- With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is an excellent copy from our most recent shootout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Willie’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find
- “The Troublemaker is Willie Nelson’s first all-gospel album, but country gospel in his hands doesn’t sound like traditional country gospel — it’s a Willie album, through and through… Consequently, it’s every bit as wonderfully idiosyncratic as any of his other mid-’70s work and, in some ways, even more so, because inspirational songs and religious material are usually not given arrangements as imaginative and free-spirited as this… “
This Columbia LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s surely missing from The Typical Modern 180 Gram Reissue. This record is dramatically more real sounding than anything that’s been remastered for the audiophile market in years.
The presence and immediacy here are outstanding. Turn it up and Willie is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. Willie Nelson is one of our very favorite male vocalists, and this copy will show you why — both the sound and the music are superb.
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 1976
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments — piano; electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars; bass and drums 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 above
Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Smear is common to pressings from every era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We Listen For on Willie’s Albums
- 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.
When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
There Is A Fountain
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
In The Garden
Where The Soul Never Dies
Sweet Bye & Bye
Shall We Gather
Released in late 1976, at the height of Willie mania, The Troublemaker is Willie Nelson’s first all-gospel album, but country gospel in his hands doesn’t sound like traditional country gospel — it’s a Willie album, through and through, performed with the freewheeling Family as support.
Consequently, it’s every bit as wonderfully idiosyncratic as any of his other mid-’70s work and, in some ways, even more so, because inspirational songs and religious material are usually not given arrangements as imaginative and free-spirited as this… the sublime subtlety of the performances on The Troublemaker make it sound of a piece with The Red Headed Stranger and Stardust.
It may not be nearly as popular as either, but musically, it’s just as satisfying and is one of the quiet highlights in Willie’s vast catalog.