The Allman Brothers – Idlewild South

xxxxx

  • A STUNNING ‘Triple Triple’ (A+++) copy with the kind of energy, body and punch this music needs
  • Easily the group’s best sounding studio recording and especially impressive on a copy like this
  • Cue up Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear the Allman Brothers magic in these grooves
  • 5 stars “The best studio album in the group’s history, electric blues with an acoustic texture, virtuoso lead, slide, and organ playing, and a killer selection of songs, including “Midnight Rider,” “Revival,” “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”…”

Drop the needle on Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear what this copy can do. You get lots of extension both up top and down low that make the overall sound far more engaging and musical than what you’d hear on most copies.

This vintage 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.

One of the biggest problems we ran into with this shootout was thin, recessed or edgy vocals. This is a band known for their rockin’ guitar jams, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the vocals are not where they focused their energy when recording.

The copies with fuller, smoother, more natural vocals — and lively guitars — tended to do very well in our shootout.

What We’re Listening For on Idlewild South

  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Revival 
Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’
Midnight Rider 
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed

Side Two

Hoochie Coochie Man 
Please Call Home 
Leave My Blues at Home

AMG 5 Rave Review

The best studio album in the group’s history, electric blues with an acoustic texture, virtuoso lead, slide, and organ playing, and a killer selection of songs, including “Midnight Rider,” “Revival,” “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” in its embryonic studio version, which is pretty impressive even at a mere six minutes and change. They also do the best white cover of Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” anyone’s ever likely to hear.