Nina Simone – Silk And Soul

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  • Outstanding sound for this RCA pressing with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
  • Both sides here are superb – clean, clear and full-bodied with wonderfully present vocals and lots of space around all of the players
  • “After moving from the blues to soul for her second RCA album, Nina Simone’s extroverted, confident delivery proved a natural match with the ranks of soul shouters working the crowds during the late ’60s…”

NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 2 moderately loud pops one-third inch into track 5, Cherish.

This vintage RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Nina Simone singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 52 years old!), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

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 1967
  • 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 the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Silk and Soul

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

It Be’s That Way Sometime
The Look Of Love
Go To Hell
Love O’ Love
Cherish

Side Two

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
Turn Me On
Turning Point
Some Say
Consummation

AMG  Review

After moving from the blues to soul for her second RCA album, Nina Simone’s extroverted, confident delivery proved a natural match with the ranks of soul shouters working the crowds during the late ’60s ..

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