- We guarantee there is dramatically more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- Hidden Charms was produced by T Bone Burnett, a man who understands this music as well as any living soul, and also a man who knows how to get the most out of the artists he works with
It was pretty easy to separate the men from the boys in this shootout. A quick drop of the needle on each side would immediately answer our number one question: “How BIG is the sound?”. The copies that lacked top end extension or bottom end were just too boring. This is the BLUES, baby — you think it’s supposed to sound small?
Another problem we ran into on many copies was excessive smoothness. When a copies was overly rich or smeary, it usually lacked the “gritty” feel that music like this should have. I don’t know about you, but if I’m listening to the blues I am not looking for glossy sound. Give me the texture and the detail and the other qualities that Willie Dixon put on the tape. I don’t want his sound to be “fixed” after the fact.
This is some of the best modern blues sound money can buy! We picked up a bunch of these and shot ’em out, and most of the copies left us cold. The average pressing is still a decent sounding record, but the music works so much better on a Hot Stamper. A copy like this one gives you more detail and texture, more extension up top and real weight to the bottom end — absolutely crucial for this music.
Hidden Charms was produced by T Bone Burnett, a man who understands this music as well as any living soul, and also a man who knows how to get the most out of the artists he works with. The sound and the arrangements are perfectly suited to Willie’s material. Since most vintage blues recordings leave a lot to be desired sonically, and most modern “hi-fi” blues recordings are less than engaging musically, this album is the cure for the blues-lovin’ audiophile’s blues!
What the Best Sides of Hidden Charms 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 1988
- 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 Hidden Charms
- 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.
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 recordings.
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.
Blues You Can’t Lose
I Don’t Trust Myself
Don’t Mess With The Messer
Study War No More
I Love The Life I Live I Live The Life I Love
I Cry For You
I Do The Job