A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame
This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that’s very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can’t be beat.
The difference might only be 5%, but on a big dynamic speaker playing at loud levels that 5% can really give the sound the boost it needs to go over the top into crazy Demo Disc Land.
How rare is a clean, properly mastered gold label original like this? So rare this is THE FIRST ONE WE’VE EVER LISTED on the site! I think I run into one like this about every five years. Most of the gold label pressings we come across are full of groove distortion, covered with scratches and skips, and often have no top end left after being ploughed with a bad needle.
I’m sure the console stereo on which I first played my copy of The Soft Parade tracked at five or ten grams. The fine squiggles that carry the most delicate extended highs gets shaved off pretty quickly at that weight, and once they’re gone they’re gone for good. We never noticed because the frequency response of the speakers in those cabinets probably topped out at 6k, if that. (This is why so many dealers on Ebay don’t hear the surface noise on the beat up records they sell — no top end, no surface noise to worry about! Works out great for everybody except us audiophiles who actually care about the sound of our records, not just the color of their labels.)
Sound? As Good As It Gets (AGAIG!)
Both sides here are EXCEPTIONALLY CLOSE TO PERFECTION! This copy almost completely avoids the problem that plague the typical copy of this album. The vocals are AMAZING — rich and full-bodied with none of that nasty honk that make many copies of this album just plain unlistenable. It’s extremely open and spacious letting each instrument have room to breathe. The clarity is SUPERB — no smearing — and the transparency is breathtaking. It’s hard to find a copy of this album with enough deep bass — not only does this copy have plenty of it, but it’s also very well-defined, even note-like. The overall sound is punchy, dynamic, and ALIVE. There’s lots of extension up top and more tubey magic than you could possibly hope for. The top end is silky and delicate and the strings have loads of texture. We rate both sides A+++ — As Good As It Gets. We did not award a Triple Plus to either side of any other copy we played — NONE of them were in a league with this bad boy.
The Horrible Sound of the Typical Soft Parade LP
The sound of most pressings of The Soft Parage is just plain horrible. The brass that opens side one is so pinched, compressed, grainy and aggressive it will practically make your hair stand on end. Almost all the reissue LPs sound like they are made from sub-generation EQ’d compressed tape copies, what are commonly called cutting masters. So many reissues have such a similiar character that it’s hard to imagine they’re not all sourced from the bad “master”.
Add to that the fact that almost every copy you pick up will have a pronounced HONK, giving you that not-so-fondly remembered AM radio sound we’ve all gotten used to after hearing copy after incompetently-mastered, pressed-on-cardboard copy. (And the awful Bruce Botnick engineered CDs too; can’t forget those. What happened to that guy? He’s lost it! If you can’t afford the DCC Gold discs for The Doors’ catalog, you are in for some shockingly mid-fi sound.)
The Soft Parade on Gold — Kinda
And last but not least the other amazingly good sounding version of The Soft Parade is Steve Hoffman’s DCC CD, which as I’m sure you know was never released. In fact there’s no Gold CD of it, only a CDR, which I’m proud to say is in my collection and not going anywhere. Because, as I say, I love this album!