- With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other Summertime Dream you’ve heard – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Richer, warmer, more natural, more relaxed – this is what vintage analog is all about, that smooth sound that never calls attention to itself and just lets the music flow
- 4 1/2 stars: “With Summertime Dream, Gordon Lightfoot produced one of his finest albums, and wrapped up a six-year period of popularity… Lightfoot and his band deliver a tasty smorgasbord of intelligent, grown-up music. As for ‘Edmund Fitzgerald,’ its continued popularity more than 20 years after its release attests to the power of a well-told tale and a tasty guitar lick.”
- If you’re a fan of Gordon Lightfoot, his 1976 release is surely a Must Own
- The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
This vintage Reprise 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 Summertime Dream 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 1976
- 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.
One of the top guys at Warners, Lee Herschberg mixed this album along with a number of others by Lightfoot. You’ll also find his name on many of the best Ry Cooder, Doobie Brothers and Frank Sinatra album credits, albums we know to have potentially excellent sound — not to mention an album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. His pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night too.
The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is on the list as well: The Three (Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample), along with most of the other Direct to Disc recordings released on Eastwind.
What We’re Listening For on Summertime Dream
- 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 and maybe a bit better 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 originals.
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.
Race Among the Ruins
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
I’m Not Supposed to Care
I’d Do It Again
Never Too Close
The House You Live In
Too Many Clues in This Room
With Summertime Dream, Gordon Lightfoot produced one of his finest albums, and wrapped up a six-year period of popularity that he would not recapture. Propelled by his second biggest hit, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” Summertime Dream summed up the sound that had served Lightfoot so well in his post-“If You Could Read My Mind” days. This distinctive sound featured Lightfoot’s strummed six- or 12-string guitar complemented by Terry Clements’ electric guitar lines and Pee Wee Charles’ pedal steel guitar accents. The material here is excellent, and the singer’s voice is at its strongest. Mixing upbeat songs like “Race Among the Ruins,” “I’d Do It Again,” and the title track with beautiful ballads such as “I’m Not Supposed to Care” and “Spanish Moss,” Lightfoot and his band deliver a tasty smorgasbord of intelligent, grown-up music. As for “Edmund Fitzgerald,” its continued popularity more than 20 years after its release attests to the power of a well-told tale and a tasty guitar lick.