Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- You'll find Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it - As Good As It Gets in our experience - on both sides of this copy of the band's sophomore release
- The best pressings with this label (you'll find out when the record arrives!) are the biggest, most open, most clear, and the least compressed, which makes them especially energetic and fun
- Finding clean copies of Country Joe's albums is no walk in the park, but here's one, and it sounds great too
- 4 1/2 stars: "Country Joe & the Fish's second album, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die", is quite similar to their first in its organ-heavy psychedelia with Eastern-influenced melodic lines..."
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Some copies we played had more Tubey Magical sound, but that quality comes at a price. Those pressings tend to be crude, with gritty vocals and a noticeable lack of transparency and space.
In other words, they sound pretty much like an old record.
This pressing, on the other hand, gives you much more of what sounds to me like the Master Tape, with less of the bad mastering equipment and bad vinyl coming between you and the music. This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die 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 1967
- 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 I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die
- 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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
Who Am I
Rock Coast Blues
Colors For Susan
Country Joe & the Fish's second album, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die", is quite similar to their first in its organ-heavy psychedelia with Eastern-influenced melodic lines...
For all that, the best songs are good; "Who Am I" and "Thursday" are touching psychedelic ballads. But more notably, the title cut -- whose brash energy is atypical of the album -- was a classic antiwar satire that became one of the decade's most famous protest songs, and the group's most famous track.
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