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
- With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish, this original pressing is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Welcome you've heard - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Both of these sides are big and rich, yet still wonderfully clean, clear and open with fantastic energy - you will not believe all the space and ambience here
- An ambitious follow-up to Caravanserai, Welcome continued Carlos Santana's foray into Jazz-Rock Fusion with music that remains powerful and intriguing even today
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 stars: "Welcome was merely ahead of its time as a musical journey and is one of the more enduring recordings the band ever made. This is a record that pushes the envelope even today and is one of the most inspired recordings in the voluminous Santana oeuvre."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 17 times at a moderate level at the start of track 1 on side 1, "Going Home."
The copy we are selling may or may not have the embossed sleeve you see here.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
This vintage Columbia 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 Welcome 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 1973
- 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.
What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any 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.
It may not be rocket science, but it's a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we've developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can 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.
What We're Listening For On Welcome
- 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.
- Going Home
- Love, Devotion & Surrender
- Samba De Sausalito
- When I Look Into Your Eyes
- Yours Is The Light
- Mother Africa
- Light Of Life
AMG 4 Star Review
The mark that the recording of Caravanserai and Love Devotion Surrender had left on Carlos Santana was monumental. The issue of Welcome, the band's fifth album and its first with the new lineup, was a very ambitious affair and was regarded by traditional fans of Santana with even more strangeness than its two predecessors. However, issued as it was at the end of 1973, after Miles had won a Grammy for Bitches Brew and after Weather Report, Return to Forever, and Seventh House had begun to win audiences from the restless pool of rock fans, Santana began to attract the attention of critics as well as jazz fans seeking something outside of the soul-jazz and free jazz realms for sustenance.
The vibe that carried over from the previously mentioned two albums plus the addition of vocalist Leon Thomas to the fold added a bluesy, tougher edge to the sound showcased on Caravanserai. The band's hard root was comprised of Carlos, drummer Michael Shrieve, bassist Doug Rauch, and keyboard king Tom Coster. Add to this the percussion section of Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas as well as a second keyboard by Richard Kermode, and space was the place.
... Ultimately, Welcome is a jazz record with rock elements, not a rock record that flirted with jazz and Latin musical forms. It is understandable why Santana punters would continue to be disenchanted, however. Welcome was merely ahead of its time as a musical journey and is one of the more enduring recordings the band ever made. This is a record that pushes the envelope even today and is one of the most inspired recordings in the voluminous Santana oeuvre.