The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Boasting two excellent Double Plus (A++) sides, we guarantee you've never heard What's New sound this good
- 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
- 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
- "...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: There is a mark that plays 23 times loudly about 1/8" (approx. 40 seconds) from the end of track 4 on side 1, "Crazy He Calls Me."
With two superb 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 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.
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
About the Album
What's New is an album of traditional pop standards released by American singer/songwriter/producer Linda Ronstadt in 1983. It represents the first in a trilogy of 1980s albums Ronstadt recorded with bandleader/arranger Nelson Riddle. John Kosh designed the album covers for all three albums.
The album was a major change in direction because Ronstadt was then considered the leading female vocalist in rock. Both her record company and manager, Peter Asher, were very reluctant to produce this album with Ronstadt, but eventually her determination won them over and the albums exposed a whole new generation to the sounds of the pre-swing and swing eras. The one-time popular music sung by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, and their contemporaries was relegated in the 1960s and 1970s to Las Vegas club acts and elevator music. Ronstadt later remarked that she did her part in rescuing these songs which she called "little jewels of artistic expression" from "spending the rest of their lives riding up and down on the elevators." The album's second single, "I've Got a Crush on You" had already been part of Ronstadt's repertoire for several years, as she'd performed it during a 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show.
What's New was released in September 1983 and spent 81 weeks on the main Billboard album chart. Its release came as the radio programming format known as Adult Standards was taking off via programming concepts such as Music of Your Life, which specialized in returning pre-rock popular music and the songs of the Great American Songbook to the American airwaves. The album held the number 3 position for five consecutive weeks while Michael Jackson's Thriller and Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down locked in the number 1 and number 2 album positions. The album also reached number 2 on the jazz albums chart. It was RIAA certified Triple Platinum for sales of over 3 million copies in the United States alone. Global sales surpassed five million. The album also earned Ronstadt another Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female alongside Donna Summer, Bonnie Tyler, Irene Cara and Sheena Easton, all of whom performed live on the 1984 Grammy telecast. Two singles, the title song and "I've Got a Crush on You," became hits on Adult Contemporary radio stations, with the title song also reaching the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100.
All tracks also included in the compilation "'Round Midnight," released on Asylum Records in 1986.
Stephen Holden of The New York Times noted the significance of the album to popular culture when he wrote that What's New "isn't the first album by a rock singer to pay tribute to the golden age of pop, but is ... the best and most serious attempt to rehabilitate an idea of pop that Beatlemania and the mass marketing of rock LPs for teen-agers undid in the mid-60s. In the decade prior to Beatlemania, most of the great band singers and crooners of the 40s and 50s codified a half-century of American pop standards on dozens of albums, many of them now long out-of-print."