "Punch the Clock won't alter anyone's opinion of Elvis Costello because it doesn't represent much of a change for him. He remains the most consistently interesting songwriter in rock & roll, and there is evidence that a new, more emotionally generous sensibility may soon be present in his work." Rolling Stone
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Elvis Costello - Punch The Clock

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: costepunch_2008) 



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

The bottom end is as punchy, well-defined and powerful as they come. There's plenty of low-end on this record; regrettably most copies suffer from either a lack of bass or a lack of bass definition. I can't tell you how much you're missing when the bass isn't right on this album. (Or if you have the typical bass-shy audiophile speaker, yuck.) When the bass is lacking or ill-defined, the music seems labored; the moment-to-moment rhythmic changes in the songs blur together, and the band just doesn't swing the way it's supposed to.

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The Crusaders - Chain Reaction

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: crusachain_2009) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

ANOTHER MoFi BITES THE DUST! This original ABC Blue Thumb has A++ SIDES; it absolutely destroyed the Mobile Fidelity pressing and most of a big stack of standard copies. Let’s be honest, the MoFi is far better sounding than the average domestic pressing. The average domestic pressing sucks. Why do you think it’s taken us this long to put up these Hot Stampers? The properly mastered copies are just not out there, folks. You can find copies of this album in just about every used record bin, but most of them don’t sound anything like this!

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The Crusaders - Chain Reaction

MoFi Hot Stamper

  (Item #: crusachain_mofi) 



This is a Minty looking Mobile Fidelity LP with VERY GOOD SOUND. We just did a mini shootout and this copy killed the competition. Obviously it won’t sound as good as one of our regular Hot Stampers but they go for quite a bit more money. Depending on what you listen for, this MoFi should be quite a bit better than yer average domestic pressing.
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Willie Dixon - I Am The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: dixoniamth_2013) 



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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES for this Red Label pressing, including a shootout-winning, A+++ side one. The sound here is big and open, with the kind of life and presence we just don't hear on the typical pressings. And the material is TOP NOTCH -- Dixon was one of the blues' greatest songwriters, responsible for Spoonful, Hoochie Coochie Man, Little Red Rooster, Back Door Man and other songs you've probably heard your favorite classic rock band covering.

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Willie Dixon - I Am The Blues

What to Listen For

  (Item #: dixoniamth_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

It was pretty easy to separate the men from the boys in this shootout. A quick drop of the needle on each side would immediately answer our number one question: "How BIG is the sound?" The copies that lacked top end extension or heft in the bottom end were just too uninvolving. This is the BLUES, baby -- you think it's supposed to sound small and distant?

Another problem we ran into on many copies was excessive smoothness. When a copies was overly rich or smeary, it usually lacked the "gritty" feel that music like this should have.

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Super Hot Stamper

Dr. John
Desitively Bannaroo

  (Item #: drjohdesit_1812_1904) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • An outstanding early Atco pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Richness and plenty of tight bass are key to bringing the rhythmically challenging music of New Orleans to life, and here there is plenty of both
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl they're making - for Tubey Magic and energy, this is the only way to go
  • "As in In the Right Place, Mac has taken advantage of the specialized production talents of Allen Toussaint (at Toussaint's own Sea-Saint Studios in New Orleans), and has again used the fabled New Orleans band The Meters as his studio group. Each of the twelve cuts on the LP has been well-conceived, clearly thought-out, and reveals a new level of musical depth for the doctor."
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Super Hot Stamper

Dr. John
Dr. John's Gumbo

  (Item #: drjohgumbo_1806_1902) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • Dr. John's Gumbo is back, now with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Full, lively, and solid, this copy has just the right sound for this collection of quintessential New Orleans Rhythm and Blues tracks
  • The superbly talented Keith Olsen engineered - just one year later he would record Buckingham-Nicks, and two years after that Fleetwood Mac
  • 4 1/2 Stars: "Dr. John's Gumbo bridged the gap between post-hippie rock and early rock & roll, blues, and R&B... that sly fusion of styles makes Dr. John's Gumbo one of Dr. John's finest albums."
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Earth Wind & Fire - The Best Of EWF, Vol. 1

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: earthbesto_2011) 



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

This original Columbia LP has AMAZING SOUND on BOTH sides. Side one was right up there with the best we have ever heard. Without ten side ones to play there is very little chance you will be able to beat it. Hell, you might need twenty to find a better side one, but since the first track on the album is Got To Get You Into My Life, you might just have a ball doing it.

