- Portrait makes its Hot Stamper debut with superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- The sound here is especially rich, smooth, and sweet, as well as more Tubey Magical than every other copy we played outside of our shootout winner
- You can thank legendary engineer and producer Bones Howe, the man behind the amazing recordings of The Association, The Turtles and even the likes of Tom Waits(!)
- Quiet vinyl for a vintage Bell Sound pressing – to be sure, not many survived in this kind of audiophile playing condition
- 4 stars: “The Age of Aquarius, the 5th Dimension’s fourth album, was the group’s commercial peak… The 5th Dimension were the successors to the L.A. vocal group mantle passed on by The Mamas and the Papas… their work had a sheen and a zest that sometimes contrasted with the original tone of the material.”
*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 3 moderate pops at the beginning of Track 1, Workin’ On A Groovy Thing.
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” being relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
This vintage Bell Records 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 the best sides of The Portrait 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.
What We’re Listening For on The Portrait
- 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.
One Less Bell To Answer
This Is Your Life/li>
A Love Like Ours
Save The Country
A Change Is Gonna Come
People Gotta Be Free
AMG 4 Star Review
Along with Stoned Soul Picnic, this may very well be the 5th Dimension’s finest album. Home to one of their finest singles ever — the Bacharach/David “One Less Bell to Answer,” on which Marilyn McCoo gives the vocal performance of her career — the record also contains the surprisingly funky and rocking “Puppet Man.” Some great covers also include Dave Mason’s “Feelin’ Alright,” Jimmy Webb’s gorgeous “This Is Your Life,” and Laura Nyro’s anthemic “Save the Country.”
It turned out that was only the tip of the iceberg: They returned to number one with another platinum single, “Wedding Bell Blues,” penned by Laura Nyro, who had given them “Stoned Soul Picnic” the year before. And the album also spawned Top 40 hits in Nyro’s “Blowing Away” and Neil Sedaka’s “Workin’ on a Groovy Thing.”
This vibe is echoed by the album’s centerpiece, a medley of “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “People Gotta Be Free” preceded by “The Declaration.” It’s an ambitious suite, yet one that works well; it provides a great marriage between the group’s pop leanings and the counterculture of the late ’60s. Progressive, yet still encapsulating, which is the 5th Dimension’s sunny appeal, Portrait is a minor masterpiece. Famed expressionist artist Leroy Neiman’s appropriate cover and liner paintings are the icing on the cake.