Linda Ronstadt – Hasten Down The Wind

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Hasten Down The Wind

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

This copy is huge, rich and lively, with Linda’s vocals reproduced to near perfection.

The sound is rich, smooth, full-bodied and natural on both sides. In other words, this is Classic Analog from the ’70s, recorded by none other than Val Garay, one of our favorite engineers.

Most pressings of this album have quite obvious problems. If you own the record see if you don’t notice some of them on your own copy. Some have a boosted top end, a subject we have discussed on Linda’s records before. Some are just too fat and Tubey. Perhaps the result of too much Aphex Aural Excitement?

Some are thick, some are thin, some are too clean, some are not clean enough, every sonic issue you can imagine can be heard on this album if you have enough copies to play, and we had plenty.

We know that this copy, especially on side one, is about as correct as can be. We know because we cleaned and played it and listened to it critically in comparison to other copies, and we did it all by ourselves. (Of course we did. There’s really no other way to do it.)

Side One

This side had a very extended top end; just listen to all that lovely, correct-sounding tape hiss. Not many copies have highs like these.

It’s transparent, resolving all those late-echo trails on Linda’s voice. It’s big, lively and has punchy bass to boot. It beat every other side one we threw at it. White Hot all the way. A good example of the magic of analog, circa 1976.

Side Two

Big, lively and clear. Not the best but awful close to it. See if you don’t hear what side one does better.

Val Garay Is The Man

Kudos once again must go to Val Garay, the co-engineer here with Dave Hassinger (who owns The Sound Factory where the album was recorded). Garay is the man behind so many of our favorite recordings: James Taylor’s JT (a Top 100 title), Simple Dreams (also a Top 100 title), Andrew GoldPrisoner In Disguise, etc. They all share his trademark super-punchy, jump-out-the-speakers, rich and smooth ANALOG sound. With BIG drums — can’t forget those. (To be clear, only the best copies share it. Most copies only hint at it.)

I don’t think Mr Garay gets anything like his due with audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them. This is a shame; the guy makes Demo Disc Quality Pop Records about as good as those kinds of records can be made. If you have a Big System that really rocks you owe it to yourself to get to know his work. This is truly a KNOCKOUT disc if you have the equipment for it. We do, and it’s records like this that make the effort and expense of building a full-range dynamic system so rewarding.

Vinyl Issues

Almost no copies in our shootout played better than Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, and most copies had noisy edges on both sides.

Insightful Reviews

Click on the various Review tabs above to see what critics had to say about the album back in the day. Spoiler alert: They really liked it.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Lose Again 
The Tattler
If He’s Ever Near 
That’ll Be the Day 
Lo Siento Mi Vida 
Hasten Down the Wind

Side Two

Rivers of Babylon 
Give One Heart 
Try Me Again 
Crazy
Down So Low
Someone to Lay Down Beside Me

Billboard Review

That Queen of Lost Ladies whose golden heart is always broken by unfeeling men is back again with another unique delivery of country/pop/rock-oldies laments and defiant good-time pledges. Ronstadt’s highly effective stage image of the romantic female loser leads the listener smoothly through a wide variety of music by a staggering variety of songwriters. There’s even a lovely Spanish Tex-Mex song, shades of Freddy Fender.

Peter Asher’s production is again remarkable, particularly in the way it avoids repeating itself. It took Ronstadt a long and determined time to get to the top of the heap, but if she can keep up the quality of albums like this, she’ll be on top even longer.

Her big but pretty voice is a stunning instrument for expressing feelings, particularly intense feelings that require a slightly understated delivery for maximum effectiveness. Best cuts: “That’ll Be The Day,” “Lose Again,” “Give One Heart,” “Try Me Again,” “Rivers Of Babylon.”

Playboy Review

A few days after Linda Ronstadt released Hasten Down the Wind, we caught the country singer in concert. At the end of the first song, she asked the audience to bear with her — she was recovering from a cold and was still hoarse. We should all be so hoarse. During the next few hours, she moved through old favorites and introduced the audience to the songs on her new album. The verdict was unanimous: Ronstadt is stronger and more confident than ever before, and with good reason — the new material is equal, if not superior, to the best of her standards.

