Janis Ian – Aftertones

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More Singer-Songwriter Albums

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  • Janis Ian’s superb 1975 release returns with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • “… Ian’s advanced folk sensibilities are emotional progressions away from the weepy and introspective nature heard from her mid-’70s singer/songwriter contemporaries. Part of Ian’s enticement is the marriage between achingly beautiful melodies and thoroughly personalized lyrics. The album commences with the title track setting the tenor and sonic ambiance.”

This vintage Columbia stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely 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.).

Hot Stamper sound is rarely about the details of a given recording. In the case of this album, more than anything else a Hot Stamper must succeed at recreating a solid, palpable, real Janis Ian singing live in your listening room. The better copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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 less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played over the years can serve as a guide.

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 Aftertones 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 even as late as 1976
  • 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.

What We’re Listening For on Aftertones

  • 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 attacks, 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.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Aftertones
I Would Like To Dance
Love Is Blind
Roses
Belle Of The Blues

Side Two

Goodbye To Morning
Boy, I Really Tied One On
This Must Be Wrong
Don’t Cry, Old Man
Hymn

AMG  Review

On Aftertones, Janis Ian (guitar/piano/vocals) continued the artistic, and to a lesser extent, the commercial success she garnered on her previous effort Between The Lines (1975). Once again, she assembled some of the finest session musicians from the Big Apple to animate her intimately sensitive sonic portraits and caricatures.

… Ian’s advanced folk sensibilities are emotional progressions away from the weepy and introspective nature heard from her mid-’70s singer/songwriter contemporaries. Part of Ian’s enticement is the marriage between achingly beautiful melodies and thoroughly personalized lyrics.

The album commences with the title track setting the tenor and sonic ambiance. The acoustic guitar and compact string section lend to “Aftertones” a slightly baroque feel, which adds to the song’s palpable isolation (“‘Til all that’s left to see are aftertones/I take them home/ We live alone”). The beautifully bitter “Love Is Blind,” and the harrowing “Don’t Cry, Old Man” are piercing in their honesty. They contrast the lighter fare of “I Would Like to Dance,” as well as the tongue-in-cheek “Boy, I Really Tied One On,” or the overtly kinky blues “This Must Be Wrong.” “Goodbye to Morning” is a dark jazzy ode that stands out as one of the best sides on the album, featuring some distinct interaction between Richard Davis (acoustic bass) and Ian’s own rambling, unplugged fretwork.

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