James Taylor – Gorilla – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame.

This White Hot Stamper copy has TWO AMAZING sides back to back, with a side two that is so off the charts we seriously considered giving it Four Pluses. The Four Plus copies have to meet a standard higher than our regular top grade, and we define that standard as “better than we ever imagined any copy could ever sound.” The Triple Plus side here is doing what it should — it’s correct from top to bottom, full of energy, transparent, and musical. It’s exactly what you want it to sound like in every possible way.

Side two does all that and more. It’s BIGGER, richer and more clear than it has any right to be. We’ve played thirty or forty of these over the past ten years, and this one just takes the sound of the recording to another level we had no idea was even possible.

To be honest, the recording itself cannot begin to compete with the likes of Sweet Baby James or JT, both of which are Top 100 Titles. This can be a good sounding record, not a great one, in league with those.

But the average copy is so flat, lifeless and hard sounding that you might just wonder if there isn’t something wrong with your stereo when the needle hits the Gorilla groove. Most copies are awful, and the same goes for the albums that came before it and after it, Walking Man and In the Pocket, respectively.

Side One

A+++ As Good As We Have Ever Heard (AGAWHEH)! Gets rid of the hardness, harshness and squawk in the midrange. Lovely high-rez sound with tons of energy. Most copies may be DOA but that is surely not the case here.

Side Two

A+++ (or better!). What can we say? There was simply no other side that sounded like this one. And it’s mated with the best side one, so how can you go wrong?

The Music

This is soft rock at its best, primarily made up of love songs, with beautiful backing vocals by Nash and Crosby. If you are not a fan of the mellow James Taylor this is not the album for you. I happen to be a fan of the album; it consists of a group of consistently interesting, well-produced, well-written, memorable, singable (or hummable) songs.

After hearing it for 35 plus years I can honestly say it finally sounds good. The recording makes sense, now that I have the stereo able to play it and the cleaning system that got the record truly clean. And it only took 35 years, nice!

At Better Records that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about progress. It is very REAL; when you can take a recording you could never play before, and make it sound musical and involving, it’s not an illusion. It’s the result of the countless Revolutions in Audio that we’ve participated in. Without the hundreds of changes we’ve made to our stereo, room and cleaning systems, old records would just sound like old records.

This record does not sound that way, not anymore. It sounds amazing — compared to any other pressing of the album, which is the only comparison that makes any sense. It’s not Dark Side of the Moon and never will be. It’s just flat out the best Gorilla you’ve ever heard.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Mexico 
Music 
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) 
Wandering 
Gorilla 
You Make It Easy

Side Two

I Was A Fool To Care 
Lighthouse 
Angry Blues 
Love Songs 
Sarah Maria

AMG Review

Recording in Burbank with Warners staff producers Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman, Taylor used a stellar backup band augmented by such guests as Graham Nash and David Crosby (who harmonized on the chart single “Mexico”), his wife Carly Simon, mandolinist David Grisman, saxophone player David Sanborn, Randy Newman on “hornorgan,” and Little Feat slide guitarist Lowell George. This team worked on a set of light, pleasant songs…