Backed by one of the strongest bands in the business, she moves from an infectious reggae tune, “Give One Heart,” to a funky Ry Cooder classic, “The Tattler” — then breaks your heart with “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” by Karla Bonoff. The nicest surprise of the evening (and of the album) was “Try Me Again,” a magnificent song in the tradition of “Love Has No Pride,” co-authored by Ronstadt and Andrew Gold. If Linda loses her voice, she can make it as a songwriter.

– Playboy, 12/76.

Grammy Winner

Hasten Down the Wind is a Grammy Award-winning 1976 album, her third straight million-selling album. Ronstadt was the first female artist in history to accomplish this feat. The album earned her a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in early 1977, her second of 11 Grammys. It represented a slight departure from 1974’s Heart Like a Wheel and 1975’s Prisoner in Disguise in that she chose to showcase new songwriters over the traditional country rock sound she had been producing up to that point. A more serious and poignant album than its predecessors, it won critical acclaim from critics and the general public alike.

The album showcased songs from artists such as Warren Zevon (“Hasten Down the Wind”) and Karla Bonoff (“Someone to Lay Down Beside Me”); both of whom would soon be making a name for themselves in the singer-songwriter world. The album also included a cover of a cover: “The Tattler” by Washington Phillips, which Ry Cooder had re-arranged for his 1974 album Paradise and Lunch. A reworking of the late Patsy Cline’s classic “Crazy” was a Top 10 Country hit for Ronstadt in early 1977.

Wikipedia

In Depth Rolling Stone Review

This is Linda Ronstadt’s tenth album (including the three made with her first group, the Stone Poneys). While it is certainly not in a league with her masterpiece, Heart Like a Wheel, (and I’m beginning to believe its perfection occurs but once in an artist’s career), Hasten Down the Wind is nonetheless representative of Ronstadt redivivus, of Ronstadt, the sensitive, introspective stirring we have admired all these years.

I’ve always appreciated Ronstadt’s good-natured approach to her remakes of rock ‘n roll oldies. The version of “That’ll Be the Day” included here neither alters my feelings for nor threatens the Buddy Holly original. Her reading could be tougher, but the music behind it — particularly the solo sparring between guitarists Andrew Gold and Waddy Wachtel — has enough bite to overcome the vocal shortcomings.

Ry Cooder’s “The Tattler” is one of the album’s two gems. Swirling electric piano figures and a barely audible mandolin establish an irresistibly exotic ambiance. Ronstadt’s interpretation is extraordinarily subtle, sly and witty. She sounds at peace with herself as she sings of foolish lovers who don’t take the time to discover love’s true meaning. She doesn’t battle the instruments; she doesn’t strain for high notes. She simply allows the beauty of this well-structured song to speak for itself.

Ultimately, there is the Ronstadt-Gold song, “Try Me Again.” As in “Love Has No Pride” and “Long Long Time,” something precious is at stake here. The song’s theme summons from Ronstadt myriad emotions; midway through the first verse, she is befuddled — not yet wanting to admit what is going on in her life:

Lately I ain’t been feeling right 
And I don’t know the cure, no 
Still I can’t keep from wonderin’ 
If I still figure in your life

Realization and abject resignation in the second verse turn into frustration by the third (“When you say you tried/And you know you lied/My hands are tied”), which elicits the final, desperate plea of the title.

Near the end of the song, Gold hammers out angry piano chords beneath Dan Dugmore’s sorrowful steel guitar lines, then comes back with a powerful guitar solo that is the instrumental topping for the quintessential Ronstadt performance.

Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” an inspired choice, follows. After the tumult of “Try Me Again,” “Crazy”is rather a boozy coda; a “what the hell, you gotta give love a try” barroom ballad that is lighthearted and loose enough for Ronstadt to falter on the last line without destroying the mood.

This isn’t Heart Like a Wheel. But it is, despite its flaws, a fine album that begs closer inspection than, I fear, many of us are willing to give to Linda Ronstadt’s art. Like the best moments of the preceding nine, though, the best moments of Hasten Down the Wind will be with us a long, long time.

– David McGee, Rolling Stone, 10/2/76.