Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme – A Demo Disc for Tubey Magical Voices and Guitars

More Simon and Garfunkel

More Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

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  • A stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side two backed with a solid Double Plus (A++) side one – a remarkably good sounding early pressing
  • This Columbia 360 is incredibly big and present, with excellent clarity, wonderfully breathy vocals and low levels of spit (the result of clean cutting)
  • A Demo Disc for Tubey Magical voices and guitars, as well as a longtime Better Records Top 100 album
  • 4 1/2 stars Allmusic: “[I]t is an achievement akin to the Beatles’ Revolver or the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album, and just as personal and pointed as either of those records at their respective bests.”

More superb sound from the legendary CBS 30th street studios in New York!

Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, and you’ll have one of the best — if not THE best — folk duos of All Time performing right there in your listening room for you. The sound is open, spacious, and transparent with breathy vocals and unusually low levels of spit. The strings are more dynamic than we’re used to hearing and the bottom end has a really nice weight to it.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a vintage Folk Rock record.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.

The best copies have:

  • Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.

Superb Sound

On side one, pay special attention to the congas in the right channel on Patterns, the second track. On the best pressings, every conga note sounds different from the next. On the average pressing, they all sound a bit recessed and similar.

On side two, the strings are key to the better sounding copies on side two. So many copies have shrill strings, especially in the louder passages. Either that or they’re smeary, lacking the texture of real stringed instruments.

Track Commentary

The Tracks and Commentary tab above will take you to a song by song breakdown with plenty of advice on What to Listen For.

360 Pressings Are Usually Beat

These old Simon & Garfunkel records weren’t always owned by loving audiophiles who took care to keep their records in pristine condition. No, these were the pop records of their day, and they were played and played hard. There are a bunch of quiet passages on this album that are going to reveal any surface issues, so a copy that plays even close to Mint Minus is about as good as you can hope for.

Since only the right vintage 360 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 at 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 later 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.

TRACK LISTING

Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Listen carefully to the voices on this track, one of our favorites to test with. On the best copies they sound exceptionally delicate yet full-bodied.

Patterns

The percussion on this track is a great test for smear, a problem that plagues most pressings to one degree or another. On the better copies you’ll distinctly hear the sound of the drummer’s hands hitting the skins of the bongos, as well as lots of ambience and echo around the drum.

Note also that every stereo copy we’ve ever played spits at least a little on this song.

Cloudy
Homeward Bound

This song has a bit of a radio EQ and will never be Demo Quality, but on a Hot Stamper copy with reasonably good life and energy it can sound musical and involving.

The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

Side Two

The Dangling Conversation

On the most transparent copies you’ll really be able to get a true sense of the depth of the studio. Listen closely and you should be able to spot the placement of all the instruments in the soundfield, with the strings in the back and the voices up front.

Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall
A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d…)

This song is clearly Dylan-influenced, and the sound falls right in line. It should sound lively, with good texture on the vocals and plenty of fuzz on the fuzzed-out electric guitar.

For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

The best copies of this song represent Tubey Magical Analog at its best! The acoustic guitar and voice have the potential to be exceptionally rich, warm, and sweet. The Red Label reissues generally fail to present the right sound for this track.

A Poem on the Underground Wall
7 O’Clock News/Silent Night

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

[I]t is an achievement akin to the Beatles’ Revolver or the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album, and just as personal and pointed as either of those records at their respective bests.

After the frantic rush to put together an LP in just three weeks that characterized the Sounds of Silence album early in 1966, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme came together over a longer gestation period of about three months, an uncommonly extended period of recording in those days, but it gave the duo a chance to develop and shape the songs the way they wanted them…

Overall, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme was the duo’s album about youthful exuberance and alienation, and it proved perennially popular among older, more thoughtful high-school students and legions of college audiences across generations.

Folk Rock

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a vintage Folk Rock record such as Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of the following things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.

The best copies have:

  • Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.

Fred Plaut and the Legendary CBS Studios

CBS 30th Street Studio, also known as Columbia 30th Street Studio, and nicknamed “The Church”, was an American recording studio operated by Columbia Records from 1949 to 1981 located at 207 East 30th Street, between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan, New York City.

It was considered by some in the music industry to be the best sounding room in its time and others consider it to have been the greatest recording studio in history. A large number of recordings were made there in all genres, including Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (1959), Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (Original Broadway Cast recording, 1957), Percy Faith’s Theme from A Summer Place (1960), and Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979).

Recording studio

Having been a church for many years, it had been abandoned and empty for sometime, and in 1949 it was transformed into a recording studio by Columbia Records.

“There was one big room, and no other place in which to record”, wrote John Marks in an article in Stereophile magazine in 2002.

The recording studio had 100 foot high ceilings, a 100 foot floorspace for the recording area, and the control room was on the second floor being only 8 by 14 feet. Later, the control room was moved down to the ground floor.

“It was huge and the room sound was incredible,” recalls Jim Reeves, a sound technician who had worked in it. “I was inspired,” he continues “by the fact that, aside from the artistry, how clean the audio system was.”

Musical artists

Many celebrated musical artists from all genres of music used the 30th Street Studio for some of their most famous recordings.

Bach: The Goldberg Variations, the 1955 debut album of the Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould, was recorded in the 30th Street Studio. It was an interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations (BWV 988), the work launched Gould’s career as a renowned international pianist, and became one of the most well-known piano recordings. On May 29, 1981, a second version of the Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould was recorded in this studio, and would be the last production by the famous studio.

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded almost exclusively at the 30th Street Studio during his years under contract to Columbia, including his album Kind of Blue (1959). Other noteworthy jazz musicians having recorded in this place: Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck.

In 1964, Bob Dylan and record producer Tom Wilson were experimenting with their own fusion of rock and folk music. The first unsuccessful test involved overdubbing a “Fats Domino early rock & roll thing” over Dylan’s earlier, recording of “House of the Rising Sun”, using non-electric instruments, according to Wilson. This took place in the Columbia 30th Street Studio in December 1964. It was quickly discarded, though Wilson would more famously use the same technique of overdubbing an electric backing track to an existing acoustic recording with Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”.

Fred Plaut, Engineer Extraordinaire

Frederick “Fred” Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label’s chief engineer.

Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia’s famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.

Wikipedia

Check out more of our Hot Stamper pressings made from recordings engineered at the legendary CBS 30th Street Studio