The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- An outstanding Robert Ludwig-mastered early pressing of Afterburner with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Bass and body are key to the best pressings, along with Rock and Roll energy, and here you will find plenty of all three
- A synth-rock follow-up to Eliminator featuring hits including "Sleeping Bag," "Stages," and "Rough Boy"
- "Afterburner presented ZZ Top as dystopian blade runners, ascending to the sterile environs of their space compound instead of running around the desert killin' varmints."
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This vintage WB pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Afterburner 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 1985
- 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 Afterburner
- Less grit - smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on Afterburner.
- 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 and producers 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.
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.
Woke Up With Wood
Can't Stop Rockin'
Panet of Women
I Got The Message
Dipping Low (In The Lap of Luxury)
Who could have predicted the enormous success of ZZ Top's 1983 album ELIMINATOR? The "Little Ol' Band from Texas" racked up five singles and sold 10 million copies by welding their blues and boogie to a bank of synthesizers and sequencers, then jamming the entire thing in the back of a 1933 Ford Coupe and setting off for wherever MTV programming executives were hiding out back then.
When it came time for a follow-up, the band made the astute business decision to give their new fans more of the same—more keyboards, more drum machines, more songs with even more euphemisms for sexual activity. And then when they were done with that, they added more keyboards. This was definitely not your uncle's ZZ Top—the guys they imagined as blues-bustin’ rodeo escapees, chugging around the dusty back roads of Texas’ roadhouse circuit, soaked in mescal, tuned in to border radio, and exhaling barbeque smoke. AFTERBURNER presented ZZ Top as dystopian blade runners, ascending to the sterile environs of their space compound instead of running around the desert killin' varmints.
They still manage to rock, though; they come out swinging with "Sleeping Bag," which has enough Billy Gibbons attitude to compensate for the fact that there are more artificial sounds on the track than on any given Depeche Mode record, perhaps on all given Depeche Mode records. If Frank Beard were even in attendance at the session that produced this song, many would be surprised—the drums were absolutely played by robots. But in the song, Gibbons gives us a great new metaphor for getting it on, and his guitar solo at the song's conclusion reminds us what a bad man he can be on the axe of his choice.
That guitar comes to back to slay in the ballad "Rough Boy," a virtual rewrite of EL LOCO's "Leila" that to this day remains anathema to most old-school ZZ Top fans. Yes, the song has a pulse generated by Korg and spooky keys approved by NASA itself, and Gibbons' singing is hushed and vulnerable throughout. But his two guitar solos add some melt-yo’-backside Texas blues to the soothing calm of the synth bed on which those solos rest. Yes, this is Gibbons dialed back to maybe 6 or 7, but it's more than enough to lift the song out of its digitized slumber.
And who could forget "Velcro Fly?" A new metaphor for sex disguised as a paean to the latest dance fad, "Velcro Fly" features what sound like actual live drums (mixed in with the drum machines) and two short bass solos, incorporated into yet another keyboard-forward track. There are other highlights—"Woke Up with Wood" (yes, it means what you think it means), the Dusty Baker-sung "Delirious" and others—that make AFTERBURNER worth another listen, after all these years.
May 31, 2017
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