The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb copy of Bill Withers' debut
- The overall sound here is Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
- Many of his best songs are on here, such as "Ain’t No Sunshine," "Grandma’s Hands" and "Harlem."
- 4 1/2 stars: "In a career laden with highlights and hallmarks in the annals of soul history, Just as I Am gets rather overlooked as one of the best soul debuts ever issued..."
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This vintage Sussex 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 Bill and 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 this Classic Soul album from 1971 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 1971
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with the guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
- 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 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 Listen For on Just As I Am
- 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.
Bill Withers – guitar, vocals Stephen Stills – guitar Chris Ethridge - bass guitar Jim Keltner, Al Jackson Jr. – drums Booker T. Jones – guitar, keyboards Bobbye Hall – percussion Donald Dunn - bass guitar
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 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.
Ain't No Sunshine
Do It Good
Hope She'll Be Happier
Let It Be
I'm Her Daddy
In My Heart
Moanin' And Groanin'
Better Off Dead
"In a career laden with highlights and hallmarks in the annals of soul history, Just as I Am gets rather overlooked as one of the best soul debuts ever issued... it's almost as if Withers is in a living room singing to a small group of people, rather than making a record. Of course, the instantly recognizable anthem "Ain't No Sunshine" gets all of the acclaim it so richly deserves, but tracks like "Harlem" and "Better Off Dead" also warrant kudos for the intensity and maturity of their performances. Even when he's doing covers, Withers treats them as if they are his own compositions and handles them with great delicacy."
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