- Stunning sound for the band’s followup to Parallel Lines with both sides of this original pressing earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or or close to them – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Turn it up as loud as you want – the top end and vocals are balanced, smooth and tonally correct, not gritty or edgy
- The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet from the band
- 4 1/2 stars: “The British… made Eat to the Beat another chart-topper, with three major hits, including a number one ranking for Atomic and almost the same success for Dreaming.”
This is Mike Chapman’s Big Beat Sonic Masterpiece — yes, the sound is actually bigger and better than the sound on Parallel Lines — akin to the debuts of The Knack and The Cars, and every bit as huge and punchy as either.
Eat to the Beat lives and dies by its energy, its bass and above all by its transient snap. The drums and bass of Die Young Stay Pretty are as real sounding as if you were standing five feet in front of the band. On the best copies it’s hard to imagine that song sounding any better. The drum and bass are massive in their attack. It’s the very definition of punch.
This original Crysalis 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 Eat To The Beat 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 1979
- 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.
The Magic Formula for Hot Stampers
As expected, if you clean and play enough copies of a standard domestic major label album like this one, as you work through them you will surely stumble upon some that really rock, with the kind of presence, breathy vocals, and punchy drums that make this music come to life in your very own listening room. The best copies were positively swimming in studio ambience, with every instrument occupying its own space in the mix and surrounded by air. There was not a trace of grain, just the silky sweet highs we’ve come to expect from analog done right.
Way back in 2009 we wrote:
Watch for Hot Stampers of the band’s fourth album coming to the site one of these days, later this year I would guess. The best copies have true Demo Disc sound. If you own the record, drop the needel on Die Young, Stay Pretty and turn the volume up as loud as your stereo will play. (Your own personal Turn Up the Volume Test.) If you have a good copy it will ROCK — the sound can be unbelievably dynamic and punchy. We love that Big Rock sound here at Better Records, and the very special Hot Stamper pressings that have it!
And here, years later, is the very pressing that will back up those claims. Turn it up as loud as you want; the top end and vocals are balanced, smooth and tonally correct, not gritty or edgy, so it just keeps getting better the louder you go (within reason of course).
To be fair, consistency is the problem with this album, with some songs being absolute Pop Masterpieces (Dreaming on side one, Die Young Stay Pretty on side two), but other tracks not quite at the level set by Parallel Lines, where every track was a gem of songcraft and Glossy Pure Pop Production.
Still, what’s good is good, and the sound is STUNNING, with real Demo Disc qualities.
What We’re Listening For on Eat To The Beat
- 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.
The Hardest Part
Union City Blue
Eat to the Beat
Accidents Never Happen
Die Young Stay Pretty
Living in the Real World
…The British… made Eat to the Beat another chart-topper, with three major hits, including a number one ranking for Atomic and almost the same success for Dreaming.
My favourite album
Blondie’s masterpiece is usually held to be 1978’s Parallel Lines, while Eat to the Beat, which followed a year later, is considered an inferior attempt to duplicate its arty/trashy perfection. I can understand why Parallel Lines gets so much love – any album that contains Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone and Sunday Girl is going to rank high in people’s Best Records of All Time list. For me, though, it lacked the special shot of cool downtown decadence that, in my impressionable head, underpinned Eat to the Beat.
I wasn’t really aware of Eat to the Beat until several years after it came out. I discovered it during the summer that I lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, on a street populated by drug dealers and new wave scenesters. The area had a sordid glamour that I fancied was a bit like Paris in the 20s, and my preoccupation was how to be part of it. Too geeky to be one of the cool kids, too chicken to actually take drugs, I nonetheless wanted to swap places with one of the heroin-addled Johnny Thunders/Lydia Lunch lookalikes who slouched around the place in studded belts and black hair.
Then I came across Eat to the Beat, which seemed to embody all the nocturnal seediness of their lifestyle. The album, I should explain, wasn’t overtly about sex, drugs or the after-hours clubs where they hung out – in fact, you could’ve mistaken it for a collection of catchy pop songs. (One music site retrospectively dismisses it as mere “corporate rock” – how dare they?) But when you connect with an album, it doesn’t matter so much how it sounds as where you are when you hear it. And I was in my room on East 7th Street, playing Atomic and Die Young, Stay Pretty over and over, wondering how to become a drug addict without taking drugs.
So, for one humid New York summer, it was my soundtrack. The pinging disco of Atomic sounded to me like a monumentally hedonistic rush, The Hardest Part evoked the Italian-American truck drivers who catcalled the new wave girls sidling down 7th Street and Die Young, Stay Pretty’s beginner-level reggae sounded strange and dangerous. Even the delicate lullaby Sound-a-Sleep captured the disorienting feeling of leaving a club at dawn, when the streets were silent and swept clean. Eat to the Beat brilliantly encapsulated all the things that made New York so intoxicating. And it helped that Blondie themselves lived this dark downtown life (or so I thought – in fact, by then, guitarist Chris Stein had contracted a serious illness, and the band soon split up).
I left the album in New York when I moved to London, and haven’t listened to it all the way through in years. The only song I play occasionally now is Atomic. But when I do, I still remember wandering down the streets of the East Village with the album on my Walkman, trying to pass for one of the cool kids.
Caroline Sullivan – The Guardian
1979 – The Year in Music
Nineteen Seventy Nine sure was an interesting year.
The Wall, Breakfast in America, London Calling, Off the Wall, Get the Knack, Damn the Torpedoes, Armed Forces, Spirits Having Flown, Tusk, The B-52s, Rust Never Sleeps, Rickie Lee Jones, Candy-O — the variety is remarkable.
Even more remarkable is the number of albums recorded in ’79 that sound fresh and engaging to this day, more than 35 years after they were released. I could sit down in front of my speakers today and play any one of them all the way through. Try that with ten favorite albums from ’89, ’99 or ’09.