Gerry Rafferty – City To City – Our Four Plus Mindblowing Shootout Winner

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Gerry Rafferty White Hot Stamper LP has THE BEST SIDE ONE WE’VE EVER HEARD. So good in fact that we had to go above and beyond our usual top grade of three pluses and award this amazing copy a huge A++++! It’s guaranteed to put to shame any UK import you may have. Since those are the only pressings with any hope of sounding good, it simply means that we are very confident in the sound of this copy.

We award this copy’s side one our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea could even exist. We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.

This side one gets everything right — it’s open, transparent, rich, full, tubey and sweet. It has a wonderfully extended top end and presence that’s off the charts. This side is As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) folks.

Side two is a step down but still sounds great. It’s smooth and rich with lovely clear vocals. If you knock the volume up a bit it starts to sound even better.

In addition, we are especially delighted to report that not only is the sound better than ever, the music is too. The album as a whole, unlike so much of what came out in 1978 (Do Ya Thnk I’m Sexy asks Rod Stewart, followed by stony silence) does not seem to have dated in the least, with the possible exception of the big hit Baker Street, which is arguably somewhat over the top but still works for what it is — a radio-friendly folk pop song with a compelling narrative.

Surprisingly, the same is true for most of the British early pressings we had acquired over the last year or so (at significant expense I might add). Most of them simply have no top end to speak of whatsoever. The bells at the beginning of Baker Street sound like somebody in the studio must have thrown a blanket over them.

We were forced to narrow the pool of good sounding candidates quite significantly from those that we had hopes for. The DCC gold CD sounds very respectable; Hoffman did his usual excellent job. But it’s still a CD, and no CD has the kind of warmth, sweetness and Tubey Magical qualities that can be found on a properly mastered and pressed LP. That’s of course where we come in.

 

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Ark
Baker Street
Right Down the Line
City to City
Stealin’ Time

Side Two

Mattie’s Rag
Whatever’s Written in Your Heart
Home and Dry
Island
Waiting for the Day

Rolling Stone Rave Review

Even in his mother’s womb, Gerry Rafferty must have expected the worst. This Scotsman entitled his melancholy 1971 solo album Can I Have My Money Back? (the answer was “No!”). And when Stealers Wheel, the group he subsequently formed with Joe Egan, became an overnight success with the hit single “Stuck in the Middle with You,” only to lapse into morning-after obscurity, he probably said, “I told you so.” On City to City, his first LP in three years, Rafferty sticks grimly to his guns. Not only does he use the same producer (Hugh Murphy) and several of the same musicians, but a similar un-self-pitying fatalism pervades the record.

However, there is a slight but significant change for the better that makes City to City as eloquently consoling as the spirituals Rafferty echoes in “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart.” Indeed, there’s a prayerful quality to the entire LP, a quality reminiscent of the dim dawn after a dark night of the soul. “The Ark” begins as a Highland death march, complete with doleful bagpipes, but swells into a stirring hymn to love. And, after etching a relationship stalemated by the inability of two lovers to express their feelings, the somber “Whatever’s Written in Your Heart” (whose only instruments are a piano and a hushed sythesizer) concludes with a coda of vocal harmonies that sing of sublime forgiveness.

Hope, in almost all these songs, lurks on the horizon. And when it springs fully into view — as on “City to City,” with its rollicking train tempo, and on the jaunty “Mattie’s Rag” — the music almost burbles with anticipation.

Gerry Rafferty still writes with the sweet melodiousness of Paul McCartney and sings with John Lennon’s weary huskiness, and his synthesis of American country music, British folk and transatlantic rock is as smooth as ever. But his orchestrations have acquired a stately sweep. For all their rhythmic variety — from the suave Latin lilt of “Right down the Line” to the thump of “Home and Dry” — these are uniformly majestic songs. The instrumental refrain on one of the best of them, “Baker Street,” is breathtaking: between verses describing a dreamer’s self-deceptions, Rapheal Ravenscroft’s saxophone ballons with aspirations only to have a sythesizer wrench it back to earth with an almost sickening tug. If City to City doesn’t rise to the top of the charts, its commercial failure will be equally dismaying. And our loss will be greater even than Rafferty’s. After all, when was the last time you bought an album boasting more than fifty minutes of music? And great music at that.

– Ken Emerson, Rolling Stone, 1-15-78.

AMG Review

Rafferty’s turns of phrase and tight composition skills create a fresh sound and perspective all his own. Any diverse style (and he attempts many) filters through his unique mindset, resulting in a classic platter buoyed by many moments of sheer genius. “Whatever’s written in your heart, that’s all that matters.