The average copy of this digitally recorded, mixed and mastered LP sounds just the way you would expect it to: like a CD. It’s anemic, two-dimensional, opaque, thin, bright, harsh, with little extreme top and the kind of bass that’s all “note” with no real weight, solidity or harmonic structure. Sounds like a CD, right? (That’s the way most of my CDs sound, which is why I no longer listen to them except in the car)
But what if I told you that the best copies of The Nightfly can actually sound like a real honest-to-goodness ANALOG recording, with practically none of the nasty shortcomings listed above? You may not believe it, but it’s true. (more…)
As well-produced, well-engineered Pop Albums from the ’70s, the very best copies can proudly hold their heads high. Wait a minute. Our last commentary noted what a mess most of the pressings of this album sound like, with so much spit and grain. Have we changed our minds? Well, yes and no, and as usual we make no excuses for having changed our minds. We call it progress.(more…)
We wrote up this album in 2005 as a Hot Stamper Stalled listing; we just couldn’t find anything that really sounded right to us. The imports were a smeary mess, the half-speed was and is a complete joke (we used to like it but that just goes to show how wrong you can be), and the domestic copies were so grainy and phony-sounding we knew there was no way to make the case that this was some sort of audiophile recording.
Could it be that when Geoff Emerick took over the recording duties from his friend Ken Scott, who had engineered the two previous albums, both of which are stunning — Crime of the Century and Crisis? What Crisis? — he had simply dropped the ball and done a bad job? How could that be possible?(more…)
A Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two (for the classic title track)
Big, rich and full-bodied with lovely texture to the synths and relatively little grit – crucially important to the best copies
Only the second Triple Plus copy to hit the site since 2015 – pressings with this kind of sound are tougher to come by than you might imagine
4 Stars: “Backed with only drums and a wide assortment of keyboards, Gary Wright crafted instantly recognizable tunes such as the title cut and “Love Is Alive,” which caught on and remain staples of classic rock stations around the U.S. … Dream Weaver hasn’t lost any of its magic over time.”
Huge, lively and full-bodied with tons of presence, this is exactly the right sound for this music.
Most pressings of this album tend to err in one of two ways: either they get hard and gritty in the upper mids, or they’re smeary and dull. Our best copies get the balance right — plenty of texture on the keyboards and drums, with vocals that still have presence and breathiness — and not too much grit.
Keyboards and More Keyboards
An all-keyboard pop record like this was a rarity at the time. The only other instruments besides drums (and one track with guitar) are keyboards. Every song is layered with multi-tracked clavinets, organs, and Moogs — it was a remarkable feat in 1975 to create an album with nothing but keys. Listen to the title track, the most dynamic song on the record, and you will hear just how well all of those stacked keyboards and synths work together. (Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life borrowed a page or two from Gary’s solo debut here.)(more…)
A key test on either side was to listen to all the multi-tracked guitars and see how easy it was to separate each of them out in the mix. Most of the time they are just one big jangly blur. The best copies let you hear how many guitars there are and what each of them is doing.
Pay special attention to Andrew Gold’s Abbey Road-ish guitars heard throughout the album. He is all over this record, playing piano, guitar, percussion and singing in the background. If anybody deserves credit besides Linda for the success of HLAW, it’s Andrew Gold.(more…)