As amazing as this copy is, a perfect record it is not. The vinyl isn’t silent, but it’s pretty darn quiet for an old Warner Bros. Gold Label record — mostly Mint Minus for side one, between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus for side two. Puff The Magic Dragon is unfortunately *not* one of the better sounding songs. Every last copy we played suffered from a touch of compressor distortion that adds a bit of grain to the vocals. We initially thought it was mild groove damage, but we heard the same thing on copy after copy we played. Still, if the choice is between a little grain on a tubey magical Gold Label copy or no grain on an overly smooth reissue, we’d take this one every last time.
It’s All About The Midrange Magic
Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept multi-track recordings. They’re simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren’t silky sweet and delicate, while at the same time full-bodied and present, let’s face it — you might as well be listening to something else.
The Breath Of Life
Steve Hoffman’s famous phrase is key here: we want to hear The Breath Of Life. If P, P & M don’t sound like living breathing human beings standing right between your speakers, toss yours and buy this copy, because that’s exactly what they sound like here. The TUBEY MAGIC of the MIDRANGE is practically off the scale. Until you hear it like this you almost can’t really even imagine it. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear each and every nuance of their singing reproduced so faithfully.
This is high-rez ’60s style; not phony and forced like so much of what passes for audiophile sound these days, but relaxed and real, as if the recording were doing its best to get out of the way of the music, not call attention to itself. This, to us, is the goal, the prize we must constantly strive to keep our eyes on. Find the music, leave the rest.
This one sounds AMAZING — a real Demo Disc. Somehow this copy alone, out of all our many Gold Labels, came out just right. It really conveys the power of the group’s performance in the studio. When they start to sing good and loud, not only can you really hear them belting it out, you FEEL IT too.
The vocal clarity is wonderful, allowing you to appreciate every last detail of the trio’s performance. No other copy we played had the kind of presence, palpability and immediacy we heard here — it was as if the trio were singing their hearts out right here in our listening room. It sure felt like they were. Both sides rate A+++ — As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).