- A STUNNING copy of this superb live double album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on two sides and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on the remaining two
- Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with three-dimensionality that will fill your listening room from wall to wall
- A pressing this good puts you front and center at these live performances, recorded on two dates, at the famous Orpheum Theatre in Boston and the incomparable Carnegie Hall
- 4 stars: “After a gorgeous yet subdued introduction by Loggins as a solo performer on a handful of numbers, Messina and the band take the stage and loft the proceedings into a bracing mix of folk- and country-rock.”
This vintage Columbia 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 listening live to 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 On Stage 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 1974
- 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 Loggins and Messina’s Albums
What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear. Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is famous for.
Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with so many plucked instruments. The speed and clarity of the transients, the sense that fingers are pulling on strings, strings that are ringing with tonally correct harmonics, is what makes these L&M records so much fun to play. The best copies really get that sound right, in the same way that the best copies of Cat Stevens’ records get the sound of stringed instruments right.
Here is a more comprehensive breakdown of what we were listening for when evaluating a Folk Pop/Rock album such as On Stage.
Clarity and Presence
Many copies are veiled in the midrange, partly because they may have shortcomings up top, but also because they suffer from blurry, smeary mids and upper mids. With so many mandolins and guitars on practically every song, dull, dead sounding L & M pressings can’t begin to communicate the musical values in this superb recording.
With a real Hot Stamper the sound is TOTALLY INVOLVING, and so is the music! You hear the breath in the voices, the pick on the strings of the guitars and mandolins — these are the things that allow us to suspend our disbelief, to forget it’s a recording we’re listening to and not living, breathing musicians.
Top End Extension
Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs, the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements. Consequently, these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the mix.
Although this quality is related to the above two, it’s not as important overall as the one below, but it sure is nice to have. When you can really “see” into the mix, it’s much easier to pick out each and every instrument in order to gain more insight into the arrangement and the recording of the material.
Seeing into the mix is a way of seeing into the mind of the artist. To hear the hottest copies was to appreciate even more the talents of all the musicians and producers involved, not to mention the engineers.
No rock or pop record without good bass can qualify as a top quality Hot Stamper. How could it? It’s the rhythmic foundation of the music, and who wants a pop record that lacks rhythm?
The best copies have prodigious amounts of fairly deep, note-like, well-controlled bass. If you have a high-fidelity full-range system, this is some serious Demo Disc Quality Pop Sound.
House At Pooh Corner
You Could Break My Heart
Lady Of My Heart
Long Tail Cat
Listen To A Country Song
Just Before The News
Back To Georgia
To Make A Woman Feel Wanted
Peace Of Mind
Your Mama Don’t Dance
Nobody But You
AMG 4 Star Review
Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina’s combined talents reached a kind of apotheosis in concert, all based on the same relationship they’d had in the studio — Loggins’ songwriting and singing, supported by Messina’s performing and his long experience with Poco, came to a head on the tour leading up to this concert album, recorded at two East Coast venues in March of 1973 and at Winterland in San Francisco the following month.
After a gorgeous yet subdued introduction by Loggins as a solo performer on a handful of numbers, Messina and the band take the stage and loft the proceedings into a bracing mix of folk- and country-rock. And they break those boundaries, soaring into psychedelic territory on the 21-minute “Vahevala,” which took up all of side three on the original LP. One would think that everything after that would be anti-climactic, but all involved are just as sharp on the fourth side of more modestly proportioned gems.
As praiseworthy as the duo’s playing and singing is, one must also credit the rhythm section of Larry Simms (bass) and Merle Brigante (drums), and Al Garth (violin, horns) and Jon Clarke (flute, horns) for their performances. This is a live album that hits on all cylinders, and its only flaw, if there is one, is actually a byproduct of one of its virtues: On Stage was recorded so early in their history that it only really represents the songs off the duo’s first two albums (Full Sail wouldn’t be out until six months after these shows). Otherwise, it could easily have copped the “best-of” designation in substance, if not actual name.