The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus (Moderately crackly on Track 5)
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- This pressing boasts very good Hot Stamper sound from the first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Surprisingly rich, natural and analog considering the recording date - very little sound of the sound of the day -- the kind that ruined most of what was made in the '80s -- is on display here, and thank god for that
- "Carly Simon’s Torch is a gorgeous throwback to the Fifties and early Sixties... By blending old and new material, and by incorporating a hint of jazz-fusion music into a studio-orchestra sound, Simon and her producer, Mike Mainieri, begin to suggest a continuity between Fifties torch and Eighties pop."
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This vintage Warner Brothers pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Torch 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 1981
- 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 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 it sure doesn't happen as often as we would like (!) -- there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to ensure 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 ensure 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.
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.
- Blue Of Blue
- I'll Be Around
- I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good
- I Get Along Without You Very Well
- Body And Soul
- From The Heart
- Spring Is Here
- Pretty Strange
- What Shall We Do With The Child
- Not A Day Goes By
Carly Simon’s Torch is a gorgeous throwback to the Fifties and early Sixties, when pop music divas and crooners routinely released two or three albums a year, each record utilizing a full studio orchestra instead of session musicians. The typical pop LP of that era was a high-toned vocal showcase, with moody orchestrations that refined the romantic movie music of the time into an intimate background style. Until now, the only rock singer who’s really embraced this genre has been Harry Nilsson. On 1973’s A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, Nilsson sang a bevy of standards, beautifully arranged by Gordon Jenkins, with impressive fluidity.
Torch easily eclipses A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, however, because it transcends nostalgia. By blending old and new material, and by incorporating a hint of jazz-fusion music into a studio-orchestra sound, Simon and her producer, Mike Mainieri, begin to suggest a continuity between Fifties torch and Eighties pop.
Since it doesn’t try to titillate us with marital confessions or strain to be trendy, Torch is also the first album on which Carly Simon the pop celebrity doesn’t interfere with Simon the pop artist. The focus is squarely on the music, and the singer’s magnificent alto, with its rough-and-tumble lows and wistful highs, has never sounded better. Five of the LP’s eleven numbers (“I’ll Be Around,” “Body and Soul,” “Spring Is Here,” “I Get Along without You Very Well,” “I’ve Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good”) have been covered often enough to acquire the status of popular art songs. Simon does these evergreens proud in low-keyed, elegantly heartfelt versions that owe more to emotional tone than they do to finger-snapping swing. Though Carly Simon acknowledges the swinging, bigband style of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and others through her carefully syncopated phrasing, she basically performs the compositions with an art singer’s awareness: i.e., elocution and timbre, rather than rhythm, prevail.
Whereas most vocalists treat the flat-out irony of Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along without You Very Well” with varying degrees of coyness, Simon plays the lyrics for straightforward drama–as a rejected lover attempting to stifle her feelings in a face-to-face confrontation. The star delivers Alec Wilder’s “I’ll Be Around,” which is usually milked for its masochistic pathos, as a matter-of-fact vow of fidelity to a straying sweetheart. In the disc’s dreamiest performance, “Spring Is Here,” Simon turns Rodgers and Hart’s ballad of abject despair into a sensuous mood piece.
Mike Mainieri’s settings, which spotlight exceptionally rich orchestrations by Marty Paich and Don Sebesky, sound custom-made to enhance Carly Simon’s aesthetic, albeit powerful, approach. And the standards are nicely balanced by some newer, less familiar numbers. Nicholas Holmes’ “Blue of Blue” scores as an effective vocal tone poem, while Holmes and Kate Horsey’s “What Shall We Do with the Child” is a poignant vignette about an expendable “love child.” (Both songs boast additional lyrics by Simon.) The singer slinks through “Pretty Strange,” a Jon Hendricks-Randy Weston Fifties jazz tune, like an Eighties Julie London. A revival of Timi Yuro’s hit, “Hurt,” provides a rock change of pace. Simon’s one original, the acoustic “From the Heart,” links torch style to the singer/songwriters of the Seventies.
Torch‘s moment of truth is Stephen Sondheim’s “Not a Day Goes By,” from the new musical Merrily We Roll Along. Sondheim rarely writes compositions that are concise enough to engage the pop mainstream, but this big, direct ballad is a fantastic exception, and Simon knows exactly what to do with it. “But I just go on thinking and sweating/And cursing and crying/And turning and reaching/And waking and dying” goes Sondheim’s wonderful lyric, which details the physical anguish of living through a romantic breakup. Carly Simon’s vocal makes you feel each stab of pain.
Though Torch may be too sophisticated to storm the charts, it’s nevertheless a superb example of modern mood music, performed with grace, gusto, sensuality and intelligence.