The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With stunning Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) Living Stereo sound from start to finish, this 60s Stereo label reissue pressing is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
- Both of these sides are shockingly clean, clear, spacious and present with plenty of bottom end weight
- You won't believe how natural, rich, tonally correct and Tubey Magical this copy is - until you play it, of course
- 4 1/2 stars: "One of the most underrated holiday platters of all-time... this disc should be rated up there with such fodder as Charlie Brown Christmas. Gorgeous."
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These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
I can’t believe how good this reissue sounds! It may not have all the Tubey Magic of the best originals, but it does have the Tubey Magic that Bill Porter recorded and that the RCA engineers managed to transfer accurately to this LP. I can tell you I’ll never pass up another one of these. Without a doubt this has to be the best sounding Christmas record we have for sale.
Sleigh Ride sounds amazing but, as you can see in the reviews for his other classic recordings, most everything sounds amazing on these Bill Porter engineered Chet Atkins records.
Tubey Magical acoustic 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).
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Christmas with Chet Atkins 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 1961
- 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 the record 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 a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Christmas with Chet Atkins, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You'll hear what's better and worse -- right and wrong would be another way of putting it -- about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle -- or fail -- to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain't rocket science, and we've never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we've explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own -- those may or may not have Hot Stampers -- but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We're Listening For On Christmas with Chet Atkins
- 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 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.
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 other 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 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.
- Jingle Bell Rock
- Winter Wonderland
- Jolly Old St. Nicholas
- White Christmas
- Blue Christmas
- Jingle Bells
- Silver Bells
- Little Drummer Boy
- The Coventry Carol
- God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
- The First Noel
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
- O Come, All Ye Faithful
- Deck The Halls
- Silent Night
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
One of the most underrated holiday platters of all-time, Christmas with Chet Atkins shows the father of country-rock guitar performing 16 holiday standards in his own incomparable style. Although the uptempo stuff such as "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Winter Wonderland" are excellent readings, it's in the slower-paced selections that Atkins really shines.
His version of "Silver Bells" is, quite simply, one of the best versions of the standard ever, and possibly one of Atkins' most arresting performances of all-time. Also excellent is the medley of "The Coventry Carol" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman." Overall, criminally underrated, this disc should be rated up there with such fodder as Charlie Brown Christmas. Gorgeous.