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White Hot Stamper - The Beatles - Help

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

White Hot Stamper

The Beatles

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*

Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

  • With INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one of the first disc and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on side two of the second disc, this 2-pack copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Help you've heard
  • Everything that's great about Help is here on these UK copies - jangly 12-string guitars, Tubey Magical electric pianos, harmonically rich tambourines and claves, and, the sine qua non of any Beatles album, breathy, present vocals
  • If you're like us and think the new Beatles Heavy Vinyl reissues are boosted in the bass and way too smooth in the midrange, whether mono or stereo, take comfort in the fact that these pressings are neither of those things, because they sound right
  • Side one alone boasts 7 classics: "Help!," "The Night Before," "You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away," "I Need You," "Another Girl," "You’re Gonna Lose That Girl" and "Ticket to Ride" - whew!
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*NOTE: Side one of these records was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.

Want to hear The Beatles at their Tubey Magical best? Just play "You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away" on this copy.

One of the reasons this song stands out in a crowd of great tracks is that there are only acoustic instruments being played. There's not an electric guitar to be found anywhere in the mix, one of the few tracks on side one for which that is true.

We flip out over the Tubey Magical acoustic guitars and harmony vocals found on early Beatles albums, and this song can be an exceptionally good example of both when you're lucky enough to have the right pressing playing.

What The Best Sides Of Help Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing these records is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find pressings that sound as good as these two do.

Cutting The Tape

I can't tell you how many crude, high-frequency-challenged, harmonically distorted early Brit copies of Help we've played in our shootouts over the years. Some of the old cutting equipment clearly can be heard adding its own layer of distortion to the distortion that's already on the tape. Remember, this is a four-track recording with plenty of bounce downs in the final mix.

That said, on the better copies of Help, the presence of the vocals and guitars is so real it's positively startling at times. Turn up the volume good and loud on some of these tracks and it will be as if John and Paul were right there in your living room.

For side one I would go with "You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away" or "I Need You," and for side two try "It’s Only Love" or "I’ve Just Seen a Face."

What We're Listening For On Help

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Norman Smith in this case, assisted by the legendary Geoff Emerick -- would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

You've Got To Play Them To Know How They Sound

The better import copies of this album sound amazing, but the average one is fairly mediocre. Most tend to be dull, lacking upper midrange presence as well as extension up at the very top. They look fine, they look like they should have an extended top end, but not that many do.

It just goes to show that the only way to find out if a record sounds any good is by playing it. We don't imagine many people have the extra time that's required to find, clean, and play multiple import copies of this record -- so why not let us do the work for you so that you can spend your free time enjoying this wonderful album?

Tubey Magical guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

Where Can I Find Your Mono Beatles Records?

We do not sell Beatles records in mono.

They spent time on the mono mixes because getting the levels right for all the elements in a recording is ten times harder than deciding whether an instrument or voice should be placed in the left, middle or right of the soundstage.

And they didn’t even do the stereo mixes right some of the time, in our opinion. But wall to wall beats all stacked up in the middle any day of the week.

If you like mono Beatles records you will have to do your own shootouts for them, because we have never heard a mono Beatles record sound good enough to compete with our Hot Stamper stereo pressings.

Our Famous 2-packs

Our 2-pack sets combine two copies of the same album, with at least a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on the better of each "good" side, which simply means you have before you a pair of records that offers superb sound for the entire album.

Audiophiles are often surprised when they hear that an LP can sound amazing on one side and mediocre on the other, but since each side is pressed from different metalwork which has been aligned independently, and perhaps even cut by different mastering engineers from tapes of wildly differently quality, in our experience it happens all the time. In fact it's much more common for a record to earn different sonic grades for its two sides than it is to rate the same grade. That's just the way it goes in analog, where there's no way to know how a any given side of a record sounds until you play it, and, more importantly, in the world of sound everything is relative.

Since each of the copies in the 2-pack will have one good side and one noticeably weaker or at best more run-of-the-mill side, you'll be able to compare them on your own to hear just what it is that the Hot Stamper sides give you. This has the added benefit of helping you to improve your critical listening skills. We'll clearly mark which copy is Hot for each side, so if you don't want to bother with the other sides you certainly won't have to.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

Track Commentary

The Tracklist tab above will take you to a select song breakdown for each side, with plenty of What to Listen For advice. Other records with track breakdowns can be found here.

Side One

  • Help! (A Number One Hit)
  • The Night Before
  • One of the biggest problems we found with this album is for the top end to be somewhat lacking. On the better copies, the cymbals on this track will sound correct and lively.
  • You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
  • One of the reasons this song sounds so good is that there are only acoustic instruments being played. There's not an electric guitar to be found anywhere in the mix, one of the few tracks that can make that claim. We love the Tubey Magical guitars and voices found on early Beatles albums, and this song is a good example of both.
  • I Need You
  • Another Girl
  • You’re Gonna Lose That Girl
  • Ticket to Ride (A Number One Hit)

Side Two

  • Act Naturally
  • It’s Only Love
  • One of the best sounding tracks on the album. The better copies have an exceptionally sweet and open top end. John's voice is double tracked and sounds wonderful.
  • You Like Me Too Much
  • Tell Me What You See
  • This track has harmonic distortion which can clearly be heard on the vocals. When the chorus comes in it's quite obvious that there are extra generations of tape between you and The Beatles. That said, the better the copy the less the shortcomings of the pressing will add to the distortion that's already on the tape.
  • I’ve Just Seen a Face
  • This is potentially one of the best sounding tracks on side two. If you have a Hot Stamper copy and want to impress your audiophile friends, this track should do the trick.
  • Yesterday (A Number One Hit)
  • We stand by our earlier assertion that this song can sound wonderful on a German pressing (the rest of the album not so much).
    The right Brit pressings deliver plenty of warmth, sweetness, and midrange magic on this beautiful song. Just listen to the texture on the strings to hear what's right about the estimable Norman Smith's one-inch, four-track, all-tube engineering.
  • Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  • Not one of the better sounding songs on Help, but a good test for tonality. If your copy is even slightly bright this track will tear your head off.

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Since Lennon wrote a third more songs than McCartney, it's easy to forgive a pair of minor numbers ("It's Only Love," "Tell Me What You See"), especially since they're overshadowed by four great songs. His Dylan infatuation holds strong, particularly on the plaintive "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and the title track, where the brash arrangement disguises Lennon's desperation.

Driven by an indelible 12-string guitar, "Ticket to Ride" is another masterpiece and "You're Going to Lose That Girl" is the kind of song McCartney effortlessly tosses off — which he does with the jaunty "The Night Before" and "Another Girl," two very fine tunes that simply update his melodic signature.

He did much better with "I've Just Seen a Face," an irresistible folk-rock gem, and "Yesterday," a simple, beautiful ballad whose arrangement — an acoustic guitar supported by a string quartet — and composition suggested much more sophisticated and adventurous musical territory, which the group immediately began exploring with Rubber Soul.