Ambrosia – Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

This SUPERB WHITE HOT STAMPER copy is our overall winner from the recent huge Hot Stamper shootout we did for Ambrosia’s second — and second best — album. Friends, it’s been a long time coming but, judging by this copy and the others which fared well, it was worth it. We LOVE this music.

Ambrosia is one of the few groups that has mastered the technique of being both far-out galactic in scope of vision and mainstream AM commercial in execution… There is an unusual dreamlike quality that pervades its work. The songs seem to be reaching the listener direct from some strange and beautiful realm of the unconscious. It is an experience rare in popular music today, or at any time.

Billboard, 1977

MORE AMBROSIA

We here present one of the best sounding copies for Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled we have ever played. Side one rated A+++, As Good As It Gets, with a side two that was not far behind at A++. From beginning to end this pressing is KILLER.

Side One

A+++, super dynamic and high-rez. It’s a rare copy that manages to have real presence and top end without getting edgy, but this one nails that balance like none other! The bass is big, solid and punchy and the energy is off the charts, making this one of the best side ones we’ve ever heard. As Good As It Gets, White Hot Stamper material all the way!

Side Two

A++, rich and smooth with the kind of musical, Tubey Magical sound we love around here! It may not have all the top end or transparency of side one, but it absolutely destroys the typical pressing. So good!

Stumbling Upon the Truth

Around 2007 I stumbled upon the Hot Stampers for this record — purely by accident of course, there’s almost no other way to do it — and was shocked — shocked — to actually hear INTO the soundfield of the recording for the first time in my life, this after having played copy after frustratingly opaque copy for roughly thirty years.

Yes, the stereo got better and that helped a lot. Everything else we talk about helped too. But ultimately it came down to this: I had to find the right copy of the record. Without the right record it doesn’t matter how good your stereo is, you still won’t have good sound. Either the playback source has it or it doesn’t. It’s not what’s on the master tape that matters; it’s what’s on the record.

The Worst Mistake

This may seem pretty obvious, but how many audiophiles do you know who own dozens of pressings of the same album and are still hunting around for more? I’ve been buying multiple copies of my favorite albums for decades, but I’m obsessive. And, since about 1987, with the advent of Better Records I’ve had an outlet for the pressings I chose not to keep.

A few audiophile friends have multiple copies, but most audiophiles I know usually stop after one, at most two or three, and they often make the worst mistake one could ever make: they buy an audiophile pressing and figure that that’sthe one to keep, tossing out their original, or never bothering to buy an original in the first place. (And lest the above be mistaken for an endorsement of original pressings as opposed to reissues, let me state clearly that many, many reissues are sonically superior to the originals.)

Hearing Is Believing

Those of you who take the time to read our Hot Stamper commentary, whether you buy any of our records or not, no doubt know better. At least I hope you do. The only way to understand this Hot Stamper thing is to hear it for yourself, and that means having multiple copies of your favorite albums, cleaning them all up and shooting them all out on a good stereo. Nobody, but nobody, who takes the time to perform that little exercise can fail to hear exactly what we are on about.

Or you can join the other 99% of the audiophiles in the world, the ones who don’t know just how dramatic pressing variations for records and CDs can truly be. Some very large percentage of that group also doesn’t want to know about any such pressing variations and will happily supply you with all sorts of specious reasoning as to why such variations can’t really amount to much — this without ever doing a single shootout!.

Such is the world of audiophiles. Some audiophiles believe in anything — you know the kind — and some audiophiles believe in nothing, not even their own two ears.

The following comments are mostly taken from the listing for the first album with a few minor alterations. The two albums have much in common.

How to Play Ambrosia

This record will bring any stereo to its knees. On most days this record would bring my stereo to its knees. Everything would have to be working at its absolute best before I would even attempt to play this album. It’s not enough to have the stereo warmed up and cookin’, with everything in the house unplugged. The electricity from the pole needs to be at its best, not that grungy garbage you get in the middle of the day or around dinner time, when all your neighbors have their appliances going. You need that late-at-night, two o’clock in the morning everybody-has-gone-to-bed-and-turned-off-all-their-stuff electricity for this bad boy.

