The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus*
- A stunning sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
- The best sounding Crowded House album ever recorded? It definitely gets our vote!
- It's super punchy, musical, clean and clear with a solid bottom end - what album from 1986 sounds as good as this one?
- Great songs like Don't Dream It's Over, Something So Strong and World Where You Live
- "... the record was blessed by good timing, and the majestic ballad "Don't Dream It's Over" became an international hit, while its follow-up, the breezy 'Something So Strong,' also turned into a hit. Both revealed different sides of Finn's talents, with the first being lyrical and the second being effervescent..."
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*NOTE: On side two, tiny marks make five light to moderate pops at the end of Track 2, Hole in the River.
Not bad for Capitol vinyl in 1986.
This original domestic pressing offers two superb sides for Crowded House's wonderful debut. The sound is big, rich, smooth, natural and, above all, ANALOG. (I really don't know if it is actually is analog or not, but it sounds like analog, and that's really all that matters.)
What the Best Sides of Crowded House 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 even as late as 1986
- 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.
Musically side one is absolutely brilliant from first note to last. Crowded House may have wanted to be the New Beatles, but those are some pretty big shoes to fill. They fell a bit short -- who can compete with The Beatles? -- but in their heyday, 1985-1993, they were better at making intelligent, original, melody-driven pop than practically any other group I was listening to at the time.
(We love Squeeze's albums from this period as well but the '80s sound is just too processed and artificial on even the best pressings to be enjoyed on modern high-resolution audiophile equipment.)
When people ask me what kind of music I like, a common question from non-audiophiles seeing a house full of records and a custom sound room stuffed with equipment and room treatments, Crowded House is one band I'm happy to namecheck (10cc and Roxy Music and Little Feat being a bit too obscure for most people by now).
Sophisticated Pop Albums with Audiophile Quality Sound make up a large part of my record collection, with Crowded House taking its place up near the top, not on the same plane as The Beatles, say, but not that far below either. (Woodface is an album that I have played many hundreds of times over the course of the last twenty years and have yet to tire of.)
The first Crowded House album is a record that belongs no less in your collection than it does in mine. Their songs still get played on the radio and to these ears they're holding up just fine.
What We're Listening For on Crowded House
- 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.
More of What to Listen For
Number one: Too many instruments jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression, there will be too many elements -- voices, guitars, drums -- vying for space in the upper area of the midrange, causing congestion and a loss of clarity. This is especially noticeable on the second track of side one, Now We're Getting Somewhere.
With the more solid sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich; above them, the next "level up" so to speak, there's plenty of space to fit all the instruments in comfortably, not piled one on top of another as is so often the case; consequently, the upper midrange area does not get stuffed and overwhelmed with musical information.
Number Two: edgy vocals, which relates to Number One above. Almost all copies have some edge to the vocals -- the band seems to want to really belt it out in the choruses -- but the best copies keep the edge under control, without sounding compressed, dark, dull or smeary.
Import Vs. Domestic
We had good and bad copies of both. Interestingly, although the band is from New Zealand, the album was recorded right here in Los Angeles, so there's no reason to assume that the source tape used to make the domestic pressings was not the real master two-track. The British copies tended to be a bit smoother, the domestic pressings somewhat livelier. As a rule we tend to like livelier.
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.
- World Where You Live
- Now We're Getting Somewhere
- Don't Dream It's Over
- Mean to Me
- Love You Till the Day I Die
- Something So Strong
- Hole in the River
- I Walk Away
- That's What I Call Love
... the record was blessed by good timing, and the majestic ballad "Don't Dream It's Over" became an international hit, while its follow-up, the breezy "Something So Strong," also turned into a hit. Both revealed different sides of Finn's talents, with the first being lyrical and the second being effervescent, but perhaps the truest testaments to his talents are "Mean to Me," "World Where You Live," and "Now We're Getting Somewhere," songs where the lyrics meld with the melody in a way that is distinctive, affecting, and personal.
If the rest of the record doesn't reach those heights, it's still good, well-constructed pop, and these aforementioned highlights point the way to Temple of Low Men, where Crowded House (and particularly Finn) came into its own.
[Better Records takes exception to that last comment. We think the second album is the weakest of the first four, with Woodface the strongest. Woodface is where it all comes together for this band. It's easily one of the five best albums of the '90s, but that's coming from someone who didn't hear much music of interest in the '90s. And the recordings themselves tend to be atrocious, a problem that has only gotten worse with time as I'm sure you'll agree.]
The name Crowded House was adopted after the trio flew to Los Angeles to record the album and were provided with a very cramped apartment to live in.
The album's rhythm tracks were recorded by Larry Hirsh at Capitol Recording Studios, Los Angeles. The remaining recording sessions for the album were at Sunset Sound studios, where the group first collaborated with engineer Tchad Blake who also worked on the next two Crowded House albums. The album was mixed by Michael Frondelli at Studio 55.