What a song. And it's not on any other EWF album. Three points to make here: 1) It's from the real master tape; 2) It happens to have DEMO DISC quality sound, which means: 3) You need this record in your collection.

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Earth, Wind, Fire and the

Neverending Search for Balance

  (Item #: earthbesto_exercise) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises. As is usually the case when plowing through a big pile of copies, we learned pretty quickly that what makes the sound work is having these two qualities in balance:

1) Richness / Smoothness
2) Transparency

When the vocals are thin and pinched, as they often are, the resulting edginess and harshness in the midrange take all the fun out of the music. Every track has group vocals and choruses, and the best copies make all the singers sound like they are standing in a big room, shoulder to shoulder, belting it out live and in living color.

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Earth, Wind & Fire - Gratitude

  (Item #: earthgrati_2010) 



OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times -- for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That's ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud.
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Super Hot Stamper

Earth, Wind & Fire
That's The Way of the World

  (Item #: earththats_1904_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding pressing of the band's 1975 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides are open, spacious and transparent, with a huge three-dimensional soundfield and an energy level that's off the charts
  • Includes EWF classics, Shining Star and, of course, That's The Way of The World
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Earth, Wind & Fire has delivered more than its share of excellent albums, but if a person could own only one EWF release, the logical choice would be That's the Way of the World, which was the band's best album as well as its best-selling. There are no dull moments on World, one of the strongest albums of the 1970s and EWF's crowning achievement."
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Earth, Wind & Fire - That’s The Way of the World

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: earththats_2011) 



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

This BEYOND White Hot Stamper Two Pack has AMAZING SOUND for both sides, which makes it BY FAR the best copy that has ever hit the site! Side two (of record two) earned our highest and rarest grade, A++++. It went beyond any side of any copy we have ever played. When you hear "Reason" on this side you will be floored at how well recorded it is. Think about it: How many people on the planet have ever heard it sound this good? We hadn't until this copy came our way, and we've been playing the record since the '70s!

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Earth, Wind & Fire - That’s The Way of the World

What to Listen For

  (Item #: earththats_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

We're pretty sure that the first track on side one, Shining Star, is made from a dub, a common occurrence with planned hit singles. The rest of the songs on side two are a step up in class; when you play the side, see if you don't hear some veiling and smearing.

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Super Hot Stamper

Flack / Hathaway
Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

  (Item #: flackrober_1711_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $129.00 (You save $20.99 / 14%)


  • An excellent copy, with strong Double Plus (A++) grades throughout, on vinyl that's exceptionally QUIET for this notoriously noisy album
  • There's Tubey Magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording - when it all comes together on Where Is The Love, you won't believe how good it sounds
  • One of our favorite duet albums, Flack and the woefully underrated Soul Man Donny Hathaway are in top form here
  • Allmusic raves: "A duet classic, and perhaps the most popular album Roberta Flack made. 'Where Is the Love' dominated urban contemporary radio for almost the entire year, while 'You've Got a Friend' was just as influential..."
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Flack / Hathaway - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: flackrober_2013) 



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

This White Hot Atlantic 2-pack has an AMAZING A+++ SIDE ONE backed with an EXCELLENT A++ SIDE TWO! These soulful duets are WONDERFUL SOUNDING when you get a Hot Copy. There's tubey magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording, more on some songs than others of course, but when it all comes together like it does on Where Is The Love you won't believe how good this record can sound!

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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

The Self-Titled First Album & English Rose

  (Item #: fleetblack_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1971.

