The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- King Crimson's second studio album arrives with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides - quiet vinyl (but there is one mark that plays)
- This pressing is Big and Tubey, with clear, breathy vocals, especially critical to the success of the a capella opening track, "Peace - A Beginning"
- This original Island Pink Label British Import LP is pressed on exceptionally quiet vinyl
- 4 1/2 stars: "Their second album - largely composed of Robert Fripp's songwriting and material from their stage repertory - is actually better produced and better sounding than their first. Surprisingly, Fripp's guitar is not the dominant instrument here: The Mellotron, taken over by Fripp - and played even better than before - still remains the band's signature."
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NOTE: *A mark at the beginning of track one makes seven medium pops.
If you love the sound of a vintage All Tube recording of the mellotron -- whether by Led Zeppelin or The Moody Blues -- you will find that Robin Thompson has got hold of a very good sounding one here. Thompson is of course the engineer for the first King Crimson album, so his recording skills as regards the instrument are well established.
This vintage Island 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 In The Wake Of Poseidon 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 1970
- 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.
The British Island pressings for this album as well as the first are by far the best sounding, assuming you have a good one. What is interesting about early Island LPs is just how bad some of them are. And let me tell you, we've paid the price in time and money to find out just how bad some Island Pink Labels can sound.
The bad ones of course never qualified to be Hot Stampers and were never offered for sale. As luck would have it the collectors of the world were more than happy to take them off our hands. They wanted the "right" label; they obviously were not looking for the best sound.
Click on the Pink Label link above to read more about some lessons we learned.
What We're Listening For on In The Wake Of Poseidon
- 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 for the guitars and drums, 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 vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Robin Thompson 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.
Size and Space
Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center of the soundfield.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read "BIG and BOLD" -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They're not brighter, they're not more aggressive, they're not hyped-up in any way, they're just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn't, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British early copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of British pressings of Classic Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it's an entirely different - and dare I say unforgettable -- listening experience.
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 later 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.
Peace - A Beginning
Pictures of a City (Including 42nd at Treadmill)
Cadence and Cascade
In The Wake of Poseidon (Including Libra's Theme)
The Devil's Triangle
Hand of Sceiron
Garden of Worm
Peace - An End
King Crimson opened 1970 scarcely in existence as a band, having lost two key members (Ian McDonald and Michael Giles), with a third (Greg Lake) about to leave. Their second album -- largely composed of Robert Fripp's songwriting and material salvaged from their stage repertory ("Pictures of a City" and "The Devil's Triangle") -- is actually better produced and better sounding than their first.
Surprisingly, Fripp's guitar is not the dominant instrument here: The Mellotron, taken over by Fripp after McDonald's departure -- and played even better than before -- still remains the band's signature. The record doesn't tread enough new ground to precisely rival In the Court of the Crimson King.
Fripp, however, has made an impressive show of transmuting material that worked on stage ("Mars" aka "The Devil's Triangle") into viable studio creations, and "Cadence and Cascade" may be the prettiest song the group ever cut. "The Devil's Triangle," which is essentially an unauthorized adaptation of "Mars, Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets, was later used in an eerie Bermuda Triangle documentary of the same name.
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