At the end of a long day of listening at loud levels to multiple copies of this album you may want to run yourself a nice hot bath and light some candles. If you have an isolation tank so much the better.
You could of course turn down the volume, but what fun is that?
This music wasn’t meant to be heard at moderate levels. Playing it that way is an insult to the musicians who worked so hard to make it.
The Right Balance
Every once in a while you hear a pressing in which the right balance has been struck, and this one clearly belongs to that group. It’s not perfect; you have to put up with a few rough patches to get the sound that serves most of the music properly. No copy will do it all; with this album the goal is to do the best you can.
When it’s working it’s fantastic. The big Al Kooper productions (I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know, My Days are Numbered, I Can’t Quit Her, Somethin’ Goin’ On) really work when they have the energy and dynamic drive to carry the emotion of the lyric.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
This record needs fullness; the copies that were thin, like most of the reissues, were unlistenable, way too shrill and spitty.
Next you want the life of the music to come through, which means presence and dynamics.
Third, you want some tubey magic, but not so much tubey magic that the sound turns smeary and veiled. The brass should have some bite. What good is a Blood Sweat and Tears album with smeary, veiled brass?
Last but not least, the best copies most of the time will have all the qualities above, and one more: they won’t hurt your ears too often. Every once in a while, maybe. But if you turn up your copy and it is just a mess for song after song, you have a copy not unlike most of what’s out there, because most of what’s out there is JUNK.