You just can't write better songs than Love That Burns or Black Magic Woman, both of which can be found here. And Albatross, the mellow instrumental that closes out side four, was a Number One hit in the UK in 1969, can you believe it? It was backed on some releases by Need Your Love So Bad, another one of our all time favorite Fleetwood Mac songs. The band was on fire back when Peter Green was at the helm. These two LPs are proof enough.

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Super Hot Stamper

Four Tops
Still Waters Run Deep

  (Item #: fourtstillw_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • The band's 1970 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy is hard to fault - big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • It's not easy to find Motown records with natural tonal balance and freedom from distortion, but here's one that has both those qualities, and more
  • These guys helped establish that quintescential Motown sound that brought "Still Water (Love)" and "It's All In The Game" instant success
  • "Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment."
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Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace

A Bit of Experimentation with VTA Can Really Pay Off

  (Item #: frankamazi_wtlf) 



This is a handy record for VTA setup, a subject we discuss at length below.

On the better copies Aretha's vocals are as dynamic as any you will ever hear, and unlike all the records she did with Tom Dowd, her voice never breaks up on this record. If you have big speakers that can play at loud levels, with the right volume level you can really get Aretha to belt it out like nothing you have ever heard.

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White Hot Stamper

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Arrives

  (Item #: frankareth_1902_1) 

Our Price: $349.99

  • With insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one, this original Atlantic stereo pressing was a HUGE step up over most of what we played
  • The tonal balance is correct on both sides, with a fairly extended top end that allows The First Lady of Soul's vocals to get loud without getting too harsh
  • The vocal presence on these vintage pressings is good enough to put Aretha right in your listening room
  • "...captures Aretha Franklin in peak form... the core band is the same one that provided the fire on her previous album... An essential addition to her discography."
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Aretha Franklin - Aretha Arrives

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: frankareth_2012) 



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

This Atlantic Green & Blue label pressing has TWO GOOD SIDES on relatively quiet vinyl. We pulled together enough clean copies for a big shootout recently and most of them sounded the way you'd probably expect -- thin, bright, and grainy. This copy did a much better job of communicating the music, giving you the kind of life and energy this music needs to work its magic.


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White Hot Stamper

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Now

  (Item #: frankaretha_now_1903) 

Our Price: $599.99

  • A stunning "Triple Triple" copy of this original Atlantic Green and Blue label LP with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • These original pressings can be amazing - they give Aretha's voice a Tubey Magical relaxed quality that's simply not on the reissues, as good as they may be in other ways
  • Exceptionally QUIET vinyl for an original stereo pressing - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet an early copy as we have ever heard
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... this still caught Aretha Franklin at the peak of her early form. Think, I Say a Little Prayer, See Saw, and I Can’t See Myself Leaving You were all big hits."
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Super Hot Stamper

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Now

  (Item #: frankaretha_now_1903_1) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • Excellent sound throughout for this original Atlantic Green and Blue label LP with both sides earning a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • These original pressings can be amazing - they give Aretha's voice a Tubey Magical relaxed quality that's simply not on the reissues, as good as they may be in other ways
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... this still caught Aretha Franklin at the peak of her early form. Think, I Say a Little Prayer, See Saw, and I Can’t See Myself Leaving You were all big hits."
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Super Hot Stamper

Aretha Franklin
Lady Soul

  (Item #: frankladys_1901) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This outstanding copy of Aretha's 1968 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • Both sides are clean, clear and lively with lots of natural ambience - Aretha's vocals sound excellent with lots of presence, breath and texture
  • You'd need either a lot of copies, a lot of luck or both to come up with a pressing that sounds this good
  • 5 stars: "... 1968's Lady Soul proved Aretha Franklin, the pop sensation, was no fluke... an inspired blend of covers and originals from the best songwriters in soul and pop music... "/li>
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Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: frankladys_2011) 



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

A++ sound and quiet vinyl on both sides of this 1968 soul classic, an album that received a top Five Star rating from the All Music Guide! We've been playing a ton of Aretha Franklin records around here in recent days, but it's hard to find pressing that separate themselves from the pack to give you audiophile-friendly sound for her recordings, which (naturally) seem to be optimized more for the radio than for your hi-rez audio rig. Every now and then, however, we'll luck into a copy that delivers some real soul magic in its grooves, and this was one of those copies. Chain Of Fools and Aretha's great version of Natural Woman sound JUST RIGHT.

