But this is such wonderful music we had to keep trying. I grew up on this album; the first Supertramp album I ever bought was Crisis? What Crisis?, which I quickly fell in love with, and it wasn’t long before this one followed in 1977. It too became a staple of my musical diet. Man I played this record till the grooves were worn smooth.
I thought the sound was killer at the time too! Crisis was a demo disc at my house and this was right up there with it. Now the obvious question is, did I have a good sounding copy, or did my stereo not reveal to me the shortcomings of my LP? Or maybe my ears were not well enough trained to hear what was wrong.
Those of you who have been doing this for a long time know the answer: any or all of the above, and nobody can know which.
Your 1977 Ears… and Mine
Even if you could recreate your old stereo and room, and find your original copy, there’s one thing you can’t do, and that’s listen to it with your 1977 ears. Every time you play a record and listen to it critically your ears get better at their job. If you do a lot of critical listening your ears should be very good by now. You no doubt listen for things you never listened for before. This is simply the way it works. You don’t really have to try that hard to get better, it happens quite naturally.
So now the half speed sucks when it used to sound good. (Such is the case with practically all audiophile records; the better you get at listening the worse they sound.)
And now, with your better stereo and better ears, when you drop the needle on some copy you picked up of Even in the Quietest Moments, expecting to hear the glorious sound you remember from your youth, it’s a huge letdown — so grainy, thin, and edgy, with blurry bass. On top of that the whole sordid mess is stuck somewhere back behind the speakers, like the sound you hear from an old cassette.
It’s not the record you remember, that’s for sure.
The Good News
The good news is that ten years later and more copies than we care to remember we think we’ve got EITQM’s ticket. We now know which stampers have the potential to sound good as well as the ones to avoid. Finding the right stampers (which are not the original ones for those of you who know what the original stampers for A&M records are) has been a positive boon.
Once we figured them out we were in a much better position to hear just how well recorded the album is. Now we know beyond all doubt that this recording — the first without Ken Scott producing and engineering for this iteration of the band — is of the highest quality, in league with the best. Until recently we would never have made such a bold statement. Now it’s nothing less than obvious.