This is an album that almost never sounds good. We’ve spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but most copies were terribly disappointing sonically. This was the best copy we’ve heard in many years — richer, bigger sounding and more solid than everything else we were able to put against it. It’s far from a Demo Disc but if you like this music I don’t think you can find better sound for it.
Atom Heart Mother is from Pink Floyd’s early psych years, and it’s not a pop album by any means. In truth it’s fairly bizarre, kicking off with a side long orchestral piece before settling into songs on the second side. There’s a lot to enjoy here, but if you aren’t familiar with the album you may want to check it out on youtube before laying out the big bucks we charge for a copy that sounds as good as this one does.
This vintage British Harvest 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 outstanding 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.
The biggest problem we ran into with this album is that almost every copy we’ve played over the years sounded small and lifeless. You can turn up the levels all you want but the music never seems to want to come to life. Thankfully that is not the case with this exceptionally well mastered British pressing. It’s quite a bit more dynamic than the other copies we played, which serves to make the music much more involving, even exciting. We noticed that the acoustic guitars on side two sound especially Tubey Magical.
What We’re Listening For on Atom Heart Mother
- 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 — Robin Black in this case — 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.
Atom Heart Mother
a. Father’s Shout
b. Breast Milky
c. Mother Fore
d. Funky Dung
e. Mind Your Throats Please
Fat Old Sun
Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast
a. Rise and Shine
b. Sunny Side Up
c. Morning Glory