The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus to EX++
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus to EX++
- Both sides of this early Columbia pressing have superb sound for Dylan's 1978 release, earning Double Plus (A++) grades
- You get clean, clear, full-bodied, lively and musical analog sound from first note to last
- We would be foolish to make claims for "audiophile quality" sound on this album - it is what it is, but the better copies are head and shoulders above anything else you've heard
- Problems 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
- "In the UK...Michael Watts of Melody Maker proclaim[ed] it Dylan’s 'best album since John Wesley Harding.' NME’s Angus MacKinnon hailed it as Dylan’s 'second major album of the 70s.'" - Wikipedia
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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
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 Street-Legal 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 1978
- 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.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Street-Legal, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You'll hear what's better and worse -- right and wrong would be another way of putting it -- about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle -- or fail -- to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain't rocket science, and we've never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we've explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own -- those may or may not have Hot Stampers -- but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We're Listening For On Street-Legal
Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a 70s Pop/Rock record.
Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than any of the other copies we played in our shootout:
- Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree)
- Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule)
- Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful)
- Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space)
- Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD
- And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.
A Tough Record to Play, and No Demo Disc by Any Means
Take it from us, it is the rare pressing that manages to get rid of the harshness and congestion that plague so many copies. The better copies have superb extension up top, which allows the grit and edge on the vocals to almost entirely disappear.
Look for a copy that opens up the soundstage -- the wider, deeper and taller the presentation, the better the sound, as long as the tonal balance stays right.
When you hear a copy sound relatively rich and sweet, the shortcomings of the recording no longer seem to interfere with your enjoyment of the music. Like a properly tweaked stereo, a good record lets you forget all that audio stuff and just listen to the music as music. Here at Better Records, we -- like our customers -- think that’s what it’s all about.
And we know that only the top copies will let you do that, something that not everyone in the audiophile community fully appreciates to this day. We’re doing what we can to change that way of thinking, but progress is, as you may well imagine, slow.
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.
- Changing Of The Guards
- New Pony
- No Time To Think
- Baby, Stop Crying
- Is Your Love In Vain?
- Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
- True Love Tends To Forget
- We Better Talk This Over
- Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)
Street-Legal is the eighteenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on June 15, 1978 by Columbia Records. The album was a serious musical departure for Dylan, who uses a large pop-rock band—complete with female backing vocalists—for the first time. One of these singers is Dylan’s African-American girlfriend (and after their child was born, wife) Carolyn Dennis. Several songs deal with their relationship.
Following the twin successes of Blood on the Tracks and Desire, Street-Legal was another gold record for Dylan, but it peaked at only #11 on the US Billboard charts, making it his first studio album to miss the US Top 10 since 1964. However, it became his best-selling studio album in the UK, reaching #2 on the charts (his highest position in eight years) and achieving platinum status with 300,000 copies sold (the only other Dylan album to do this was The Essential Bob Dylan).
In the UK, reviews were positive, with Michael Watts of Melody Maker proclaiming it Dylan’s “best album since John Wesley Harding.” NME’s Angus MacKinnon hailed it as Dylan’s “second major album of the 70s.”
In contrast to the record’s still-mixed reputation, Q Magazine has given the album a 5 star rating on re-release on two occasions…