- An original German Atco import pressing that was doing practically everything right, earning killer Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- Both of these sides are spacious, solid and dynamic with huge bass and analog richness that’s hard to find on this album
- There’s tons of life and energy here and the vocals sound just right
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 1/2 stars: “A stunning self-reinvention by a band that many had given up for dead, 90125 is the album that introduced a whole new generation of listeners to Yes… there’s nary a duff track on the album.”
I’m pleased to report that we can now add 90125 to our small list of ’80s albums that can sound excellent on the right pressing. Drop the needle on “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” and we bet you’ll agree.
So many copies we played were full of that digital grit and grain that we hear on so many records from the era. This one is an entirely different story. It has wonderful analog qualities, with more richness and smoothness than most pressings.
The recording itself is outstanding: punchy and lively with an especially beefy bottom end, the kind a good rock record needs. But you would never know it by playing the average pressing you might pick up for five bucks at your local used record store. The typical copy of this record is pretty average sounding. Let’s face it: Every mastering mistake that CAN be made WILL be made sooner or later with mass-produced vinyl like this.
This vintage Atco import 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 90125 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 even as late as 1983
- 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.
Did you know that this almost wasn’t even a Yes album? Trevor Rabin had joined forces with Chris Squire and Alan White and began writing material under the name Cinema. Eventually, Jon Anderson came on board and the band decided to stick with the Yes name. The result? Yes’s most commercially successful album and their biggest hit song ever.
The album certainly has a different vibe than the band’s classic earlier albums, but it’s all in good fun. They managed to incorporate the sounds and technology of the ’80s with their own style and ended up at the top of the charts. Not bad!
What We’re Listening For On 90125
Less grit — smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on 90125.
A bigger presentation — more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Gary Langan wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.
Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain’t easy to play ’em either. You’re going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area — VTA, tracking weight, azimuth, and anti-skate — in order to play this album properly. If you’ve got the goods you’re gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart/table/arm and you’re likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.
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 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.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
It Can Happen
City of Love
A 4 1/2 Star Rave Review
A stunning self-reinvention by a band that many had given up for dead, 90125 is the album that introduced a whole new generation of listeners to Yes… “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was a huge crossover hit, and its orchestral break has been relentlessly sampled by rappers ever since. The vocal harmonies of “Leave It” and the beautifully sprawling “Hearts” are additional high points, but there’s nary a duff track on the album.