Roy Wood – Boulders

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  • Big, rich and solid on both sides, with a more relaxed, musical quality, as well as the clarity that was missing from most copies we played
  • “With the exception of harmonium by Abbey Road engineer John Kurlander on ‘Songs of Praise,’ all the instrumentation on Boulders was played by Wood, who also provided all lead, harmony and backing vocals.” – Wikipedia
  • 4 1/2 stars: “An intricate, deliberately idiosyncratic record, assembled piece by piece, Boulders perfectly captures Roy Wood’s peculiar genius, more so than anything else he recorded. All of his obsessions are here — classical music, psychedelia, pre-Beatles pop, pastoral folk ballads, absurdist humor, studio trickery, and good old-fashioned rock & roll — assembled in a gracefully eccentric fashion.”
  • If you’re a Psych Rock or Art Rock fan, this is a classic from 1973 that belongs in your collection.

Roy Wood’s music certainly isn’t for everyone. He was a member of The Move and Electric Light Orchestra, which gives you just a hint of what to expect here. It’s definitely an eccentric album, but it’s certainly not as “out there” as Captain Beefheart or Roky Erickson.

The AllMusic Guide gives this album 4 1/2 stars out of five. Make sure to read their especially insightful review by clicking the “Reviews” tab.

This vintage UK Harvest 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 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 1973
  • 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 Boulders

  • 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.

Vinyl Condition

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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Songs Of Praise
Wake Up
Rock Down Low
Nancy Sing Me A Song
Dear Elaine

Side Two

All The Way Over The Hill
Irish Loafer (And His Hen)
Miss Clarke And The Computer
When Gran’ma Plays The Banjo
Rock Medley:
Rockin’ Shoes
She’s Too Good For Me
Locomotive

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

An intricate, deliberately idiosyncratic record, assembled piece by piece, Boulders perfectly captures Roy Wood’s peculiar genius, more so than anything else he recorded. All of his obsessions are here — classical music, psychedelia, pre-Beatles pop, pastoral folk ballads, absurdist humor, studio trickery, and good old-fashioned rock & roll — assembled in a gracefully eccentric fashion. Some listeners may find that eccentricity a little alienating, but it’s the core of Wood’s music. He wrote tuneful, accessible songs, but indulged his passions and weird ideas, so even the loveliest melodies and catchiest hooks are dressed in colorful, odd arrangements. The marvelous thing is, these arrangements never sound self-consciously weird – it’s the sound of Wood’s music in full bloom.

Never before and never again did his quirks sound so charming, even thrilling, as they do on Boulders. As soon as “Songs of Praise” reaches its chorus, a choir of sped-up, multi-tracked Roys kick in, sending it into the stratosphere. All nine tunes unwind in a similar fashion, each blessed with delightfully unpredictable twists. It’s easy to spot the tossed-off jokes on the goofy “When Gran’ma Plays the Banjo,” but it may take several spins to realize that the percussion on “Wake Up” is the sound of Roy slapping a bowl of water.

Boulders is a sonic mosaic — you can choose to wonder at the little details or gaze at the glorious whole, enjoying the shape it forms. Wood has an unerring knack for melodies, whether they’re in folk ballads, sweet pop or old-fashioned rock & rollers, yet his brilliance is how he turns the hooks 180 degrees until they’re gloriously out of sync with his influences and peers. Boulders still sounds wonderfully out of time and it’s easy to argue that it’s the peak of his career.

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