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Aretha Franklin - Laughing On The Outside

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: franklaugh_2011) 



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

This Minty Original looking Columbia Two Eye Demo LP from 1963 has WONDERFUL sound. It’s sweet and spacious, and the vinyl plays quietly. I don’t think you could find either a better sounding copy of this record.

Aretha's records for Columbia feature a more pop-oriented sound than her later works. This is a great record for those interested in checking out the early roots of one of the greatest singers of all time!

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Super Hot Stamper

Aretha Franklin
Soul '69

  (Item #: franksoul6_1805_1811_1902) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and on relatively quiet vinyl too!
  • Both sides here are super big, full and lively with most of the bass and Tubey Magic that's missing from so many copies
  • A tough album to find without condition issues - Aretha's records from this period are amazingly good and far too many of them got played hard
  • "Her vocals are consistently passionate and first-rate... as is the musicianship."
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Aretha Franklin - Spirit In The Dark

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: frankspiri_2012) 



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

Two incredible sides -- an A+++ side one backed with an A++ to A+++ side two -- for one of the best sounding albums Aretha recorded! We've done a ton of Aretha shootouts over the years and I'd put this one up with Amazing Grace as her top titles for sound. Everything we wanted from this music, this copy was DOIN' IT, plain and simple. It's lively, open, present and natural. The soundfield is big and spacious and the bottom end is killer. Aretha fans, you won't want to miss out on this one!

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Aretha Franklin - Young, Gifted and Black

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: frankyoung_2011) 



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

This Atlantic pressing is a MONSTER, easily one of the best we've ever played, and unusually quiet to boot. You will have a very tough time finding a copy with even one side this good, let alone two. The music, of course, is top notch -- and it's even better when you don't have bad sound or crappy vinyl getting in the way. I imagine the Queen Of Soul herself would be very impressed with the way she sounds on this White Hot Stamper pressing.

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White Hot Stamper

Marvin Gaye
Midnight Love

  (Item #: gaye_midni_1902x) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • An incredible sounding copy with Triple Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Drop the needle on Sexual Healing then sit back and relax as the rich, warm sound of analog sets the mood!
  • There’s good frequency extension up top and down low, with plenty of meaty bass and silky highs (check out those bells)
  • "Midnight Love is a classic Marvin Gaye effort. In addition to this project thriving with Gaye's enthusiastic spirit, it has his harmonious background vocals, his stunning vocal arrangements and his creative penmanship, as he wrote all the selections."
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Al Green - The Belle Album

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: greenbelle_2011) 



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

SUPER HOT STAMPERS and QUIET VINYL on BOTH sides of this fun '70s Al Green album! This AMG 4 Star-rated album is the last secular music Green put out for a long time, and it sure is funky! We played a ton of these and found that the best copies such as this one are incredibly lively, clear and fun!

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Al Green - Explores Your Mind

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: greenexplo_2014) 



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

Excellent soul sound! It's tough to find copies of these classic Al Green records that deliver sonically and play reasonably well, but we got a hold of a good one here. Green was right in his prime and a copy like this lets you hear just how wonderful a performer he was. You get all the detail and nuance to his voice and the clean, clear sound lets the horns and rhythm section come through. This copy gives you solid bass, excellent presence and lots of energy. Take Me To The River and Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy) both sound great.

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Al Green - Greatest Hits

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: greengreat_2006) 



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

This Hi LP sounds JUST RIGHT to me. There aren’t enough copies floating around for me to shootout. I no longer have the DCC LP; I sold my test pressing long ago. I remember it sounded a bit thick, but that was on a very different stereo than the one I own today. It has been my experience that when I hear a really dead-on early pressing of a record like this, the 180g version will tend to come up short. If you own the DCC pressing, I guarantee this copy is better or your money back.

