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White Hot Stamper - Grateful Dead - Wake Of The Flood

White Hot Stamper

Grateful Dead
Wake Of The Flood

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$199.99
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$199.99
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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • Stunning sound throughout with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides and vinyl that is about as quiet as we can find
  • This original pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce
  • A difficult album to find audiophile quality sound for, this is one of the best copies to ever hit the site
  • "Wake of the Flood was certainly as good - if not arguably better than - most of their previous non-live efforts."
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This is the album that comes after American Beauty on the Grateful Dead timeline, and while it's certainly not in the same league as that masterpiece, there's still a lot of good music on here. The All Music Guide gives it four stars out of five and calls it "certainly as good -- if not arguably better than -- most of their previous non-live efforts".

Again, I think American Beauty is a stronger album, but this is a very good representation of the kind of jazzier sound The Dead carried on with for the next twenty-plus years. Many of these songs remained staples of their concert repertoire, including Stella Blue, Eyes Of The World, and Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo. You might get more incendiary performances of the tracks on the best of the band's famous bootleg tapes, but you certainly won't get sound this good.

This vintage All Analog 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 outstanding 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 1973
  • 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 to Listen For (WTLF)

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Folky Bluesy Jazzy Grateful Dead record (they are, after all, sui generis): immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sophisticated recording.

Here is a more comprehensive breakdown of what we were listening for when evaluating a Grateful Dead album from 1973 such as Wake of the Flood.

Clarity and Presence

    Many copies are veiled in the midrange, partly because they may have shortcomings up top, but also because they suffer from blurry, smeary mids and upper mids. With so many mandolins and guitars on practically every song, dull, dead sounding Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young pressings can't begin to communicate the musical values in this superb recording.

    With a real Hot Stamper the sound is totally involving, and so is the music. You hear the breath in the voices, the pick on the strings of the guitars and mandolins -- these are the things that allow us to suspend our disbelief, to forget it's a recording we're listening to and not living, breathing musicians.

Top End Extension

    Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the guitar harmonics to come across as blunted and dull. Without extreme highs the percussion can't extend up and away from the other elements. Consequently these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the mix.

Transparency

    Although this quality is related to the above two, it's not as important overall as the one below, but it sure is nice to have. When you can really "see" into the mix, it's much easier to pick out each and every instrument in order to gain more insight into the arrangement and the recording of the material.

    Seeing into the mix is a way of seeing into the mind of the artist. To hear the hottest copies was to appreciate even more the talents of all the musicians and producers involved, not to mention the engineers.

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 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

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo
Let Me Sing Your Blues Away
Row Jimmy
Stella Blue

Side Two

Here Comes Sunshine
Eyes of the World
Weather Report Suite: Prelude/Part 1/Part 2

AMG Review

It had been nearly three years since American Beauty -- their previous and most successful studio album to date -- and, as always, the Dead had been honing the material in concert. A majority of the tracks had been incorporated into their live sets -- some for nearly six months -- prior to entering the recording studio. This gave the band a unique perspective on the material, much of which remained for the next 20-plus years as staples of their concert performances.... Wake of the Flood was certainly as good -- if not arguably better than -- most of their previous non-live efforts.

There are a few tracks that do tap into some of the Dead's jazzier and exceedingly improvisational nature. "Eyes of the World" contains some brilliant ensemble playing -- although the time limitations inherent in the playback medium result in the track fading out just as the Dead start to really cook. Another highlight is Bob Weir's "Weather Report Suite," which foreshadows the epic proportions that the song would ultimately reach. In later years, the band dropped the opening instrumental "Prelude," as well as "Part One," choosing to pick it up for the extended "Let It Grow" section. The lilting Jerry Garcia ballad "Stella Blue" is another track that works well in this incarnation and remained in the Dead's rotating set list for the remainder of their touring careers.