Kris Kristofferson – Jesus Was a Capricorn

More Kris Kristofferson

More Singer-Songwriter Albums

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  • An outstanding copy of Kristofferson’s 4th album, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • It’s richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Kristofferson’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find
  • The vocals sound particularly nice on this copy – rich, warm and full, just as they should
  • “Both album and single went gold, giving Kristofferson his greatest success as a recording artist.”

We played a bunch of these recently and this was one of the better copies we heard.

We’ve been really digging the early Kristofferson albums around these parts lately. The first album is an absolute classic, not a bad song on there, and this one is solid as well.

This vintage Monument 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 Jesus Was A Capricorn 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.

Old and New

This ’70s LP has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 46 years old), 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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

What We’re Listening For on Jesus Was a Capricorn

  • 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

Jesus Was a Capricorn (Owed to John Prine)
Nobody Wins
It Sure Was (Love)
Sugar Man
Help Me

Side Two

Jesse Younger
Give It Time To Be Tender
Out of Mind, Out of Sight
Enough for You
Why Me

AMG  Review

The label started by releasing a single version of the title track, in which Kristofferson described Christ as a sandals-wearing hippie, and, despite the subject matter, pop radio gave it enough play to get it into the bottom of the charts for a few weeks. But the LP quickly peaked in the charts and started to fade, not helped by the second single, the medium-tempo rocker “Jesse Younger,” which made no impression. (Meanwhile, Brenda Lee had no trouble locating the album’s best song; she covered “Nobody Wins” and established herself in country music by taking it into the country top five.)

Finally, four months after the album’s release, Monument issued a third single, the slow-paced statement of faith that closed the LP, “Why Me.” (Actually, a disc jockey had started playing the song, which Monument hadn’t even wanted on the album. Though sometimes described as a spoof, “Why Me” sincerely reflects a religious experience, according to Kristofferson.) It quickly entered the country and pop charts, hitting number one in country in July 1973, and peaking in the pop Top 20 after a slow climb in November.

That turned around the fortunes of Jesus Was a Capricorn, which marched back up the charts and reached number one on the country charts a full year after it had been released. Both album and single went gold, giving Kristofferson his greatest success as a recording artist.

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