The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus (barely)*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- An outstanding pressing of What's New with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - fairly quiet vinyl too
- So hugely spacious and three-dimensional, yet with a tonally correct and fairly natural sounding Linda, this is the way to hear it
- What engineer George Massenburg gets right is the sound of an orchestra, augmented with jazz musicians (Ray Brown, Tommy Tedesco, Plas Johnson, Bob Cooper), all performing live in a huge studio
- "...the best and most serious attempt to rehabilitate an idea of pop that Beatlemania... undid in the mid-60's."
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*NOTE: On side one, a visible mark doesn't play.
With two outstanding sides, this pressing gets two critically important elements of the recording right: the strings in the orchestra, and, even more importantly for obvious reasons, Linda's voice. We guarantee that these sides give you a more natural-sounding Linda than you've ever heard, or your money back.
If all you own is a mediocre sounding pressing or the truly awful Mobile Fidelity from 1983, you are in for a world of better sound with this very record.
This vintage Asylum 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 What’s New 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 1983
- 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.
George Massenburg Gets It Right
We've criticized engineer George Massenburg in the past, but with this copy we almost want to take it all back.
What he gets right on this recording is the sound of an orchestra, augmented with various jazz musicians (Ray Brown, Tommy Tedesco, Plas Johnson, Bob Cooper), all performing live in a huge studio. The sound stretches far to Linda's left, far to her right, as well as back far behind her in a huge semi-circle. She is of course singing in a vocal booth, with her vocal placed front and center in the soundstage.
As an aside, George Massenburg went on to record the Trio album with Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. The analog sound he produced was shockingly rich, smooth and sweet -- and this in 1987 no less!
What We're Listening For on What’s New
- 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.
More of What We Listen For on What's New
That's easy on this album: the strings. When the strings are big and rich, not shrill and thin, that's a good thing. Rosiny texture means you have a copy with less smear and higher resolution. Harmonics up top means that the top end of your copy is extending properly.
Bottom line: If the strings are bad on this album probably everything else is too.
Having said that, this is an album of standards sung by a woman with a very recognizable voice. If Linda doesn't sound right, what's the point of the record? To hear Nelson Riddle's well-recorded strings?
The best copies have Linda sounding rich and breathy. Few managed to pull off that particular trick as well as we would have liked. We took major points off for those copies that had her sounding too thin or forced in her upper range.
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.
- What's New?
- I've Got a Crush on You
- Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry
- Crazy He Calls Me
- Someone to Watch over Me
- I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You
- What'll I Do?
- Lover Man