- Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
- The LIFE of the man’s music is captured on this pressing, and you can be pretty sure that that is simply not going to be the case with whatever Heavy Vinyl mediocrity they’re peddling to record buyers these days
- 4 stars: “The melodies here are strong, the lyrics full of Van Zandt’s razor sharp insight, and the production is sparse and to the point, bringing to mind the inconspicuous polish of High, Low and in Between. The feel here is a balance between folk and country, with Van Zandt’s voice and guitar up front, letting the songs speak for themselves.”
- If you’re a Van Zandt fan, this title from 1978 is surely a Must Own
- The complete list of titles from 1978 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
This original Tomato 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 Flyin’ Shoes 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 1978
- 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 Flyin’ Shoes
- 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.
No Place To Fall
Who Do You Love
When She Don’t Need Me
Dollar Bill Blues
AMG 4 Star Review
This is another stalwart collection from Townes Van Zandt, and not a dud in the bunch. The melodies here are strong, the lyrics full of Van Zandt’s razor sharp insight, and the production is sparse and to the point, bringing to mind the inconspicuous polish of High, Low and in Between. The feel here is a balance between folk and country, with Van Zandt’s voice and guitar up front, letting the songs speak for themselves. The tunes are full of heartbreak and hopelessness, making it a great album to put on during, or right after, the breakup of an affair.
“No Place to Fall” sports one of Van Zandt’s strongest melodies with a melancholy chorus that immediately imbeds itself in your mind. Pedal steel, a brief mandolin solo, and almost inaudible percussion add to the despairing feel of the track. “When She Don’t Need Me” is another hopeless love song, this time with a Tex-Mex feel and a measured tempo that wrings every bit of drama out of the lyric. The title track has to be one of Van Zandt’s saddest songs; images of winter, desolate hillsides, and loneliness complement an achingly beautiful melody. “No Place to Fall” is a teary waltz, a love song that pleads for connection and tries to be seductive, but ultimately succumbs to its own pessimism.
On the slightly brighter side, there’s an Everly Brothers influenced country-rock take of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” “Snake Song” is a blues that could be about a poisonous snake or the obvious phallic object. The song ends with a fatal punch line. “Brother Flower,” a striking meditation on mortality and the impermanence of love, has a melody that recalls Gordon Lightfoot’s “Don Quixote” while “Dollar Bill Blues” is a sea shanty celebrating gambling, booze, self-destruction, and the desperate late-night search for love, or maybe just sex.
None of the tunes on Flyin’ Shoes have yet achieved the iconic status of Van Zandt’s best-known work, but in the early 2000s, as his back catalog is being reissued and reevaluated, that might well change.