Emmylou Harris – Blue Kentucky Girl

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  • A superb sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides have the kind of rich, natural sound we found on far too few copies and little of the vocal edginess that many EH albums suffer from
  • Surprisingly full-bodied and not overly detailed for a recording from 1979 – they still knew what they were doing then
  • “In response to criticism that her records weren’t country enough, Harris recorded Blue Kentucky Girl, one of her most traditional outings. Relying on a more acoustic sound, the album largely forsakes contemporary pop songs in favor of standard country fare, including the Louvin Brothers’ “Everytime You Leave” and Leon Payne’s “They’ll Never Take His Love from Me.”

This vintage Warner Brothers 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 amazing 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 1979
  • 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.

I’ll Take This EH on WB Over AK On MoFi Any Day

The sound is especially rich and sweet, with none of the transistory grain so common to WB albums from this era. It blows the doors off of a record like the MFSL Alison Krauss. In fact, this record is the perfect example of what’s wrong with that pressing. Listen to the quality of the voices and acoustic instruments on this album, then compare them to your Krauss MoFi — you know, the one that got all the raves in the audiophile press. I am sure you’ll hear a world of difference between the two. Yes, it’s that obvious — to me, to you, but apparently not to anyone who reviews records for audiophiles because I sure didn’t see anybody calling it out for its dubious sound.

Amazingly Good Warner Brothers Sound

If you like the sound of the best Warner Brothers recordings from about the same timeframe — think Ry Cooder’s Jazz and Rickie Lee Jones’ debut to name a couple — you’ll find much to like about the sound here. It’s incredibly detailed but not at all phony — just what you need to appreciate the sound of the various stringed instruments, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, archtop guitars, mandolins, fiddles, autoharp and more.

What We Listen For on Blue Kentucky Girl

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

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Sister’s Coming Home
Beneath Still Waters
Rough and Rocky  
Hickory Wind
Save the Last Dance for Me

Side Two

Sorrow in the Wind 
They’ll Never Take His Love From Me
Everytime You Leave 
Blue Kentucky Girl 
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

AMG  Review

In response to criticism that her records weren’t country enough, Harris recorded Blue Kentucky Girl, one of her most traditional outings. Relying on a more acoustic sound, the album largely forsakes contemporary pop songs in favor of standard country fare, including the Louvin Brothers’ “Everytime You Leave” and Leon Payne’s “They’ll Never Take His Love from Me.” The cover of Dallas Frazier’s “Beneath Still Waters” earned Harris her fourth number one single.