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Captain Beefheart - Clear Spot - Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)

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

Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)

Captain Beefheart
Clear Spot

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

  • Clear Spot returns to the site for only the second time in years on this vintage import pressing that boasts two solid Double Plus (A++) sides or close to them - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, rich, energetic, with plenty of analog Tubey Magic (particularly on side one), this is clearly the right sound for this music
  • Produced by Ted Templeman, Clear Spot is one of Beefheart’s most accessible albums and, IMHO, his best - this is his masterpiece
  • 4 stars: "The sound is great throughout, and the feeling is of the coolest bar-band in town, not to mention one that could eat all the patrons for breakfast if it felt like it."

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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG

It’s not easy to find great sound for this album -- that’s why you so seldom see it up on the site. There are a whole lot of problematic pressings out there, but when you find one that really gets it right the sound is nothing short of superb.

This vintage Reprise pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

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 Clear Spot 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 1972
  • 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 this 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.

Ted Is The Man

The producer, Ted Templeman (Doobie Brothers, James Taylor), brought his mainstream talents to bear on this music, and when the Captain’s free-form tendencies smashed into Templeman’s conservatism the result was this musical supernova -- out there, but not too far out there. (Play Trout Mask Replica sometime if you miss that feeling from your old hippie days of being on acid. With that music drugs are entirely superfluous.) I don’t know how many audiophiles like Captain Beefheart, but if you’re ever going to try, this is the place to start.

I’ve been listening to this album for decades, all of my adult life. It never grows old and it never grows tired. I also have the CD in the car and return to it regularly.

I’ll be disappointed if few of you are willing to give this one a chance, but probably not too surprised. Great stereo equipment offers the listener a window on the wonderful world of music. Why do so many audiophiles keep that window open just a crack?

What We're Listening For On Clear Spot

  • 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.

Engineering Excellence

Credit Donn Landee (and Ted Templeman as well) with the big, lively, full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best copies of Captain Beefheart’s mindblowing Clear Spot. In my humble opinion, this is Landee’s engineering masterpiece.

The man has recorded or assisted on many of our favorite albums here at Better Records. Most of the better Doobies Brothers albums are his; all of the good Van Halens of course; Lowell George’s wonderful Thanks I’ll Eat It Here; Little Feat’s Time Loves a Hero (not their best music but some of their best sound); Carly Simon’s Another Passenger (my favorite of all her albums); and too many others to list.

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 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.

A Must Own Record

Clear Spot is a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.

Side One

  • Low Yo Yo Stuff
  • Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man
  • Too Much Time
  • Circumstances
  • My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
  • Sun Zoom Spark

Side Two

  • Clear Spot
  • Crazy Little Thing
  • Long Neck Bottles
  • Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles
  • Big Eyed Beans From Venus
  • Golden Birdies

AMG 4 Review

Producer Ted Templeman was a bit of a surprising choice given his firmly mainstream production credits, with the Doobie Brothers already under his belt and Van Halen lurking in the near future.

As it turned out, such a combination led to a better-working fusion than might be expected, making one wonder why in the world Clear Spot wasn’t more of a commercial success than it was. The sound is great throughout, and the feeling is of the coolest bar-band in town, not to mention one that could eat all the patrons for breakfast if it felt like it.

Fans of the fully all-out side of Beefheart might find the end result not fully up to snuff as a result, but those less concerned with pushing back all borders all the time will enjoy his unexpected blend of everything tempered with a new accessibility.