- Excellent sound throughout and the first copy to hit the site in many years, earning Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or BETTER on both sides
- Looking for some proggy music that falls somewhere between Jethro Tull and Supertramp, with sonic credentials to match the recordings of those very well-recorded bands? Well, look no further
- This early UK press is full of the Tubey Magic and studio space that makes the band’s recordings the joy they are to play on a heavily-tweaked audiophile rig
- “Simple Sister… is truly glorious, with Robin Trower’s frightening lead guitar work juxtaposed nicely against a wonderful string arrangement.”
- If you’re a Prog Rock or Art Rock fan, this is a classic from 1971 that belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
- This is best sounding recording by the band we have ever heard. Others can be found here.
We LOVED playing this album, both for the music and the sound. These guys don’t get the respect they deserve among audiophiles, but we’re doing our best to try to change that.
Side one kicks off with the hit track Simple Sister, and you won’t believe how hard it rocks. Some copies are overly clean — they have the kind of clarity you might hope to find, but lacked the richness and fullness that makes ’70s analog so involving. Those “clean” copies simply do not earn very high grades from us. We leave that sound to the Heavy Vinyl and CD crowd; they seem to like it.
What the Best Sides of Broken Barricades 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 1971
- 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.
Punter and Thomas
Tubey Magic Is Key
This early British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records 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 We’re Listening For on Broken Barricades
- 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.
Last time around we wrote:
Here’s a free tip for those of you who want to try to find a great sounding copy of this one on their own: avoid the domestics at all costs. We played a bunch of them and they were all dogs.
This time around we actually played a domestic copy that was pretty good. It was clearly made from a dub tape — they probably all are — but it was very well mastered from that dub tape. It surprised us by actually sounding rich and full and Tubey Magical like a good Brit, just a bit more smeary and veiled as you would expect from a record mastered from a copy tape.
Mint Minus Minus 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.
Song For A Dreamer
Playmate of the Mouth
Despite the departure of organist Matthew Fisher, Procol Harum survived, and this album is ample proof… Procol continued as a four-piece, and it was indeed a good thing that they decided not to replace Fisher. The sound of the band on this album is a bit sparser, but definitely not without dimension and dynamics. “Simple Sister,” one of the finest Gary Brooker/Keith Reid compositions, is truly glorious, with Robin Trower’s frightening lead guitar work juxtaposed nicely against a wonderful string arrangement. Several other tracks are first rate, including “Power Failure” and “Playmate of the Mouth.” Along with Little Feat, Procol Harum was a great survivor among rock bands that have lost a key member. The proof is in these grooves.