The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- A Fresh like you've never heard, with a KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
- The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity; it’s also smooth in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s - this is the right sound for the music, no question about it
- 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
- "Jazz legend Miles Davis was so impressed by the song 'In Time' from the album that he made his band listen to the track repeatedly for a full 30 minutes." - Wikipedia
- 4 stars: "Fresh expands and brightens the slow grooves of There’s a Riot Goin’ On, turning them, for the most part, into friendly, welcoming rhythms."
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*NOTE: On side 2, there is a mark that plays lightly from the end of track 3 ("Keep On Dancin’") until about 1/2 way into track 4 ("Que Sera Sera [Whatever Will Be Will Be]"), where it plays 10 times loudly.
This vintage Epic 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 Fresh 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.
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 Fresh
- 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 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.
- In Time
- If You Want Me To Stay
- Let Me Have It All
- Thankful N’ Thoughtful
- Skin I’m In
- I Don’t Know (Satisfaction)
- Keep On Dancin’
- Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)
- If It Were Left Up To Me
- Babies Makin’ Babies
AMG 4 Star Review
Fresh expands and brightens the slow grooves of There’s a Riot Goin’ On, turning them, for the most part, into friendly, welcoming rhythms. There are still traces of the narcotic haze of Riot, particularly on the brilliant, crawling inversion of “Que Sera, Sera,” yet this never feels like an invitation into a junkie’s lair.
Still, this isn’t necessarily lighter than Riot — in fact, his social commentary is more explicit, and while the music doesn’t telegraph his resignation the way Riot did, it comes from the same source. So, Fresh winds up more varied, musically and lyrically, which may not make it as unified, but it does result in more traditional funk that certainly is appealing in its own right.
Besides, this isn’t conventional funk — it’s eccentric, where even concise catchy tunes like “If You Want Me to Stay” seem as elastic as the opener, “In Time.” That’s the album’s ultimate charm — it finds Sly precisely at the point where he’s balancing funk and pop, about to fall into the brink, but creating an utterly individual album that wound up being his last masterwork and one of the great funk albums of its era.
Jazz legend Miles Davis was so impressed by the song “In Time” from the album that he made his band listen to the track repeatedly for a full 30 minutes.
Composer and music theorist Brian Eno cited Fresh as having heralded a shift in the history of recording, “where the rhythm instruments, particularly the bass drum and bass, suddenly [became] the important instruments in the mix.”
George Clinton, who has listed Fresh as one his favorite albums, later convinced the Red Hot Chili Peppers to cover “If You Want Me to Stay” on their second album, the Clinton-produced Freaky Styley.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 186 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.