Willie Nelson and Ray Price – San Antonio Rose

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  • San Antonio Rose finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • If you don’t know Ray Price — and not many of you do I bet — this album will serve as an excellent introduction to one of the All Time greats of country music
  • The sound here is richer, with much less transistory grain, and more of the All Important Tubey Magic than most other copies we played
  • 4 stars: “Comparing the vocalists as they trade verses is one of the best aspects of this Nelson duet series and, in this case, the styles of the singers are perfectly matched.”

This vintage Columbia 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 San Antonio Rose 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 even as late as 1980
  • 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 San Antonio Rose

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

San Antonio Rose
I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)
I Fall To Pieces
Crazy Arms
Release Me
Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)

Side Two

This Cold War With You
Funny How Time Slips Away
Night Life
Deep Water
Faded Love

AMG 4 Star Review

One of the first in a series of duet albums with country legends that Willie Nelson undertook during a period of seemingly uncontrolled output at Columbia, this remains one of the best. Ray Price may be regarded as something of a laid-back smoothie by listeners whose ears are stuffed with wax, but the reality is that Price is one of country’s most expressive vocalists as well as a man interested in kicking country tempos as well as ballads.

In fact, a certain type of swing boogie beat favored in Texas is known by musicians as “the Ray Price shuffle.” Nelson and Price have a relationship typical of this bearded, bandana-wearing outlaw’s collaborations with many country stars of Price’s era. When Nelson was struggling to survive in Nashville, he penned or co-wrote some hits for Price, including the wonderful “Night Life,” which has become something of a standard not only in country music but in jazz and blues as well. The crossover between these music forms is bound to come up in the discussion of this album. It is performances such as these that interested the jazz great Miles Davis in Nelson, and it is easy to see why when one hears the relaxed phrasing and inventive approach to many of these songs.

Of course it is the swinging numbers such as the album’s title track that really take off, but even “Release Me” sounds fresh here. That’s quite an accomplishment considering that this song was so played to death at one point that jukebox customers began to wish that the song’s title had been “Don’t Release Me” and that someone at the record label had followed instructions accordingly. “This Cold War With You,” a haunting Floyd Tillman tune, gets a superior reading and, on the version of “Funny How Time Slips Away,” there is singing that rivals in inspiration any such performance released, although the duet version Nelson recorded with Faron Young for this series comes darn close. Comparing the vocalists as they trade verses is one of the best aspects of this Nelson duet series and, in this case, the styles of the singers are perfectly matched.

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