The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides, this copy (only the second to hit the site in three years) is one of the BEST we have ever heard
- This is an exceptionally well recorded album - if you want a Demo Disc quality Christmas record, we don't know of one that fits the bill better than this one
- Christmas songs performed at the level of Willie's All Time Classic, Stardust - it was recorded just one year later when Willie was clearly on a roll
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 stars: "One of the finest country holiday records ever released. It's not just because the title track became a classic, or that his choice of material is terrific (all familiar tunes, but all great) — it's because Nelson is a great interpreter, capable of making standards like 'White Christmas' and 'Silent Night' fresh and unpredictable."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays at a moderate to loud level and intermittently throughout all of track 1 on side 1, "White Christmas."
Imagine the sound of a Hot Stamper Stardust, but instead of Pop Standards you hear the Red Headed Stranger himself, Willie Nelson, his voice still in its prime, singing Christmas songs, backed by similarly tasteful and understated arrangements. That, in a nutshell, is what you get on Pretty Paper.
Released just a year after Stardust in 1979, many of the same musicians are featured, as well as the same producer, the amazing Booker T.
And the most shocking thing of all is just how good the sound is. Next to Stardust I'd have to say this is the best sound Willie has ever had. It's so rich, smooth and natural -- in other words, analog sounding -- that it puts to shame what has come to be expected from pop recordings over the course of the last thirty years.
Yes, records used to actually sound like this, as hard as that may be to believe after playing so many dismal sounding modern recordings, modern reissues and audiophile "product". A good pressing of this album is one of the best reasons I can think of to own a high quality turntable these days. I find it hard to imagine that the CD would sound remotely as good.
Note that this record sounds even better when played loud, no doubt the result of having no trace of phony top end boost and very little processing throughout, unlike -- you guessed it -- much of the vinyl product being produced today. (And of course all digital releases, which should go without saying to anyone reading this commentary I suspect.)
Many if not most pressings of the legendary Stardust album have some phony top added to the sound. The good ones -- meaning the Hot Stamper copies -- are the ones that sound more like this: natural up top and and throughout the midrange.
What The Best Sides of Pretty Paper 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 1979
- 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 Pretty Paper
- 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 note-like 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.
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 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.
- White Christmas
- Winter Wonderland
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Jingle Bells
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- Blue Christmas
- Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
- Frosty the Snowman
- Silent Night
- O Little Town of Bethlehem
- Christmas Blues
- Pretty Paper
AMG 4 Star Review
One of the finest country holiday records ever released. It's not just because the title track became a classic, or that his choice of material is terrific (all familiar tunes, but all great) — it's because Nelson is a great interpreter, capable of making standards like "White Christmas" and "Silent Night" fresh and unpredictable. Few other artists are willing to put their personal stamp on these standards, and that alone is enough to make Pretty Paper a holiday record to cherish.