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Al Green - I'm Still In Love With You

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: greenimsti_2018) 



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

This is The Memphis Sound at its best -- big Hammond organs with whirring Leslie speakers, funky drums, punchy brass blasts, and lovely string arrangements.

Al Green's singing is superb, of course, but one thing that really stands out after hearing the best Hot Stamper copies is the quality of the musicians' performances. The rhythm section on this album really drives the music. Just listen to the punchy kick drum and deep, note-like bass on a song like Love and Happiness -- the band is rockin'.

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Al Green - Let’s Stay Together

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: greenletss_2018) 



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

It's rare that we have copies of this brilliant record up on our site, and it's not for a lack of effort on our end.

It's tough enough to find any copies of Green's early LPs out in the bins, let alone clean copies with great sound. I wish we were able to find more copies of this album, because when you stumble on a good one it's an absolute thrill. The best pressings give you a big, spacious soundfield and put Green's vocals right up front. If you've got a pressing of your own around, throw it on for comparison's sake -- odds are pretty good that the sound will be dry and grainy, particularly on the strings.

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Donny Hathaway - Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hathalive_2008) 



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

This live recording has YOU ARE THERE sound! It's so natural, rich and transparent, what is there to fault? The soundstage is wide and deep. Your speakers disappear and the music just flows into the room. It just does not get any better.

I've been playing this record regularly since I first heard it back in the mid-'90s and it never gets old. If I could take only one soul album to my desert island, it would be this one, no doubt about it.

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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Richie Havens
The End Of The Beginning

  (Item #: haventheen_1805_1903) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides, this copy of Richie's 1976 release will be hard to beat
  • This copy has surprisingly big, punchy, spacious and open Demo Quality Sound from start to finish
  • Havens' eclectic, unique style embraces elements of folk, soul, and rhythm & blues - on this pressing his music really comes to life
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White Hot Stamper

Jimi Hendrix / Otis Redding
Historic Performances...

  (Item #: hendrhisto_1904) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • Insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound for both the Hendrix and Otis Redding sides; exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • Both sides here are incredibly clean, clear, full-bodied and present with a solid bottom end and tons of energy
  • "... this was the album that made stars out of both Hendrix and Redding. Other than the original Whiskey A Go-Go record, it's the best live Redding set ever issued, and was the definitive live Hendrix as well until Band of Gypsys." - All Music, 4 1/2 Stars
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John Lee Hooker - The Healer

Reviewed in 2015

  (Item #: hookeheale_2015) 



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

These guys (and one gal!) are definitely LIVE in the studio. The amount of studio reverb may be a bit much for some, but we think it works for this music.

And the vinyl is quiet, a true Mint Minus, the highest condition grade we use (as a practical matter).


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Super Hot Stamper

John Lee Hooker
House of the Blues

  (Item #: hookehouse_1812_1904) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This superb pressing boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • With shockingly natural, realistic sound, this was one of the better copies from our most recent shootout
  • A masterful collection of songs recorded between 1951 and 1954, this album showcases the "King of the Boogie" in top form
  • 4 stars: "Some important titles here: an ominous 'Leave My Wife Alone,' and the stark 'Sugar Mama' and 'Ramblin' by Myself,' and with Eddie Kirkland on second guitar, 'Louise' and 'High Priced Woman.'"
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Super Hot Stamper

John Lee Hooker
Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive

  (Item #: hookenever_1811_1903) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them, this copy will show you just how big and rich this record can be
  • It's one of the best sounding John Lee Hooker albums we've heard - exceptionally well recorded at Wally Heiders' right here in L.A..
  • Features a host of "the greats" lending a hand, including Van Morrison, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and Steve Miller
  • "...this album continues his work with mostly younger musicians and predates similar projects The Healer and Mr. Lucky by about 20 years."
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Thelma Houston - I’ve Got The Music In Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: houstivego_65702_2011) 



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

In our last shootout this White Hot Stamper tied for the best side two we have ever heard! In the final round it simply came down to the fact that the other copy was a little more clear, this one is a little richer. They were both so amazing we couldn't decide which we preferred so we gave them both White Hot Stamper grades.

