Peter, Paul & Mary – Album 1700 – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

LOVELY MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE TWO, plus unusually quiet vinyl throughout! Side one is excellent as well, earning an A+ – A++ grade in our big shootout this week. We went through a big stack of Gold Label originals and various Green Label pressings and we didn’t hear a better sounding side two on any of them. Check out the extended top end, the stellar transparency, and the superb clarity — that’s what we like to hear on this album!

It’s getting harder and harder for us to track down enough clean copies of these old PP&M records to get proper shootouts going. Bad surfaces are deadly on an album like this, so we have to be very selective when finding copies in the bins.

The A+++ side two is full-bodied and lively with lots of tubey magic and the kind of immediacy that this music absolutely demands. I guarantee you won’t have a better sounding PP&M album in your entire collection — or your money back.

Side one is very strong as well, rating A+ – A++. It’s got a wonderfully punchy bottom end and lots of presence. Like many Green Label Warner Bros’ records from the era, the top end just ain’t all it could be, but you’ll have a pretty tough time finding a copy that sounds much better.

Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept multi-track recordings. They’re simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren’t silky sweet and delicate, while at the same time full-bodied and present, let’s face it — you might as well be listening to something else. (As we say below, the average copy will have you looking for another record to put on.)

Gold vs. Green

While doing this shootout, we noticed that the best Gold Label copies had loads of tubey magic, while the best Green Label pressings could have superior clarity. Side two of this Green Label copy knocked us out with the best of both worlds! It’s shockingly clean and clear while retaining a lot of its tubey richness. The combination allows the voices to be ALMOST PERFECTION — just listen to all that breath!

The Breath Of Life

Steve Hoffman’s famous phrase is key here: we want to hear The Breath Of Life. If P, P & M don’t sound like living breathing human beings standing right between your speakers, toss yours and buy this copy, because that’s exactly what they sound like here. The TUBEY MAGIC of the MIDRANGE is practically off the scale. Until you hear it like this you almost can’t really even imagine it. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear each and every nuance of their singing reproduced so faithfully.

This is high-rez ’60s style; not phony and forced like so much of what passes for audiophile sound these days, but relaxed and real, as if the recording were doing its best to get out of the way of the music, not call attention to itself. This, to us, is the goal, the prize we must constantly strive to keep our eyes on. Find the music, leave the rest.

Demo Disc Sound!

This one sounds AMAZING — a real Demo Disc. It really conveys the power of the group’s performance in the studio. When they start to sing good and loud, not only can you really hear them belting it out, you FEEL IT too.

The vocal clarity is wonderful, allowing you to appreciate every last detail of the trio’s performance. No other copy we played had the kind of presence, palpability and immediacy we heard here — it was as if the trio were singing their hearts out right here in our listening room.

Overall Sonic Grade:

Side One – A+ to A++ 
Side Two – A+++

Vinyl Grade:

1) mostly Mint Minus 
2) Mint Minus

Cover Grade: 8 out of 10


Side One

Rolling Home
Leaving on a Jet Plane 
Weep for Jamie 
No Other Name 
The House Song 
Great Mandala (The Wheel of Life)

Side Two

I Dig Rock & Roll Music 
If I Had Wings 
I’m in Love With a Big Blue Frog
What’s Her Name
Bob Dylan’s Dream 
Song Is Love

AMG Review

This is not exactly a rock record, but the trio was unquestionably making more use of backup musicians and arrangements that owed a bit to pop/rock. (Paul Butterfield, Paul Winter, Canadian rock band the Paupers, and top New York folk-rock session musicians Paul Griffin, Russ Savakus, and Harvey Brooks all play on the record.)… The album’s ace in the hole was the melodic and slightly maudlin “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” an early John Denver composition that would became a number one smash in late 1969, two years after the LP’s release.