- An outstanding original Warner Bros. pressing of the band’s Masterpiece, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound
- An Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production as close to perfect as one could possibly wish for, thanks to Ted Templeman and Donn Landee
- 4 stars: “…this is where the ‘new’ Doobie Brothers really make their debut, with a richly soulful sound throughout and emphasis on horns and Michael McDonald’s piano… It’s still all pretty compelling even if its appeal couldn’t be more different from the group’s earlier work. The public loved it, buying something like three million copies, and the recording establishment gave Minute by Minute four Grammy Awards, propelling the group to its biggest success ever.”
This is undoubtedly the band’s masterpiece, assuming you’re a Michael McDonald fan, and we very much are fans here at Better Records. We can now definitively say that the quality of the sound matches the quality of the music. What a wonderful sounding pop record. This is Donn Landee at his best — tonally correct, spacious, clear and sweet, with big bass and vocal choruses that can really take off when called upon. With Ted Templeman running the show this is an Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production that’s as close to perfect as one has any right to expect.
This original Warner Bros. pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Minute By Minute 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.
The material on this album is the strongest the group ever recorded, and let’s face it, all the best songs are McDonald’s. He really hit his songwriting stride in 1979; there are almost half a dozen classic Michael McDonald songs on this album alone. His 1982 solo album, a desert island disc for us if there ever was one, has about ten more. The guy was on fire in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
What We’re Listening For on Minute By Minute
- 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.
Credit Donn Landee (and producer Ted Templeman as well) with the full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best copies of Minute by Minute. He’s recorded or assisted on many of our favorite albums here at Better Records.
Most of the better sounding Doobies albums are his; all of the good Van Halens of course; Lowell George’s wonderful Thanks I’ll Eat It Here; Little Feat’s Time Loves a Hero (not their best music but some of their best sound); Carly Simon’s Another Passenger (my favorite of all her albums); and his Masterpiece (in my humble opinion), Captain Beefheart’s mindblowing Clear Spot.
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 later 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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
A Must Own Pop Record
We consider this Doobies album their Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
1979 Record Of The Year for “What A Fool Believes”
1979 Song Of The Year for “What A Fool Believes”
1979 Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for “Minute By Minute”
1979 Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals for “What A Fool Believes”
Here to Love You
What a Fool Believes
Minute by Minute
Dependin’ on You
Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels
Open Your Eyes
Steamer Lane Breakdown
You Never Change
How Do the Fools Survive?
It’s still all pretty compelling even if its appeal couldn’t be more different from the group’s earlier work (i.e., The Captain and Me, etc.). The public loved it, buying something like three million copies, and the recording establishment gave Minute by Minute four Grammy Awards, propelling the group to its biggest success ever.