America’s Debut – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More America

More America’s Debut

xxxxx

 

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

TUBEY MAGICAL practically MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one! A good sounding copy of this album is a real treat; a superb sounding copy like this one is an EXPERIENCE! We’ve been playing this album for years but I cannot recall a copy with a more extended top end than the ones here. The transparency is off the charts. Side one is natural, relaxed, musical, sweet, tonally correct from top to bottom and overflowing with Tubey Magic.

These green label Warner Brothers originals — like most records — are sonically all over the map. The biggest problem these pressings suffer from is a lack of extreme top to provide harmonics for the guitars. On the average copy the guitars are veiled and dull.

Equally problematic is smear, the loss of transient information. The best copies have guitars that are being played by fingers, with the subtle plucking of same naturally followed by the note produced. So many copies just present you with the note. You don’t really notice what’s missing until you hear a good pressing and suddenly you are aware of the players and their fingers making these sounds. This is one of the main qualities that we listened for to separate the winners from the also-rans.

A Clear Picture

The best copies are of course wonderfull transparent; they just seem to give you a clearer picture of all the instruments in the soundfield. They’re also better defined and localized in space. The bass on the best copies is more note-like and less blurry. These Hot Stamper qualities are simply the result of Higher-Rez pressing and mastering, for people who appreciate the higher resolution of analog!

(Note that some good sounding Palm Tree label pressings of this album do exist, but as a rule those pressings do not have much of the tubey magic and sweetness found on the green labels. We are also planning on getting a copy of the Friday Music heavy vinyl pressing to play. We hear reports that it’s awful, and it probably is, but we feel it’s our duty to find out for sure one way or the other. Check out the latest Heavy Vinyl Scorecard entries to read about the winners and losers — as we see them — in the world of remastering.

Engineered by the amazing KEN SCOTT, the man behind classics such as Ziggy Stardust., Tumbleweed Connection, Crime of the Century, A Salty Dog, Magical Mystery Tour, America’s first album and too many more to list.

Side one: Sweet As Honey!

The key song on side one that we use to test is Three Roses. There are three separate individuals playing six string acoustics, and when this side is cut right they sound just gorgeous: sweet, and complete with all their harmonic structures intact. It’s also my favorite song on side one. On this copy, the sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD — rich, warm, and full with tons of ambience. We rate side one A++ to A+++. A touch more tubey magic and it would have earned our highest grade.

Side Two – Clean But a Bit Bright

The real test on side two is the song Rainy Day. Lots of guitars, and when the close miked descending guitar figure comes in after the first few couplets, if it’s too bright, you’re going to know it. This song is the hardest one to cut and almost never sounds right. This copy has some of that brightness problem. The clarity and presence are astonishing, with harmonics you won’t find on too many copies, but this comes at a price. It’s also cut a bit louder than side one so watch your levels. We rate side two A+ to A++.

Ebay Sucks

On the best copies, Rainy Day is Demo Disc material — they just don’t know how to make acoustic guitars sound like that anymore. You have to go back to 35-year-old records like this one to find that sound. Of course, many records that are 35 years old are beat to death, and many of them didn’t sound good when they were new anyway. It’s no mean feat to find superb pressings of an album like this, but you can be sure that Better Records is up to the job.

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?

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Riverside
Sandman
Three Roses
A Horse With No Name
Children
Here

Side Two

I Need You
Rainy Day
Never Found the Time
Clarice
Donkey Jaw
Pigeon Song