Rick Nelson – Garden Party

More Rick Nelson

More Country and Country Rock

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  • Garden Party finally returns to the site after four long years, here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This is an incredibly rich, Tubey Magical recording, and when you get a good copy with enough clarity and top end extension to bring it to life it can sound very good indeed
  • If you like the sound of albums engineered by Stephen Barncard (think Deja Vu, American Beauty and Tarkio for starters) then you are going to find much to like about the sound of this album
  • “Rick Nelson’s Garden Party rocks a lot harder than the title track would lead one to believe, and is also as much of a showcase for the Stone Canyon Band as it is for Nelson.”

It’s tough to find copies without marks, or ones that play this quietly.

The music is quite enjoyable — even the younger guys around here were getting a lot out of it. Drop the needle on the title track (a top ten single) or “Are You Really Real?” to hear these guys at their best. Rick’s Stone Canyon Band at times featured future members of Poco and The Eagles, so that should tell you something.

Acoustic guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. The harmonic coherency, the richness, the body as well as phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum.

This vintage Decca 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 Garden Party 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.

Seventies Analog

Produced in 1972, the best copies of Garden Party are rich, smooth and sweet in the best tradition of vintage ANALOG.

It would only be a half-dozen or so years until warm, rich analog would go out of style. Those later years were a difficult time for audiophiles like me who liked the pop music of the day but not the pop sound of the day. Heavy-handed processing as well as the overuse of synthesizers and drum effects, with the whole of the production slathered in digital reverb, have resulted in many of the albums recorded after 1980 being all but impossible to enjoy on a modern high-end system.

For some reason, the ’70s, the decade before, seems to get little respect from audiophiles, when in fact a high percentage of the best recordings we know of were made in that arbitrarily designated ten year period. A rough count leads me to think that more than half of our Top 100 Rock Albums were recorded in the years spanning 1970-79, which is very unlikely to be a statistical accident.

The pool of well-recorded albums was simply wider and deeper. Great sounding records like this one were made by the hundreds, their numbers falling off precipitously in the decades that followed. Fortunately for us Old School Audiophiles — hard core analog holdouts — we have easy access to the best of the ’70s recordings, still widely available in their original format: the vinyl LP.

Like many of our favorites from the ’70s, this one is not well known in audiophile circles, but we hope to change that with this wonderful sounding pressing. Both the sound and the music are worth your time, and if you find that you don’t agree with us about the music or the sound, feel free to return the record, at our expense even.

What We’re Listening For on Garden Party

  • 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

Let It Bring You Along
Garden Party
So Long Mama
I Wanna Be With You
Are You Really Real?

Side Two

I’m Talking About You
Night Time Lady
Flower Opens Gently By
Don’t Let Your Goodbye Stand
Palace Guard

AMG  Review

Rick Nelson’s Garden Party rocks a lot harder than the title track would lead one to believe, and is also as much of a showcase for the Stone Canyon Band as it is for Nelson. Allen Kemp’s lead guitar crunches and grinds its notes on the opening track, the edgy “Let It Bring You Along,” before we hear the familiar, laid-back, country-rock strains of “Garden Party.” The jaunty “So Long Mama” follows, dominated by Nelson’s rhythm guitar and showcasing Tom Brumley’s pedal steel guitar, and then Kemp and the rhythm section of Stephen A. Love (bass) and Patrick Shanahan (drums) move to the fore on the pounding “I Wanna Be with You.” Nelson slips into a completely different mode on the ethereal, understated “Are You Really Real?”

The second side opens with a solid rendition of Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You,” which offers Kemp a somewhat jazzy and discursive break. The playing is more subdued and lyrical on Nelson’s own “Night Time Lady,” and the bluesy “Flower Opens Gently By,” and the album ends on the soft, bittersweet ballad “Palace Guard.” There’s a fair amount of melodic invention throughout…