Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (w/ a mark near the end of track 2 that plays around 9 times lightly and intermittently)
- An excellent sounding copy with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from the first note to the last
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they're making these days - if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
- Aretha's records for Columbia feature a more pop-oriented sound than her later works. This is a great record for those interested in checking out the early roots of one of the greatest singers of all time
- "She gives new songs like 'I Wonder' (for which Aretha wrote the words), 'If Ever I Would Leave You' and 'I Wanna Be Around' distinctive, unforgettable interpretations, the kind that set standards for time and singers to come."
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This Columbia 360 pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely 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 Aretha Franklin singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now almost 60 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.
What amazing sides such as these 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 1963
- 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
What We Listen For on Laughing On The Outside
- 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 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.
For All We Know
Make Someone Happy
I Wonder (Where You Are Tonight)
Laughing On The Outside
Say It Isn't So
Until The Real Thing Comes Along
If Ever I Would Leave You
Where Are You?
I Wanna Be Around
... In 'Skylark', the opening number, her voice soars 'in lovely flight', like the bird invoked in the lyrics; standards like 'For All We Know', Ellington's 'Solitude' and [Irving] Berlin's 'Say It Isn't So' become new experiences as projected by Aretha's rare magnetic power. She gives new songs like 'I Wonder' (for which Aretha wrote the words), 'If Ever I Would Leave You' and 'I Wanna Be Around' distinctive, unforgettable interpretations, the kind that set standards for time and singers to come. An especial highlight is Aretha's treatment of one of the most touching songs to come along in some time, 'Mr. Ugly'. Throughout the album, conductor Robert Mersey's tasteful arrangements lend Aretha strong, sympathetic support.
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