The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
- Dance (Pt. 1) and She's So Cold sound great on this copy, and the title track, Emotional Rescue, is every bit as good
- An underrated Stones album -- too good to call a guilty pleasure -- and very well-recorded by Chris Kimsey
- Maybe it's good because "Mick Jagger sounds like he’s having a great time..."
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This vintage Rolling Stones Records 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 the Best Sides of Emotional Rescue 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 even as late as 1980
- 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.
Fullness Is Key
One of the keys to getting this album to sound right is fullness. Many copies lack weight to the bottom end, which robs this funky music of its rhythmic foundation.
Other copies suffer from lean, thin sounding vocals. Do you think that's the sound Mick Jagger (or engineer Chris Kimsey) was going for?
Some of the qualities we found in short supply on the average copy were warmth, richness, sweetness and ambience -- you know, all that Analog Stuff.
The more of the desirable qualities we found on the copies we played, the higher the grade we gave them (all other things being equal of course).
What We're Listening For on Emotional Rescue
Less grit - smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on any Rolling Stones album from this period.
A bigger presentation - more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way the engineers wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven't played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
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.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any original pressing will play, and since only the right originals 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 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 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.
A Tough Record to Play
It also ranks fairly high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale. Do not attempt to play it using anything other than the highest quality equipment.
A word of caution: Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies -- the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound -- can have problems. Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.
This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area most audiophiles neglect).
- Summer Romance
- Send It to Me
- Let Me Go
- Indian Girl
- Where the Boys Go
- Down in the Hole
- Emotional Rescue
- She's So Cold
- All About You
Lodged right between Some Girls and Tattoo You, Emotional Rescue has been generally written off, receiving tepid reviews when it was released and only-slightly-better ones now (when it isn’t simply lost in the shuffle). Today, it’s nowhere to be found on the Great List. But I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if this isn’t an album I’ve found myself reaching for a lot whenever there’s a break in our Counterbalance duties.
Maybe it’s because Mick Jagger sounds like he’s having a great time. Maybe it’s just because it reminds of my youth. (I remember this title track being played on the syndicated TV show Solid Gold. A woman was interviewed on the street who said that the song made her think of how Ronald Reagan was coming to our nation’s Emotional Rescue. Imagine that.) Or maybe navigating the list made me crave something that wasn’t quite so focused on relevance.
I hear Emotional Rescue as less of a half-assed stab at dance music than a whole-assed attempt to meet current sounds halfway. Yes, Mick seems to be fully in charge here (as we’ve noted in the past, the story of the Stones seems to be a pendulum swing in the balance of power between Jagger and Richards), but there’s still a good bit of tangly guitars from Richards and Ron Wood to mitigate the four-on-the-floor beat. And not only are there dance echoes here, but the group also makes a few nods to pinkish new wave sounds (“Where the Boys Go” most notably), even if Charlie Watts can’t help but swing too much to provide the necessary primitivism.
I love “Send It to Me” precisely because the group plays reggae like the Rolling Stones. It sounds like Jagger is having a blast with his vocals — he might actually be making them up as he goes. (Also at the end, does he say that she could be “Boo-Berrian”? Because that is awesome.) Besides, reggae was so far infused into rock music in the ‘70s that I didn’t even hear it as an attempt, any more so than “D’yer Mak’er” or that middle bit in “Live and Let Die”.
It’s also to do with the group’s willingness to play around with those forms, and in the process mess around with people’s expectation of those forms. “Indian Girl” uses a ballad form to talk about Cuban intervention in Angola and the devastation that caused throughout the region — not exactly your standard rock fare. And the more directly blues-based “Down in the Hole” not only has really nice bits about bumming for cigarettes and nylons in the American Zone, but Jagger also sings the lyrics with a pronounced British accent instead of his fake-bluesman voice.
At any rate, the Rolling Stones have borne the brunt of ageisty attacks since about 1980, which also helps explain how Emotional Rescue gets the old Spanish elbow, even compared to the Stones albums right before and after its release. And while I understand that the Great List is a vast ocean liner that’s largely incapable of swift changes in course, I hold out the unreasonable hope that someday Emotional Rescue will get the reassessment that it deserves.
Eric Klinger - Counterbalance