If everything is cookin’ and you’re at the top of your game, this is the album for you. It’s an Audiophile Extravaganza for all the right reasons. To be properly expressed, every musical idea needs the right instrumental complement, and each instrument in that complement needs to be recorded properly to produce the desired effect, the one that will express the idea. This album is overflowing with fresh musical ideas, layers and layers and layers of them. I hear more of them every time I have occassion to revisit a new batch of Hot Copies.

Detail Freaks Beware

This is the kind of record that will eat the detail freaks alive. If your system has any extra presence, or boost in the top end — the kind that some audiophiles mistake for “detail” — this record with beat you over the head with it until blood runs out of your ears. You need balance to get the most out of this album. The more your system is out of whack, the more this album will make those shortcomings evident. Once you have balance, then you can unleash the energy in a way that’s enjoyable, not painful. When this record is sounding right, you want to play it as loud as you can. It’s pedal to the metal time. This music wants to overwhelm your senses. When the system is up to it, it can, and will.

Alan Parsons

There is no question that this band, their producers and their engineers sweated every detail of this remarkable recording. They went the distance. They brought in Alan Parsons to produce and engineer it. The result is an album that stands tall. It’s not prog. It’s not pop. It’s not rock. It’s Ambrosia — the food of the gods.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

And…
Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled
Cowboy Star
Runnin’ Away
Harvey

Side Two

The Brunt
Danse With Me George
Can’t Let a Woman
We Need You Too

Rolling Stone Review

Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled is an amazingly ambitious work by four musicians who sound as if they’ve spent the last 20 years living inside a radio. All sorts of elements pop up: Yes vocal harmonies; old Blood, Sweat and Tears brass riffs; hokey Moody Blues spoken song intros; symphonic string sections; the overture from a failed sequel to Annie Get Your Gun; Keith Emerson attacking a cathedral organ; Paul McCartney being cute; Gordon Lightfoot being serious; ELO’s string section; Peter Gabriel and Genesis; Marlin Perkins’ Wild Kingdom; Chopin; the Beach Boys; Ricky Ricardo and Guy Lombardo.

The band obviously has no sound of its own. But under the superb production of the ubiquitous Alan Parsons, the album never ceases to sparkle and entertain. Inside this musical scrapbook are two potential followups to last year’s hit, “Holdin’ On to Yesterday.” They are “Danse with Me George,” a song to George Harrison [not it’s not; it’s a song about George Sand, the novelist and lover of Chopin] and “I Wanna Know.” Complete with a cover that folds into a pyramid, this album would make a great gift for the fan who either has, or wants, everything.

– Alan Niester, Rolling Stone, 4/24/77.

Billboard Review

One of the most interesting and ambitious newer groups out of L.A. delivers a fascinating, fine-textured work that is truly like a close-up into one of the most intriguing collective minds in today’s music. Ambrosia is one of the few groups that has mastered the technique of being both far-out galactic in scope of vision and mainstream AM commercial in execution. The seemingly crystal-clear production of Alan Parsons is a vital element of this sound, it would seem. All four members of the group write songs and sing leads, yet Ambrosia has a cohesive and distinctive style no matter which combination of personnel is providing the material. There is an unusual dreamlike quality that pervades its work. The songs seem to be reaching the listener direct from some strange and beautiful realm of the unconscious. It is an experience rare in popular music today or at any time. Ambrosia is the group that proves it is possible to make music within the scope of science fiction without meandering all over the place in meaningless instrumental flurries. Best cuts: “Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled,” “Runnin’ Away,” “We Need You Too,” “I Wanna Know,” “The Brunt.”

– Billboard, 1977.

AMG Review

… it is a strong album with a number of sonically arresting moments. The finest songs are the most overtly progressive, the most dazzling being “Danse With Me, George,” a tribute to Chopin that leads the listener through a bewildering array of styles (classical, jazz, and pop, to name just a few) in just under eight minutes. “Cowboy Star” is another knockout, bringing its tale of a city dweller who dreams of cowboy glory to life with a beautiful orchestral mid-section that is strongly reminiscent of Aaron Copland.