This is an album we admit to being obsessed with. We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries.
Folks, your Hot Stamper collection is just not complete without a knockout copy of After The Gold Rush; that’s why we’ve named it a Better Records All Time Top 100 title. We built our reputation on finding records that sound like this, because who else can find a copy of this album that delivers so much magic? When you drop the needle on any track on side two, you’ll know exactly why we are able to charge these kind of prices for a record like this — because on the right system, it’ll sound like a million bucks!
Don’t Let It Bring You Down has OUT OF THIS WORLD, DEMO QUALITY SOUND — you’ve got to hear it to believe it! The top end is absolute perfection — open and transparent, silky and sweet. The warmth and immediacy of the vocals is going to BLOW YOUR MIND!
Side two has FREAKISHLY GOOD SOUND — unbelievably transparent with loads of ambience, detail, and texture. It’s also about as sweet and silky as they come — just listen to how delicate Neil’s voice sounds on a song like Birds.
The bass is deep, tight, and full-bodied, setting the strong foundation this music needs to REALLY ROCK! The drums are punchy and dynamic with lots of WHOMP. There’s lots of extension on the top end to go along with the meaty bottom end. The overall sound is warm, rich, full, open, spacious — superb in every way. We rate side two A+++ — that’s what we call Master Tape Sound, baby!
Side one is strong. It’s got the kind of sound that those of you who favor tubey magic above all else will freak out over. You sacrifice a bit of clarity and top end extension to get this kind of richness and sweetness, but it is well worth it. The title song is rich, warm, and sweet with cleaner sibilance than you’ll hear on most pressings. The dry, edgy quality to Neil’s vocals is kept in check here.
Demo Quality, Tubey Magical Sound
I’ve been looking for great sounding versions of this record for 20 years. This copy has incredible tubey magic that you just don’t usually hear for this album. It’s rich, sweet, smooth, transparent — it’s hard to believe that this is a “modern” transistor rock recording, because it sure doesn’t sound like one on this pressing! The vocal harmonies have those silky textures you expect to find on gold label Warner Brothers Peter Paul and Mary records, not orange label Neil Young records!
Needless to say, this copy has DEMO QUALITY SOUND. Listen to the opening guitars and drums of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” or the beautiful vocal harmonies on “Till the Morning Comes”, or any of the other half dozen songs in here that I bet sound better than you’ve ever heard them, better than you thought they could ever sound. They sure sound better than I ever thought they could.
Better Neil Young Sound Than You Ever Imagined
Is this one of those records in your collection that you wished had better sound, because the music is so wonderful? Well it does have better sound — just not on the copy you own!
The reason a record like this needs to sell for this kind of serious bread is because there just aren’t that many clean copies that have survived; there aren’t that many copies with these stampers; and there aren’t that many copies that were pressed just right, the way this one was. I’ve been picking up originals of this record for 20 years. I pick up every clean copy that I see. People loved this album and beat it to death. Who can blame them? It’s a masterpiece. I’d say it’s actually a better album than Harvest, and Harvest is about as good as it gets.
I don’t know how long it’s going to be before I find another copy that sounds like this one, but I’m guessing it’s going to be a long time. How many bad domestic rock records did I have to play in order to find a record that sounds like this? A hundred? More?! Who knows? It was a lot, that’s for damn sure.
How Do We Do It?
A record like this might go through 4 or 5 stages of cleaning and listening and cleaning again. I spent many hours listening to the various copies I played over the course of two days, first one track, then another, this copy, then that one. There’s no other way to do it. There’s no shortcut. There’s no substitute for hard work.
If you can call it that. It ain’t too hard playing a great album over and over again. Some people — myself included — might even call it fun. And now I love this album more than I ever did. I feel like I have come to know it. I’m positively thrilled to finally know how good it really is!
Isn’t that why we audiophiles go through all this shite, as the Brits say? When I hear a piece of familiar music sound better than I ever thought I would, better than I ever imagined it, it’s everything to me. It’s the biggest thrill I know of in audio. It’s what I live for. If you like that feeling, this is the record for you!
Anyone Can Do It! (But Would They Want To?)
Most original copies of this album leave a lot to be desired. Some are clean but lack tubey magic and warmth. Others are thick, dull, and compressed sounding. And almost all of them are pressed on dubious vinyl or have been treated poorly. When you subtract all the problematical copies, you are left with only a handful of contenders. Of that handful, this is the winner. If you would like to spend a couple of years finding, cleaning, and playing original pressings of After The Gold Rush, the chances are very good that you would eventually come across one like this. Anyone can do it. But would anyone want to? Would you rather spend your free time searching for the ultimate copy of Neil Young’s masterpiece or enjoying it?