Judy Collins – Wildflowers

More Judy Collins

More Folk Rock

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  • Judy Collins superb 1967 release finally returns to the site after many years with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this Gold Label original stereo pressing
  • The sound is rich, sweet and open, with Judy’s voice especially clear and breathy – if you’re not quite sure what Tubey Magic is all about, the sound of this pressing will show you just how Tubey Magical the real deal can be
  • There is plenty of wonderful music on this album, including two of best songs Judy ever recorded (in our opinion), Michael from Mountains and Since You Asked, as well as two of Leonard Cohen’s best-penned tunes
  • “Soothing. Unique. Natural. These are clear adjectives used best when describing the style and grace of Judy Collins and her album Wildflowers. Her blend of folk and meditative music paints a tapestry of soft, nurturing colors that transcends the mind of the listener and seeks one’s soul.”

The first three songs on side one alone are worth the price of the album, three of the best Judy ever recorded. Joni Mitchell’s Michael from Mountains is one of the best songs on her debut album; Judy sings it with comparable taste and skill. Since You Asked is Judy’s own composition, her first to be recorded in fact. In this writer’s opinion, it’s the best song she ever wrote, “as good as it gets” as we like to say. And of course, Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy is one of his many masterpieces and brilliant in all respects as performed here.

Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance that year by the way.

This vintage Elektra 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 Wildflowers 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 1967
  • 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.

Searching For The Best

We were surprised that so few copies sounded any good (present company excluded), that so few copies had the Tubey Magical qualities that we’ve come to expect from Elektra in 1967; the label was home to The Doors and Love at the time, what happened here? John Haeny, the engineer, worked on Waiting for the Sun, which is an amazing-sounding Doors album on the right pressing. Why so few great-sounding Wildflowers?

If that’s a legitimate question to pose, then first answer me this: why so few great sounding Waiting for the Suns?

It’s simple — the 1967 Elektra magic of the tape did not make it to the 1967 Elektra vinyl with any consistency. That’s why it’s hard to find good sounding Judy Collins records or good sounding Doors records. 

What We’re Listening For on Wildflowers

  • 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 — John Haeny in this case — 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.

Hit Songs

Both Sides Now, the Top Ten hit that finally put Judy on the map, is clearly made from a dub tape and doesn’t sound as good as the songs that follow it on side two. Hey, it happens. Maybe it sounds right on the Greatest Hits? You could try one. We have trouble selling greatest hits albums so you’ll have to do your own digging on that one.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Michael from Mountains 
Since You Asked 
Sisters of Mercy
Priests 
A Ballata of Francesco Landini 

Side Two

Both Sides Now
La Chanson des Vieux Amants (The Love Song of Old Lovers) 
Sky Fell 
Albatross
Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye

AMG Review

Soothing. Unique. Natural. These are clear adjectives used best when describing the style and grace of Judy Collins and her album Wildflowers. Her blend of folk and meditative music paints a tapestry of soft, nurturing colors that transcends the mind of the listener and seeks one’s soul. Much of the material feels uplifting and full of spirit, or even spiritual to some degree…

Collins makes a well-earned statement in her original tunes “Since You Asked,” “Sky Fell,” and “Albatross,” that deep, meditative, and subtle can be effective within the realms of music as an art form. She is certainly artistic with her approach, staying away from the clichéd folk and pop music that flooded much of the ’60s radio-friendly airwaves. Collins also includes her favorite melodies from the songbooks of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. This can benefit one as a pleasant listen, easy to soothe the mind and body, and release the burdens of everyday stress in society.