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Super Hot Stamper

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston

  (Item #: houstwhitn_1711_1902) 

Our Price: $119.99
Sale Price: $89.00 (You save $30.99 / 26%)


  • An amazing sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish; quiet vinyl too!
  • Big, full, lively and dynamic; this album has the kind of analog sound we did not expect to find, thank goodness
  • Consistently strong material: You Give Good Love, Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know, All at Once, and Greatest Love of All (the last of seven (!) singles released from the album)
  • "...introduced the world to "The Voice," an octave-spanning, gravity-defying melismatic marvel."
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Alberta Hunter - Amtrak Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hunteamtra_2014) 



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

Absolutely amazing sound - Alberta is uncannily present and real on this copy. This is High Fidelity Top Quality Uncolored Studio Sound like few records you've heard.

And the crazy thing about Amtrak Blues is that it was recorded in 1980 (when Alberta was 83), not a decade we've come to expect good sound from. But this is no ordinary recording. Behind the album is none other than legendary Columbia engineer FRANK LAICO.


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White Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Bad

  (Item #: jacksbad_1810_1904) 

Our Price: $299.99
Sale Price: $249.00 (You save $50.99 / 17%)


  • A KILLER copy with two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides - this is some of the best sound we have ever heard on Bad - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This one beat every other copy we played against it - the sound is huge, full-bodied, punchy and relatively smooth throughout, with real space and ambience around the vocals and instruments
  • Includes some of Jackson's biggest 80's hits, "Man in the Mirror," "Dirty Diana," Smooth Criminal," and of course, the title track
  • 4 1/2 stars: "... essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft. He wound up with a sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn't a bad thing..."
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Super Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Bad

  (Item #: jacksbad_1811) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • A superb sounding copy of MJ's followup to Thriller, with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - quiet vinyl too
  • One of the better copies from our most recent shootout - the sound is simply bigger, bolder and more ALIVE than most of what we played
  • 4 1/2 stars, with nine of its ten songs released as singles: "... essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft. He wound up with a sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn't a bad thing..."
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White Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Off The Wall

  (Item #: jacksoffth_1902) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • A truly stunning Shootout Winning copy of this MJ classic with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from beginning to end
  • Off the Wall is substantially sweeter, tubier, more natural, richer, more relaxed and more ANALOG than any other Michael Jackson album
  • We're constantly blown away by just how good the best copies of Off the Wall sound - what a recording!
  • Clearly MJ's best sounding recording - "This was a visionary album ... part of a colorful tapestry of lush ballads and strings, smooth soul and pop, soft rock, and alluring funk." 5 stars
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Michael Jackson - Off The Wall

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jacksoffth_2016) 



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

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING SOUND for this White Hot Stamper pressing!

Side two cannot be beat, and side one is not far behind. Both have the BIG M.J. SOUND that jumps from the speakers and fills the room. We've never a copy that was so full of ANALOG MAGIC!

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Michael Jackson - Off The Wall

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: jacksoffth_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Off The Wall.

On the better copies the multi-tracked chorus and background vocals are as breathy, rich, sweet and Tubey Magical as any pop recording we know of. An extended top end opens up the space for the huge, dense production to occupy. There is Midrange Magic To Die For exceeding anything to be found on Thriller.

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Michael Jackson's Off The Wall Vs. Thriller

Which Album Has the Real Tubey Magic?

  (Item #: jacksoffth_wtlf) 



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.

Off the Wall has better sound than Thriller you say?

Yes. As consistently brilliant as Thriller may be musically -- it is the biggest selling album of all time after all -- speaking strictly in terms of sonics the best copies of Off the Wall are substantially sweeter, tubier, more natural, richer, and more ANALOG than Thriller.

