Side One: Mint Minus Minus to EX++
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- KILLER sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them
- The vocals are present and breathy, the piano and bass clear, not smeary or murky -- this one was doing it all right!
- 4 stars: "... time has shown this album to be one of her finest... her songwriting is still in peak form, and there are many highlights including "It's Gonna Take Some Time" (also made into a hit by the Carpenters) and "Song of Long Ago" (with backing vocals by James Taylor)."
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KILLER sound on both sides for this, shall we say "problematical" recording. Perhaps "challenging" is a better term. Either way, finding good sounding copies of this album was a real pain. Most pressings were shockingly bad.
We had been thinking that Tapestry was the tough nut to crack in her catalog. It's not even a contest. This one is five times as hard. So many copies were murky, smeary, and veiled that we considered giving up. Fortunately, there were a few copies that shone brightly above the rest and this copy is one of them!
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 1971
- 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
The Piano Is Key
Only the best copies managed to allow the listener to hear past the lead instruments to find Carole's piano, which is often toward the back of the mix and is more often than not underlying the music, rarely playing a prominent role. The best copies really let you follow her playing all the way through the songs, no matter how quietly she is playing or how far back in the mix she may be.
If the pressing has a thinner sound, obviously it's easy to pick up on the percussive nature of the instrument. The trick is to hear the full range of notes, and for that you need both fullness and transparency.
What We Listen For on Music
- 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 worse 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.
Back to California
Carry Your Load
Growing Away from Me
It's Going to Take Some Time
Some Kind of Wonderful
Song of Long Ago
Too Much Rain
... time has shown this album to be one of her finest. While these songs lyrically lack the simplistic beauty of Gerry Goffin-penned tunes, the melodies are very strong and Carole King adds some nice texture to her piano-based tunes with the tasteful percussion of Bobbye Hall... her songwriting is still in peak form, and there are many highlights including "It's Gonna Take Some Time" (also made into a hit by the Carpenters) and "Song of Long Ago" (with backing vocals by James Taylor).
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