- You’ll find incredible sound on both sides of this very well recorded proggy album
- These early UK pressed sides are full of the kind of Tubey Magic that makes us (and other right-thinking audiophiles) swoon – thanks Brian Humphries!
- If you like early King Crimson – they were in the band don’t you know – you will surely get a big kick out of this one-of-a-kind sleeper from 1970
- 4 stars: “The main attraction is really the performances turned in by McDonald and the Giles brothers — they all sound fabulous…”
- If you’re a Prog Rock or Art Rock fan, this is a classic from 1970 that belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1970 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
Brian Humphries engineered the album, and although you may not be all that familiar with his name, if you’re an audiophile you know his work well. Take a gander at this group:
- Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die
- Black Sabbath – Paranoid
- Traffic – The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys
- Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Two are of course on our Top 100 Rock and Pop List, and all four — five if you count McDonald And Giles — qualify as State of the Art Rock Recordings from the era.
This vintage Island pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 McDonald and Giles 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 1970
- 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 McDonald and Giles
- 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.
Suite In C (Including Turnham Green, Here I Am And Others)
Flight Of The Ibis
Is She Waiting?
Tomorrow’s People – The Children Of Today
– The Inventor’s Dream (O.U.A.T)
– The Workshop
– Wishbone Ascension
– Birdman Flies!
– Wings In The Sunset
– Birdman – The Reflection
AMG 4 Star Review
Following the meltdown of the original King Crimson lineup, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles brought brother Peter Giles back, which helps to account, in some ways, for the resemblance of this album to the 1968 Giles, Giles & Fripp recordings…
The main attraction is really the performances turned in by McDonald and the Giles brothers — they all sound fabulous, even when waffling musically, while Michael Giles has a unique drum tone that never has been duplicated (Giles himself abandoned the sound for his later career in Jackson Heights and as a session drummer). Peter Giles returned to the accounting trade, alas, while Ian McDonald eventually wound up as part of Foreigner, which is another tale entirely.