Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- A seriously impressive copy of this 1969 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from the first note to the last
- We're always blown away at just how much further the best copies are able to take the music - what a difference the right pressing makes
- Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe
- 4 stars: "The band sounds tight, self-assured, and fully in touch with the music's emotional palette, and Clarence White's guitar work is truly a pleasure to hear..."
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Every now and then we manage to stumble on a copy with some serious magic, and this is the best of those to ever make it onto our site. You won't believe how much better this great country-rock material sounds when you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does.
Jesus Is Just Alright is the killer track here and it rocks like you will not believe! It's one of the All-Time Best Byrds tracks, especially for sonics, with Rock and Roll energy that shows just how good a band these four guys had become.
What the best sides of Ballad of Easy Rider 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 1969
- 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.
What We're Listening For on Ballad of Easy Rider
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- 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 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 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.
Ballad of Easy Rider
Oil in My Lamp
Tulsa County Blue
Jack Tarr the Sailor
Jesus Is Just Alright
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
There Must Be Someone
Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins
If Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde found Roger McGuinn having to re-create the Byrds after massive personnel turnovers (and not having an easy time of it), Ballad of Easy Rider was the album where the new lineup really hit its stride. Gracefully moving back and forth between serene folk-rock (the title cut, still one of McGuinn's most beautiful melodies), sure-footed rock & roll ("Jesus Is Just All Right"), heartfelt country-rock ("Oil In My Lamp" and "Tulsa County"), and even a dash of R&B (the unexpectedly funky "Fido," which even features a percussion solo), Ballad of Easy Rider sounds confident and committed where Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde often seemed tentative.
The band sounds tight, self-assured, and fully in touch with the music's emotional palette, and Clarence White's guitar work is truly a pleasure to hear (if Roger McGuinn's fabled 12-string work seems to take a back seat to White's superb string bends, it is doubtful that any but the most fanatical fans would think to object). While not generally regarded as one of the group's major works, in retrospect this release stands alongside Untitled as the finest work of the Byrds' final period.
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