Aretha Franklin – Spirit In The Dark

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  • You’ll find insanely good Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last on this original Atlantic pressing 
  • It’s lively, open, present and natural; the soundfield is big and spacious and the bottom end is killer; Aretha fans, you won’t want to miss out on this one
  • We’ve done a ton of Aretha shootouts over the years and I’d put this one up with Amazing Grace as her top titles for sound; everything we wanted from this music, this copy was DOIN’ IT, plain and simple
  • “Spirit in the Dark was one of Aretha Franklin’s more overlooked albums from her Atlantic prime, despite the inclusion of a couple hit singles (the title track and “Don’t Play That Song”)… it’s an exuberant and remarkably consistent effort.” – All Music

This vintage Atlantic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of 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 all 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 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 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 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’re Listening For on Spirit in the Dark

  • 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

Don’t Play That Song 
The Thrill Is Gone 
Pullin’ 
You and Me 
Honest I Do 
Spirit in the Dark

Side Two

When the Battle is Over 
One Way Ticket 
Try Matty’s 
That’s All I Want from You 
Oh No Not My Baby 
Why I Sing the Blues

AMG Review

Spirit in the Dark was one of Aretha Franklin’s more overlooked albums from her Atlantic prime, despite the inclusion of a couple hit singles (the title track and “Don’t Play That Song”)… it’s an exuberant and remarkably consistent effort.