- Incredible sound for this early British pressing, with huge and dynamic Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
- The Tubey Magical Richness of this recording must be heard to be believed
- Some of the best English Folk Rock Music ever recorded on analog tape and preserved on this lovely vinyl disc!
- Allmusic gives it 4 1/2 stars: “Now a full-fledged rock group, competing with the likes of Jethro Tull and pumping out higher amperage than Fairport Convention, Steeleye engages in heavy riffing, savage attacks on their instruments, and generally kicks out the jams on this album.”
This original Porky/Pecko mastered British Chrysalis pressing has insanely good sound on both sides and, even more importantly, some of the best English Folk Rock Music ever recorded on analog tape (and preserved on this lovely vinyl disc!).
I grew to love this album back in the ’70s; the stereo store I worked at used it as a Demo Disc, so I heard it on a regular basis. Rather than getting sick of it, I actually bought a copy for my own collection to play at home. (Not sure if I managed to get an import, not sure if I would even have been able to hear the difference.)
Things have changed as we never tire of saying here at Better Records, but in a way you could say they have stayed the same. This used to be a Demo Disc, and now it’s REALLY a Demo Disc. You will have a very hard time finding a record with a richer, fuller, better-defined, dare I say “fatter” bottom.
Both sides have practically everything we look for in a Hot Stamper British Folk Rock Album — this copy is stunningly dynamic; has really solid bass; lovely transparency, incredible presence; tons of space and ambience; you name it, this copy has it. It does it all.
What amazing sides such as these 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 1975
- 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.
A Demo Disc for Bass
The sound is rich and full in the best tradition of English Rock, with no trace of the transistory grain that domestic rock pressings so often suffer from. The bass is deep, punchy, full up in the mix and correct. There’s plenty of it too, so those of you with less than well-controlled bass will have a tough time with this one. But never fear, it’s a great record to tweak with and perfect for evaluating equipment.
This is some of the best Rock Bass I have ever heard, bar none. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but if I had only one record to demo bass with, hard to imagine I could pick a better one than this. (The Wall would make the short list, Fragile too, maybe one or two others, but not that many.)
This is one of the few pop/rock albums that actually has real dynamic contrasts in level during its choruses. The second track on side two, Demon Lover, is a perfect example. Not only are the choruses noticeably louder than the verses, but the later choruses in the song get REALLY LOUD, louder than the choruses of 99 out of 100 rock/pop records we audition. It sometimes takes a record like this to open your ears to how compressed everything else you own is.
The sad fact of the matter is that most mixes for rock and pop recordings are much too safe. They have to be or the average stereo could not play them without distorting the loud passages or having the quiet passages veer too close to inaudiblility.
We like when music gets loud. It gets loud in live performance. Why shouldn’t some of that energy make it to the record? It does of course, especially in classical music, but all too rarely even then.
We admit to being thrillseekers here at Better Records, and we make no apologies for it. The better the system and the hotter the stamper, the bigger the thrill. It’s precisely dynamic sound such as this that rocks our world and makes our job fun. It makes us want to play records all day, sifting through the crap to find the few — too few — pressings with truly serious Hot Stamper sound. (There is, of course, no other way to find such sound, and, of course, never will be.)
Notice how there is nothing — not one instrument or voice — with a trace of hi-if-ishness. No grain, no sizzle, no zippy top, no bloated bottom, no digital reverb, nothing that could possibly remind you of the phony sound you hear on one audiophile record after another.
Silky sweet and Tubey Magical, THIS IS THE SOUND WE LOVE.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Little Sir Hugh
Bach Goes to Limerick
Dogs and Ferrets
New York Girls
From the opening bars of “Little Sir Hugh” — an extraordinarily brisk and upbeat sounding treatment of an incredibly grim song — the band playing on Commoner’s Crown scarcely sounds like the same group on Now We Are Six or Parcel of Rogues. Now a full-fledged rock group, competing with the likes of Jethro Tull and pumping out higher amperage than Fairport Convention, Steeleye engages in heavy riffing, savage attacks on their instruments, and generally kicks out the jams on this album.
But they’re also fairly clever, interweaving Bach with traditional Irish music — actually, Bach-meets-the-Mooncoin-Jig from their previous record — on “Bach Goes to Limerick.” There’s not a bad song here, and even if it is more rock than folk, it’s all very substantial and vibrant music-making, and maybe the classic Steeleye Span’s most engaging album.