- A superb copy of the duo’s sophomore release with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
- This pressing allows the music to be totally involving, with breathy voices; clear, natural picking on the strings of the guitars and mandolins; choruses that get good and loud – everything you want from this band is here and more
- L & M are famous for putting plenty of bass on their recordings, but the trick is to find the pressing that actually keeps that bass tightly under control, like this one
- 4 1/2 stars: “The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling ‘Thinking Of You,’ and the two collaborating on the hit single ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Angry Eyes.'”
- If you’re a Loggins and Messina fan, any of the first four albums are Must Owns. This, their second album, released in 1972, is clearly one of their best, and a record I have never tired of in the fifty years I’ve been listening to it.
- The complete list of titles from 1972 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
We’re big fans of this band, not only for their music but also because their recordings are so good. We know this album about as well as anyone can, having done countless shootouts for it over the years. When it’s good, it’s really good, and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it.
What we have here is the perfect example of a top quality analog studio pop recording. It’s rich, sweet, and dynamic, with the kind of sound that has practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Not to worry though; it can still be found on certain pressings from the ’70s, the ones that we put so much time and effort into auditioning. Why shouldn’t we? It’s where the BEST SOUND is.
What The Best Sides Of Loggins and Messina 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.
Choruses Are Key
The richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality is most obvious where you often hear it on a Pop Rock Big Production like Loggins and Messina: in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses.
We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly become without crossing the line into distortion or congestion. On some records, Dark Side of the Moon comes instantly to mind, the guitar solos on Money are the loudest thing on the record.
On Breakfast in America the sax toward the end of “The Logical Song” is bigger and louder than anything on the record, louder even than Roger Hodgson’s near-hysterical multi-tracked screaming ‘Who I am’ about three quarters of the way through the track. Those, however, are clearly exceptions to the rule. Most of the time it’s the final chorus of a pop song that gets bigger and louder than what has come before.
A pop song is usually designed to build momentum as it works its way through the verses and choruses, past the bridge, coming back around to make one final push, releasing all its energy in the final chorus, the climax of the song. On a good recording — one with real dynamics — that part of the song should be very loud and very powerful.
What We’re Listening For On Loggins and Messina
The elements that make up a good sounding Loggins and Messina album can be found, in varying degrees, on all the Hot Stamper pressings we offer. Permit us to break them down for you. (We’ve borrowed heavily from ourselves here so if this material looks familiar don’t be surprised, we’ve used it before.)
Top End Extension
Absolutely critical to this record. Most copies of this album have no extreme highs, which causes the percussion and guitar harmonics to be blunted and dull. Without extreme highs the percussion can’t extend up and away from the other elements in the mix. Consequently these elements end up fighting for space in the midrange and getting lost in the dense mixes that Jim Messina favors (and we audiophiles love).
Clarity and Presence
Equally critical. So many copies are veiled in the midrange, partly because they may have shortcomings up top, but also because they suffer from blurry, smeary mids and upper mids. With so many stringed instruments; horns and woodwinds (oboe, saxes, flute, recorder); as well as plenty of percussion elements in the mix for practically every song, dull, dead sounding L & M pressings can’t begin to communicate the musical values in their superb recordings. Boredom will set in before long.With a real Hot Stamper the sound is totally involving, and so is the music. You hear the breath in the voices, the pick on the strings of the guitars and mandolins — these are the things that allow us to suspend our disbelief, to forget it’s a recording we’re listening to and not living, breathing musicians.
Although this quality is related to the above two, it’s not as important overall as the one below, but it sure is nice to have. When you can really “see” into the mix, it’s much easier to pick out each and every brass and wind instrument, and hear all the effects on the guitars, in order to gain more insight into the arrangement and the recording of the material.Seeing into the mix is a way of seeing into the mind of the artist. To hear the hottest copies was to appreciate even more the talents of all the musicians and producers involved, not to mention the recording engineers.
No rock or pop record without good bass can qualify as a top quality Hot Stamper. How could it? It’s the rhythmic foundation of the music, and who wants a pop record that lacks rhythm? L&M are famous for putting plenty of bass on their records; this album is no exception. Bass is a big part of their sound. The best copies have prodigious amounts of deep, note-like, well-controlled bass. If you have a high-fidelity full-range system, this is some serious Demo Disc Quality Pop Sound.
Testing the Climaxes
The climax of the biggest, most dynamic songs are almost always the toughest tests for a pop record, and it’s the main reason we play our records loud. The copies that hold up through the final choruses of their album’s largest scaled productions are the ones that provide the biggest thrills and the most emotionally powerful musical experiences one can have sitting in front of two speakers. Our Top 100 is full of records that reward that kind of intense listening at loud levels.
We live for that sound here at Better Records. It’s precisely what the best vintage analog pressings do so brilliantly. In fact they do it so much better than any other medium that there is really no comparison, and certainly no substitute. If you’re on this site you probably already know that.
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.
Your Mama Don’t Dance
Long Tail Cat
Thinking of You
Just Before the News
Till the Ends Meet
Lady of My Heart
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
The first full-fledged L&M album found the duo in good form as songwriters, with Messina turning in the sparkling “Thinking Of You,” and the two collaborating on the hit single “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and “Angry Eyes.” Their backup band was anchored by multi-instrumentalist Al Garth, and also featured keyboardist Michael Omartian and Poco steel guitarist Rusty Young.