R.E.M. – Fables of the Reconstruction

 

  • This insanely good pressing of the band’s third studio album earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades for sound on both sides
  • This vintage pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as deep punchy bass and a big open and spacious soundfield
  • 4 stars: “… the group does demonstrate considerable musical growth, particularly in how perfectly it evokes the strange rural legends of the South. And many of the songs on the record — including “Feeling Gravity’s Pull,” “Maps and Legends,” “Green Grow the Rushes,” “Auctioneer (Another Engine),” and the previously mentioned pair — rank among the group’s best.”

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 the best sides of Fables of the Reconstruction 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 1985
  • 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 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 Fables of the Reconstruction

  • 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 for the guitars, horns and drums, 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

Feeling Gravitys Pull
Maps And Legends
Driver 8
Life And How To Live It
Old Man Kensey

Side Two

Can’t Get There From Here
Green Grow The Rushes
Kohoutek
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Good Advices
Wendell Gee

AMG 4 Star Review

A dark, moody rumination on American folk — not only the music, but its myths — Fables is creepy, rustic psychedelic folk, filled with eerie sonic textures. Some light breaks through occasionally, such as the ridiculous collegiate blue-eyed soul of “Can’t Get There From Here,” but the group’s trademark ringing guitars and cryptic lyrics have grown sinister, giving even sing-alongs like “Driver 8” an ominous edge.

Fables is more inconsistent than its two predecessors, but the group does demonstrate considerable musical growth, particularly in how perfectly it evokes the strange rural legends of the South. And many of the songs on the record — including “Feeling Gravitys Pull,” “Maps and Legends,” “Green Grow the Rushes,” “Auctioneer (Another Engine),” and the previously mentioned pair — rank among the group’s best.

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