More of the Music of Supertramp
Reviews and Commentaries for Even in the Quietest Moments
I grew up on this album. By 1977 I was a huge fan. Played their albums all the time.
The first Supertramp album I ever bought was Crime of the Century on Mobile Fidelity. Every audiophile bought that one; MoFi sold over a hundred thousand of them. And why not? The sound was killer on the systems of the day. Lots of slam down low (but not really that low, although it seemed plenty low at the time), lots of extra top up high, lots of phony detail, just what the old school stereos of the day, like mine, needed.
Crisis? What Crisis?, followed in 1975. It was the Supertramp album that sent me over the top. I played that album relentlessly. Before long Art Rock was at the top of my list anytime I wanted to have an immersive musical experience, and that, for an obsessive audiophile like myself, meant almost every day.
Roxy Music, 10cc, Eno, Crack the Sky, ELO, Bowie – it’s all I wanted to listen to back then, and it encouraged me to keep upgrading my equipment whenever I had the money, although I admit to being completely clueless about all of that at the time. More on that subject here.
A year and a half later EITQM followed. It too became a staple of my musical diet. Man, I played that record till the grooves were worn smooth.
I thought the sound of my domestic pressing was killer at the time, too. Crisis was a demo disc at my house and this was right up there with it. Now the obvious question is, did I have a good sounding copy, or did my stereo not reveal to me the shortcomings of my LP? Or maybe my ears were not well enough trained to hear what was wrong.
Those of you who have been doing this for a long time know the answer: any or all of the above, probably all, and nobody can know just how much of each.
And there is no way to find out because you are not that person anymore.
Your 1977 Ears… and Mine
Even if you could recreate your old stereo and room, and find your original copy, there’s one thing you can’t do, and that’s listen to it with your 1977 ears. Every time you play a record and listen to it critically, your ears get better at their job.
If you do a lot of critical listening, your ears should be very good by now. You no doubt listen for things you never listened for before. This is simply the way it works. You don’t really have to try that hard to get better. It happens quite naturally.
So now the half-speed sucks when it used to sound good. (Such is the case with practically all audiophile records; the better you get at listening, the more obvious their shortcomings.)
And now, with your better stereo and better ears, when you drop the needle on some copy you picked up of Even in the Quietest Moments, expecting to hear the glorious sound you remember from your youth, it’s a huge letdown — so grainy, thin, and edgy, with blurry bass.
On top of that the whole sordid mess is stuck somewhere back behind the speakers, like the sound you hear from a cassette.
It’s not the record you remember, that’s for sure.
The Good News
The good news is that ten years later and more copies than we care to remember we think we’ve got EITQM’s ticket. We now know which stampers have the potential to sound good as well as the ones to avoid. Finding the right stampers (which are not the original ones for those of you who know what the original stampers for A&M records are) has been a positive boon.
[UPDATE: We used to prefer the right domestic pressings for this album, but for years now the better imports have been winning our shootouts. We think this state of affairs is unlikely to change. We have a link to other records like this one, in which the imports win the shootouts but the best domestic pressings still do well, earning grades somewhere in the range of Two Pluses.]
Once we figured the stampers out we were in a much better position to hear just how well recorded the album is. Now we know beyond all doubt that this recording — the first without Ken Scott producing and engineering for this iteration of the band — is of the highest quality, in league with the best.
Until recently we would never have made such a bold statement. Now it’s nothing less than obvious.