- This early British pressing of TFF’s debut album is close to the BEST we have ever heard, with both sides earning killer Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades – just shy of our Shootout Winner
- Classic tracks like “Mad World,” “Pale Shelter,” and “Change” have stood the test of time – they’re played in TFF’s concerts to this day (we saw them not that long ago)
- Forget the dubby domestic pressings – with top quality Hot Stamper sound, this copy is sure to trounce anything you’ve ever heard
- Problems 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: “…powerful pieces of music, beautifully executed in an almost minimalist style…an exquisite sonic painting sweeping the listener up in layers of pulsing synthesizers, acoustic guitar arpeggios, and sheets of electronic sound…”
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that’s often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers (“relative” meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don’t agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
Folks, take it from us, it is not every pressing that can manage to get rid of the digital harshness and congestion that so many copies suffer from, and then go on to open up its soundstage to be as wide, deep and tall as the enormous soundstage that you will hear on this very copy. When you have at your disposal a pressing like this one — notably richer, smoother and sweeter than many — the minor shortcomings of the recording will no longer interfere with your enjoyment of this groundbreaking music.
This vintage Mercury 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 The Hurting 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.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three-dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British pressings with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of British pressings of Pop and Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.
What We’re Listening For On The Hurting
- 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.
Ideas As Opiates
Suffer The Children
Watch Me Bleed
Start Of The Breakdown
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
The Hurting would have been a daring debut for a pop-oriented band in any era, but it was an unexpected success in England in 1983, mostly by virtue of its makers’ ability to package an unpleasant subject — the psychologically wretched family histories of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith — in an attractive and sellable musical format.
Not that there weren’t a few predecessors, most obviously John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album — which was also, not coincidentally, inspired by the work of primal scream pioneer Arthur Janov. (But Lennon had the advantage of being an ex-Beatle when that meant the equivalent to having a box next to God’s in the great arena of life, where Tears for Fears were just starting out.)
Decades later, “Pale Shelter,” “Ideas as Opiates,” “Memories Fade,” “Suffer the Children,” “Watch Me Bleed,” “Change,” and “Start of the Breakdown” are powerful pieces of music, beautifully executed in an almost minimalist style. “Memories Fade” offers emotional resonances reminiscent of “Working Class Hero,” while “Pale Shelter” functions on a wholly different level, an exquisite sonic painting sweeping the listener up in layers of pulsing synthesizers, acoustic guitar arpeggios, and sheets of electronic sound (and anticipating the sonic texture, if not the precise sound of their international breakthrough pop hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”). The work is sometimes uncomfortably personal, but musically compelling enough to bring it back across the decades.