- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Top sound for some of the best tracks: My Little Town, I Only Have Eyes for You, 99 Miles from L.A. and more
- Superb space and clarity, with the rich, tubey smoothness that’s missing from most copies
- The keyboards are full and rich, the guitars ring sweetly
- Richard Perry went for the Big Sound here and he got it
The problem with this album is that, for whatever reason, practically every copy you find is to some degree grainy, harsh and shrill in the loudest passages of the music. When the music gets loud, the sound often becomes strained and unpleasant. A copy like this one that doesn’t do that is the exception, not the rule.
Listen to the song ‘Disney Girls’ on side one. If you own the average pressing – odds are your copy is in fact quite average unless you went through a pile of copies and played them in order to find a good one – parts of that song will sound painfully hard and shrill, assuming your playing the record at the kinds of levels we do.
Which is the main reason I’ve never understood what qualified this record to be on the TAS Super Disc list. Now, having heard the best of the best copies sounding so big, rich and tubey, I can certainly say I hear what impressed HP (he likes that sound, as do we). It may indeed be a very well recorded album, but it clearly falls short for our own Rock and Pop Top 100 List. As you know we play a lot of amazing albums around here.
What the best sides of Breakaway 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 1975
- 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.
The Best Songs
The late Harry Pearson knew little about popular music and seems to have been quite a bit more impressed by this album than those of us who play pop and rock albums by the boatload.
Most of the pop albums on his Super Disc TAS list are a joke. Only the people who listen almost exclusively to classical or jazz seem to take them seriously, in my experience anyway. (Check out the 12″ pop and dance singles for a good laugh.)
That said, there are some wonderful songs on this album. Check out Break Away or 99 Miles From L.A. for some very good sounding, very well produced adult pop music. The version of Jobim’s Waters of March here is another high point.
What We’re Listening For on Breakaway
- 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.
I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)
Waters of March
My Little Town
I Only Have Eyes for You
Lookin’ for the Right One
99 Miles from L.A.
The Same Old Tears on a New Background
The second time around, Art Garfunkel turned to pop producer Richard Perry, who liked to record in studios rather than cathedrals and who replaced the angelic style of the first album with a lush pop approach. The result was Garfunkel’s best-selling album. The title track and a cover of “I Only Have Eyes for You” reached the Top 40 (the latter topped the U.K. charts), though the most prominent song was the Simon & Garfunkel reunion single “My Little Town.”