Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective – The Best Of…

More Buffalo Springfield

  • STUNNING throughout with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this original Atco pressing
  • Big, full-bodied, clear and present, the Tubey Magical richness of the best pressings is a joy to hear on modern highly resolving equipment
  • Kind Woman and I Am A Child are just two of the best sounding songs – listen to all that space around the voices and instruments
  • And the Pysch stuff – On the Way Home, Broken Arrow and Expecting to Fly – is even more three-dimensional
  • 5 stars on Allmusic – this is Must Own Music from one of the most groundbreaking and accomplished groups of the late-’60s (even though they never cracked the Top 40 Album chart)

This original Atco 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 sitting in the studio with 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 Retrospective 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 1969
  • 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.

Midrange Magic Is Key

Extracting all the midrange magic from a legendary album and Desert Island Disc like this should be the goal of every right-thinking audiophile. Who cares what’s on the TAS Super Disc List? I want to play the music that I love, not because it sounds good, but because I love it. And if the only way to find good-sounding clean copies of typically poorly-mastered, beat-to-death records like this is to go through a big pile of them, well then, I guess that’s what we will have to do.

It takes us years to find enough good clean copies to shoot out. You folks who don’t live in big cities with lots of used record stores are really out of luck when it comes to albums like these. I must look at twenty for every one I buy.

As I’m sure you know, it’s exceedingly difficult to find good sound for this band anywhere. Great copies of the second album, Buffalo Springfield Again, are out there and sound amazing, but we don’t have much luck finding them in clean condition.

Our last shootout was more than three years ago, which to my mind is just a sin. We need to find more copies so we can shootout the album, it’s such a classic. Most of the copies we see are beat to death and no amount of cleaning can bring them back to life.

We’ve never heard a copy of this album that truly qualifies as a Demo Disc, but some of the songs can sound superb– Kind Woman and I Am A Child come immediately to mind. The recording, like so many from the ’60s, may not be perfect, but it’s so full of midrange magic, ambience and sweetness that the musical values succeed in being communicated effortlessly and completely — if you have a good copy.

Those are pretty darn hard to find, and quiet ones are even harder to find. There was a lot of bad mastering and bad vinyl going around when this record and thousands just like it were made. If you don’t believe us just pick up a few (for cheap, otherwise forget it) and see for yourself.

What We’re Listening For on Retrospective

  • 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.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.

CD Boxset

The BS Box Set on CD is horrible. I own it and most of the tracks there sound like mud. The worst kind of mud — modern processed mud.


Side One

For What It’s Worth

Almost all copies have surface noise issues at the start of this song.

Mr. Soul

The aggressive quality of the screaming crowd at the beginning of this track is a dead giveaway of the kind of poor sound found on most pressings. When the screaming is clean, undistorted and extends well up top, you have a contender. Add bass, some tubey magic to the midrange and then you can call it a Hot Stamper. How hot is another question entirely, but if you get this far, you are definitely in the majors. The typical pressing of this album is strictly bush league.

Sit Down, I Think I Love You

On the best copies the tape hiss is clearly audible and tonally correct; this is the first thing you will notice if you have a Hot Stamper. The second thing is how much the guitars “ring”. On the high rez copies the guitars have some of the loveliest tone you can find on any BS album.

Kind Woman

Listen especially for how rich and solid sounding the piano is on this track. When the piano is right it seems that most everything else falls into place the way it should. If the piano sounds thin or hard, you are in big trouble on side one.

On the Way Home

Side Two

Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing

This track tends to be a bit harsh in the chorus.

Broken Arrow

The best copies give you very three-dimensional sound on this song, super spacious and open. The top end tends to be a bit soft, but in every other respect this track can sound wonderful.

Rock & Roll Woman
I Am a Child

The best sound on side two. Hot copies give you Master Tape sound quality on this track. How, I don’t know.

Go and Say Goodbye
Expecting to Fly

The quiet intro here is usually somewhat noisy, sorry.

AMG 5 Star Rave Review!

It’s a good, basic overview of the group’s career, containing most of the group’s biggest hits and signature songs… A nice introduction to the group.

Written toward the demise of Buffalo Springfield, “I Am a Child” finds Neil Young not only embracing country music forms, but also appearing to calm down a bit following the tumultuous events that led up to the rise and fall of the Springfield. With its simple, guitar/harmonica arrangement, the song and recording succeed admirably.