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Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl) - Neil Young - Time Fades Away

Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)

Neil Young
Time Fades Away

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$119.99
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$119.99
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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus

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

  • An outstanding early pressing, with Double Plus (A++) or BETTER Front Row Center sound - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Side two is a big step up from most of what we played in our shootout - this copy is full-bodied, smooth and musical, the classic sound of Neil Young at his performing peak
  • 4 stars: "[I]t sounds very much of a piece with Tonight's the Night and On the Beach, albums that explored the troubled zeitgeist of America in the mid-'70s in a way few rockers had the courage to face. If the performances are often loose and ragged, they're also brimming with emotional force... Time Fades Away ranks with the bravest and most painfully honest albums of his career... it isn't for everyone, but you may be surprised by its powerful effects."
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Unlike most "live" albums. this one was recorded direct-to-tape with no "fixes" or overdubs, and on the best pressings that warts-and-all approach really pays off. There's good weight, real openness, and the tonality on these better copies is both rich and sweet. This is the kind of sound that can put you right in the front row.

Finding a copy like this is no walk in the park. The stamper numbers are all over the map, providing little if any guidance. Also, since the album didn't sell all that well and was never released on CD, there just aren't that many clean copies floating around. Complicating matters even further, the eight songs here were recorded at seven different shows, so the sound, of course, varies a bit from track to track. It took a long time and a lot of work to make sense of it all, but you Neil Young fanatics are going to get a thrill out of the sound on a Hot Stamper copy -- guaranteed.

What the best sides of this Neil Young Live in 1973 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 1973
  • 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 concert venue
No doubt there's more -- there always is -- 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.

The Lost Neil Young Album

This is actually very different from your typical live rock album for one main reason: it's not a bunch of hits from earlier albums played half-assed. These are songs that didn't appear elsewhere, meaning these are the definitive versions. Knowing what a stickler Neil is about sound, you can be sure he was pretty careful about making sure his songs were well represented here.

Furthermore, as the label states, these tracks were "Mastered 16-Track Direct To Disc by Computer." That means there was no "fixing" or "correcting" any problems after the fact. What you get here is the real deal with no edits or overdubs, and as flawed and imperfect as it may be... well, that's just rock and roll. There's something particularly cool about hearing these "warts and all" tracks (which are actually pretty darn good) and knowing you are getting the unadulterated straight dope. The sound is unusually clean and clear for a live recording from the era, and I'll take that, along with a few flubbed notes, over the alternative any day.

This is a dark, complex record that fits in better with Tonight's The Night and On The Beach than it does with After The Gold Rush and Harvest. When Neil was preparing for this tour he fired his longtime band member Danny Whitten, who at the time was struggling to kick a heroin addiction and by all accounts in no shape to play. Whitten died the next day, after using his last paycheck from the band on one final fix.

The music that resulted from this tragedy, captured live, is as ragged, raw and emotional as anything Neil ever did.

What We're Listening For on Time Fades Away

  • 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.

Vinyl Condition

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 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.


Side One

Time Fades Away
Journey Through the Past
Yonder Stands the Sinner
L.A.
Love in Mind

Side Two

Don't Be Denied
The Bridge
Last Dance

AMG 4 Star Rave Review

While critics and fans were not kind to Time Fades Away upon first release, decades later it sounds very much of a piece with Tonight's the Night and On the Beach, albums that explored the troubled zeitgeist of America in the mid-'70s in a way few rockers had the courage to face. If the performances are often loose and ragged, they're also brimming with emotional force, and despite the dashed hopes of "Yonder Stands the Sinner" and "Last Dance," "Don't Be Denied" is a moving remembrance of Young's childhood and what music has meant to him, and it's one of the most powerful performances Young ever committed to vinyl. Few rockers have been as willing as Young to lay themselves bare before their audience, and Time Fades Away ranks with the bravest and most painfully honest albums of his career — like the tequila Young was drinking on that tour, it isn't for everyone, but you may be surprised by its powerful effects.