- This early British EMI pressing has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage UK pressing like this one is the only way to go
- 4 stars: “…every bit as insular as the lo-fi records of the early ’90s, but considerably more artful, since it was, after all, designed by one of the great pop composers of the century. …McCartney’s little flourishes are intoxicating — not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention.”
- If you’re a fan of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles output, this release from 1973 probably belongs in your collection.
We have not had particularly good luck with the domestic pressings we’ve tried. The Brits are the only ones that, to our ears, seem to be made from the real tape.
Complete with the full-color 12-page booklet of photos and lyrics.
This vintage EMI 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 Red Rose Speedway 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 Red Rose Speedway
This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top-quality 70’s Pop Rock record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space); and last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sophisticated recording.
Here is a more comprehensive breakdown of what we were listening for when evaluating Red Rose Speedway
Clarity and Presence
Many copies are veiled in the midrange, partly because they may have shortcomings up top, but also because they suffer from blurry, smeary mids and upper mids.
With a real Hot Stamper the sound is TOTALLY INVOLVING, and so is the music. You hear the breath in the voices, the pick on the strings of the guitars — these are the things that allow us to suspend our disbelief, to forget it’s a recording we’re listening to and not living, breathing musicians.
Top End Extension
Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs, the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements. Consequently, these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the mix.
Although this quality is related to the above two, it’s not as important overall as the one below, but it sure is nice to have. When you can really “see” into the mix, it’s much easier to pick out each and every instrument in order to gain more insight into the arrangement and the recording of the material.
Seeing into the mix is a way of seeing into the mind of the artist. To hear the hottest copies was to appreciate even more the talents of all the musicians and producers involved, not to mention the engineers.
This is an area where Heavy Vinyl fails more often than not. Modern remastered records are just so damn opaque. That sound drives us to distraction when it doesn’t bore us to tears.
No rock or pop record without good bass can qualify as a top quality Hot Stamper. How could it? It’s the rhythmic foundation of the music, and who wants a pop record that lacks rhythm?
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.
Big Barn Bed
Get On The Right Thing
One More Kiss
Little Lamb Dragonfly
When The Night
Loup (1st Indian On The Moon)
Medley (Hold Me Tight, Lazy Dynamite, Hands Of Love, Power Cut)
Red Rose Speedway winds up being a really strange record, one that veers toward the schmaltzy AOR MOR (especially on the hit single “My Love”), yet is thoroughly twisted in its own desire toward domestic art. As a result, this is every bit as insular as the lo-fi records of the early ’90s, but considerably more artful, since it was, after all, designed by one of the great pop composers of the century.
Yes, the greatest songs here are slight — “Big Barn Bed,” “One More Kiss,” and “When the Night” — but this is a deliberately slight record (slight in the way a snapshot album is important to a family yet glazes the eyes of any outside observer). Work your way into the inner circle, and McCartney’s little flourishes are intoxicating — not just the melodies, but the facile production and offhand invention.
If these are miniscule steps forward, consider this: if Brian Wilson can be praised for his half-assed ideas and execution, then why not McCartney, who has more character here than the Beach Boys did on their Brother records? Truthfully.