Listening in Depth to Brewer & Shipley – Tarkio

More Brewer and Shipley

Listening in Depth


This Bay Area Hippie Folk Rock has a lot in common with The Grateful Dead circa Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty (the latter recorded by the same engineer, Stephen Barncard), and like those superbly well-recorded albums, it lives or dies by the reproduction of its acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies.

Analog richness, sweetness and Tubey Magic are elements absolutely indispensable to the sound of these recordings. Without them you might as well be playing a CD. (Some of the reissue pressings actually do sound like CDs and are not part of the shootouts for this album anymore. Who wants a record that sounds like a CD? They may be pressed on vinyl but they’re no less an embarrassment to analog for it. As you can imagine we feel the same way about most of the Heavy Vinyl records being made today. They’re just embarrassing.)

The best pressings, on the other hand, are everything that’s good about the analog medium — smooth, sweet, relaxed and involving. You had best have a fast cartridge and not overly rich electronics to get the most out of this one. The richness on this record is already baked-in; no need to add more.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

One Toke Over the Line

This track is almost always ever so slightly too bright on even the best copies. How many records do we know that have the projected hit single EQ’d a little brighter (or a lot brighter) than the rest of the album? Sergio Mendes’ first album and Mona Bone Jakon spring immediately to mind and I’m sure if I thought about it for a while I could think of many more. It’s a common practice and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

But what this slightly bright track helps the listener to notice is whether there is grain to those brighter highs. The Hot Stamper copies will still be sweet and clear even though they are a little tipped up on the top. The typical copy, pressed on the typically bad vinyl Buddah records is infamous for, will be edgy and aggressive when the vocals get loud.

Song From Platte River
The Light
Ruby On the Morning
Oh Mommy

Side Two

Don’t Want To Die In Georgia

My favorite track by the boys. So good!

Can’t Go Home
Tarkio Road
Seems Like A Long Time

This track is often noisy. The intro is quiet and the Buddah vinyl has a nasty habit of shining through. Once the song gets going the surfaces should not be much of a problem if you have a quiet cartridge and high quality front end.

Fifty States Of Freedom