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*
- A superb pressing of Hearts and Bones with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from first note to last - just shy of our Shootout Winner
- Compared to almost every other copy in our recent shootout, this one was bigger and bolder with more Tubey Magic, clarity and separation
- Turn this one up good and loud (which you can do when the sound is THIS good) and you'll have a living, breathing Paul Simon standing right between your speakers
- 4 1/2 stars: "... his most personal collection of songs, one of his most ambitious, and one of his best. It retains a personal vision... Simon's most impressive collection in a decade and the most underrated album in his catalog."
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*NOTES: On side one, a noisy edge clears up one-eighth inch in. On side two, Track 2, Train In The Distance, plays Mint Minus Minus.
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Paul Simon record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are either bright or dark; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight; spaciousness (the best copies have studio ambience like you would not believe); and last but not least, TRANSPARENCY, the effect of being able to see INTO the soundfield all the way to the back, where there is plenty going on in this remarkably sophisticated studio recording.
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 Hearts and Bones 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 1983
- 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 space of the studio
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 We're Listening For on Hearts and Bones
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 for the guitars, keyboards and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- 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 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.
Hearts and Bones
When Numbers Get Serious
Think Too Much (b)
Song About The Moon
Think Too Much (a)
Train In The Distance
René And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War
Cars Are Cars
The Late Great Johnny Ace
Hearts and Bones was a commercial disaster, the lowest-charting new studio album of Paul Simon's career. It is also his most personal collection of songs, one of his most ambitious, and one of his best.
It retains a personal vision, one largely devoted to the challenges of middle-aged life, among them a renewed commitment to love; the title song was a notable testament to new romance, while "Train in the Distance" reflected on romantic discord. Elsewhere, "The Late Great Johnny Ace" was his meditation on John Lennon's murder and how it related to the mythology of pop music.
Musically, Simon moved forward and backward simultaneously, taking off from the jazz fusion style of his last two albums into his old loves of doo wop and rock & roll while also incorporating current sounds with such new collaborators as dance music producer Nile Rodgers and minimalist composer Philip Glass. The result was Simon's most impressive collection in a decade and the most underrated album in his catalog.
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