- Sundown finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
- The vocals are exceptionally breathy, smooth and sweet here – this recording is the very definition of Midrange Magic, thanks to the brilliant engineering of Lee Herschberg
- 4 1/2 stars: “Lightfoot’s commercial peak came with this album, which topped the U.S. charts, containing both the number one title song and the Top Ten hit ‘Carefree Highway.'”
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 Sundown 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 1974
- 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 engineered this album along with a number of others by Gordon Lightfoot. You’ll also find his name on many of the best Ry Cooder, Doobie Brothers and Frank Sinatra album credits, albums we know to have potentially excellent sound — not to mention an album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night too.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), along with most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind.
What We’re Listening For on Sundown
- 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.
High And Dry
Seven Island Suite
Circle Of Steel
Is There Anyone Home
The Watchman’s Gone
Too Late For Prayin’
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Lightfoot’s commercial peak came with this album, which topped the U.S. charts, containing both the number one title song and the Top Ten hit “Carefree Highway.” But songs like “Somewhere U.S.A.” and “High and Dry” are textured, catchy folk-rock on a par with the better-known tunes.
AMG 5 Star User Review
Not a bad track on this album. Relaxing songs like Somewhere USA and Circle Of Steel mix right in with upbeat songs like High And Dry and Sundown. Seven Isle Suite and The Watchman’s Gone are also highlights of this album along with the two big hits, Carefree Highway and Sundown. From the Reprise era, this is probably his strongest album. I give it a slight edge over Summertime Dream.