The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (barely)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (barely)
- El Rayo-X finally returns to the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout
- If you're looking for deep punchy bass, crashing dynamics, silky sweet vocal harmonies, grungy slide guitars, tons of ambience, and super low distortion sound, this is the copy for you
- Engineered in 1981 by Greg Ladanyi, the very next year he would take home the Best Engineering Grammy for Toto IV (one helluva good sounding album and a former member of our Top 100)
- 4 1/2 stars: "One of the greatest rock music albums of its time. Fabulous."
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This superb Asylum original LP is a real DEMO DISC -- if what you are trying to demonstrate is how BIG and BOLD a good old-fashioned analog recording can sound.
After hearing Lindley's white-bread session playing on '70s albums by Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, et al., you might think the man must have a stick up his butt. His solos just never seem to let loose or get loose, and they rarely rock. Mercury Blues is proof positive that he can rock like a wild man when he wants to. On this album, perhaps for the first time, he really does seem to want to.
The sound on this record is so punchy and dynamic, the rest of your rock records should seem positively anemic in comparison. Most of it sounds live in the studio, and live in the studio is how you get a bunch of guys to play with this kind of enthusiasm and energy.
Engineered in 1981 by Greg Ladanyi, the very next year he would take home the Best Engineering Grammy for Toto IV (one helluva good sounding album and a former member of our Top 100).
Fortunately for us audiophiles, this album catches him before the overly-processed, digital drums and digital echo "sound of the '80s" had gotten into his blood. (Just play any of the awful Don Henley records he made to hear what we mean.) This record still sounds ANALOG, and even though it may be 1981 and mostly transistorized, the better copies display strong evidence of TUBES in the recording chain.
What the Best Sides of El Rayo-X 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 even as late as 1981
- 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.
The Best Sound
This vintage 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 We're Listening For on El Rayo-X
- 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 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.
- She Took off My Romeos
- Bye Bye Love
- Mercury Blues
- Quarter of a Man
- Ain’t No Way
- Twist and Shout
- El Rayo X
- Your Old Lady
- Don’t Look Back
- Petit Fleur
- Tu-Ber-Cu-Lucas and the Sinus Blues
- Pay the Man
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
By the time David Lindley made his move to a solo career, he was already a legend. Having toured and recorded with such names as Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and Crosby & Nash, his reputation as a multi-instrumentalist (on almost any stringed instrument) was awesome. Lindley scored a contract with Elektra Records and put together an excellent band that was able to keep up with his eclectic vision. Combining blues, rock & roll, Cajun, Zydeco, Middle Eastern music, and other elements, his debut album is an absolute joy. Lindley's version of "Mercury Blues" became an FM radio staple, and his slide guitar performances on this track alone are easily some of the finest of the decade. There are some wonderfully skewed originals on the record as well, making El Rayo-X one of the greatest rock music albums of its time. Fabulous.