A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
Sting’s killer double album from 1987 arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound for sides one and three and outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on sides two and four. The sound here is clearly bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any other contender in our recent shootout. Features phenomenal contributions from legendary musicians, including Andy Summers, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Hiram Bullock.
Note that this copy won the shootout for side four. No copy earned the full Triple Plus (A+++) sonic grade on that side, which basically means that the first three sides of the album sounded better than the fourth for some reason. If we had had five more pressings to play, it’s likely that one of them would have had sound comparable to the first three sides, but that would have made for one very long afternoon.
What amazing 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 1987
- 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, of course, the only way to hear all of the above.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
The Lazarus Heart
Be Still My Beating Heart
Englishman In New York
History Will Teach Us Nothing
They Dance Alone (Gueca Solo)
We’ll Be Together
Straight To My Heart
The Secret Marriage
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
If Dream of the Blue Turtles was an unabashedly pretentious affair, it looks positively lighthearted in comparison to Sting’s sophomore effort, Nothing Like the Sun, one of the most doggedly serious pop albums ever recorded. This is an album where the only up-tempo track, the only trifle — the cheerfully stiff white-funk “We’ll Be Together” — was added at the insistence of the label because they believed there wasn’t a cut on the record that could be pulled as a single, one that would break down the doors to mainstream radio. And they were right since everything else here is too measured, calm, and deliberately subtle to be immediate (including the intentional throwaway, “Rock Steady”).
So, why is it a better album than its predecessor? Because Sting doesn’t seem to be trying so hard. It flows naturally, largely because this isn’t trying to explicitly be a jazz-rock record (thank the presence of a new rhythm section of Sting and drummer Manu Katche for that) and because the melodies are insinuating, slowly working their way into memory, while the entire record plays like a mood piece — playing equally well as background music or as intensive, serious listening.