The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
- Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this gazillion-selling '80s classic
- We would be foolish to make claims for "audiophile" 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 are here, including "Glory Days" and "Dancin' in the Dark."
- 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.
This vintage Columbia 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 Born In The U.S.A. 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
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.
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, with dead-as-a-doornail sound that is the opposite of what Springsteen was going for.
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 any Springsteen 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 want 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 ambiance.
- 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 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.
A Tough Record to Play, and No Demo Disc by Any Means
Born In The U.S.A. is a Difficult Record to Reproduce. Do not attempt to play it using anything other than the highest quality equipment.
Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies -- the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound -- can have problems. Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.
This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area many audiophiles neglect).
- Born in the U.S.A.
- Cover Me
- Darlington County
- Working on the Highway
- Downbound Train
- I'm on Fire
- No Surrender
- Bobby Jean
- I'm Goin' Down
- Glory Days
- Dancing in the Dark
- My Hometown
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
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.