The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Between the Lines returns to the site with outstanding DoublePlus (A++) sound from start to finish
- We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you've heard, and that's especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- Ian's biggest international hit, At Seventeen, sounds right on the money on this killer side one
- 4 1/2 stars: "This is Janis Ian's second album from her re-emergence in the early to mid-'70s as one of the genre's most inspired and original singer/songwriters... a recommended starting point for potential enthusiasts, as well as a touchstone to be repeatedly revisited."
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*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 15 moderate pops at the beginning of Track 6, Watercolors.
Take this one home and check out how warm and natural the acoustic guitars sound throughout, free from the grain and edge that plague most copies. Play At Seventeen and listen to how clear and present Ian's vocals sound, with the kind of breath and body that you'd hear in a live performance.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This Seventies' LP 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 Janis Ian 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 45 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 outstanding 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 1975
- 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.
Most copies of this album have that '70s Red Label Columbia sound I imagine most of you know pretty well by now -- dry, grainy and flat. If you've been in this hobby for a good amount of time you know as well as I do that there are magical pressings from this era to be found, but they are few are far between. You'd have to get your hands on quite a few copies of this album to have a decent chance of finding one with two sides this good!
What We're Listening For on Between the Lines
- 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.
Recently we did one a shootout for Between The Lines, using mostly original pressings we know from experience to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them as carefully as we always do. Then we unplugged everything in the house we could get away with, carefully 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 couple of hours playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or ten 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 others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process could not be more simple. The first step is to go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can't find on most copies. 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.
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 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.
- When the Party's Over
- At Seventeen
- From Me to You
- Bright Lights and Promises
- In the Winter
- Between the Lines
- The Come On
- Light a Light
- Tea & Sympathy
- Lover's Lullaby
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
This is Janis Ian's second album from her re-emergence in the early to mid-'70s as one of the genre's most inspired and original singer/songwriters. While this title houses Ian's biggest international hit, the confessional "At Seventeen," the entire effort combines her honest and confessional lyrics with an equally engaging blend of pop/rock and definite jazz and blues. This album is a recommended starting point for potential enthusiasts, as well as a touchstone to be repeatedly revisited.