The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- Boasting two STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides or close to them, this early Green Label pressing could not be beat
- One of our favorite Hippie Folk Rock albums - the instruments and voices are so well recorded they will seem to be floating right in front of you
- The Tubey Magical acoustic guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction - thanks Ken Scott!
- Marks and problems 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: "America's debut album is a folk-pop classic, a stellar collection of memorable songs that would prove influential on such acts as the Eagles and Dan Fogelberg..."
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*NOTE: On side 1, there is a stitch that plays loudly once about 1/4 of the way into track 2, "Sandman." There is another stitch that plays loudly once about 1/2 way into the same track. On side 2, there is a mark that plays 6 times loudly about 1/8" (approx. 40 seconds) into track 5, "Donkey Jaw."
This is clearly America's best album. You'll find the kind of immediacy, richness and harmonic texture that not many records (and even fewer CDs) are capable of reproducing. The version we are offering here has the song "A Horse With No Name." Some copies without that song can sound very good as well, but with grades this good, this copy is going to be very hard to beat.
Interestingly, "A Horse With No Name" never sounds quite as good as the rest of the album. It was recorded in 1971, after the album had already been released, and subsequently added to newer pressings starting in 1972. Unlike the rest of the album, it was not engineered by Ken Scott at Trident, but by a different engineer at Morgan Studios. The engineer of that song took a different approach to that which Scott had taken, and we leave it to you to decide how well it worked out.
This vintage Warner Brothers 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 America's Debut Album 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 1972
- 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.
This is a longtime Better Records favorite for both music and sound. It may not be one of the more popular titles we do our unique shootouts for, but for those of you who love folky, acoustic guitar pop -- we often call it Hippie Folk Rock -- you should find a lot to like about this album.
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).
The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction. Many pressings of this album do not get the guitars to sound right. On some they will sound veiled and dull, and on a copy with a bit too much up top, they will have an unfortunate hi-fi-ish sparkle, the kind that Mobile Fidelity was infamous for in the late 70s and 80s.
What We're Listening For On America's Debut
- 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
We consider America's debut their Masterpiece. It's a recording that should be part of any serious Popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- Three Roses
- A Horse With No Name
- I Need You
- Rainy Day
- Never Found the Time
- Donkey Jaw
- Pigeon Song
AMG 4 Star Review
America's debut album is a folk-pop classic, a stellar collection of memorable songs that would prove influential on such acts as the Eagles and Dan Fogelberg. Crosby, Stills & Nash are the group's obvious stylistic touchstone here, especially in the vocal harmonies used (compare the thick chordal singing of "Sandman" and "Children" to CS&N's "You Don't Have to Cry" and "Guinevere") and the prominent use of active strummed acoustic guitar arrangements (contrast "Riverside" to CS&N's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes"). America's intricate interplay of acoustic guitar textures is more ambitious than that of their influences, however.
... Most of the selections boast highly unusual and inventive chord progressions that work well without drawing undue attention to themselves... Sound quality here has a covered, intimate feel that lends a ghostly aura to this release. Chart hits from this album include the spectrally loping "A Horse with No Name," the squarishly tuneful "I Need You," and the nervously dour "Sandman." Other highlights include the buoyantly charming "Three Roses," the yearningly lovely "Rainy Day," and the quietly ringing "Clarice"... this platter is very highly recommended.