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Super Hot Stamper

The Jacksons
Triumph

  (Item #: jackstrium_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • The overall sound here is clean, clear, lively and musical with lots of deep punchy bass
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Released during the summer of 1980, just as the hits from Michael's Off the Wall were sliding off the charts, Triumph became the Jacksons' first Top Ten pop album since 1972's Lookin' Through the Windows..." - All Music
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White Hot Stamper

The Jacksons
Triumph

  (Item #: jackstrium_1903_1) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • KILLER sound throughout -- Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • If you've heard one of our amazing Hot Stamper pressings of Off the Wall - the best sounding record Michael Jackson ever made - then you know exactly the Tubey Magical sound of the best copies of Triumph
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Released during the summer of 1980, just as the hits from Michael's Off the Wall were sliding off the charts, Triumph became the Jacksons' first Top Ten pop album since 1972's Lookin' Through the Windows..."
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Hot Stamper

B.B. King
Blues On Top Of Blues

  (Item #: king_blues_on_top_1804_1809x) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • You'll find Hot Stamper sound from first note to last on this 1968 pressing, BB King's fourteenth studio album
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • 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."
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Super Hot Stamper

B.B. King
Blues On Top Of Blues

  (Item #: king_blues_on_top_1804_1903) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $119.00 (You save $30.99 / 21%)


  • With two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies of B.B.'s 1968 Classic that we heard in our most recent shootout - mostly quiet vinyl too
  • 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
  • Smoother, more musical, with more top end extension and more weight down below, this is the way to hear B.B. when he was still in his prime
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Featuring brassy arrangements by Johnny Pate (who also worked with many prominent Chicago soul acts during the '60s), it presents King's sound at its fullest without sacrificing any of his grit or sophisticated swing. No famous classics here, but the material is very strong throughout. "
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B.B. King - Blues On Top Of Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: king_blues_on_top_2017) 



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

There were some gritty, thin copies in our shootout that took all the fun out of the music, but fortunately we found this killer pressing that had us really enjoying this batch of songs from The Master of the Blues himself, Mr. B.B. King.

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Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: king_bornu_2007) 



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

This original Stax LP has AMAZING sound. You could not make this record sound any better. We really liked the Sundazed copy of this record until we heard this bad boy. It MURDERS the Sundazed! It has more life, energy and natural presence. We always suspected that a good original pressing would be better than the Sundazed but we had no way of knowing since all the copies we ever saw were beat to death. This is the first clean copy of this record I've seen in 20 years.

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Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign

Sundazed Debunked

  (Item #: king_bornu_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C

Commenting about the first Hot Stamper pressing of this album ever to come our way, we noted:

This original Stax LP has AMAZING sound. You could not make this record sound any better. We really liked the Sundazed copy of this record until we heard this bad boy. It MURDERS their pressing! It has far more life, energy and natural presence than the Heavy Vinyl pressing. We always suspected that a good original would be better but we had no way of knowing since all the copies we saw were beat to death. This is the first clean copy of this record I’ve seen in 20 years.


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B.B. King - Friends

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: king_frien_2012) 



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

This ABC pressing has Super Hot Stampers on both sides and quiet vinyl throughout. We played a stack of copies of this fun, soulful album recently and this was clearly one of the best overall copies. There's lots of energy and the vocals sound great. Most copies we've played didn't have this much extension up top or punch down low, but this copy really nailed it on both sides.

