More of the Music of Neil Young
Reviews and Commentaries for After the Gold Rush
This is the story of how we discovered our very first killer copy of After the Gold Rush. What a thrill it was to finally hear the album sound so amazing, this after hearing so many mediocre copies over the years. It’s records like this that made us eventually put 100% of our resources into finding records that sound like this one — or better!
This is the way we heard After the Gold Rush in 2005. Embarrassingly, we liked it so much we compared it to the best DCC records we were selling back then, ouch! A textbook case of Live and Learn.
I’ve been looking for a great sounding version of this record for 20 years. I can’t say that this is the best sounding copy in the world, but it’s the best sounding copy I’ve ever heard (almost — more about that later). This copy has Tubey Magic the likes of which I have never heard for any Neil Young record.
It’s rich, sweet, smooth, transparent — it’s hard to believe that this is a “modern” transistor rock recording, because it sure doesn’t sound like one on this pressing. The vocal harmonies have those silky textures you expect to find on gold label Warner Brothers Peter Paul and Mary records, not orange label Neil Young records.
I have about 8 nice original copies of this record. I cleaned them all up and I played them all and the best copy was better than this one by about 5%. It also had some groove damage and was quite a bit noisier. (As a corollary to Murphy’s Law, Port’s Law states that the best sounding copy will always be noisier than the next best sounding copy. My collection is full of those. The sound is so good, I just ignore the noise. Even the groove distortion isn’t as bothersome when the sound is as magical as it is here.)
Needless to say, this Neil Young record has DEMO QUALITY SOUND. Listen to the opening guitars and drums of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” or the beautiful vocal harmonies on “Till the Morning Comes”, or any of the other half dozen songs in here that I bet sound better than you’ve ever heard them, better than you thought they could ever sound. They sure sound better than I ever thought they could.
Is this one of those records in your collection that you wished had better sound, because the music is so wonderful? Well it does have better sound — just not on the copy you own!
If you like your recordings to sound like the best DCC LPs, with the least amount of hi-fi-ish, phony EQ, the deepest, punchiest bass, the most extended highs, the most transparency, the most palpable imaging — then this is the kind of record you should own…
…If you really like Neil Young and feel like dropping $200 on one LP.
The reason a record like this needs to sell for that kind of serious bread is because there just aren’t that many clean copies that have survived; there aren’t that many copies with these stampers; and there aren’t that many copies that were pressed just right, the way this one was. I’ve been picking up originals of this record for 20 years. I pick up every clean copy that I see. So far that’s about a dozen. People loved this album and beat it to death. Who can blame them? It’s a masterpiece. It’s actually a better album than Harvest, and Harvest is about as good as it gets.
Those of you who come to the site regularly may recall that there was an America 1st album on the site with Hot Stampers and tons of tubey magic. It was on the site for about 1 day. I realize now that I priced it way too cheap, because I have yet to find another copy that sounds like that one, and I’ve listened to 4 or 5 beautiful green label originals, which is about 5 years worth of “finds’ for that title.
I won’t make that mistake with this record. I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I find another copy that sounds like this one, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a long time.
There will be other copies coming to the site soon. Some of them are cut very clean, they are tonally correct and to be honest they sound awfully good. They have many nice qualities to recommend them, to be sure. They just don’t have the kind of magic that this one does. How could they? Records that sound this good are a MISTAKE! How many bad domestic rock records did I have to play in order to find a record that sounds like this? A hundred? More?! Who knows? It was a lot, that’s for damn sure.
And when a record shows potential, like this one did — the grooves looked fantastic when I held it up to the light in my local record store — it might go through 4 or 5 stages of cleaning and listening and cleaning again. I’ll bet I spent 6 hours listening to the various copies I played over the course of two days, first one track, then another, this copy, then that one. There’s no other way to do it. There’s no shortcut. There’s no substitute for hard work.
By the way, I’ve discovered Hot Stampers for Everybody Knows…. If you know that album, you know how dreadful the sound is. I found a copy that’s head and shoulders above the competition. Naturally it went in my collection, but the next one should be coming to the site soon.
And, to tease you even more, there are Hot Stampers for Crosby Stills and Nash’s first album that will positively astound you. Everything that I said about Gold Rush is true for CSN’s 1st. Track after track is simply stunning. Like Gold Rush, the average copy of CSN’s first album is mediocre, and many of them are just plain awful. Classic did a nice job with that one but this Hot Stamper copy takes it to another level, or two! Expect it to be just as pricey if I can find a nice one. The one I played today went right into the demo disc section of my collection. I can’t imagine this music sounding much better than I heard it today. It was a thrill! I normally might hear two amazingly good paradigm-shifting pressings like these in the course of a year. I had the chance to play these two on the same day! Wow!