Lee Michaels – 5th

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  • A superb 2-pack, with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • “Do You Know What I Mean” rocks, with prodigious amounts of surprisingly deep bass – it’s a real Bass Demo Track
  • This copy plays about as quiet as we can find them, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus on side one and Mint Minus Minus on side two
  • “There are only a few originals on the album, and one, “Do You Know What I Mean” (which really sounded like a cover), was a monstrous hit and cemented Lee Michaels as one of the best white blues performers of the period, along with Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood.”

As is usually the case with our 2-packs, the killer sides are each backed with something much more typical, so you don’t have to take our word for how bad the average pressing is — you can just flip the record over and hear it for yourself. Of course, if you don’t have time to listen to mediocre sounding records you can stick with the killer sides and leave the tedium of hearing bad sound to us.

What to Listen for

Surprisingly edgy vocals. Regrettably, most copies have them. Considering how rich and tubey the overall sound of the album tends to be, they can really be a buzzkill.

Also, there is surprisingly deep bass in some places. It can go down very low and still be punchy on the best pressings. With organ-based music I guess it had better.

It’s not that most copies of 5th sound bad; it’s that most of them just sound like old records — thick, dull, opaque, smeary, closed-in, two-dimensional, lifeless and boring. You know that sound. It’s on a lot of the records we play, and no doubt on a lot of the records you own, especially the records you haven’t cleaned and played in a while (it’s there; you just aren’t aware of it).

Pull out your old copy of 5th. Back in the day, it sounded just fine, but if you’ve been listening to mostly better records lately, doubtlessly on much improved equipment than you had 40 years ago, your old A&M copy probably doesn’t sound as good as you remember it.

The records may not have changed, but your stereo and your standards should have.

Couple that with improved listening skills and before long the average old record starts to sound a lot more average than you wish it did. Even today’s better pot can’t fix the problems of most vintage pressings (or the Heavy Vinyl and CD reissues which are an even bigger joke played on the audiophile public).

But we can fix the problems — well, not really: we’re just finding the copies that managed to be mastered and pressed without the problems — and our Hot Stampers are 100% legal to boot!

Our Famous 2-packs

Our 2-pack sets combine two copies of the same album, with at least a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on the better of each “good” side, which simply means you have before you a pair of records that offers superb sound for the entire album.

Audiophiles are often surprised when they hear that an LP can sound amazing on one side and mediocre on the other, but since each side is pressed from different metalwork which has been aligned independently, and perhaps even cut by different mastering engineers from tapes of wildly differently quality, in our experience it happens all the time. In fact it’s much more common for a record to earn different sonic grades for its two sides than it is to rate the same grade. That’s just the way it goes in analog, where there’s no way to know how a any given side of a record sounds until you play it, and, more importantly, in the world of sound everything is relative.

Since each of the copies in the 2-pack will have one good side and one noticeably weaker or at best more run-of-the-mill side, you’ll be able to compare them on your own to hear just what it is that the Hot Stamper sides give you. This has the added benefit of helping you to improve your critical listening skills. We’ll clearly mark which copy is Hot for each side, so if you don’t want to bother with the other sides you certainly won’t have to.

One Last Thing

Check out Lee Michaels’ website if you have a spare moment. It is a hoot. He is still exactly the guy you thought he was.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Keep the Circle Turning
You Are What You Do
Willie & the Hand Jive
Didn’t Have to Happen
Rock Me Baby

Side Two

Do You Know What I Mean
Ya Ya
Can I Get a Witness
Oak Fire
I Don’t Want Her

AMG  Review

Following the success of his third album, Lee Michaels continued the path of a solo artist — solo meaning that most of the sounds on the record were primarily recorded by Lee alone. Organ (Hammond and pipe), piano, harpsichord, and organ bass create a heavy, dense foundation.

Michaels had a unique sound, and along with his larynx-shredding vocals, the results are staggering. Aided by Joel Larson on drums, Michaels does a lot of covers on this record — including “Willie and the Hand Jive,” “Ya Ya,” and “Can I Get a Witness.” Michaels renders them all in an infectious, gospel style.

There are only a few originals on the album, and one, “Do You Know What I Mean” (which really sounded like a cover), was a monstrous hit and cemented Lee Michaels as one of the best white blues performers of the period, along with Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood.

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