Wes Montgomery – Road Song

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  • Wes Montgomery’s final album makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout
  • Full-bodied, musical, warm and smooth – this should sound far better than any copy you’ve heard
  • Features the limitless talents of Herbie Hancock, Ed Shaughnessy, Richard Davis, and more
  • “These songs are short, sweet, and supported by classical-tinged string and woodwind arrangements. This is not heavy jazz in any sense. Wes sounds to be just relaxing and having fun with it…”

CONDITION NOTES:

  • On side two, a mark makes 6 light ticks during the outro to Track 1, Scarborough Fair.

Sometimes the copy with the best sound is not the copy with the quietest vinyl. The best sounding copy is always going to win the shootout, the condition of its vinyl notwithstanding. If you can tolerate the problems on this pressing you are in for some amazing Wes Montgomery music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund, including the domestic return postage.

This vintage A&M pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Road Song have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • 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 1968
  • 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

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.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Road Song

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • 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 attack, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Road Song
Greensleeves
Fly Me To The Moon
Yesterday
I’ll Be Back

Side Two

Scarborough Fair
Green Leaves of Summer
Serene
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Amazon 5 Star Review

These songs are short, sweet, and supported by classical-tinged string and woodwind arrangements. This is not heavy jazz in any sense. Wes sounds to be just relaxing and having fun with it, probably holding back. The improvisation is not deep, complex, or hard on the ears…

I appreciate Wes’ restraint, and the result is simply very pretty to listen to. If you think jazz should sound like a monkey playing saxophone while being administered electroshock treatments, this album is not for you. If you appreciate jazz that can connect with an audience who values melody and harmony, like Louis Armstrong, Diana Krall, early Norah Jones, and others, then this album will probably appeal to you.

Wes died soon after these sessions, and I for one think this is a tribute to his memory, not an embarrassing nod to commercialism. I honestly don’t care whether it was commercial or not. I just love listening to it from start to finish. There are beautiful melodies here, and great grooves. Enjoy!

-Eric J. Anderson, June 10, 2014

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