Gordon Lightfoot / Summer Side of Life

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  • Gordon’s wonderful 1971 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • So transparent, open, and spacious that nuances and subtleties that escaped you before are now front and center
  • Everything you want in the sound of a good Folk Rock album is here in abundance – enjoy!
  • “. . . an album that has him curling up with both his guitar and his kind, fragile voice . . . . Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style.”Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style.”

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

This vintage Reprise 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 Summer Side of Life 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 1971
  • 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 Summer Side of Life

  • 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

10 Degrees & Getting Colder
Miguel
Go My Way
Summer Side Of Life
Cotton Jenny
Talking In Your Sleep

Side Two

Nous Vivons Ensemble
Same Old Loverman
Redwood Hill
Love & Maple Syrup
Cabaret

AMG  Review

Gordon Lightfoot’s friendly folk sound grew even stronger on Summer Side of Life, an album that has him curling up with both his guitar and his kind, fragile voice. Even though the album that preceded it, 1970’s Sit Down Young Stranger, fared better on the charts, Summer Side of Life followed in its footsteps, proving that Lightfoot was going to be around for quite a while.

His approachable, confiding sound is best heard within the earnestness of the title track, and on the country bumpkin fritter of “Cotton Jenny,” a song later covered by fellow Canadian Anne Murray. Lightfoot’s singing rests lightly on his acoustic guitar, a trait that would become even more recognizable in his future work, but here it is found in tracks like “Same Old Loverman” and “Redwood Hill,” and in the vagabond feel of “Go My Way.” Not only do the songs begin to embrace his trademarked cottage country ambience on this album, but Lightfoot begins to reveal his love of Canadiana on tracks like “10 Degrees & Getting Colder,” “Love & Maple Syrup,” and “Nous Vivons Ensemble,” which translates into “we all live together.”

With Gordon Lightfoot’s honest, unhindered composure now becoming well-known in the U.S. and not just in Canada, Summer Side of Life helped strengthen his songwriting and refine his delicate vocal style, which, in turn, made 1972’s Old Dan’s Records and 1973’s Don Quixote two of his best albums.

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