- Stewart’s second album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
- At the right levels on the right system, this early import pressing will present you with a living, breathing Al Stewart standing right between your speakers
- This is the more folky side of Al Stewart – the 18 minute title track also features none other than a Mr. Jimmy Page on guitar!
This vintage CBS import 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 Love Chronicles 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.
What We’re Listening For on Love Chronicles
- 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.
Old Compton Street Blues
Ballad Of Mary Foster
Life And Life Only
You Should Have Listened To Al
Al Stewart’s second album is most renowned for the 18-minute title track, an autobiographical recount of different love affairs with guitar by Jimmy Page. That track was also quite controversial for its day in its use of the word “f*cking” at one point in the lyrics, though that’s not typical of the tone of the composition. It’s actually not the best of the six songs on the record, which saw Stewart wisely discard the orchestration of his debut in favor of fairly straight-ahead folk-rock backing.
“Ballad of Mary Foster” is Stewart’s best early song, as a two-part suite neatly divided between brusque cynical commentary on a bourgeois English family and the introspective musings of the ravaged wife. That second part bears considerable similarity in melody and tempo, incidentally, to sections of the far more famous Stewart song “Roads to Moscow.” The rest of the album has additional solid vignettes in the standard gentle yet detached Stewart mold, the best of them being “Life and Life Only,” which exploits his knack for insistent, repetitive minor-keyed hooks.