Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- An excellent copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides for this gazillion-selling 80's classic - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- We would be foolish to make claims for "audiophile quality" sound on Springsteen's albums - they are what they are, but the best copies are head and shoulders above anything else you've heard
- Some of The Boss's biggest hits, including Glory Days and Dancin' in the Dark, all on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- 5 stars: "... where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him."
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It's tough to find great sounding copies of this album -- or any Springsteen album for that matter -- but this one is a step up from most of the copies we played, with less distortion and more energy, two qualities that are not easy to come by on Born In The U.S.A.
What the best sides of Born In The USA 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 1984
- 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
Boring? Not This Copy!
If you're bored by the first chorus of the title song, that's a bad sign, and that was exactly our experience with most of the pressings that hit the table. When we threw the best ones on, things changed considerably. Bruce was really screaming, the drums were really pounding, and before we knew it we were rockin' out and enjoying the hell out of this music.
Not many copies have the kind of full, solid lower midrange we find on the better pressings. When you can hear the album this way, without the edgy, thin sound that plagues so many pressings, it works wonders for the music itself. I cannot even begin to imagine how bad the CD must sound.
And I would guess that the currently available and no doubt godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing has been mastered to be less bright, but smoother, dead-as-a-doornail sound is the opposite of what Springsteen was going
What We're Listening For on Born In The U.S.A.
Less grit - smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on Springsteen's albums from this era.
A bigger presentation - more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Glyn Johns wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven't played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
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.
Born in the U.S.A.
Working on the Highway
I'm on Fire
I'm Goin' Down
Dancing in the Dark
Born in the U.S.A. marked the first time that Springsteen's characters really seemed to relish the fight and to have something to fight for. They were not defeated ("No Surrender"), and they had friendship ("Bobby Jean") and family ("My Hometown") to defend. The restless hero of "Dancing in the Dark" even pledged himself in the face of futility, and for Springsteen, that was a step.
The "romantic young boys" of his first two albums, chastened by "the working life" encountered on his third, fourth, and fifth albums and having faced the despair of his sixth, were still alive on this, his seventh, with their sense of humor and their determination intact.
Born in the U.S.A. was their apotheosis, the place where they renewed their commitment and where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him.
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