The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This copy of Dylan's 1976 release was doing just about everything right, earning seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from start to finish
- Side two is amazingly clean, clear, full and lively with excellent bass and lots of space around the instruments, and side one is not far behind in all those areas
- Desire spent five weeks at Number One, mostly on the strength of the powerful and provocative "Hurricane"
- 4 1/2 stars: "...one of [Dylan's] most fascinating records of the '70s and '80s -- more intriguing, lyrically and musically, than most of his latter-day affairs.
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
As I'm sure you know, Desire is one of those Dylan albums from the '70s that generally gets less respect than his earlier work, except from the All Music Guide, who gave it 4 1/2 big stars. Not sure we would go quite that far, but it is clearly a more enjoyable and compelling album when the experience comes from a high quality analog pressing. This one should do nicely.
It's probably not fair to lump it in with later '70s albums like Street Legal (1978) and Slow Train Coming (1979). It is, after all, the follow-up to the brilliant (and very good sounding, good enough to make our Top 100) Blood on the Tracks. And it did spend five (5!) weeks at Number One. And Rolling Stone did call it one of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (#174 to be exact).
All of which makes it hard to deny that Desire has a lot going for it.
The album kicks of with the raging "Hurricane," one of Dylan's most passionate political songs, and doesn't let up for a good twenty five plus minutes until the side is over. Most copies lacked the energy and presence that this music needs to really come to life, but not this one.
Drop the needle on "Hurricane" and you will quickly see how much the violin player (Scarlet Rivera) contributes to the song. I can't think of another hard-rockin' track from the era that has such a well-recorded violin. If you have an overly smooth copy (there's tons of 'em out there and we've heard plenty of them) you aren't going to hear the rosiny texture that gives the instrument its unique character.
This vintage Columbia 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 Desire 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 1976
- 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.
What We're Listening For On Desire
- 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.
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AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
If Blood on the Tracks was an unapologetically intimate affair, Desire is unwieldy and messy, the deliberate work of a collective. And while Bob Dylan directly addresses his crumbling relationship with his wife, Sara, on the final track, Desire is hardly as personal as its predecessor, finding Dylan returning to topical songwriting and folk tales for the core of the record.
It's all over the map, as far as songwriting goes, and so is it musically, capturing Dylan at the beginning of the Rolling Thunder Revue era, which was more notable for its chaos than its music. And so it's only fitting that Desire fits that description as well, as it careens between surging folk-rock, Mideastern dirges, skipping pop, and epic narratives.
It's little surprise that Desire doesn't quite gel, yet it retains its own character -- really, there's no other place where Dylan tried as many different styles, as many weird detours, as he does here. And, there's something to be said for its rambling, sprawling character, which has a charm of its own. Even so, the record would have been assisted by a more consistent set of songs; there are some masterpieces here, though: "Hurricane" is the best-known, but the effervescent "Mozambique" is Dylan at his breeziest, "Sara" at his most nakedly emotional, and "Isis" is one of his very best songs of the '70s, a hypnotic, contemporized spin on a classic fable.
This may not add up to a masterpiece, but it does result in one of his most fascinating records of the '70s and '80s -- more intriguing, lyrically and musically, than most of his latter-day affairs.
Critic Dave Marsh would call it one of the "two best records Dylan has made since John Wesley Harding" and gave it a four-star review in the 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide. He also mentioned that this album has shown a change in style compared to his other works in the 1970's by noting: "But love songs aren't the focus of Desire, which is one of the things that differentiates it from Dylan's other post-rock work. On the best songs, Dylan returns to the fantastic images, weird characters and absurdist landscapes of the Sixties."
There was enough critical support to push Desire to #26 on The Village Voice's Jazz & Pop Critics Poll for 1976. In 2003, the album was ranked number 174 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.