The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Outstanding Demo Disc sound, with both sides of this UK pressing earning Double Plus (A++) grades
- The unprocessed quality found throughout the album has its audiophile credentials fully in order, especially in the area of guitar harmonics, as well as drums that sound like real drums actually sound
- The true foundation of the music is provided by two legendary guitar heavyweights, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, with Jacqui McShee's almost unbearably sweet vocals soaring above them
- The best material from Pentangle's amazing first six albums, with sound that's full of good ol' British Analog Tubey Magic
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This album presents the classic 1969 lineup at its best, with superior sonics to boot.
The unprocessed folky sound found throughout the album has its audiophile credentials fully in order, especially in the area of guitar harmonics, as well as drums that sound like real drums actually sound. (How many of the '70s rock albums in our Top 100 have that natural drum sound? Not many when you stop to think about it.)
When I was selling audio equipment back in the '70s this was one of our Demo Discs. The song Pentangling has beautifully recorded drums and string bass. The first track, I've Got A Feeling, is lovely as well.
Notice how there is nothing -- not one instrument or voice -- that has a trace of hi-if-ishness. No grain, no sizzle, no zippy top, no bloated bottom, nothing that reminds you of the phony sound you hear on audiophile records at every turn. Silky sweet and Tubey Magical, this is the sound we love here at Better Records.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a British Folk Rock record.
Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.
The best copies have:
- Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
- Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
- Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
- Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
- Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
- And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.
Bert's The Man
Bert Jansch is considered one of the greatest acoustic folk guitarists who ever lived. Word has it that he strongly influenced the playing of Jimmy Page, who may in fact have stolen some of Jansch's best licks. We will leave that controversy for others to sort out; stolen or not, the licks are plenty hot for those of you who like your acoustic guitars complex and folky (as opposed to, say, Cat Stevens's guitars, which tend to be simple and poppy, not that we love them any less for it).
Shootout Criteria (What To Listen For)
What are the sonic qualities by which a Pop or Rock record -- any Pop or Rock record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.
When we can get many of the qualities above to come together on the side we're playing we provisionally award it a Hot Stamper grade, which may or may not be revised over the course of the shootout as we hear what the various other copies sound like. Once we've been through all our side ones, we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner. Other copies have their grades raised or lowered depending on how they sounded relative to the shootout winner. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that's left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.
That's why the most common grade for a White Hot stamper pressing is Triple Plus (A+++) on one side and Double Plus (A++) on the other. Finding the two best sounding sides from a shootout on the same LP certainly does happen, but is sure doesn't happen as often as we would like (!) -- there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to insure consistent quality.
Record shootouts may not be rocket science, but they're a science of a kind, one with strict protocols developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can possibly make them.
The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.
Musicians / Instruments
Terry Cox - Drums, percussion Bert Jansch - Guitar, vocals Jacqui Mcshee - Vocals John Renbourn - Guitar, sitar, vocals Danny Thompson - Bass
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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
I've Got a Feeling
When I Get Home
Rain and Snow
Lyke Wake Dirge
The Trees They Do Grow High
A Maid That's Deep in Love
Once I Had a Sweetheart