- A superb sounding pressing of this vintage Atlantic label LP with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Here is the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely begin to reproduce – folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back
- Exceptionally QUIET vinyl for this stereo pressing – Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, as quiet as any copy we have ever heard
- 4 1/2 stars: “… this still caught Aretha Franklin at the peak of her early form. Think, I Say a Little Prayer, See Saw, and I Can’t See Myself Leaving You were all big hits.”
Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real ARETHA singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.
She’s no longer just a recording — she’s a living, breathing person. We call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades. Her voice is so rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality, you immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there’s no “sound” to distract you.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 50 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We Listen For on Aretha Now
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
I Say a Little Prayer
Night Time Is the Right Time
You Send Me
You’re a Sweet Sweet Man
I Take What I Want
I Can’t See Myself Having You
AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
Though a bit short on running time at ten songs, this still caught Aretha Franklin at the peak of her early form. Think, I Say a Little Prayer, See Saw, and I Can’t See Myself Leaving You were all big hits. Her choice of cover material included some of her most R&B-drenched early Atlantic cuts, like Night Time Is the Right Time, You Send Me, and I Take What I Want.