The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout, this early British A&M pressing of Stealers Wheel's debut album is doing just about everything right
- This Brit is Tubey Magical like you will not believe - it's guaranteed to be a huge improvement over anything you've heard, especially the dubby domestic pressings
- Thanks naturally must go to the brilliant Geoff Emerick - it's shocking to contemplate the idea that he became an even better recording engineer in the '70s
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 stars: "...the first LP from the tumultuous Stealers Wheel is a debonair affair comprised of the kind of accomplished and polished pub pop for which impetus Gerry Rafferty would become known as he subsequently rode out the decade..."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 16 times at a light to moderate level about 1/2 way into track 4 on side 2, "Gets So Lonely"
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
Like so many British bands on the A&M label, when it came time to master the album for the domestic market, the people in charge (whoever they may have been) took the easy way out and simply ordered up a dub of the master tape with which to cut the album.
Spooky Tooth, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, (my beloved) Squeeze and too many others to think about all had their records ruined by sub-generation masters.
But this is the real British-pressed vinyl from the real master tape, and that makes all the difference in the world.
This vintage import 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 Stealers Wheel's Debut 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 1972
- 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 legendary Geoff Emerick engineered (along with John Mills) at Apple Studio, which explains why the sound is so good on these import pressings. The album went on to receive the European Edison Award for recording excellence, whatever that is.
What We're Listening For On Stealers Wheel
- 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.
A Rock Masterpiece
We consider Stealers Wheel's debut LP their Masterpiece. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- Late Again
- Stuck In The Middle With You
- Another Meaning
- I Get By
- Outside Looking In
- Johnny's Song
- Next To Me
- Gets So Lonely
- You Put Something Better Inside Me
AMG 4 Star Review
Encased in a classy sleeve painted by Scottish playwright John "Patrick" Byrne, the first LP from the tumultuous Stealers Wheel is a debonair affair comprised of the kind of accomplished and polished pub pop for which impetus Gerry Rafferty would become known as he subsequently rode out the decade on the sublime radio single "Baker Street." Rafferty released his first solo slab, Can I Have My Money Back? (the title already showing signs of unrest) in 1971, and brought amigo Joe Egan from those sessions to the princely proceeding here.
Worthy musical moments abound, all forever overshadowed by the clever corporate-snub "Stuck in the Middle With You" which branded the duo a one-hit wonder when the track took on a life of its own. Sadly, the song also foreshadowed the premature end of Stealers Wheel, and Rafferty and Egan continued to document the personal and professional turmoil of their short time together throughout their respective solo careers, even re-recording some of these early jewels. And though only Rafferty's star continued to rise, Egan harbors considerable talent as well, shining brightly on his Rubber Soul-influenced tapestry "Another Meaning"; however, he keeps bland company with Bad Company with the dumb thud of "I Get By."
Meanwhile, Rafferty creates one of those oh-so-cosmic '70s grooves for "Outside Looking In," before being unfortunately caught in one of those oh-so-abrupt '70s fades at the end of side one. This vibe wouldn't be broken so drastically on CD, but for now, and seemingly forever, the platter must be flipped for the unique "Johnny's Song" wherein mountain-rock breaks surround Rafferty's wry life observations. Hidden nugget "Next to Me" extols mellow melancholy meditations exclusive to the West Coast and the Have a Nice Day Decade.
Closing pastorale "You Put Something Better Inside of Me" inspired renditions by Ted Neeley and Raphael Ravenscroft. Ultimately, this very solid outing casts a somber shadow because of unfulfilled expectations. And any record this carefully crafted doesn't deserve to languish in the bins of obscurity, but such seems to be the fate of Stealers Wheel. At least the band will always be remembered through the cinematic revival of that supreme FM staple "Stuck in the Middle With You."