Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep

xxxxx

  • The band’s 1970 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • It’s not easy to find Motown records with natural tonal balance and freedom from distortion, but here’s one that has both those qualities, and more
  • These guys helped establish the quintessential Motown sound that brought “Still Water (Love)” and “It’s All In The Game” instant success
  • “Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Motown pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

No recordings will ever be made that sound like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is, of course, a CD of this album, quite a few of them I would guess, but those of us with a good turntable could care less.

This vintage stereo pressing has the kind of Midrange Magic that modern records barely begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it ain’t coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage Analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, 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 maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Sill Waters Run Deep from 1970 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 1970
  • 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 space of the studio

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 above.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Still Waters Run Deep

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • 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 common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Still Water (Love)
Reflections
It’s All In The Game
Everybody’s Talkin
Love Is The Answer

Side Two

I Wish I Were Your Mirror
Elusive Butterfly
Bring Me Together
L.A. (My Town)
Still Water (Peace)

4 1/2 Star AMG User Review

…’Still Waters Run Deep’ is a superb album…. I appreciate the album more every time I listen to it, though, and it’s clearly the best Four Tops album in my view, not to mention one of the best Motown ones. Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment.

-Jon-Luc Aragon

Leave a Reply