- This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything you have ever heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- Our favorite Newman album for both music and sound (12 Songs being the main competition)
- 5 stars: “Whether he’s writing for three pieces or 30, Newman makes superb use of the sounds available to him, and his vocals are the model of making the most of a limited instrument. Overall, Sail Away is one of Newman’s finest works, musically adventurous and displaying a lyrical subtlety that would begin to fade in his subsequent works.”
Some of Newman’s best songs can be found on Sail Away, including Political Science, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Last Night I Had a Dream and of course the wonderful title track. AMG goes nuts about Sail Away, giving it the full 5 stars and calling it “musically adventurous” and “one of Newman’s finest works.”
If you only have room for one Randy Newman record in your collection, this would be our pick.
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 the best sides of Sail Away 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 1972
- 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.
It’s a real treat to hear a copy like this with absolutely no trace of heavy-handed fixing or phony EQ. What you hear on this album has got to be extremely close to what the guys in the control room heard as it was being recorded. This is no-frills, nothing-fancy, old-school analog, and we love it.
The sound is big, open and spacious. The tonal balance is spot on. The piano is solid and clear with no transient smear to blur the notes. Check out the sound of the percussion during Last Night I Had A Dream — so realistic and lifelike.
What to Listen For on Sail Away
This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a ’70s Singer Songwriter album. A few qualities to listen for:
Immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant);
Natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this simple but sophisticated recording.
One of the top guys at Warners, Lee Herschberg recorded and mixed this album (along with Bruce Botnick, Donn Landee et al.) as well as a number of others by Randy Newman. You’ll also find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Ry Cooder, The Doobie Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound).
And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. Herschberg’s pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night even.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is Herschberg’s as well: The Three (with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample).
Lonely at the Top
He Gives Us All His Love
Last Night I Had a Dream
Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear
Memo to My Son
Dayton, Ohio 1903
You Can Leave Your Hat On
God’s Song (That’s Why I Love Mankind)
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
On his third studio album, Randy Newman found a middle ground between the heavily orchestrated pop of his debut and the more stripped-down, rock-oriented approach of 12 Songs, and managed to bring new strength to both sides of his musical personality in the process.
The title track, which Newman has described as a sort of commercial jingle written for slave traders looking to recruit naïve Africans, and “Old Man,” in which an elderly man is rejected with feigned compassion by his son, were set to Newman’s most evocative arrangements to date and rank with the most intelligent and effective use of a large ensemble by anyone in pop music.
On the other end of the scale, “Last Night I Had a Dream” and “You Can Leave Your Hat On” are lean, potent mid-tempo rock tunes, the former featuring some slashing and ominous slide guitar from Ry Cooder, and the latter a witty and willfully perverse bit of erotic absurdity that later became a hit for Joe Cocker (who sounded as if he took the joke at face value).
Elsewhere, Newman cynically ponders the perils of a stardom he would never achieve (“Lonely at the Top,” originally written for Frank Sinatra), offers a broad and amusing bit of political satire (“Political Science”), and concludes with one of the most bitter rants against religion that anyone committed to vinyl prior to the punk era (“God’s Song [That’s Why I Love Mankind]”).
Whether he’s writing for three pieces or 30, Newman makes superb use of the sounds available to him, and his vocals are the model of making the most of a limited instrument. Overall, Sail Away is one of Newman’s finest works, musically adventurous and displaying a lyrical subtlety that would begin to fade in his subsequent works.