More Carly Simon
- An early Elektra pressing of Carly Simon’s classic 1972 album with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
- Warm, sweet, rich, present and full-bodied, with much less strain on the vocals than many other copies we played
- “You’re So Vain” was the big hit off of this one, a classic Richard Perry production with huge size and space
- Five weeks at Number One and 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic, “. . . it wasn’t only Simon’s forthrightness that made the album work; it was also Richard Perry’s simple, elegant pop/rock production, which gave Simon’s music a buoyancy it previously lacked. “
- If you’re a Carly Simon fan, this title from 1972 is probably her best album, and for non-fans, a good place to start
- The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
No Secrets is a bit of a tough nut to crack. Due to the mixture of folky pop songs, big production numbers and potential AM radio hit singles, it has to be cut just right to get every track to sound the way the artists (Carly Simon and studio cats), producer (Richard Perry) and engineers (Robin Geoffrey Cable and Bill Schnee) intended.
Balance is key to getting all the tracks to sound their best. Many copies we played were too dull or too bright, but the tonality here is Right On The Money. The clarity and detail are superb; just listen to Embrace Me, You Child on side two — you can really hear the rosiny texture of the strings as they are bowed.
The best copies such as this one are always transparent, natural and musical. The top end is wonderfully extended, balancing a BIG bottom end with lots of deep, well-defined bass. The drums are punchy and dynamic and the cymbals can sound amazing — just listen to how extended the crashes are on You’re So Vain on side one.
One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise. Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will have the kind of rich, sweet sound that is obviously the right one for this music.
We’re big fans of Another Passenger, the album she cut in 1976 with Ted Templeman producing. If you like Carly, you should definitely check that one out.
What the Best Sides of No Secrets 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 1972
- 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.
Robin Geoffrey Cable
The immensely talented engineer Robin Geoffrey Cable worked his analog Bigger Than Life Audio Magic on this album. You may recall that he recorded a number of the greatest sounding rock records of all time, Elton John’s self-titled second album and Tumbleweed Connection, both in 1970, as well as Nilsson Schmilsson in 1972, with Richard Perry producing.
Bill Schnee (of Sheffield Direct to Disc fame) did the mix.
What We’re Listening For on No Secrets
- 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.
Other records with track breakdowns can be found here.
The Right Thing to Do
The Carter Family
You’re So Vain
A wonderful song and a good test track to boot. On the best copies the bass will be deep and well-defined, and one can expect the vocals to have a lovely breathy quality.
His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin
We Have No Secrets
The top end is key to finding great sound on this album. If it’s boosted you’ll have a bright copy that will be glaringly unpleasant. If it’s missing or attenuated you’ll have a dull copy that’s boring and uninvolving.
Ah, but when it’s extended and correct everything else seems to fall into place. That’s why this song is such a good test track. If the voices sound smooth but you still have extension up top you know your copy has been mastered and pressed properly.
Embrace Me, You Child
Focus on the strings. On most copies they’re either aggressively shrill when loud or they are smeared and lack texture. When they sound rich and clear though they can really be lovely.
Waited So Long
It Was So Easy
The pedal steel guitar on the best copies is surrounded by ambience and should have plenty of warmth and Tubey Magic.
When You Close Your Eyes
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Carly Simon’s best album, No Secrets was also her commercial breakthrough, topping the charts and going gold, along with its leadoff single, You’re So Vain. That song set the album’s saucy tone, with its air of sexually frank autobiography (“You had me several years ago/When I was still quite naïve”) and its reflections on the jet-set lifestyle. But Simon’s honesty meant that her lyrical knife was double-edged; now that she felt she had found true love (“The Right Thing to Do,” another Top Ten hit, was her celebration of her relationship with James Taylor), she was as willing to acknowledge her own mistakes and regrets as she was to point fingers.
But it wasn’t only Simon’s forthrightness that made the album work; it was also Richard Perry’s simple, elegant pop/rock production, which gave Simon’s music a buoyancy it previously lacked.