A Note About The Mix
This album may not be up there with Sergio’s best sonically (not many albums are!), but it can still sound very good when you get the right stamper. The balance of this record takes some getting used to. We weren’t sure what to make of it at first. If you put your stereo in Mono you will hear dead center sound. After putting it back in stereo you find most of the sound in the left channel — it took us a while to understand it’s just a choice they made for the mix.
The average copy of this record is thin, aggressive and irritating. What separates the best copies like this one from those typical bad sounding copies is more extension on the top end to balance out the upper midrange and lower highs, and more weight on the bottom end, to correct the overall tonal balance.
If you are at all familiar with this record, it’s easy to spot the good ones: as soon as you drop the needle on side one, you can hear that the tape hiss sounds correct. The high frequency content of the tape hiss is intact. On the bad ones, the tape hiss sounds dull, which means that the extended highs are missing, leaving only the painfully edgy lower highs.
How About Those Amazing Cover Songs?
Two songs in particular make this a Must Own album: Scarborough Fair and The Fool On The Hill. Both of them are given wonderfully original treatments. These songs hold their own against the originals, and that’s saying something! Sergio took on many of the heavyweights of his day, and most of the time he succeeded in producing a uniquely satisfying version of well known material. Superb original tracks by The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell and others were given the Sergio Mendes latin pop treatment and were much the better for it.
The CD Sucks!
Those of you who have purchased some of their CDs may have noted that they do not sound particularly good. It seems as though little effort was expended in their mastering, no doubt the case. Almost any good original brown label A&M pressing will be dramatically better.