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- Amazing sound throughout this original pressing of Mike Auldridge’s highly enjoyable album of Bluegrass music, with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades from start to finish
- Both of these sides are sweet and rich with tons of Tubey Magic, exceptionally breathy vocals, deep punchy bass, and a super extended top end
- We had a lot of fun hearing how good banjos, mandolins, dobros and fiddles can sound when recorded and mastered properly
- 4 stars: “The skill with which Auldridge put together vehicles for his tremendously appealing soloing style … not only resulted in a boost in interest in the dobro, but the entire civilization of soloists on various instruments benefited from such obvious evidence of potential appeal, while the Washington, D.C., bluegrass scene never quite recovered from the legendary status of these recording sessions and the magical things that went on as the tapes rolled.”
This is practically the only Bluegrass album we can honestly say we enjoy listening to. The sound is superb, with lots of picked instruments of every description, but what really sets this one apart is that the music is relaxed, not frenetic, drawing you in, not pushing you away.
This is a great album, folks, one that belongs in your collection. If you’re a fan of Chet Atkins this is probably a Must Own, and we are big fans of Chet here at Better Records.
Anyone who follows the site knows that rock & roll music is our bread and butter, but it’s great fun to hear other styles of music around here sometimes, especially when it sounds like this.
This original Takoma 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 Dobro 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.
What We’re Listening For On Dobro
- 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 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.
- Hillbilly Hula
- Tennessee Stud
- It’s Over
- Rolling Fog
- Dobro Island
- Train 45 1/2
- Take Me
- Silver Threads
- Rock Bottom
- House Of The Rising Sun
AMG 4 Star Review
Although not as cosmic as the solo guitar odysseys of John Fahey or Robbie Basho, the early-’70s recordings of this veteran dobro picker have an equal importance to the development of acoustic-stringed music in America. The skill with which Auldridge put together vehicles for his tremendously appealing soloing style, smoothly handling transitions between members of a large and star-studded cast of supporting characters, not only resulted in a boost in interest in the dobro, but the entire civilization of soloists on various instruments benefited from such obvious evidence of potential appeal, while the Washington, D.C., bluegrass scene never quite recovered from the legendary status of these recording sessions and the magical things that went on as the tapes rolled.
This was the first of a pair of projects Auldridge created for Takoma; he cut the fine Blues & Bluegrass several years later, using many of the same musicians. In many ways these are like adjunct Seldom Scene recordings, as a few of that group’s players show up. Things couldn’t get off to a livelier start than the opening track, “Hillbilly Hula,” a sheer delight in its combination of both Hawaiian and bluegrass genre trademarks. “Pickaway” is one of several bluegrass numbers that is out and out hardcore in the sense of sounding like the energy of that rock style is being referenced. The banjo picking on this track is wonderful.
As the album proceeds the instrumentalists keep digging deeper and deeper, splashing musical imagery in a competition that suggests a group of crack photographers trying to outdo each other at a slide show. “Rolling Fog” comes in, atmosphere galore, right before the landing on “Dobro Island,” most likely a place that fans of Auldridge would love to be stranded.