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Mendes, Sergio and Brasil '66 - Crystal Illusions - Super Hot Stamper

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

Super Hot Stamper

Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
Crystal Illusions

Regular price
$149.99
Regular price
Sale price
$149.99
Unit price
per 
Availability
Sold out

Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

  • Outstanding sound throughout, with both sides earning Double Plus (A++) grades - some remarkably quiet vinyl too for A&M in 1969
  • The sound on both sides here is jumping out, with Tubey Magic, space, extension top to bottom, and more detail than many of the other copies we played - huge soundstage as well
  • Yes, it's a recording that has some problems, but the better copies are able to overcome most of them, and that's precisely what we are offering here - a copy that gets the sound of this music right
  • 4 stars: "Dave Grusin is right there with a lush, haunting orchestral chart when needed; Lani Hall is thrust further into the vocal spotlight, as cool and alluring as ever.. Weird and overblown, but wonderful."

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If you are not familiar with Sergio and his magical band, this might not be the place to start. Try the first two albums or Stillness if you want to hear the best material recorded with the highest quality. This is a second tier album in the Sergio canon, and priced accordingly.

There are, of course, some truly great songs on this one, just as there are on every Brasil '66 album. I would draw your attention especially to the Otis Redding classic "Dock of the Bay." Fans will no doubt find much to like here; others maybe not so much. If you get a thrill out of FINALLY hearing a famous album sound the way you always wished it could, this copy is for you!

What you're looking for on Crystal Illusions is a copy that's not thin, dry, harsh and edgy! If you own this album you know exactly what I'm talking about. Most copies sound like CDs in that respect. And most Brazil '66 CDs sound just as bad as you might think they would. Believe me, I know, I've bought practically all of them. Thank god for the treble control on my car stereo.

What The Best Sides Of Crystal Illusions 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 1969
  • 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're Listening For On Crystal Illusions

  • 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 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 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 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.

One Tough Album (To Find and To Play)

Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain't easy to play 'em either. You're going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area -- VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate -- in order to play this album properly. If you've got the goods you're gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart / table / arm and you're likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.

Side One

  • (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
  • Viola
  • Song of No Regret
  • Salt Sea
  • Empty Faces

Side Two

  • Pretty World
  • Dois Dias
  • You Stepped Out of a Dream
  • Crystal Illusions (Memorias de Marta Sare)

AMG 4 Star Review

The sound and band that served Sergio Mendes well on Fool on the Hill remain intact on Crystal Illusions, with few modifications. Dave Grusin is right there with a lush, haunting orchestral chart when needed; Lani Hall is thrust further into the vocal spotlight, as cool and alluring as ever in Portuguese or English.

Mendes remained on the lookout for fresh Brazilian tunes, and he came up with a coup, one of the earliest covers of a Milton Nascimento tune to reach North America, "Vera Cruz" (with Hall's English lyrics, it became "Empty Faces"), as well as Dori Caymmi's "Dois Dias." The two singles, the perky "Pretty World" and sax-streaked cover of Otis Redding's "The Dock of the Bay," are nice slices of Mendes pop, though they were not significant hits. And yes, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 did take a large risk on the title track, a lengthy, kaleidoscopic treatment of an Edu Lobo tune that, inspired perhaps by "MacArthur Park," shattered radio's time barrier at seven minutes and 50 seconds. Yet while Grusin goes into a psychedelic freakout, we get a rare chance to hear Mendes stretch out a bit on electric piano. Weird and overblown, but wonderful.