Listening in Depth to The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

 

More Rolling Stones

More Let It Bleed

Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Love In Vain on a copy like this is one of the best sounding Rolling Stones songs of all time. In previous listings I’ve mentioned how good this song sounds — thanks to Glyn Johns, of course — but on these amazing Hot Stamper copies it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. It’s also our favorite test track for side one. The first minute or so clues you into to everything that’s happening in the sound.

Listen for the amazing immediacy, transparency and sweetly extended harmonics of the guitar in the left channel. Next, when Watts starts slapping that big fat snare in the right channel, it should sound so real you could reach out and touch it.

If you’re like me, that Tubey Magical acoustic guitar sound and the rich whomp of the snare should be all the evidence you need that Glyn Johns is one of the Five Best Rock Engineers who ever lived. Ken Scott, Stephen Barncard, Alan Parsons and a few others are right up there with him of course. We audiophiles are very lucky to have had guys like those around when the Stones were at their peak. 

This copy does not have the typical warned-over, smeared sound I’ve come to expect from bad import pressings of this album, which are the norm, not the exception.



In-Depth Track Commentary

Side Two

Midnight Rambler
You Got the Silver
Monkey Man

On the best copies this song will have Demo Quality Sound. The piano should have nice weight to it without sounding hard and there should be lots of ambience around the vocals.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The intro to this song is a great test for transparency. On a Hot Stamper copy you’ll be able to pick out each voice in the choir. When the music comes in you should hear rich, full-bodied acoustic guitars. On the best pressings they sound every bit as rich, tubey, sweet, delicate and harmonically correct as those found on Tea For the Tillerman, Rubber Soul, Comes a Time or any of the other phenomenal recordings we rave about on the site. (Our Top 100 is full of others if you want to check them out.) .



Further Reading

We have a number of entries in our new Import Versus Domestic series, in which we debunk the conventional wisdom concerning which country’s records are the best sounding for specific artists and titles.

Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.

Transparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical coin, is also key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

The entries linked here may help you gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding Hot Stampers.

And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.

Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.