Gino Vannelli / Powerful People – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

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This is some of the best sound we heard in our shootout, coming in right behind our winning sides. Few copies were as BIG and BOLD as this, and that is unquestionably our sound. 

Overall this copy is far richer and fuller than most, and that’s a big deal on Powerful People, an album which is almost always pure midrange — no bottom, no top, just midrange. Until we did this shootout I wasn’t sure we would ever find a copy with any real bass or top end. For that very reason we had more than once abandoned this project in past years.

Then, a few months back I came across a cheap CD of the album in my local record store and started playing the hell out of it in my car. I had completely forgotten how good the music was, but it all came rushing back to me — once I had cut the CD’s treble and boosted the bass so that it sounded rich and smooth like the MoFi vinyl. Soon enough I knew we had to do the shootout, and fortunately for all involved the best copies of the album sounded amazingly good, much better than I remember and a whole lot better than the seriously flawed MoFi I used to play.

Side One

So lively and HUGE. 3-D, Tubey Magical, rich, spacious, with serious dynamics, what more do you want?

Side Two

Every bit as good, sounding pretty much like side one. Smooth vocals are a big plus on both sides and this side had them.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Rich keys — there are organs and electric pianos and other keyboards creating the soundscapes for every song. The Tubey Magical richness of that sound is key to practically every track.

Lots of percussion too. Graham Lear is a fabulous drummer who would go on to work with Santana on his amazing Inner Secrets. There are congas and bongos and bells all over these songs, and for us audiophiles what could be better?

The MoFi – What Was I Thinking (or Hearing)?

At the time of this shootout I still had the MoFi pressing of Powerful People in my personal, very small (at this point) record collection. (Almost all the best sounding records from my collection had long ago been sold off, going to good homes that I can only assume would play them more than I had in the last ten years. If it’s a record you see on our site, chances are good I have listened to it until I’d practically turned blue in the face.)

But I had kept my Powerful People half-speed these 30+ years because the domestic pressings I’d played were just too damn midrangy to enjoy. At least the MoFi had bass, top end and didn’t sound squawky or hard on the vocals.

Well, let me tell you, played against the best domestic pressings, of which this is one, the MoFi is laughable. (In that respect it shares much with the current crop of audiophile reissues.) It’s unbelievably compressed, a problem that is easily heard on the biggest, most exciting parts of the tracks — they never get remotely as big or as loud on the MoFi as they do on the lowly A&M originals.

It’s also sucked out in the midrange, like most MoFis, and, like most MoFis and half-speeds in general, the bass is not punchy, nor does it go very deep. There is also the issue of the MoFi 10k boost on the top end — it’s clearly audible and bothersome as ever.

In summation, like most of the better audiophile records — from long ago as well as those being produced today — the most you can hope for from these reissues is that they can fix a few problems you might be saddled with on the particular pressing you own. But if you work at it, the “right” plain old record, properly cleaned and played, will show you sound that the audiophile edition can barely begin to reproduce. Having auditioned by the thousands the kinds of records you see on the site, the reality of this truth is irrefutable to us now, and has been for a very long time. Our customers know exactly what we are talking about; they’ve heard it for themselves.

The rest of the world seems content with the junk vinyl being produced today, which strikes us as sad, very, very sad. But, hey, as long as we don’t have to listen to that shite, why should we care? Good pressings are out there. You can ignore them, or you can seek them out. After all, it’s a free country.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

People Gotta Move 
Lady 
Son of a New York Gun 
Jack Miraculous 
Jo Jo

Side Two

Powerful People 
Felicia 
The Work Verse
Poor Happy Jimmy

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