Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With superb Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it throughout, you'll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this early A&M pressing
- This side one is big, full-bodied, spacious and present with a solid bottom end, and side two is not far behind in all those areas
- We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you've heard, and that's especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- "The Carpenters’ radio-friendly soft rock virtually defined the genre in the early 1970s, and this album — their third full-length — was the group’s ace card… Carpenters is a classic of early-70s pop."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 15 times lightly about 1/2 way into track 3 on side 1, "Let Me Be The One."
This vintage A&M 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 Carpenters 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 1971
- 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.
Pop and Rock Shootouts
What are the sonic qualities by which a Pop or Rock record -- any Pop or Rock record -- should be judged?
Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.
When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.
Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.
Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.
It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.
The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.
What We're Listening For On Carpenters
- 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.
- Rainy Days And Mondays
- Let Me Be The One
- (A Place To) Hideaway
- For All We Know
- Druscilla Penny
- One Love
- Bacharach-David Medley
- Knowing When To Leave
- Make It Easy On Yourself
- (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me
- I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
- Walk On By
- Do You Know The Way To San Jose
The Carpenters’ radio-friendly soft rock virtually defined the genre in the early 1970s, and this album — their third full-length — was the group’s ace card. Following on the heels of the wildly successful Close to You, Carpenters features more breezy melodies marked by rich arrangements and beautiful lead vocals, courtesy of siblings Richard Carpenter and Karen Carpenter, respectively.
The record is most notable for two of the duo’s strongest and best-loved singles. “Rainy Days and Mondays,” written by soft pop gods Paul Williams and Roger Nichols, is a bittersweet pop masterpiece fleshed out by Richard’s string orchestrations and smoothly produced backing vocals, while Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett’s “Superstar,” from its melancholic verse to its dramatic chorus, is equally hard to resist. (Both songs showcase Karen’s sultry alto.) The rest of the album includes Richard’s bubble-gum pop originals, another Williams-Nichols tune (“Let Me Be the One”), and a medley of Burt Bacharach-Hal David tunes. Even more commercially streamlined than its predecessors, Carpenters is a classic of early-70s pop.