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White Hot Stamper - Grateful Dead - Skeletons From The Closet

White Hot Stamper

Grateful Dead
Skeletons From The Closet

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$249.99
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$249.99
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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

  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both of these sides are out of this world -- clean, clear and present yet still pretty rich and Tubey Magical with plenty of bottom end weight
  • Most greatest hits collections are dubby and compressed, but the music here was transferred with care to insure the best fidelity possible
  • "... long-lived as a Grateful Dead primer... [it] remains a good introduction to the band's early -- and arguably best -- work... Skeletons -- for longtime fans -- will always be a great disc for a lazy Sunday afternoon."
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This vintage Warner Brothers 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 amazing sides such as these 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 1974
  • 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.

What We Listen For on Skeletons From The Closet

  • 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.

Best Practices

Recently we did a shootout for Skeletons From The Closet, using domestic pressings we know from experience to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them as carefully as we always do. Then we unplugged everything in the house we could get away with, carefully 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 couple of hours playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.

If you have five or ten 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 others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process could not be more simple. The first step is to go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can't find on most copies. 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.

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 originals.

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.


Side One

The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Truckin'
Rosemary
Sugar Magnolia
St. Stephen
Uncle John's Band

Side Two

Casey Jones
Mexicali Blues
Turn On Your Love Light
One More Saturday Night
Friend Of The Devil

AMG Review

Skeletons from the Closet has been long-lived as a Grateful Dead primer... Fans of the band's live show have noted that Skeletons only contains two live tracks from a band whose live shows are its strongest suit. Still, Skeletons remains a good introduction to the band's early -- and arguably best -- work, and is also a great disc for the casual fan. Favorites include "Truckin'," "Sugar Magnolia," "Friend of the Devil," and "Casey Jones," classic tracks taken from 1970's Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.

The disc also includes a couple of early Bob Weir jewels, "Mexicali Blues" and "One More Saturday Night," and an edited version of "Turn on Your Love Light" by Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. The disc offers several selections from the Dead's early albums, including "The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)," "St. Stephen," and "Rosemary." The tracking order of the songs isn't always chronological but it does have a natural flow, with the possible exception of the high-powered "Love Light"... Skeletons -- for longtime fans -- will always be a great disc for a lazy Sunday afternoon.