The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this vintage pressing of Neil's undeniable classic is guaranteed to beat any Harvest you've ever heard
- It's practically impossible to find an early pressing with sound this good and vinyl that plays quieter than the Mint Minus Minus surfaces found here
- Scratches are the rule, not the exception, but thankfully this copy has none
- A Top 100 album and a sublime recording no audiophile should be without
- 4 1/2 stars: "...the love songs and the harrowing portrait of a friend's descent into heroin addiction, "The Needle and the Damage Done," remain among Young's most affecting and memorable songs."
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When you have this kind of open, extended top end, the grit, grain and edge just disappear, leaving you with a clear, Tubey Magical sound that's way beyond anything you have ever heard (or we give you your money back). Let's take a moment to acknowledge the string of superb studio albums Neil released from 1970 to 1976. Just look at these titles: After The Gold Rush, Harvest, On The Beach, Tonight's The Night, and Zuma.
I can't think of anyone else besides Zeppelin (first five titles) and The Beatles (you pick 'em!) who put out this many killer albums consecutively. We consider each of those albums a work of profound creativity, and we can proudly claim to have found copies of each with the sonic credentials to bring these masterpieces to life.
What outstanding Harvest sides 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.
Heavy Demand and Not Much Supply
Harvest is undeniably one of the most beloved albums in all of classic rock. We get letters all the time from customers hoping to get their hands on Hot Stamper copies, but we'll never have the supply to keep up with the demand. It's a tough nut to crack, because a Hot Stamper Harvest has to get so many things right -- the lovely pedal steel guitar on Out On The Weekend, the London Symphony Orchestra on A Man Needs A Maid and There's A World, Neil's grungy electric guitar on Alabama, and so much more.
Many copies we played would work for the heavy songs and then fall behind on the softer numbers. Others had gorgeous sound on the country-tinged numbers but couldn't deliver any whomp for the rockers. Only a select group of copies could hold their own in all of the styles and engage us from start to finish; we're pleased to present those exceptional pressings as the Hot Stamper copies of Harvest that so many of you have been begging for.
Finding a reasonably quiet, unscratched pressing with top sound is harder for Harvest than any other Neil Young album from this period. Only his first album with the original mix is more difficult to find in audiophile playing condition. (Never heard a bad one but I sure have heard a lot of noisy ones.)
What We're Listening For on Harvest
- 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.
The Tracklist tab above will take you to an extensive song by song breakdown for each side, with plenty of What to Listen For advice.
- Out on the Weekend
We love the sound of the drums on Neil Young records -- think of the punchy kick drum on After The Gold Rush and the punchy thwack of the snare on Zuma. On the best copies, this song should have the kind of BIG, BOLD Neil Young drum sound we've fallen in love with. The pedal steel guitar sounds out of this world on our Hot Stampers.
- A Man Needs a Maid
This song features the London Symphony Orchestra. The strings at the end of the track are a great test for texture.
- Heart of Gold
We love this song, but it never has the kind of Demo Disc sound that you'll find on some of the other tracks.
- Are You Ready for the Country?
- Old Man
On the best copies, you'll be able to appreciate the depth of the soundfield. The pedal steel guitar should come from the back of room, with Neil front and center.
- There's a World
Grungy guitar rock a la Southern Man from After The Gold Rush or much of Zuma. Neil's guitar has to be meaty with lots of texture for this song to really rock.
- The Needle and the Damage Done
This live track can sound amazing -- warm, sweet, and intimate with lots of immediacy to Neil's vocal.
- Words (Between the Lines of Age)
AMG 4 1/1 Star Review
Neil Young's most popular album, Harvest employs a number of jarringly different styles. Much of it is country-tinged, although there is also an acoustic track, a couple of electric guitar-drenched rock performances, and two songs on which Young is accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra... the love songs and the harrowing portrait of a friend's descent into heroin addiction, "The Needle and the Damage Done," remain among Young's most affecting and memorable songs.