More Hippie Folk Rock
- With excellent grades from start to finish, this early Warner Bros. Palm Tree pressing is doing just about everything right
- These sides are BIGGER and RICHER and have more of the rock solid energy that’s missing from the average copy
- “Master Tape” sound lets this compilation of gems hold its own against the originals
- 4 1/2 stars: “History: Greatest Hits perfectly spotlights both the polished and layered production of British studio legend George Martin and the West Coast tones of the band’s folk-pop style. An essential collection for fans who like their ’70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements.”
- If you’re a fan of the band, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this classic from 1975 belongs in your collection.
- The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
THE BIG SOUND on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals. They have plenty of bottom end that drives these songs with energy and life. Listen for the bells on ‘Tin Man‘; they have the correct transients and harmonics.
You never quite get back all of the Tubey Magic of the originals, but the detail and richness should be enough to make you fall in love with this high quality George Martin (re)production.
This vintage Warner Bros. Palm Tree 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 History: America’s Greatest Hits 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 beginning 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.
Is That A Master Tape In Your Pocket… ?
If we didn’t know better we’d say this record had Master Tape Sound, something we wouldn’t normally say about a compilation album. But wait just a minute — it IS Master Tape Sound!
George Martin remixed the original multi-tracks, creating a new master mix in the process. The double-tracked vocals on ‘Ventura Highway’ are an obvious indicator of the difference between this and the original.
The separation of the instruments is astonishing. You wouldn’t expect a greatest hits record to have such textured, clear transients, but here they are, along with naturally sweet highs and nice tight bass, tighter than the originals in fact. Every cymbal crash and hi-hat hit sounds clear, free of the usual smear found on this type of compilation.
This album of gems is not your mama’s greatest hits record. Gone is the sub-generation sound of your typical hits comp. This record wasn’t made from a dub — the (new) master tape was definitely threaded up for this baby.
What We’re Listening For On History: America’s Greatest Hits
- 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 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 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
History: America’s Greatest Hits is a recording that belongs in any serious Popular Music Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
A Horse With No Name
I Need You
Don’t Cross The River
Only In Your Heart
Sister Golden Hair
Mirroring the cover art depiction of America’s dual life in England and the U.S., History: Greatest Hits perfectly spotlights both the polished and layered production of British studio legend George Martin and the West Coast tones of the band’s folk-pop style. Featuring the group’s many chart toppers from the first half of the ’70s, this definitive roundup includes Neil Young-style acoustic sides like “Lonely People,” the hippie MOR of “Muskrat Love,” and breezy acid rock like “Sandman.” And even though Martin didn’t produce the entire lot of songs here, his sophisticated and mostly subtle way with strings, keyboards, and multi-track guitars is in evidence throughout. Adding to the fun are additional highlights like the updated surf cut “Sister Golden Hair” and ingenious McCartney-esque pop like “Only in Your Heart” and “Daisy Jane.” An essential collection for fans who like their ’70s folk with a pop sheen, loads of hooks, and top-drawer arrangements.