- Who Can It Be Now and Down Under are the big hits and they both sound fantastic on these A+++ sides
- Big and full-bodied, and much smoother than most, with energy like no other, the sound here immediately set the sonic bar very high
- “The production sound was low-key, but clean and uncluttered. Indeed, the songs stood by themselves with little embellishment save for a bright, melodic, singalong quality.”
As a bit of background just in case you are not familiar with the album, the domestic pressings are horrendously bright. We have never played one that didn’t sound like the treble was jacked up to a level just this side of ear-bleed.
The only way to hear this album sound right is on Australian, Dutch, British and, more than a little surprisingly, even Japanese vinyl. Yes, we have heard them all. We’ve liked about one out of every one hundred Japanese pressings we’ve played over the last twenty years. We were surprised to find that the Japanese copy of Business As Usual we played many years ago was pretty good, for what that’s worth. (We can’t be sure that on our current system with our current ears we would feel the same.)
We tend to prefer the Brits but it seems that any import is worth a listen. The key as always is in the mastering and pressing.
Big and full-bodied, and much smoother than most, with energy like no other, the sound here immediately set the sonic bar very high. In the end it was the clear winner for the first side, which just happens to have both the big hits on it.
The sax and guitar are really jumpin’ out of the speakers here. Who knew?
What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:
- 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
- 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 1981
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 Business As Usual
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
- 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.
Who Can It Be Now?
I Can See It In Your Eyes
People Just Love To Play With Words
Be Good Johnny
Touching the Untouchables
Catch a Star
Down By the Sea
Business as Usual became a surprise international hit on the basis of “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under,” two excellent singles that merged straight-ahead pop/rock hooks with a quirky new wave production and an offbeat sense of humor.
Garry Raffaele opined that it “generally stays at a high level, tight and jerky … There is a delicacy about this music — and that is not a thing you can say about too many rock groups. The flute and reeds of Greg Ham do much to further that”.
McFarlane noted that “[a]side from the strength of the music, part of the album’s appeal was its economy. The production sound was low-key, but clean and uncluttered. Indeed, the songs stood by themselves with little embellishment save for a bright, melodic, singalong quality.”