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
Side Three: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Four: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- This copy of the Beach Boys' 2-LP compilation follow-up to Endless Summer features seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- This copy get the midrange right, and since that is where The Beach Boys' voices are, that puts it well ahead of most of the other pressings we played
- "Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
These vintage Capitol pressings have 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, these are the records 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 Spirit of America 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 1975
- 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 these records are 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 are the only way to find pressings that sound as good as these two do.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Spirit of America, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You'll hear what's better and worse -- right and wrong would be another way of putting it -- about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle -- or fail -- to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain't rocket science, and we've never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we've explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own -- those may or may not have Hot Stampers -- but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We're Listening For On Spirit of America
- 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.
- Dance, Dance, Dance
- Break Away
- A Young Man Is Gone
- The Little Girl I Once Knew
- Spirit Of America
- Little Honda
- Good To My Baby
- Tell Me Why
- Do You Remember?
- This Car Of Mine
- Please Let Me Wonder
- Why Do Fools Fall In Love
- Custom Machine
- Barbara Ann
- Salt Lake City
- Don't Back Down
- When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)
- Do You Wanna Dance?
- Graduation Day
The follow-up to 1974's incredibly popular Endless Summer -- which gave the Beach Boys their highest chart placement for an album (at number one, no less) in a dog's age -- Spirit of America was a similar attempt to mine the group's classic Capitol Records catalog. . . And the album did have its unexpected joys, as well as a few lessons to teach a lot of bands from the 1970s.
Endless Summer had, indeed, mined the lion's share of big hits associated with the band, but Spirit of America, which was more hooked around the band's car song repertory than its surf music output, had its familiar moments -- "409," "Dance, Dance, Dance," "Little Honda," "Do You Wanna Dance," and "Barbara Ann" were great selections (and perfect to reach out to a teenage/early-twenties listenership attuned to -- if not always fully enamored of -- oldies and early-'60s nostalgia), and most of what surrounded them was a good match. And there was a serious, unexpected twist in the range of the content going right into the second song on side one, the repertory making a sudden leap across five years to the end of the 1960s and the group's then all-but-forgotten late-era single "Break Away."
. . . Spirit of America was downright refreshing in its succinct, bracing brevity, singles and album tracks alike. The 1975-vintage Beach Boys themselves could have taken a lesson from that aspect of this collection and its predecessor.