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Super Hot Stamper - Bernard Herrmann - The Fantasy Film World of...

Super Hot Stamper

Bernard Herrmann
The Fantasy Film World of...

London Classical LP
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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • This early British London pressing has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • On the better copies such as this one you can hear the power of the orchestra come to life right in your very own listening room
  • The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of size and spaciousness that may just leave you in awe
  • A superb Phase 4 recording by Arthur Lilley, taking advantage of the legendary acoustics of Kingsway Hall
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The soundfield is big, open and transparent, with the kind of three-dimensionality most orchestral recordings just can't approach. The brass here is excellent, and you can really hear the pluck of the strings on the harp.

Harry Pearson put the Decca pressing of this title on his TAS List of Super Discs. (We take issue with that choice.)

The liner notes from Mysterious Island apply equally well to this collection:

    The score for Mysterious Island is one of the most dramatic in all film history rivaled only, perhaps, by the same composer's 'Seventh Voyage of Sinbad' in its deployment of massive blocks of dense orchestral color and in the bizarre and brilliant invention that so artfully illustrates Ray Harryhausen's grotesque menagerie of unnatural misfit monsters - sight and sound blend to form one of filmdom's most vivid and persuasive excursions into the realm of fantasy.

What the best sides of The Fantasy Film World... 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 space of the studio

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.

Taxing the Limits

This is especially true for an orchestral dreadnought such as this, which requires mastering and pressing of the highest quality. Music like this taxes the limits of LP playback itself, with deep organ notes (listen for the famous Decca rumble accompanying the organ if you have the deep bass reproduction to hear it); incredible dynamics from every area of the stage; masses of strings playing at the top of their registers with abandon; huge drums; powerful brass effects everywhere -- every sound an orchestra can produce is found on this record, and then some. (You will hear plenty of sounds that defy description, that's for sure. Some of the time I can't even imagine what instrument could possibly make such a sound!)

Your Hard Work Pays Off

A recording of this size and scope will bring virtually any stereo system to its knees. This is the real Power Of The Orchestra! You had better have a top quality front end if you want to play this record properly, not to mention plenty of power and big speakers. This is not the record for the Weekend Budget Audiophile. If you haven't put in the years of effort and invested the tens of thousands of dollars in equipment and room treatments it takes to play records of this difficulty, your system is probably not up to the challenge this album represents. If on the other hand, you have done the work and spent the money, this is the album that will show you what you have achieved.

What We're Listening For on The Fantasy Film World...

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • 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 common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage UK pressing will play, and since only the right vintage UK 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 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.

Selling the Hype

Record dealers that sell records based on their reputation -- and that means pretty much all of them -- are selling the hype. If they haven't played the record, they can't tell you what it sounds like, TAS List or no TAS List. The catalog number may be right, but finding the sound that lives up to the description can only be done one way: by playing the record. Most copies of The Fantasy Film World, whether they have a Decca label or a London one (all of the ones we are selling are mastered and pressed by Decca; some get one label and some get the other) leave much to be desired.


Side One

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - Track Commentary

All those lovely harps! You can practically feel the cool air of the cave as you descend into the blackness.

- Mountain Top And Sunrise
- Prelude
- The Grotto
- Salt Slides
- Atlantis
- The Giant Chameleon And The Fight
- The Shaft And Finale

The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad - Track Commentary

Side one boasts some wonderful material from Jason and the Argonauts, including the fight with the skeletons that we all remember from our Saturday matinee movie days. Who else could have orchestrated such a film?

- Overture
- The Duel With The Skeleton
- Baghdad

Side Two

The Day The Earth Stood Still - Track Commentary

Astonishingly powerful deep bass and drum sounds!

- Outer Space
- Radar
- Gort
- The Robot
- Space Control
- Terror
- Farewell And Finale

Fahrenheit 451 - Track Commentary

One of our key tests for side two is the string tone on the Fire Engine sequence here. The best copies had wonderfully textured and tonally correct strings, with just the right amount of sheen -- not glossy, not gritty, not blurry, but just right.

Any orchestral recording without good string tone is a lost cause. (Almost all Classic Records fail miserably in this regard. They may be on the TAS List but that sure doesn't mean they sound any good!)

- Prelude
- Fire Engine
- The Bedroom
- Flowers Of Fire
- The Road And Finale