The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- A KILLER early pressing of this Neil Young Classic with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound throughout, coming in just shy of our Shootout Winner
- The title track has that live-in-the-studio sound we love about Zuma, but in this case it sounds like it was recorded at three in the morning in a room full of pot smoke
- 5 stars: "...where Time Fades Away was embattled and Tonight's the Night mournful, On the Beach was savage and, ultimately, triumphant... he was saying goodbye to despair, not being overwhelmed by it."
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These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
Folks, we don’t find too many Hot Stamper copies of this great album, so don’t assume that another one will pop right up once this one goes. This album may not be as well-known as Harvest or After The Gold Rush, but it's every bit as worthy of a place in your collection -- especially when it sounds this good!
Prime Time For Neil Young
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the string of superb studio albums Neil released from 1970 to 1976. I mean, look at these titles: After The Gold Rush, Harvest, On The Beach, Tonight's The Night, and Zuma. Not a dog in the lot, to say the least. I can't think of anyone else besides Led Zep (first five titles) and The Beatles (pick 'em!) who put out at least this many killer albums consecutively. We consider each of those albums a work of genius, and we can proudly claim to have found copies of each with the sonic credentials necessary to bring you these masterpieces at their absolute best -- exactly the way you want to hear them.
Live In The Studio Sound
On the best copies, the title track is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It's got that live-in-the-studio sound we recognize and love from Zuma, but in this case it sounds like it was recorded at three in the morning in a room full of pot smoke! When you play a Hot Stamper copy, the soundfield is HUGE -- big, wide, and deep -- and there's lots of space around each of the instruments. You will not believe all the studio ambience, and you can probably catch a contact high from it! (Results may vary.)
Al Schmitt handled production for many of these songs, and he did the same kind of bang-up job that earned him Grammy awards for his production on the Hatari soundtrack (A TAS List title) and his engineering on Steely Dan's Aja, Toto IV, and more.
On the Beach
What the best sides of this Classic Neil Young Album 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 1974
- 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 On The Beach
- 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 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.
- Walk On
- See the Sky About to Rain
- Revolution Blues
- For the Turnstiles
- Vampire Blues
- On the Beach
- Motion Pictures
- Ambulance Blues
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Following the 1973 Time Fades Away tour, Neil Young wrote and recorded an Irish wake of a record called Tonight's the Night and went on the road drunkenly playing its songs to uncomprehending listeners and hostile reviewers. Reprise rejected the record, and Young went right back and made On the Beach, which shares some of the ragged style of its two predecessors. But where Time was embattled and Tonight mournful, On the Beach was savage and, ultimately, triumphant.
"I'm a vampire, babe," Young sang, and he proceeded to take bites out of various subjects: threatening the lives of the stars who lived in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon ("Revolution Blues"); answering back to Lynyrd Skynyrd, whose "Sweet Home Alabama" had taken him to task for his criticisms of the South in "Southern Man" and "Alabama" ("Walk On"); and rejecting the critics ("Ambulance Blues"). But the barbs were mixed with humor and even affection, as Young seemed to be emerging from the grief and self-abuse that had plagued him for two years. But the album was so spare and under-produced, its lyrics so harrowing, that it was easy to miss Young's conclusion: he was saying goodbye to despair, not being overwhelmed by it.