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
- Boasting two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this original Backstreet pressing was giving us the sound we were looking for on TP's 1982 release - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Both sides are rich and full-bodied with tight bass, and brimming with Petty's unique brand of straight ahead rock and roll, best exemplified by the radio smash "You Got Lucky"
- Rolling Stone raves "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play a finely crafted brand of meat-and-potatoes rock. They shudder to a stop for the occasional ballad or showy guitar figure, but the next surging chorus is never far away. They've been honing that sound for five albums now, and Petty has gradually hoisted himself into the company of such masterful travelers of Route 66 as Seger and Springsteen. ...overall, Long after Dark is Petty's most accomplished record."
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Long After Dark boasts the monster rocker "You Got Lucky" and very good sound considering that the album was recorded in 1982, not an especially good year (or decade) to be recording rock music.
This vintage Backstreet 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 Long After Dark 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 1982
- 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.
Finding The Best Sound
Energy and rock and roll rhythmic drive are of course paramount.
Many copies were brighter than ideal, which is nothing new for Petty's body of work but nonetheless far from the sound we find most pleasing.
Some copies in our shootout were dark and small; we took serious points off for both of these shortcomings.
The climaxes of the songs should be as uncompressed and uncongested as possible to earn our higher grades. When the music gets loud it should stay tonally correct and undistorted, and not all copies can do that, not at the serious levels we like to play our records.
What We're Listening For On Long After Dark
- 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 -- Shelly Yakus in this case -- 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.
Choruses Are Key
Watch out for too many instruments and voices jammed into too little space in the upper midrange. When the tonality is shifted-up, even slightly, or there is too much compression or distortion, there will be too many upper midrange elements -- voices, guitars, drums -- vying for space, resulting in congestion and a loss of clarity.
With the more solid-sounding copies, the lower mids are full and rich. Above them, the next "level up" so to speak, there's plenty of space in which to fit all the instruments and voices comfortably, without piling them on top of one another as so often happens. Consequently, the upper midrange "space" does not get overwhelmed with musical information.
Also watch for edge on the vocals, which is of course related to the issues above. Most copies have at least some edge to the vocals -- the band wants to really belt it out in the choruses, and they do -- but the best copies keep the edge under control, without sounding compressed, dark, dull, or smeary.
The highest quality equipment, on the hottest Hot Stamper copies, will play the loudest and most difficult-to-reproduce passages with virtually no edge, grit, or grain, even at very loud levels.
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.
- A One Story Town
- You Got Lucky
- Deliver Me
- Change of Heart
- Finding Out
- We Stand a Chance
- Straight Into Darkness
- The Same Old You
- Between Two Worlds
- A Wasted Life
Rolling Stone Review
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play a finely crafted brand of meat-and-potatoes rock. They shudder to a stop for the occasional ballad or showy guitar figure, but the next surging chorus is never far away. They've been honing that sound for five albums now, and Petty has gradually hoisted himself into the company of such masterful travelers of Route 66 as Seger and Springsteen.
No single thing about Long after Dark is startlingly great. Whatever your favorite Petty song is — be it "The Wild One, Forever" or "The Waiting" — you're not likely to find it bettered here. But overall, Long after Dark is Petty's most accomplished record.
After a few very precise probes into society's darker doings (Hard Promises gave us a pair of characters who could easily share a jail cell with Springsteen's Nebraska outlaws), Petty has narrowed his world to a one-on-one emotional connection and decided to cut a few simple truths into stone. He's going about it with a trim, meticulously recorded group sound that makes every fistful of strings grabbed by Petty or Mike Campbell sound as near and natural as a fast river parted by rocks. His singing is bolder than ever, but full of nuance (a George Jones fan would be right at home for at least the first two lines of "You Got Lucky").
Perhaps the reason there's no one killer among these songs is the richly private nature of Long after Dark's personality; it's a suite of studies on the possibilities of amorous and brotherly love. The lover of "We Stand a Chance" is so stunned by these possibilities that he's out of his head: "My whole world that is a fountain of flame." This is the same flame that burned Hard Promises' "Insider," and that's why, for Petty, talk of love is never cheap; long after dark, people succumb to the bitter torments of parting.
But parting, imminent and remembered, is the motif of most of the songs here. The strayed lovers of "A One Story Town" and "You Got Lucky," the girl who becomes a "loaded gun" in "Change of Heart," and the "flesh and bone" succubus of "Between Two Worlds" are all sending those they leave behind to Petty's particularly bleak landscape of damnation. His notions are practically Victorian, but they make for compelling versifying.
Black sky, lonely streets, the hands of fate the singer wails for deliverance from — they're all part of the "danger zone" where love ends. The quailing friend of "The Same Old You" is even afraid of the kind of healing, blasting rock that powers this album. But, Petty warns, nobody's "bulletproof." Part of Petty's idea of salvation is a barbaric yawp. But against the lonely, dark road these songs look down, a barbaric yawp may be the best response.