- You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this early Mercury pressing of Stewart’s fourth solo album
- Extremely well-recorded, full of great songs – Rod Stewart was on top of the world when he followed up the brilliant Every Picture Tells A Story with this album in 1972
- The music comes alive on this vintage domestic pressing (the only ones that have the potential for Hot Stampers in our experience), assuming you have your volume up good and loud
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these Classic Rock records – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 5 stars in AMG, and simply “… a masterful record … He never got quite this good ever again.”
Listen to the percussion on Angel — you can really hear all the transients and the sound of the drum skins. The meaty guitar in the left channel sounds mind-blowingly good. The bass is deep and well-defined, and the sound of the drums is awesome in every way. Who has a better drum sound than Rod Stewart on his two best albums?
Along with Every Picture Tells A Story this is one of the two Must Own Rod Stewart albums. Practically every song here is a classic, with not a dog in the bunch. Rod Stewart did what few artists have ever managed to do: release his two best albums back to back.
And this Hot Stamper, not to overstate the obvious, is clearly the way to hear it.
What the Best Sides of Never A Dull Moment 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.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This vintage Mercury 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.
More of What to Listen For
Most copies tend to be dull, veiled, thick and congested, but the trick with the better pressings is being able to separate out the various parts with ease and hear right INTO the music. It’s also surprisingly airy, open, and spacious — not quite what you’d expect from a bluesy British rock album like this, right? Not too many Faces records sound like this, we can tell you that.
But the engineers here managed to pull it off. One of them was Glyn Johns (misspelled in the credits Glynn Johns), who’s only responsible for the first track on side one, “True Blue.” Naturally, that happens to be one of the best-sounding tracks on the whole album.
“Angel,” the first track on side two, can have Demo Disc quality sound on the better copies (say, Double Plus and up).
Mike Bobak was the engineer for these sessions from 1970. He is the man responsible for some of the best sounding records from the early ’70s: The Faces’ Long Player, Cat Stevens’ Mona Bone Jakon, Rod Stewart’s Never a Dull Moment, The Kinks’ Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneygoround, Part One, (and lots of other Kinks albums), Carly Simon’s Anticipation, and more than his share of obscure English bands, ones I’ve never heard of, and of which there seems to be a practically endless supply.
What We’re Listening For on Never A Dull Moment
- 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.
Mama, You Been on My Mind
You Wear It Well
I’d Rather Go Blind
Twistin’ the Night Away
AMG 5 Star Review
Opening with the touching, autobiographical rocker “True Blue,” which finds Rod Stewart trying to come to grips with his newfound stardom but concluding that he’d “rather be back home,” the record is the last of Stewart’s series of epic fusions of hard rock and folk.
It’s possible to hear Stewart go for superstardom with the hard-rocking kick and fat electric guitars of the album, but the songs still cut to the core.
The covers — whether a soulful reading of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel,” an empathetic version of Dylan’s “Mama, You Been on My Mind,” or a stunning interpretation of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” — are equally effective, making Never a Dull Moment a masterful record. He never got quite this good ever again.