Emmylou Harris – Evangeline

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  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this original Warner Bros. pressing
  • Both of these sides clean, clear and spacious ton of deep punchy bass and plenty of energy
  • “Two recordings from the then-unreleased Trio sessions with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, a perky “Mr. Sandman” that was a minor pop hit and a reworking of Robbie Robertson’s haunting “Evangeline” featuring some outstanding harmonies from Parton, are outstanding, as are “Spanish Johnny,” a Springsteen-ish ballad sung with Waylon Jennings, and a dazzling version of the standard “How High the Moon”…

This vintage Warner Bros. 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 Evangeline 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 1981
  • 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 Evangeline

  • 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

I Don’t Have To Crawl
How High The Moon
Spanish Johnny
Bad Moon Rising
Evangeline

Side Two

Hot Burrito #2
Millworker
Oh Atlanta
Mister Sandman
Ashes By Now

AMG  Review

Long considered a substandard effort due to its oddly brief running time (it’s just barely half an hour long) and scattershot feel (like its sister album, Cimarron, also released in 1981, it primarily consists of outtakes from earlier albums), Evangeline is not as bad as its detractors claim. It’s true that the album has more than a couple of clunkers; the synthesizers and California rock guitars of Rodney Crowell’s “I Don’t Have to Crawl” and “Ashes By Now” do neither singer nor songs any favors, the version of John Fogerty’s “Bad Moon Rising” adds nothing new to the song, and James Taylor’s “Millworker” simply isn’t very good.

On the other hand, two recordings from the then-unreleased Trio sessions with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, a perky “Mr. Sandman” that was a minor pop hit and a reworking of Robbie Robertson’s haunting “Evangeline” featuring some outstanding harmonies from Parton, are outstanding, as are “Spanish Johnny,” a Springsteen-ish ballad sung with Waylon Jennings, and a dazzling version of the standard “How High the Moon” that uses the same pre-rock arrangement style as “Mr. Sandman.” So, Evangeline is certainly uneven, but it’s not at all worthless.

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