Joan Baez – One Day At A Time

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout- exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with Joan reproduced as solid and as real as only the best vintage vinyl pressings can present her
  • Continuing her foray into country folk, Baez collaborated with a host of greats on this album, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Pete Seeger, Steve Young, Willie Nelson and more
  • 4 1/2 stars: “One Day at a Time… was also startlingly new and daring at the time. Today it seems like no big deal, but in 1970 very few singers coming out of the folk scene as Baez did were reaching out to Willie Nelson (“One Day at a Time”) and even the Rolling Stones (“No Expectations”) for repertory, much less putting them on the same album with music by old leftist composers like Earl Robinson (“Joe Hill”), and then interspersing those songs with traditional country numbers.”

This vintage Vanguard 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 One Day at a Time 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 One Day At A Time

  • 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

Sweet Sir Galahad
No Expectations
Long Black Veil
Ghetto
Carry It On

Side Two

Take Me Back To The Sweet Sunny South
Seven Bridges Road
Jolie Blonde
Joe Hill
A Song For David
I Live One Day At A Time

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of Joan Baez’s career in the 1960s is that after the first four albums, she never did the same thing twice; what’s more, with the possible exception of the Baptism album, she succeeded at least 90 percent of the time in practically everything new that she tried during that decade. One Day at a Time is much closer to 100 percent on target, and was also startlingly new and daring at the time. Today it seems like no big deal, but in 1970 very few singers coming out of the folk scene as Baez did were reaching out to Willie Nelson (“One Day at a Time”) and even the Rolling Stones (“No Expectations”) for repertory, much less putting them on the same album with music by old leftist composers like Earl Robinson (“Joe Hill”), and then interspersing those songs with traditional country numbers.

Even better, she was also writing her own songs, one of which, “Sweet Sir Galahad,” ranks among the best songs that she ever recorded (no small compliment considering that the latter list includes much of the Dylan catalog, among other heavyweight compositional competition). She was in the middle of her country phase, mostly working with the best players in Nashville (who are a pleasure to hear as well), but One Day at a TIme has a freer, looser feel than David’s Album or Blessed Are, both of which came out of the same orbit. Her version of “Long Black Veil” could’ve passed muster at The Grand Ol’ Opry, and she could’ve cut these sessions with Dolly Parton, June Carter Cash, or any other female country singer of the era and not been out of place.

The sheer, understated power of her voice on Delaney & Bonnie’s “Ghetto” and on “Carry It On” is also something to behold, and makes one wonder what kind of a gospel singer Baez might have made in another reality. Yet she could also loosen up enough to do a pure piece of sentimental traditional country music like “Take Me Back to the Sweet Sunny South” and make it work, too. And amid those multi-tiered, widely spaced superlatives, One Day at a Time also had (and still has) an additional facet that should make it essential listening on another level, to yet another audience — it’s an excellent companion to and extension of Baez’s appearance on the Woodstock album, as three of the cuts here feature her working with Jeffrey Shurtleff, who was her accompanist at the festival as well.

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