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Super Hot Stamper - Bonnie Raitt - Nick Of Time

Super Hot Stamper

Bonnie Raitt
Nick Of Time

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$149.99
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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

  • An outstanding early domestic pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we've heard from any record Don Was produced
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Producer Don Was used Raitt's classic early-'70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. A great comeback album that made for a great story".
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The sound here is POWERFULLY BIG AND BOLD, with meaty, deep bass (such a big part of the rockers here, Thing Called Love being a prime example) and some of the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we've heard from any record Don Was has been involved with.

When you hear it like this -- something probably pretty close to what he heard during the control room playback for the final mix -- it actually makes sense. It works. It's not exactly "natural", but natural is not what they were going for, now is it?

We play albums like this VERY LOUD. I've seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times and although I can't begin to get her to play as loud in my listening room as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her music a profound disservice.

What Hot Stampers on Nick of Time 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 1989
  • 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.

Size Matters

One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is SIZE of the record's presentation. So many copies of this album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. Some copies do; they create a huge soundfield with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. When you hear a copy that can do that, it's an entirely different listening experience.

We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the record could do that? We sure didn't, not until we played the copy that did, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation. Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear it!

Pay Special Attention to:

How silky the cymbal crashes are; not too many copies get them to sound that way.

Listen especially for how all the elements of the recording are clearly laid out and audible, never forced or hyped in any way. The sound can be so 3-D!

Key note for side two -- listen for the sibilance on Bonnie's voice on Too Soon to Tell. Some copies have really gritty spitty sibilance, others keep it well under control, with a much more silky quality.

What We're Listening For on Nick of Time

  • 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.

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

Nick of Time
Thing Called Love
Love Letter
Cry on My Shoulder
Real Man
Nobody's Girl

Side Two

Have a Heart
Too Soon to Tell
I Will Not Be Denied
I Ain't Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again
The Road's My Middle Name

AMG Review

Producer Don Was used Raitt's classic early-'70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. And while she only has two original songs here, Nick of Time plays like autobiography, which is a testament to the power of the songs, performances, and productions.

It was a great comeback album that made for a great story, but the record never would have been a blockbuster success if it wasn't for the music, which is among the finest Raitt ever made. She must have realized this, since Nick of Time served as the blueprint for the majority of her '90s albums.