- This is a surprisingly well recorded album, and this pressing is rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, just the way we like ’em
- “Yesterday’s Wine should also take its rightful place among his best-loved works… “Family Bible,” “Me and Paul,” and the title track are all particularly fine examples of Nelson’s songcraft. As a whole, Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.”
- The complete list of titles from 1971 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
This vintage RCA 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 the Best Sides of Yesterday’s Wine 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.
What We’re Listening For on Yesterday’s Wine
- 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 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.
Intro-Willie Nelson & Band
Medley: Where’s The Snow; Let Me Be A Man
In God’s Eyes
It’s Not For Me To Understand
These Are Difficult Times
Remember The Good Times
Summer Of Roses
Me & Paul
Though mid-’70s albums like Shotgun Willie and Red Headed Stranger are often held up as the finest examples of Willie Nelson’s album craft (showcasing the country legend exploring his chosen theme over the course of records that played like unified song suites), Yesterday’s Wine, their 1971 predecessor, should also take its rightful place among his best-loved works. A series of meditations on God, love, and aging, these songs are fragmented reflections on the life of Nelson’s “imperfect man” as he approaches death. Though the story isn’t as tightly constructed as that of Red Headed Stranger, this fact lends Yesterday’s Wine a feeling of malleability that adds to its power. At the album’s heart are “Summer of Roses,” “December Day,” and the title track — songs that detail a sense of longing and loss with the changing seasons mirroring the narrator’s own life. Throughout, the outlaw subtext Nelson would become associated with a few years later is replaced by an underlying religious faith. While there may not be any songs here of the same caliber as “Whiskey River” (Shotgun Willie) or “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (Red Headed Stranger), many of the numbers stand on their own, outside the album context. “Family Bible,” “Me and Paul,” and the title track are all particularly fine examples of Nelson’s songcraft. As a whole, Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.