Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Richard Thompson's superb instrumental album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides
- The sound is anchored by an exceptionally fat, rich, punchy low end on the best copies, and this pressing shows you just how big and punchy it can get
- An original Elixer pressing, Thompson's own label
- "... on Strict Tempo! Thompson lets loose on an instrumental collection of traditional British and Celtic jigs and reels, with a swinging Duke Ellington cover thrown in for variety and one new original offered as the finale... it shows one of the finest guitarists on Earth showing just how well he can play, and that's always a pleasure to hear."
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This original Elixer pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Strict Tempo! 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 1981
- 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 space of the studio
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.
What We're Listening For on Strict Tempo!
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
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 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 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.
New-Fangled Flogging Reel
Vaillance Polka Militaire
Scott Skinner Medley
- Scott Skinner's Rockin' Step
- Bonny Banchory
Do It For My Sake
Rockin' In Rhythm
The Random Jig
Will Ye No Cam Back Again
Cam O'er The Stream Charlie
Ye Banks And Braes
Nonsuch À La Mode De France
... on Strict Tempo! Thompson lets loose on an instrumental collection of traditional British and Celtic jigs and reels, with a swinging Duke Ellington cover thrown in for variety and one new original offered as the finale.
Thompson multi-tracks himself playing a variety of acoustic and electric guitars, basses, mandolins, and dulcimers with his usual (i.e., dazzling) degree of dexterity, with only percussionist Dave Mattacks for company on most of the tunes. If the performances don't quite match the head-spinning ferocity of the traditionally based folk-rock he pioneered with Fairport Convention on Liege and Lief and Full House, Thompson was certainly a better player in 1981 than he was when he left Fairport, and the arrangements reveal a degree of taste, imagination, and subtle wit that's second to none.
Strict Tempo! was a pet project of Thompson's, originally released on his own label, and it sometimes sounds like it was created more for his own amusement than anything else, but even in its more esoteric moments, it shows one of the finest guitarists on Earth showing just how well he can play, and that's always a pleasure to hear.
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