- This early CTI pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides
- Full-bodied, warm and natural with plenty of space around all of the players, this is the sound of vintage analog – accept no substitutes
- The sound is everything that’s good about Rudy Van Gelder‘s recordings – it’s present, spacious, full-bodied, Tubey Magical, dynamic and, most importantly, alive in that way that modern pressings never are
- 5 stars: “Recorded between trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s better-known classics Red Clay and First Light, Straight Life is actually arguably Hubbard’s greatest recording.”
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
Straight Life is a great album for anyone who wants to hear some well recorded, seriously adventurous jazz. We freely admit that side one is fairly ‘out there,’ but side two balances it out with much more accessible, melodic material. A wonderfully sensitive and emotional version of “Here’s That Rainy Day” closes out the side with George Benson proving to be an especially sympathetic accompanist on guitar.
This vintage CTI 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 Straight Life 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 1970
- 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.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is by far the most common problem with the copies we played. When the transient bite of the trumpet is correctly reproduced, maintaining its full-bodied tone and harmonic structures, you know you have a very special copy of Straight Life (or Sky Dive, or First Light, or Red Clay, etc, etc.). When the sound is blurry, thick, veiled, dull or slow, you have what might be considered something more like the average copy.
What We’re Listening For On Straight Life
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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, full-bodied 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.
The Players and Personnel
- Freddie Hubbard – trumpet, flugelhorn
- Joe Henderson – tenor saxophone
- Herbie Hancock – electric piano
- George Benson – guitar
- Ron Carter – double bass
- Jack DeJohnette – drums
- Richard Landrum – drums, percussion
- Weldon Irvine – tambourine
- Rudy Van Gelder – engineer
- Creed Taylor – producer
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.
Here’s That Rainy Day
Recorded between trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s better-known classics Red Clay and First Light, Straight Life is actually arguably Hubbard’s greatest recording. Joined by an all-star group that includes tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, guitarist George Benson, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, Hubbard is frequently astounding on “Straight Life” (check out that introduction) and “Mr. Clean,” constructing classic solos. The very memorable set is rounded off by the trumpeter’s duet with Benson on a lyrical version of the ballad “Here’s That Rainy Day.”