- An original UK Island pressing with a STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to a solid Double Plus (A++) side two
- There’s real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals and in-your-listening-room midrange presence
- Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone – past, present and future
- 4 1/2 stars: “…those brave enough to look past its dark surface will find a startlingly beautiful album; it’s not an easy album to listen to, but it greatly rewards the effort.”
This vintage UK Island 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 Pour Down Like Silver 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 1975
- 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.
Learning the Record
For our shootout for Pour Down Like Silver, we had at our disposal a variety of pressings that had the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or more copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the other pressings do not do as well, using a few carefully chosen passages of music, it quickly becomes obvious how well a given copy can reproduce those passages. You’ll hear what’s better and worse — right and wrong would be another way of putting it — about the sound.
This approach is simplicity itself. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we’ve never pretended otherwise. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained step by step precisely how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection. Not the good sounding pressings you happen to own — those may or may not have Hot Stampers — but the records you actually cleaned, shot out, and declared victorious.
What We’re Listening For On Pour Down Like Silver
- 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.
Streets of Paradise
For Shame of Doing Wrong
The Poor Boy Is Taken Away
Night Comes In
Jet Plane in a Rocking Chair
Beat the Retreat
Hard Luck Stories
Dimming of the Day
Pour Down Like Silver is downbeat even by Richard Thompson’s less than joyful standards, but it also features some of his most beautiful and compelling songs — the ravaged plea for salvation of “Streets of Paradise,” the mysterious and mesmerizing “Night Comes In,” the mournful romantic meditations “Beat the Retreat” and “For Shame of Doing Wrong,” and the spare but heartfelt love song “Dimming of the Day.” …those brave enough to look past its dark surface will find a startlingly beautiful album; it’s not an easy album to listen to, but it greatly rewards the effort.
The electric guitar is prominent indeed on the third Richard and Linda album. More so because of the more sparse arrangements and production that distinguish this album from its more lush sounding predecessor. Subsequently Thompson disclosed that this stark and simple production was more by accident than design. “It was a stark record, but I think it was by accident in a sense – we were intending to have Simon [Nicol] come and play rhythm guitar but he wasn’t available so everything ended up sounding very stark and I was always going to overdub rhythm guitar and stuff, but we thought we’ll just leave it, what the hell.”
Thompson may perhaps be regarded as being a little too off-hand here. In fact he overdubbed mandolin, keyboard and multiple guitar parts on some tracks, and session musicians were also called in. Another noticeable instrumental element of the album is the accordion of John Kirkpatrick which is prominent both on this album and during the Thompsons’ live shows in 1975.
The understated and elegant Dimming of the Day was sung by Linda Thompson on this album, but Richard Thompson has continued to feature it in his own live shows for many years – an indication of its deep personal significance. This song is an example of Thompson writing in a centuries old Sufic tradition of expressing divine love in earthly terms. On the album Dimming of the Day segues into a solo guitar performance of Scots composer James Scott Skinner’s Dargai that perfectly matches the mood of the song and serves to bring the album to a contemplative conclusion.
Night Comes In is another song of profound personal significance and recounts Richard Thompson’s formal initiation into the Sufi faith. The song is also notable for several prominent passages of electric guitar playing notable for their lyrical intensity – especially the closing, multi-tracked solo.
Hard Luck Stories is the most musically upbeat song on the album, with sardonic lyrics and a typically incisive guitar solo.
After this album and the following short tour Richard and Linda Thompson took a sabbatical from recording, writing and performing music.