- An outstanding copy of America’s second album, boasting Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
- This is a simply wonderful Green Label original pressing – big and rich with excellent transparency and breathy vocals
- Some of the most tubey, warm acoustic guitar reproduction you could ever ask for – this is the sound of real analog!
- Ventura Highway sounds amazing here, as does everything else; it’s a Demo Disc for acoustic guitars and vocals
The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction quality. Most of the pressings of this record do not get the guitars to sound right. And when the guitars are perfection, the voices and all the other instruments are right as well. Let’s face it: they just don’t know how to make acoustic guitars sound like this anymore. You have to go back to 40+ year old records like this one to find that sound.
Warner Brothers Green Labels
Green label Warner Brothers originals are sonically all over the map. The biggest problem these pressings suffer from is a lack of extreme top end to provide harmonics for the guitars. The guitars on this copy sound just right, really sweet and open. On the average copy, they sound veiled and dull.
The best copies are transparent; they just seem to give you a clearer picture of all the instruments. The instruments are also better defined and localized in space.
Amazing Tubey Magic
An album like this is all about Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars and Vocal Harmonies. For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1972 All Analog sound can be, this killer copy is just the record for you.
This copy is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambiance. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.
This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is, of course, a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less. It sure won’t sound like this record.
To Each His Own
Don’t Cross the River
Only in Your Heart
Till the Sun Comes up Again
Head and Heart
For our recent shootout, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings we thought would have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that other pressings do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given copy reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. (The problem is that unless you’re a crazy person who bought multiple copies of the same album there is no way to know if any given copy is truly Hot Stamper. Hot Stampers are not merely good sounding records. They are copies that win shootouts. This is a fact that cannot be emphasized too strongly.
As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to start the shootout process all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.
You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way.
For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.
And very likely learned something new from every one.
Homecoming, America’s finest album, refines and focuses the folk-pop approach found on their debut release. The songs here are tighter and more forthright, with fewer extended solo instrumental sections than before. The sound quality is clear and bright; the colorful arrangements, while still acoustic guitar-based, feature more electric guitar and keyboards. The performance quality is more assured, among the most urgently committed the group would ever put on vinyl. This top-flight album is a very rewarding listen.
Rebuttal to the AMG Review
The writer for the All Music Guide is out of his mind if he thinks Homecoming is the best America album. Everyone knows it’s their second best album. Their debut is their masterpiece. Almost all the best music on Homecoming is on the first side. Side two and most of their subsequent output is pretty lackluster; a few hits here and there, surrounded by lots and lots of half-baked uninspired filler.
The first album still holds up, and so does side one of Homecoming. Both can sound amazing when you get the right pressing.
Green Labels Part Two
By the way, if you ever get a Green Label Warner Brothers original LP with no top end whatsoever, absolutely nothing above 8K, we here at Better Records happen to know why. There was a time when some of the major labels experimented with “polishing” the stampers for records before pressing in order to eliminate pops and ticks caused by irregularities in the plating of the acetate. What they didn’t realize until later was that they had polished all the top end off the records in the process. I have run into this situation with James Taylor records, Grateful Dead records, and even copies of this very same America album. They sound like bad cassettes. Kevin Gray, who worked at Artisan where many of these records were cut, told us this story and I believe it.
This is one reason why buying original pressings — off Ebay for example, or at your local record store — is problematical and often disappointing. A visually graded record may or may not have a high end. The only way to know that there are high frequencies on a record is to play it, preferably on good equipment. This is something that people who sell records on Ebay are simply incapable of doing. The record may be minty, but what good is a quiet record that sounds dull to the point of distraction?