Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this pressing will show you just how good Bread's music can sound on All Analog vinyl
- A Better Records Desert Island Disc if there ever was one -- believe me, there are scores of them
- This is one of the rare Greatest Hits compilations (and this band had a LOT of hits) that is sonically competitive with the original albums
- You'll find most of the best Bread ballads here, including Make It With You, Everything I Own, Baby I'm A Want You, and If
- All Music on their first album - "... effectively the birth of Californian soft rock..." (We think this applies equally well to all of their early material)
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A Better Records Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. Believe me, there are plenty of them.
Listening to these acoustic guitars brings back memories of my first encounter with a British original of Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman. Rich, sweet, full-bodied, effortlessly dynamic -- that sound knocked me out thirty years ago, and here it is again. I guess I've just always been a sucker for this kind of well-crafted pop. (I was buying Bread album in the early Seventies while still in high school.) If you are too, then this killer copy of The Best of Bread will no doubt become a treasured disc in your home as well.
When you hear sound this good, it makes you appreciate the music even more than the sound. Over the years I've even come to enjoy the rockers on side two. I used to consider side two the weak part of the album. To hear the vocal harmonies that these guys produced is to be reminded of singers of the caliber of the Everly Brothers or The Beatles. It's Pure Pop for Now People, to borrow a good line from Nick Lowe.
Of course, by Now People, I'm referring to people who appreciate the music that came out more than thirty years ago. Whenever I hear a pop record with sound like this, I have to ask myself, "What went wrong with popular recordings over the last two or three decades? Why do none of them ever sound like this?"
Not to worry. Audiophiles with good turntables have literally an endless supply of good recordings to discover and enjoy. No matter how many records you have, you can't have scratched the surface of the recorded legacy of the last 60+ years. That's the positive thought for the day. It's not the end of the world. It's just another step on your journey through the world of music.
One further note. Records like this only get better over time. There are no shortcomings in this recording to be revealed by better equipment, in painfully stark contrast to the vast majority of audiophile pressings and remasterings that reveal their phony, lifeless and often just plain weird sound as your stereo and critical listening skills improve. In other words, if you make a change to your stereo and this record starts to sound better, you did the right thing.
What outstanding sides such as these 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
Ballads and Rockers
Side one is where the famous Bread ballads are found (Make It With You, Everything I Own, Baby I'm A Want You and If, just to name four of the six, the other two being nearly as good).
Pay close attention to the sound of the drums, which are especially nice and solid on this pressing. (We really like the way famous session player Mike Botts' kit is recorded, not to mention his Hal-Blaine-like -- which means god-like -- drumming skills.)
Side two is where the more rockin' songs are, and this copy gives you the kind of bottom end weight and energy you need for that material.
What We're Listening For on The Best of Bread
- 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.
Recording with Tubey Magic
On the better Hot Stamper copies, the ones with especially sweet and rich ANALOG sound, the credit obviously must go to their brilliant engineer, Armin Steiner, the man responsible for recording some of the best sounding, most Tubey Magical Chart Topping Pop Rock for this band throughout the '70s. As would be expected from success on such a scale, Steiner has more than a hundred other engineering credits. He's also the reason that Hot August Night is one of the best sounding live albums ever recorded.
When you find his name in the credits, there's at least a chance that the sound will be very good. You need the right pressing of course, but the potential for good sound should be your working hypothesis. Now all it takes is some serious digging in the record bins, tedious cleaning and even more tedious critical listening to determine if you've lucked into a diamond in the rough. Or, if you prefer, allow us do all that work for you. After more than 30 years in the business, we're gotten pretty good at it.
Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this album. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with the richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and remasterings).
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 originals.
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.
Make It With You
Everything I Own
Baby I'm-A Want You
It Don't Matter to Me
Down on My Knees
Too Much Love
A tribute to The Beatles! If you can find a song that sounds more like The Beatles than this one, I'd love to hear it. The guitars, the harmonies, the beat -- even the instrumental break, with a guitar solo right out of George Harrison's playbook -- everything here sounds Fab!
Let Your Love Go
Look What You've Done
Side one is the Ballad side. Side two is the Rock side. This is the only track on side two that really lets you compare the sound of sides one and two with similiar material. This song starts out like a ballad and halfway through changes into a rocker. If you have a good side two, this song should sound every bit as good as the gorgeous ballads on side one.
This is what the All Music Guide had to say about the first album, but it applies equally to all their early material:
This is effectively the birth of Californian soft rock, as David Gates and compatriots blend the folk-rock of the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield with a distinctly British melodicism and a streak of sentimentality borrowed from McCartney. The result is a modest little gem, with more strange turns than you'd expect from their reputation -- including soaring falsettos, spiraling melodies, rough guitars, and, best of all, a set of tightly-written, appealing songs.
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