Side One: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (closer to M-- to EX++ in parts)*
- Both sides of this vintage Capitol pressing have superb sound for Wings' follow-up to Venus and Mars, earning Double Plus (A++) grades
- This copy has a "cinematic" quality - it's just plain bigger, with more depth to the soundfield, and more energy than we remember from the last time we did the shootout
- The big hits, "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs," as well as minor gems such as "Beware My Love," are outstanding here, with good body and a smoother, more natural, but still extended top end
- The right stampers are key on this title, and these are definitely the right ones
- "...At the Speed of Sound ostensibly invites the listener to spend a day with McCartney and Wings—a day in which the listener is gently harangued as well as entertained." - Rolling Stone
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*NOTE: This record was not noisy enough to rate our M-- to EX++ grade, but it's not quite up to our standards for Mint Minus Minus either. If you're looking for quiet vinyl, this is probably not the best copy for you.
The better copies such as this one have the qualities that really make the songs come to life and give you a taste of the old McCartney magic.
This vintage Capitol pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 McCartney and 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 Wings at the Speed of Sound 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 1976
- 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.
Import Vs. Domestic
We've played plenty of both and in our experience the better domestic pressings are clearly superior. This is not true for many of McCartney's albums but it is definitely true for this Wings at the Speed of Sound and his first, McCartney.
The copies that were flatter, more transistory, more opaque, less present; the ones that had no real extension up high or down low, or little in the way of Tubey Magic -- here we are basically describing the all-too-common typical pressing -- simply did not make the cut and ended up in the trade pile. That's not our sound and never has been.
What We're Listening For On Wings at the Speed of Sound
- 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 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.
- Let 'Em In
- The Note You Never Wrote
- She's My Baby
- Beware My Love
- Wino Junko
- Silly Love Songs
- Cook of the House
- Time to Hide
- Must Do Something About It
- San Ferry Anne
- Warm and Beautiful
Rolling Stone Review
...At the Speed of Sound ostensibly invites the listener to spend a day with McCartney and Wings—a day in which the listener is gently harangued as well as entertained. “Let ‘Em In” begins with door-knocking sound effects, out of which steps a marching band. Like most of the rest, “Let ‘Em In” puts a simple musical theme through carefully arranged changes. The melodic idea is small, but quintessentially McCartneyesque in its provincial jollity.
With the electronic soup-slurping sounds that open side two, one notes that it is almost time for lunch on this imaginary visiting day. But first the McCartneys answer those critics who lashed out at Venus and Mars‘s lovebird verses with a tract in defense of moon, June and spoon, “Silly Love Songs.” It’s a clever retort whose point is well taken; the center of the song focuses on the syllables “I love you,” which Paul and Linda reiterate with the insistence of phonetics instructors, weaving the phrase through a disarmingly lovely three-part chorus. Homeyness then climaxes with Linda singing “Cook of the House,” complete with sizzling pan and running water. A surrealist concept like side one’s first-rate “The Note You Never Wrote,” “Cook” is a rockabilly nursery rhyme.