Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (The start of track one is noisier than this for the first 10 seconds or so)
- You'll find outstanding sound on this WB Gold Label Stereo original with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
- Another amazingly Tubey Magical recording from the legendary Bill Porter (which may explain why Chet Atkins plays on it)
- About as quiet as these early copies come - Mint Minus Minus - records pressed in the early '60s rarely play even this quiet
- "In some ways, Both Sides of an Evening was the duo's most ambitious and mature record to date..."
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This '60s stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing any sign of coming back.
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person (or persons in this case) singing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 57 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we've played can serve as a guide.
Speaking of stereo, we were quite impressed with some of the mono pressings we played in our shootout. We prefer the best stereo pressings, but the better monos had no trouble reproducing most of what makes a vintage recording such as this so special.
What the best sides of Both Sides of an Evening 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 1961
- 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.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information. Strings and brass with get shrill and congested without enough top end air to breathe.
Tube smear is common to pressings from and any era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We're Listening For on Both Sides of an Evening
- 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, 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 Everly Brothers aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Bill Porter in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Porter Is The Man
The depth, the spaciousness, the richness -- this one has it all. It seems as though Bill Porter just does not know how to not make an amazing vintage '60s recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality -- whatever you choose to listen for in a great record can be found here.
Mint Minus Minus 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.
My Gal Sal
Bully Of The Town
Mention My Name In Sheboygan
The Wayward Wind
Don't Blame Me
Now Is The Hour
Little Old Lady
When I Grow Too Old To Dream
Love Is Where You Find It