- An outstanding early pressing, boasting solid Double Plus (A++) Demo Disc sound – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Superb clarity and energy, solid down low, silky up top, and as HUGE as any recording you’ve ever heard
- A Top 100 Album and a real sonic blockbuster on a copy that sounds as good as this one does
- The extended suite that opens side one has ambience, sound effects, and a climax of powerful, multi-tracked vocals that will make your jaw drop
- “Musically there’s more going on than in ten Yes albums, yet it’s generally as accessible as a straight pop band… 10cc is among the few groups actively engaged in stretching rock’s restrictive boundaries in a constructive and meaningful manner, without falling prey to pretense or excess.”
The recording itself is a Tour De Force, one reason I’ve been demonstrating my stereo with it for more than thirty years. The extended suite that opens side one, One Night in Paris, has ambience, sound effects, and incredibly dynamic multi-tracked vocals at its climax that will make your jaw drop.
What outstanding 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 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.
Reinventing The Wall of Sound The Right Way
This is the kind of record that makes you sit up and take notice. It’s classic 10cc everything-but-the-kitchen-sink “Wall of Sound” sound (minus the Phil Spector distortion), the kind Big Speaker guys like me live for.
Supertramp, Yes; Ambrosia; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Zeppelin; Bowie — to this day I’m a sucker for the Cinerama soundstage these musicians liked to play on. It’s one of the reasons I was the proud owner of the Legacy Whisper speaker system for close to ten years, with its eight fifteen inch woofer complement. You need that kind of piston power to produce The Really Big Sound with Super Low Distortion at Really High Levels. The louder the better.
We now have a pair of highly modified Focuses set up in our listening room. Three twelves per channel moves a fair amount of air too, and can do it with much less power, so that the system has much more resolving power than the Whispers could manage.
What We’re Listening For on The Original Soundtrack
- 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.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition the sound can often be recessed, lacking presence and immediacy in the center of the soundfield.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundscape, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded as open and clear as that eighth or ninth one. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean original (or otherwise) copies with which to do a shootout?
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.
We’re CRAZY About This Album
This was my first 10cc album, and I fell in love with it completely. Used to play it all the time. Une Nuit A Paris, the suite that opens side one, is just an phenomenal Demo Quality track. As you may have read elsewhere on the site, it’s the kind of sound that a big powerful stereo reproduces well. Even back in 1975 I had speakers nearly as tall as I was that weighed 300 pounds apiece (the famous Fulton J!), so playing a record like this was just a thrill.
It still is. I still love it. And I recommend it highly to those of you who are fans of the band. If you don’t know who 10cc are, this album and this band may not make much sense to you, but if you have an open mind and like Art Rock from the ’70s, you may end up falling for it the way I did all those years ago.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Une Nuit a Paris:
Part 1 — One Night in Paris
Part 2 — The Same Night In Paris
Part 3 — Later The Same Night In Paris
I’m Not in Love
The Second Sitting for the Last Supper
Brand New Day
Life Is a Minestrone
The Film of My Love
Rolling Stone Review
Ken Barnes, 6/19/75.
10cc’s Original Soundtrack is a fascinating record. Musically there’s more going on than in ten Yes albums, yet it’s generally as accessible as a straight pop band (though less so than the two preceding 10cc LPs). Lyrically 10cc pose an alternative to timeworn lovelorn laments or tortuous interior monologs: They deploy cliches for multilevel effect and utilize hyperbole and parable intelligently.
This is their most ambitious LP, marking a significant extension of their previous pop-styled stance. “Une Nuit a Paris,” for instance, is a three-part scenario featuring almost a dozen sordid characters (the band’s limitless vocal range comes in handy), done with appealing melodies and a sinister, seedy atmosphere — the two elements entirely compatible to 10cc.
“I’m Not in Love” is a shimmering romantic ballad (the equal of anything done recently by the Beach Boys) with a cruel cutting edge. The singer dashes the hopes of his paramour in no uncertain terms — or is it a coverup, a sendup or both?
“Brand New Day” propounds a dreary dogma of ultimate futility, with Calvinistic undercurrents — the general attitude can best be described as hopelessly pessimistic. The music, typically, is delicately pretty. “The Second Sitting for the Last Supper,” a musical contrast and the closest thing to an out-and-out rocker, is a biting clever antireligious diatribe.
Though in general the album is a listening delight, I’ve got scattered reservations about it. The music often becomes schizoid, changing to keep pace with the lyrical wizardry, until sometimes I’m tempted to file it away with Sparks records under Cleverness and forget it. But there’s really much more substance here. 10cc is among the few groups actively engaged in stretching rock’s restrictive boundaries in a constructive and meaningful manner, without falling prey to pretense or excess.
After having critically auditioned a pile of The Original Soundtracks it’s abundantly clear to us that our stereo system just plain loves this record. Let’s talk about why we think that might be.
Our system is fast, accurate and uncolored. We like to think of our speakers as the audiophile equivalent of studio monitors, showing us to the best of their ability exactly what is on the record, no more and no less.
When we play a modern record, it should sound modern. When we play a vintage Tubey Magical pressing such as this, we want to hear all the Tubey Magic, but we don’t want to hear more Tubey Magic than what is actually on the record. We don’t want to do what some audiophiles like to do, which is to make all their records sound the way they want all their records to sound.
They do that by having their system add in all their favorite colorations. We call that “My-Fi”, not “Hi-Fi”, and we’re having none of it.
If our system were more colored, or slower, or tubier, this record would not sound as good as it does. It’s already got plenty of richness, warmth, sweetness and Tubey Magic.
To take an obvious example, playing the average dry and grainy Joe Walsh record on our system is a fairly unpleasant experience. Some added warmth and richness, with maybe some upper-midrange suckout thrown in for good measure, would make it much more enjoyable. But then how would we know which Joe Walsh pressings aren’t too dry and grainy for our customers to enjoy?
We discussed some of these issues in another commentary:
We’ve put literally thousands of hours into our system and room in order to extract the maximum amount of information, musical and otherwise, from the records we play, or as close to the maximum as we can manage. Ours is as big and open as any system in an 18 by 20 by 8 room I’ve ever heard.
It’s also as free from colorations of any kind as we can possibly make it. We want to hear the record in its naked form; not the way we want it to sound, but the way it actually does sound. That way, when you get it home and play it yourself, it should sound very much like we described it.
If too much of the sound we hear is what our stereo is doing, not what the record is doing, how can we know what it will sound like on your system? We try to be as truthful and as critical as we can when describing the records we sell. Too much coloration in the system makes those tasks much more difficult, if not a practical impossibility.
We are convinced that the more time and energy you’ve put into your stereo over the years, decades even, the more likely it is that you will hear this wonderful record sound the way we heard it. And that will make it one helluva Demo Disc in your home too.
As good as the DCC Gold CD is, this record has all the MAGIC of ANALOG vinyl — and then some. It’s the kind of sound you will never hear coming from a CD or digital source of any kind, trust me.
If there isn’t a huge difference in sound between the Hoffman DCC gold CD and your LP, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that you either
A): Need a better front end: turntable, arm, cartridge, phono stage, something. Of course it may just be improperly set up, always a possibility if you did not do it yourself or you are not an obsessive tweak when it comes to your table.
B): Or you have a bad copy (or a good uncleaned or poorly cleaned copy) of the vinyl.
C): Or it’s some combination of the two, which, if I can say without sounding too smug or arrogant, is the most likely scenario.