- A KILLER copy of Elton John’s classic with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this original DJM pressing
- The sound here is richer, with much less transistory grain, and more of the All Important Tubey Magic than every other copy we played
- An incredible recording and longtime member of our Top 100 — our pick for Elton’s very best music and sound
- 5 stars: “….their most ambitious record to date… A loose concept album about the American West… draws from country and blues in equal measures…”
The Tubey Magic Top Ten
You don’t need tube equipment to hear the prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic that exist on this recording. For those of you who’ve experienced top quality analog pressings of Meddle or Dark Side of the Moon, or practically any jazz album on Contemporary, whether played through tubes or transistors, that’s the luscious sound of Tubey Magic, and it is all over Tumbleweed Connection
Ranked strictly in terms of Tubey Magic I would have to put this album on our list of Most Tubey Magical Rock Recordings of All Time, right up there with, in no particular order:
- Sgt. Pepper (1967),
- Meddle (1971),
- Dark Side of the Moon (1973),
- Dire Straits (1977, and clearly the outlier in this group),
- The Eagles (1972),
- Tommy (1969),
- The Doors (1967),
- Ziggy Stardust (1972),
- A Space in Time (1970)
This has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a Top Ten spot on our Top 100 list. Engineered by Robin Geoffrey Cable at Trident, there is no other Elton John recording that is as big and powerful as Tumbleweed.
A copy like this really tells you why we love this album so. The highs are silky sweet, the vocals are full-bodied and breathy, and the tonal balance is perfection from top to bottom. And big drums, monstrously big, can’t forget those.
This original DJM Records British 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 Tumbleweed Connection 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 1970
- 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.
Popular Music Doesn’t Get Any Better
By the way, if you have any doubts that Elton was a pop music genius, simply play this album a few dozen times. It’s all the proof you will need. Tumbleweed Connection and Honky Chateau are the two titles that are as close to perfect pop recordings as will ever exist in this world. 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
What We’re Listening For on Tumbleweed Connection
- 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.
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.
Ballad of a Well-Known Gun
Come Down in Time
Son of Your Father
My Father’s Gun
Where to Now St. Peter?
Talking Old Soldiers
Burn Down the Mission
AMG 5 Star Rave Review!
Instead of repeating the formula that made Elton John a success, John and Bernie Taupin attempted their most ambitious record to date for the follow-up to their breakthrough. A loose concept album about the American West…
As should be expected for a concept album about the Wild West, the music draws from country and blues in equal measures, ranging from the bluesy choruses of “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun” and the modified country of “Country Comfort” to the gospel-inflected “Burn Down the Mission” and the rolling, soulful “Amoreena.” Paul Buckmaster manages to write dramatic but appropriate string arrangements that accentuate the cinematic feel of the album.