- The sound here is rich and full-bodied with much less grain and much more Tubey Magic than every other copy we played
- 4 1/2 stars: “”Randy Newman creates something new under the sun,” read the banner on the back of Newman’s debut album, but it was more that, in keeping with the intended irony of the statement. . . this was an audacious first album by a major, if extremely quirky, talent.”
This vintage Reprise 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 Randy Newman’s Debut 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 1968
- 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.
One of the top guys at Warners, Lee Herschberg recorded and mixed this album (along with Bruce Botnick, Donn Landee et al.) as well as a number of others by Randy Newman. You’ll also find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Ry Cooder, The Doobie Brothers, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound).
And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. Herschberg’s pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night even.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is Herschberg’s as well: The Three (with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample).
What We’re Listening For on Randy Newman
- 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.
Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad
Living Without You
So Long Dad
I Think He’s Hiding
The Beehive State
I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
Davy The Fat Boy
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
“Randy Newman creates something new under the sun,” read the banner on the back of Newman’s debut album, but it was more that, in keeping with the intended irony of the statement, Newman was intent upon taking clichés and using them to satirize social conventions, a popular parlor game in the late ’60s. Thus, we have “Love Story” (predating the sappy book/movie of the same title), in which the lovers retire to Florida and pass away, “So Long Dad,” in which a son squares things with his old man, and “Davy the Fat Boy,” in which an affectionate friend exploits the title character. But there were also songs like “Living Without You” and “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today,” which were so painfully lonely you wished they weren’t so sincere. Taken together, this was an audacious first album by a major, if extremely quirky, talent.