The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- Boasting two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this vintage copy was giving us the sound we were looking for on Scaggs's self-titled LP
- Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – but here they are!
- ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest - you'll never play a CD (or any other digitally sourced material) that sounds as good as this record as long as you live
- 4 1/2 stars: "...the record is pitch-perfect, from the Jimmie Rodgers cover 'Waiting for a Train' and the folky 'Look What I Got!' to the extended 12-minute blues workout 'Loan Me a Dime,' which functions as much as a showcase for a blazing Duane Allman as it does for Boz."
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*NOTE: There is a bubble in the vinyl that plays as 10 moderate thumps at the start of track 2 on side 2, "Loan Me a Dime."
This pressing has two excellent sides, which is two more than the typical cardboardy, flat, thin, lifeless copy has. If you like your music dry and clean, try the remixed version, the CD, or perhaps there is a heavy vinyl version out there (at one-tenth the price). That’s not our sound here at Better Records. The better recordings from the era do not have that sound, so when we find that kind of analog richness, sweetness and naturalness on a pressing such as this, we know the record is right.
The nearly 13-minute long version of "Loan Me A Dime" on side two is out of this world and the best reason to play the album. Another good reason: Duane 'Skydog' Allman on guitar!
This vintage Atlantic 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 Boz Scaggs 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 1969
- 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.
Standard Operating Procedures
What are the criteria by which a record like this 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, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and so on down through the list.
When we can get all, or most all, of the qualities above to come together on any given side we provisionally award it a grade of "contender." Once we’ve been through all our copies on one side we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides matched up.
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 ensure that the sonic grades we assign to our Hot Stampers 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 Boz Scaggs
- 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.
What To Listen For — Background Singers You Can "See"
If you have multiple copies of the album and want to shoot them out, here’s an easy test. Listen for how clear and correct the female background singers sound. This is an excellent test because it will hold true for both sides on the album.
On opaque copies, they are hard to "see"; on transparent copies they are easy to "see." On tonally thin copies they will sound edgier and harder than they should. And on Tubey Magical copies they will sound full-bodied, solid and real.
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.
- I’m Easy
- I’ll Be Long Gone
- Another Day (Another Letter)
- Now You’re Gone
- Finding Her
- Look What I Got!
- Waiting for a Train
- Loan Me a Dime
- Sweet Release
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Departing from the Steve Miller Band after a two-album stint, Boz Scaggs found himself on his own but not without support. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, his friend, helped him sign with Atlantic Records and the label had him set up shop in Muscle Shoals, recording his debut album with that legendary set of studio musicians, known for their down-and-dirty backing work for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, among many other Southern soul legends.
The Muscle Shoals rhythm section, occasionally augmented by guitarist Duane Allman, gives this music genuine grit, but this isn’t necessarily a straight-up blue-eyed soul record, even if the opening “I’m Easy” and “I’ll Be Long Gone” are certainly as deeply soulful as anything cut at Muscle Shoals.
Even at this early stage Scaggs wasn’t content to stay in one place, and he crafted a kind of Americana fantasia here, also dabbling in country and blues along with the soul and R&B that grounds this record. If the country shuffle “Now You’re Gone” sounds just slightly a shade bit too vaudeville for its own good, it only stands out because the rest of the record is pitch-perfect, from the Jimmie Rodgers cover “Waiting for a Train” and the folky “Look What I Got!” to the extended 12-minute blues workout “Loan Me a Dime,” which functions as much as a showcase for a blazing Duane Allman as it does for Boz.
But even with that show-stealing turn, and even with the Muscle Shoals musicians giving this album its muscle and part of its soul, this album is still thoroughly a showcase for Boz Scaggs’ musical vision, which even at this stage is wide and deep. It would grow smoother and more assured over the years, but the slight bit of raggedness suits the funky, down-home performances and helps make this not only a great debut, but also an enduring blue-eyed soul masterpiece.