The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Both sides of this outstanding original 360 pressing earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades for sound
- The only versions of the album we sell are the 360 originals, but most of the dozen or more stamper numbers we know cannot hold a candle to this pressing
- The sound is HUGE, rich, dynamic and POWERFUL - BS&T is a permanent member of our Top 100 and a Demo Disc par excellence
- This is Roy Halee's engineering masterpiece, and here's the kind of pressing that, given the right equipment, room, and setup, really makes our case
- 4 1/2 stars: "Their finest moment and a testimony to the best of the jazz/rock movement ... The album is bold, brassy and adventurous."
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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. 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 cover for you.
It is our considered opinion that this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. I may be biased by the fact that I like the music so much; nevertheless, on a big stereo, a Hot Stamper pressing like the one here is nothing less than ASTOUNDING. It has the power of LIVE MUSIC. You don't find that on a record too often, practically never in fact. I put this record at the top of Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time list for good reason -- It's in a class of its own.
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 Blood, Sweat and Tears 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 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 do we love about these very special Hot Stamper pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sound of every instrument is reproduced with remarkable fidelity. That's what we at Better Records mean by "Hi-Fi," not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity in some circles. There's no boosted top, there's no bloated bottom, there's no sucked-out midrange.
This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it. I'm pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this record up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.
What We're Listening For on Blood, Sweat and Tears
- 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 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.
As I've noted before, this record is a milestone in the history of popular music. Not only is it The Most Successful Fusion of Rock and Jazz Ever. It's also One of the Finest Recordings of Popular Music Ever. The sound is nothing short of amazing. Just the drums alone are enough to win awards: the kick drum has real kick, the snare is, in my opinion, the best rock snare ever recorded, the cymbals shimmer like real cymbals; almost everything is right with this record. Especially the music.
Note that we have left the exhaustive Track by Track Commentary (click on the Tracklist tab above) from the last shootout in the listing. It took a long time to write it, and the vast majority of it is still true. We might quibble with some of it, but for the most part we think you will get a lot out of it, so there it is if you have an interest.
Other records with track breakdowns can be found here.
A Must Own Rock Record
We consider this album a Masterpiece.
It's a recording that belongs in any serious Rock Music Collection.
- Variations on a Theme by Erik Satie (1st & 2nd Movements)
- The song is always going to be plagued with a certain amount of surface noise. A solo guitar opening on a pop record pressed on Columbia vinyl from the '60s? A brand new copy would have surface noise, so it's important to not get too worked up over surfaces that are always going to be problematical.
- Smiling Phases
- Sometimes in Winter
- This shootout taught me a lot about this track. There is a huge amount of bass which is difficult to reproduce; the best copies have note-like, controlled (although prodigious) bass which is a very tough system test.
- Having said that, what separates the killer copies from the merely excellent ones is the quality of the flute sound. When you can hear the air going through the flute, and follow the playing throughout the song, you have a superbly transparent copy with all the presence and resolution of the best. If the flute sounds right, Katz's voice will too. The sound will be Demonstration Quality of the highest order. Want to shoot out two different copies of this album on side one? Easy. Just play this track and see which one gets the flute right.
- By the way, we LOVE the version of this song that Sergio Mendes does on Stillness. Eric Katz is a decent singer; the two girls in Brazil 66 are SUPERB. The fact that they are female, that there are two of them and that they can harmonize as beautifully as any two singers you've ever heard, allows their version of the song to have qualities far beyond the boys in Blood Sweat and Tears. But the BS&T guys make up for it by being REAL JAZZ MUSICIANS. Most of this album is real jazz played by top notch players. No other successful pop album to my knowledge can make that claim. In that sense it's sui generis. But it's unique in other ways as well, not just that one.
- More and More
- And When I Die
- One of the best sounding tracks on side one and a fantastic Demo Track. When the song breaks into the latin flavored instrumental part at the end it should positively blow your mind.
- God Bless the Child
- Another Demo Track. Listen for the Most Obvious Edit of All Time towards the end of this one.
- Spinning Wheel
- Side two starts off with a bang; note that the piano has real weight right from the git go. When the cowbell comes in it should not sound muffled in any way (it's a bell, don't you know), quickly followed by the solid-as-a-rock-snare (the best on record.)
- On the killer copies that first blast of brass will be completely free of grain or grunge, yet the brass instruments themselves (trumpets and trombone) have all their leading edge transients, their "bite", fully intact. They're not in any way muffled or smeared, yet the sound is never aggressive. If anything, the brass is so free from distortion and so tonally correct it should actually sound smooth.
- Some of the vocals on side one can have a bit of honk or edge, but not here. They are smooth, rich and sweet as any you will find.
- Play your own copy. Everything you need to know about the sound of your side two can be heard in the first thirty seconds. On the Hot Stampers it's all there. On most copies, however, the reverse is true: Problems raise their ugly heads right off the bat. Thinness, grain, smearing, bloat, edginess -- all the failings that records are heir to will be thrown in your face if your copy is not up to snuff, and not many of them are.
- You've Made Me So Very Happy
- The Blues, Pt. 2
- Again, this is a song that's custom made for big speakers. When that first blast of brass comes here the effect is one of the most startling and powerful I've ever heard. One of the reasons I own the equipment I do - in other words, make the trade-offs I do -- is to play this album and others like it.
- Variations on a Theme by Erik Satie (1st Movement)
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Their finest moment and a testimony to the best of the jazz/rock movement. Created by the legendary Al Kooper, the band was one of the major attractions throughout 1969. The album is bold, brassy and adventurous. Interpretations of Eric Satie music are followed by Traffic's "Smiling Phases."
Hit singles galore were culled from this record--"Spinning Wheel," "You've Made Me So Very Happy," and "And When I Die,"--not to forget a superb rendition of Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child." Sadly BST and their magnificent early catalogue has fallen from favour. And where is the superb voice of David Clayton-Thomas to be found today?