Neil Young – American Stars ‘N’ Bars

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  • This stunning Shootout Winning copy boasts Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Side one of this album was recorded just before Comes A Time and it shows — the music is country-flavored and relaxed
  • Side two’s material was recorded throughout the ’70s and has more of the dark, heavy sound that we know and love from albums such as Zuma and Tonight’s The Night
  • Superb sound for some really great songs, including Like A Hurricane and Star Of Bethlehem 

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 3 light ticks at the beginning of Track 1, The Old Country Waltz.

This album consists of tracks recorded over the course of three years so naturally there is some variation between songs, particularly on side two. Star Of Bethlehem, one of the most underrated Neil Young songs ever, sounds great here with strong vocal presence and an open, spacious top end.

Side one of this album was recorded just before Comes A Time and it shows — the music is country-flavored and relaxed. Side two’s material was recorded throughout the ’70s and has more of the dark, heavy sound that we know and love from albums such as Zuma and Tonight’s The Night. The tracks on side two seem to have a little more sonic potential.

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 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 1977
  • 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 American Stars ‘N Bars

  • 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

The Old Country Waltz
Saddle Up the Palomino
Hey Babe
Hold Back the Tears
Bite the Bullet

Side Two

Star of Bethlehem
Will to Love
Like a Hurricane
Homegrown

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