The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This superb early Sunray Island Label UK pressing of TFTT - an album we consider the Pinnacle of British Folk Rock - earned solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides (and is probably even a bit better sounding than that, truth be told)
- It does have some problems on the first song on side one, but finding this vintage Island pressings in top audiophile playing condition these days is practically impossible
- The emotional power of the songs is communicated completely - we can assure you the experience will be like playing the album for the first time
- Here's your chance to relive the experience of hearing this groundbreaking album for the first time, but with much better sound than you ever thought possible
- 5 stars on Allmusic, a stunning Demo Disc, and a permanent member of the Better Records Top 100
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NOTE: A mark at the start of side one makes 6 medium pops, then about 10 alternating medium to light pops, then about 15 medium to light ticks, around 40 all told.
Hearing this Hot Stamper is a PRIVILEGE that affords the listener insight into Cat Stevens' music that is simply not possible any other way.
This is, I hope it goes without saying, one of the greatest Folk Rock records of all time, the kind of music that belongs in any collection. I've been playing this album for 40 years and I can honestly say I've never once tired of hearing it. I do get tired of hearing bad copies.
Cat’s mixes are full of subtle elements that may require many listening sessions over the course of years, even decades, to recognize and appreciate. Consider them an extra reward for having played the record so many times. I've played hundreds of copies over the last thirty-plus years and never tired of it once. As every music lover knows, the best albums only get better with time.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This early Sunray Island 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 Tea for the Tillerman 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.
This is a longtime audiophile favorite for both music and sound. For those of you who love folky, acoustic guitar pop -- often known as Hippie Folk Rock -- you should find a lot to like about the sound of this Hot Stamper pressing.
Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this album. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with the kind of richness, body, and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings -- just play the 200-gram pressing put out by Analogue Productions to hear a version with virtually none of the three).
What We're Listening For on Tea for the Tillerman
- 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.
Problems to Watch For
Some of the more common problems we ran into during our shootouts were slightly veiled, slightly smeary sound, with not all the top end extension that the best copies have.
You can easily hear that smear on the guitar transients; usually they're a tad blunted, and the guitar harmonics don't ring the way they should.
These problems are just as common to the Pink and Sunray Label UK Island pressings as they are to the Brown Label A&M domestic pressings. Smeary, veiled, top end-challenged pressings were regularly produced on both sides of the pond.
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 Must Own Pop Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious audiophile Popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- Where Do the Children Play?
- Hard Headed Woman
- Wild World
- Sad Lisa
- Miles from Nowhere
This is a song that has evolved dramatically over the last 20 years. If you've been making regular upgrades to your equipment and taking advantage of all the new technologies available at the front end, such as: vibration control, electromagnetic stabilization, better arms, better cartridges, better phono stages, better motors, fly wheels, Synchronous Drive Systems, better power cords, better power conditioning, to name just a few, you are no doubt able to reproduce this song much better than you were in the old days. I used to think that Cat's voice got hard and harsh when he got loud on the passage that starts with "I know...many fine feathered friends...". Now he gets even louder, the drums are much more powerful, and yet he still sounds like a real person, not an overdriven recording.
Modern front ends, properly tweaked and set up, can handle the kind of energy found on this song in a way that wasn't possible before. I like to say that if your turntable is more than 5 years old and you haven't done much to your front end since then, you are living in the vinyl stone age. There have been a number of revolutions in the area of LP playback, not the least of which is the Disc Doctor cleaning fluid we tout so obsessively, all of which have allowed us to reproduce familiar records in a startlingly realistic way never before possible.
- But I Might Die Tonight
- Longer Boats
- Into White
- On the Road to Find Out
- Father and Son
- Tea for the Tillerman
With this song, you hear into the music on the best copies as if you were seeing the live musicians before you. The violinist is also a key element. He's very far back in the studio. When he's back where he should be, but the sound of the wood of his violin and the rosin on the strings is still clearly audible, without any brightness or edginess to artificially create those details, you know you are hearing the real thing.
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Tea for the Tillerman was the story of a young man's search for spiritual meaning in a soulless class society he found abhorrent. He hadn't yet reached his destination, but he was confident he was going in the right direction, traveling at his own, unhurried pace. The album's rejection of contemporary life and its yearning for something more struck a chord with listeners in an era in which traditional verities had been shaken. It didn't hurt, of course, that Stevens had lost none of his ability to craft a catchy pop melody; the album may have been full of angst, but it wasn't hard to sing along to. As a result, Tea for the Tillerman became a big seller and, for the second time in four years, its creator became a pop star.