Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (the intro to track 2 is a little noisier)
- Absolutely amazing sound throughout, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
- This copy will show you just how big, full-bodied, lively and POWERFUL this music can be on the right pressing
- Not many records on this site are harder to find with top quality sound and reasonably quiet surfaces
- 5 stars: "Child Is Father to the Man is keyboard player/singer/arranger Al Kooper's finest work, an album on which he moves the folk-blues-rock amalgamation of the Blues Project into even wider pastures... One of the great albums of the eclectic post-Sgt. Pepper era of the late '60s."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. Some will have cut corners. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice enough cover for you.
Every once in a while you hear a pressing in which the right balance has been struck, and this one clearly belongs to that group. It's not perfect; you have to put up with a few rough patches to get the sound that reproduces the bulk of the album's groundbreaking music to best effect.
When it's working, as it is here, it's truly an experience. The big Al Kooper productions (I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know, My Days are Numbered, I Can't Quit Her, Somethin' Goin' On) really work when they have the energy and dynamic drive to support the powerful emotions in the lyrics.
This vintage Columbia 360 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 Child Is Father To The Man 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 1968
- 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 space of the studio
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.
The Top Is Key
The top of the vocal is much more under control on this pressing. The midrange is solid, which means the piano is full-bodied and powerful; the brass are meaty, not screechy; and the vocals are more present and rich than practically any other copy we played.
Note that the vocal for the first track on side two (I Can't Quit Her) tends to be brighter than the vocal for the third (Somethin' Goin' On). These are the two tracks we test with on side two. On the first track the best you can expect for Al's vocal is "acceptable." On the third track his vocal can actually be quite nice.
What to Listen For on Child Is Father To The Man
This record needs fullness; the copies that were thin, like many of the reissues, were unlistenable, way too shrill and spitty.
Next you want the life of the music to come through, which means presence and dynamics.
Third, you want some Tubey Magic, but not so much that the sound becomes smeary and veiled. The brass should have some bite. What good is a Blood Sweat and Tears album with smeary, blurry brass?
Last but not least, the best copies most of the time will have all the qualities above, and one more: they won't hurt your ears too often. Every once in a while, maybe. But if you turn up your copy and it's just a mess for song after song, you have a copy not unlike most of what's out there, because most of what's out there is crap.
At the end of a long day of listening at loud levels to multiple copies of this album you may want to run yourself a nice hot bath and light some candles. If you have an isolation tank so much the better. You could of course turn down the volume, but what fun is that? This music wasn't meant to be heard at moderate levels. Playing it that way is an insult to the musicians who worked so hard to create it.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play (360 or Red Label, both can be good). Since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding right 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 later 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. Check out our take on the Speakers Corner pressing by clicking on the Heavy Vinyl & Hot Stampers tab above.
I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
My Days are Numbered
Just One Smile
I Can't Quit Her
Meagan's Gypsy Eyes
Somethin' Goin' On
House in the Country
The Modern Adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud
So Much Love/Underture
Child Is Father to the Man is keyboard player/singer/arranger Al Kooper's finest work, an album on which he moves the folk-blues-rock amalgamation of the Blues Project into even wider pastures, taking in classical and jazz elements (including strings and horns), all without losing the pop essence that makes the hybrid work.
This is one of the great albums of the eclectic post-Sgt. Pepper era of the late '60s, a time when you could borrow styles from Greenwich Village contemporary folk to San Francisco acid rock and mix them into what seemed to have the potential to become a new American musical form.
It's Kooper's bluesy songs, such as "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" and "I Can't Quit Her," and his singing that are the primary focus, but the album is an aural delight; listen to the way the bass guitar interacts with the horns on "My Days Are Numbered" or the charming arrangement and Steve Katz's vocal on Tim Buckley's "Morning Glory."
Then Kooper sings Harry Nilsson's "Without Her" over a delicate, jazzy backing with flügelhorn/alto saxophone interplay by Randy Brecker and Fred Lipsius. This is the sound of a group of virtuosos enjoying itself in the newly open possibilities of pop music. Maybe it couldn't have lasted; anyway, it didn't.
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