The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
- A vintage Reprise pressing of Ry Cooder's 1972 release boasting STUNNING Tubey Magical Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Master Tape sound or close to it on both sides - fairly quiet vinyl too
- Side two was tonally right on the money from top to bottom and from start to finish - it’s got the kind of presence and energy needed to bring these old songs to life
- All of the elements you could ask for from this kind of music are here: superb clarity; amazing richness and warmth; correct tonality; serious energy and immediacy; texture to the vocals and so on
- It’s pretty cool to hear these old Dust Bowl-era numbers by greats like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly performed by top musicians and recorded on quality equipment
- 4 1/2 stars: "'Phenomenal' is the descriptive word to describe his playing, whether it is on guitar, Hawaiian 'slack key' guitar, mandolin, or the more arcane instruments he has found. This is a must for those who love instrumental virtuosity, authentic reworkings of an era, or just plain good music."
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We’ve become pretty big Ry Cooder fans here at Better Records, and an amazing pressing like this one will show you exactly why. We played a big stack of these recently, and you’re going to have a very difficult time finding a copy that can keep up with this one!
Most copies we played suffered from an overly clean quality, lacking richness and warmth almost entirely. Not this one though -- it’s full of that old analog tubey magic, the kind that keeps guys like you and me digging in bins and spinning dusty old records instead of going digital.
This vintage Reprise 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 Into The Purple Valley 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
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.
There’s A Good Reason Audiophiles Love Ry
Ry’s music holds special appeal to us audiophiles, as he’s always throwing instruments into the mix that you hardly ever hear on your standard rock album. I wish I could tell you everything he plays on this album, but I’d just be guessing if I tried. (Wikipedia credits him for guitar, bass, and mandolin, but I’d bet my bottom dollar that there’s more to it than that.) This I can tell you -- when the man picks up an instrument, he can sure play the heck out of it, and it’s an audiophile’s treat to hear how naturally he incorporates these sounds into his songs.
Not only that, but Ry digs up these great old Dust Bowl-era songs that would otherwise be lost to history. It’s pretty cool to hear these old numbers by greats like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly performed by top musicians and recorded on quality equipment. I’m not personally familiar with Fitz Maclean’s original version of "F.D.R. In Trinidad," but I can’t imagine there’s a recording of it that sounds nearly as good as Ry’s version here.
One of the top guys at Warners, Herschberg recorded and mixed this album, as well as a number of others by Ry Cooder. You'll also find his name on many of the best Doobie Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra album credits, albums we know to have potentially excellent sound, not to mention an album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones' debut.
His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night even.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), along with most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind such as those by the LA Four.
What We're Listening For On Into The Purple Valley
- 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 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 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.
- How Can You Keep Moving (Unless You Migrate Too)
- Billy the Kid
- Money Honey
- F.D.R. in Trinidad
- Teardrops Will Fall
- Denomination Blues
- On a Monday
- Hey Porter
- Great Dream from Heaven
- Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Us All
- Vigilante Man
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Ry Cooder is known as a virtuoso on almost every stringed instrument, and on Into the Purple Valley, he demonstrates this ability on a wide variety of instruments. The main focus of the music here is on the era of the Dust Bowl, and what was happening in America at the time, socially and musically.
Songs by Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and a variety of others show Cooder's encyclopedic knowledge of the music of this time, combined with an instinctive feel for the songs. 'Phenomenal' is the descriptive word to describe his playing, whether it is on guitar, Hawaiian "slack key" guitar, mandolin, or the more arcane instruments he has found. This is a must for those who love instrumental virtuosity, authentic reworkings of an era, or just plain good music.