Barbra Streisand – Stoney End

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More Vintage Columbia Pressings

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound or very close to it throughout this original Columbia pressing
  • Amazingly Big, Lively and Tubey Magical, courtesy of the production chops of none other than Richard Perry
  • 4 1/2 stars: “…redefined Streisand as an effective pop/rock singer [and] was so far removed from what Streisand’s fans and her detractors thought her capable of that it stands as one of her major triumphs.”

This vintage Columbia 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 Stoney End 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 Stoney End

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I Don’t Know Where I Stand
Hands Off The Man (Flim Flam Man)
If You Could Read My Mind
Just A Little Lovin’
Let Me Go
Stoney End

Side Two

No Easy Way Down
Time And Love
Maybe
Free The People
I’ll Be Home

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Barbra Streisand scored her second Top Ten hit in early 1971 by treating Laura Nyro’s recording of her song “Stoney End” as a demo and copying it practically note for note. “Mama, let me start all over,” she sang, and her wish was granted. The followup album of the same title was, in its own way, as surprising as Streisand’s debut album eight years earlier. Where that record had redefined the role of the traditional pop singer in contemporary terms for the early ’60s, Stoney End redefined Streisand as an effective pop/rock singer, which her last outing, What About Today?, had failed to do.

Maybe she listened as closely to Nyro and Joni Mitchell as she had to Ethel Merman and Judy Garland a decade earlier, but somehow she re-oriented her approach to music, adapting herself to vocal demands that were very different in terms of dynamics, expressiveness, and especially rhythm from the traditional pop and theater music she had sung previously.

Producer Richard Perry may have eased the transition by using sessionmen like Randy Newman, who played piano on two of his own compositions and who bridged the worlds of show tunes and rock. But Streisand herself found something to identify with in songs like Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” (maybe that passage about the movie queen) and Mitchell’s “I Don’t Know Where I Stand.” Stoney End was not a perfect album — the reliance on minor Brill Building material and two more Nyro copies kept it from classic status — but it was so far removed from what Streisand’s fans and her detractors thought her capable of that it stands as one of her major triumphs. It was also her biggest seller in four years and launched the comeback that saw her through the ’70s.

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