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 superb Columbia 360 Stereo pressing boasts Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
- Especially smooth, present, breathy vocals - this is the sound we love here at Better Records
- Having played them by the hundreds, we've found that midrange presence and resolution are precisely what go missing on The Modern Heavy Vinyl Reissue
- A longtime Better Records Top 100 album and a Demo Disc for Tubey Magical voices and guitars
- 4 1/2 stars: "[I]t is an achievement akin to the Beatles' Revolver or the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, and just as personal and pointed as either of those records at their respective bests."
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This vintage Columbia 360 Stereo 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 Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme 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 1966
- 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.
Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).
What We're Listening For on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
- 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.
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.
A Must Own Pop Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious audiophile Popular Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
The track commentary for this record is extensive. Click on the Tracklist tab above to read all about it. Other records with individual track breakdowns and plenty of What To Listen For advice can be found here.
- Scarborough Fair/Canticle
- Listen carefully to the voices on this track, one of our favorites to test with. On the best copies they sound exceptionally delicate yet full-bodied.
- The percussion on this track is a great test for smear, a problem that plagues most pressings to one degree or another. On the better copies you'll distinctly hear the sound of the drummer's hands hitting the skins of the bongos, as well as lots of ambience and echo around the drum.
- Note also that every stereo copy we've ever played spits at least a little on this song.
- Homeward Bound
- This song has a bit of a radio EQ and will never be Demo Quality, but on a Hot Stamper copy with reasonably good life and energy it can sound musical and involving.
- The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine
- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
- The Dangling Conversation
- On the most transparent copies you'll really be able to get a true sense of the depth of the studio. Listen closely and you should be able to spot the placement of all the instruments in the soundfield, with the strings in the back and the voices up front.
- Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall
- A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd...)
- This song is clearly Dylan-influenced, and the sound falls right in line. It should sound lively, with good texture on the vocals and plenty of fuzz on the fuzzed-out electric guitar.
- For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
- The best copies of this song represent Tubey Magical Analog at its best! The acoustic guitar and voice have the potential to be exceptionally rich, warm, and sweet. The Red Label reissues generally fail to present the right sound for this track.
- A Poem on the Underground Wall
- 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
[I]t is an achievement akin to the Beatles' Revolver or the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, and just as personal and pointed as either of those records at their respective bests.
After the frantic rush to put together an LP in just three weeks that characterized the Sounds of Silence album early in 1966, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme came together over a longer gestation period of about three months, an uncommonly extended period of recording in those days, but it gave the duo a chance to develop and shape the songs the way they wanted them...
Overall, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was the duo's album about youthful exuberance and alienation, and it proved perennially popular among older, more thoughtful high-school students and legions of college audiences across generations.