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Waits, Tom - Small Change - Super Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Tom Waits
Small Change

Regular price
$199.99
Regular price
Sale price
$199.99
Unit price
per 
Availability
Sold out

Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

  • Both sides of this vintage copy (one of only a handful to hit the site in three years) were giving us the sound we were looking for, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Recorded live to 2-track by audio legend Bones Howe in 1976, no wonder the sound is so big, full-bodied, clean and clear
  • A tough record to find in the bins these days - Tom Waits still has plenty of die-hard fans here in L.A. and nobody wants to part with their copy
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his 70s work. A jazz trio comprising tenor sax player Lew Tabackin, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Shelly Manne, plus an occasional string section, back Waits and his piano on songs steeped in whiskey and atmosphere..."

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According to Wikipedia, when asked in an interview by Mojo magazine in 1999 if he shared many fans' view that Small Change was the crowning moment of his "beatnik-glory-meets-Hollywood-noir period" (i.e. from 1973 to 1980), Waits replied:

Well, gee. I'd say there's probably more songs off that record that I continued to play on the road, and that endured. Some songs you may write and record but you never sing them again. Others you sing 'em every night and try and figure out what they mean. "Tom Traubert's Blues" was certainly one of those songs I continued to sing, and in fact, close my show with.

This is a wonderful album, considered by many to be Waits's masterpiece. He's backed with a real jazz combo here, including Lew Tabackin on sax and the great Shelley Manne on drums.

Bones Howe does a great job gettin the kind of beatnik-jazz sound out of these songs that they need. On a copy like this, the presence and clarity are absolutely stunning. The Association, The Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension, and of course Tom Waits -- all their brilliant recordings are the result of Bones Howe's estimable talents as producer and engineer.

This vintage Asylum 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 Small Change 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 1976
  • 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.

What We're Listening For On Small Change

  • 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, full-bodied 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.

Vinyl Condition

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.

Side One

  • Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)
  • Step Right Up
  • Jitterbug Boy
  • I Wish I Was in New Orleans
  • The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Side Two

  • Invitation to the Blues
  • Pasties and a G-String
  • Bad Liver and a Broken Heart
  • The One That Got Away
  • Small Change
  • I Can't Wait to Get off Work

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Small Change proves to be the archetypal album of his 70s work. A jazz trio comprising tenor sax player Lew Tabackin, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Shelly Manne, plus an occasional string section, back Waits and his piano on songs steeped in whiskey and atmosphere in which he alternately sings in his broken-beaned drunk's voice (now deeper and overtly influenced by Louis Armstrong) and recites jazzy poetry.