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 stunning Shootout Winning copy of Spirit's 1970 Trippy Masterpiece with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides - shockingly QUIET vinyl too
- This has to be the first Shootout Winner that played Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on both sides, and we have been doing shootouts for the album for more than ten years
- Huge, lively and dynamic - this legendary album creates a wall to wall, three-dimensional psychedelic world all its own
- Nature's Way, Animal Zoo and Mr. Skin all sound amazing on this copy - there's really not a bad track to be found
- "Spirit's crowning moment and one of the era's great underrated albums ... enriched by meaty horn arrangements, imaginative vocal harmonies, and a structured approach to psychedelic studio trickery such as stereo panning and tapes run backward."
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The soundfield is huge and transparent, there's real richness and body to the instruments, and there's no edge at all to the vocals. Believe me, it's the rare copy that has all of these qualities, the only one in our shootout as a matter of fact.
This and Spirit's first album are absolute Rock Classics in my book, records that belong in any popular music lover's collection.
What outstanding Spirit sides such as these 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 1970
- 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.
The Psych Album Guaranteed to Make You a Fan
This copy has the kind of sound I always dreamed (no pun intended) this album could have, but it took years of listening -- mostly to one flat, grainy, smeary copy after another -- to get here.
Don't bother with the black label Epic reissues. In our experience they are consistently awful. Yellow is the original label and orange the first reissue; both can be good.
The review under the Twelve Dreams tab above tells the story of the album far better than I can. If you like Pink Floyd, The Beatles (circa Revolver and Pepper), and the myriad other bands who took off in the direction of Psych Rock, you should find much to like here.
And if you don't love the album as much as we do we are happy to give you your money back. This is one of a handful of Classic Psych albums that every audiophile worth his salt should get to know. I would be surprised if 12 Dreams doesn't make you a Spirit fan.
What We're Listening For on Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
- 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 -- Shelly Yakus in this case -- 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.
One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read "BIG and BOLD" -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They're not brighter, they're not more aggressive, they're not hyped-up in any way, they're just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it's an entirely different listening experience.
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 originals.
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.
Prelude - Nothin' to Hide
Love Has Found a Way
Why Can't I Be Free
When I Touch You
Life Has Just Begun
Morning Will Come