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White Hot Stamper - Jerry Read Smith & Tom Fellenbaum - The Strayaway Child

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

White Hot Stamper

Jerry Read Smith & Tom Fellenbaum
The Strayaway Child

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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

  • This superb collaboration has been a member of the TAS Super Disc List for decades, and here it is with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This copy is surprisingly spacious, full-bodied and natural, with few of the problems that plagued most of the pressings we played
  • The sound of Smith's dulcimer is enchanting here, with a nice extended top end and plenty of space around all the instruments
  • "The full, shimmering waterfall of Jerry Read Smith's hammered-dulcimer playing takes center stage, flowing together with a sumptuous variety of accompanying instruments..."
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This original Song Of The Wood pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 group, 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 Strayaway Child 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 1981
  • 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.

What We're Listening For The Strayaway Child

The elements that make up a good sounding Folk album can be found, in varying degrees, on all the Hot Stamper pressings we offer. Permit us to break them down for you.

Top End Extension

    Absolutely critical to this record. Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the harmonics of this assortment of instruments to be blunted and dull.

Clarity and Presence

    Equally critical. So 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 stringed instruments, whistles and flutes in the mix for practically every song, dull, dead sounding 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 pick on the strings of the guitars and dobro, the air passing through the flutes -- 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.


    When you can really "see" into the mix, it's much easier to pick out each 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 recording engineers.

The Players

Jerry Read Smith - Dulcimer [Hammered Dulcimers] Tom Fellenbaum - Guitar, Bouzouki, Bass Don Jackson - Fiddle Chris Abell - Flute, Whistle, Bodhrán Don Jackson - Guitar Phil Johnson - Dobro [Slide Dobro]

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 that is a key part of the appeal 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 Dream
The Strayway Child
Martin Wynn's Reel / The Pidgeon On The Gate
Midnight On The Water / Star Of The County Down
The Dancing Dog / The Blarney Pilgrim
Lord Inchiquin

Side Two

Jesu, Our Joy of Man's Desiring
The Butterfly / Swallowtail Jig
Castle Kelly
The Southwind
The Kesh Jig / The Kid On The Mountain
Somewhere, Over The Rainbow / The Dream

5 Star Amazon Review

A blend of Celtic and American folk music played with feeling and compelling flare. The full, shimmering waterfall of Jerry Read Smith's hammered-dulcimer playing takes center stage, flowing together with a sumptuous variety of accompanying instruments--guitar, bouzouki, bass, Irish flute, tin whistle, bodhran, fiddle and slide dobro, played by Tom Fellenbaum, Chris Abell, Don Jackson and Phil Johnson.

Many of the tunes on "Strayaway Child" are familiar and have been played many times by many people, but the arrangements and execution of Smith and his friends are so startlingly rich and heartfelt that I feel like I've never heard them before!

In his liner notes, Smith writes: "'The Strayaway Child' is a conceptual recording ... an instrumental `dream' that expresses a journey through time filled with flights of fancy, time for thought and reflection, and emotional confrontation. It is the beginning of an instrumental trilogy, a journey of the heart!" Smith's creative journey and uniquely engaging style continues in the next installment of the trilogy, "Heartdance" and concludes in "Homecoming". The three recordings together are also available as a set, "The Strayaway Child Trilogy". Two other artists who also offer creative, heartfelt romps through Celtic-music-made-their-own are harpist Kim Robertson and piper/whistler Joe McKenna. You might enjoy their recordings "Wood, Fire and Gold" and "The Irish Low Whistle" respectively.

-Brianna Neal