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Super Hot Stamper

Albert King
I'll Play The Blues For You

  (Item #: king_illpl_1903) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This original Stax LP earned outstanding Double Plus (++) grades for sound, or close to it, on both sides
  • Big, rich and relatively smooth, here are the wonderfully breathy vocals and Electric Blues energy that are missing from the reissues (including, no doubt, any and all Heavy Vinyl ones)
  • Mint Minus Minus throughtout - about as quiet as we can find these vintage Stax pressings
  • 4 stars: "...the combination of King, members of the legendary Bar-Kays, the Isaac Hayes Movement, and the sparkling Memphis Horns was hardly a risky endeavor... The result was a trim, funk-infused blues sound that provided ample space for King's oft-imitated guitar playing."
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Nearly White Hot Stamper

B.B. King
In London

  (Item #: king_inlon_1903) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard
  • This is one of the better sounding B.B. King albums we've played lately - both sides are big, full-bodied and spacious with plenty of Olympic Studios + Record Plant Tubey Magic
  • Ringo, Peter Green, Klaus Voorman, Steve Winwood, Alexis Korner, Gary Wright and Dr. John are just a few of the artists featured on this record behind B.B. - quite a cast of luminaries
  • "... all 9 tracks are top notch fusion between US Legend and awe inspired younger British bluesmen. A must have!"
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Super Hot Stamper

B.B. King
In London

  (Item #: king_inlon_1904) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this early pressing of B.B. King In London
  • Clean, clear and dynamic with tons of space and transparency, this is the way to hear B.B. and this big group of master musicians
  • Ringo, Peter Green, Klaus Voorman, Steve Winwood, Alexis Korner, Gary Wright and Dr. John are just a few of the artists featured on this record behind B.B. - quite a cast of luminaries
  • "... all 9 tracks are top notch fusion between US Legend and awe inspired younger British bluesmen. A must have!"
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B.B. King - . Midnight

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: king_lamid_2012) 



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

An A++ side one backed with an A+ side two! We had the chance to sit and play a big stack of these recently and only a few copies sounded any good. This was one of the better overall copies, especially on side one which is full of tubey magic. Check out how cool the tuba sounds anchoring the bottom end on the opening track! Both sides were more open and transparent than most of what we played.

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Super Hot Stamper

B.B. King
Live & Well

  (Item #: king_livea_1904_1) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This original Bluesway pressing from 1969 boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Surprisingly dynamic, with great energy, this copy brought BB King's music to life right in our listening room
  • Phenominal sound, with the Tubes and Big Bass this music needs to work its Electric Blues Magic from The Master himself
  • "...a worthy recording on its own merits, divided evenly between live and studio material. King's always recorded well as a live act, and it's the concert tracks that shine brightest..."
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White Hot Stamper

Albert King
Live Wire - Blues Power

  (Item #: king_livew_1812_1903) 

Our Price: $499.99
Sale Price: $449.00 (You save $50.99 / 10%)


  • An insanely good copy of this Must Own Live Blues album, with Triple Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Accept no substitutes - no reissue of the album can ever give you the energy, size and you-are-there presence that's on this disc
  • Finding originals with top quality sound and surfaces this quiet is quite a feat, but here one is - it plays Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • "Live Wire/Blues Power is one of Albert King's definitive albums. Recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, the guitarist is at the top of his form throughout the record — his solos are intense and piercing... he makes Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" dirty and funky and wrings out all the emotion from "Blues at Sunrise.""
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Super Hot Stamper

Albert King
Live Wire - Blues Power

  (Item #: king_livew_1812_2) 

Our Price: $179.99

  • An outstanding copy of this Must Own Live Blues album, with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Accept no substitutes - no reissue of the album can ever give you the energy, size and you-are-there presence that's on this disc
  • Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus - finding these originals with top quality sound and surfaces this quiet is not getting any easier
  • "Live Wire/Blues Power is one of Albert King's definitive albums. Recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968, the guitarist is at the top of his form throughout the record — his solos are intense and piercing... he makes Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" dirty and funky and wrings out all the emotion from "Blues at Sunrise.""
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Albert King - Live Wire - Blues Power

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: king_livew_2015) 



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

SUPERB SOUNDING and VERY QUIET! This Stax LP sounds amazing -- super low distortion, super transparent, clean, and clear. I don’t think you could find a better sounding, quieter copy than this no matter what you do!

This is the real deal folks. Most copies sure don't sound like this! It's one of the all time great live Blues albums!

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