- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides, this copy (only the second to hit the site in three years) is one of the BEST we have ever heard
- This is an exceptionally well recorded album – if you want a Demo Disc quality Christmas record, we don’t know of one that fits the bill better than this one
- Christmas songs performed at the level of Willie’s All Time Classic, Stardust – it was recorded just one year later when Willie was clearly on a roll
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 stars: “One of the finest country holiday records ever released. It’s not just because the title track became a classic, or that his choice of material is terrific (all familiar tunes, but all great) — it’s because Nelson is a great interpreter, capable of making standards like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’ fresh and unpredictable.”
Imagine the sound of a Hot Stamper Stardust, but instead of Pop Standards you hear the Red Headed Stranger himself, Willie Nelson, his voice still in its prime, singing Christmas songs, backed by similarly tasteful and understated arrangements. That, in a nutshell, is what you get on Pretty Paper.
Released just a year after Stardust in 1979, many of the same musicians are featured, as well as the same producer, the amazing Booker T.
And the most shocking thing of all is just how good the sound is. Next to Stardust I’d have to say this is the best sound Willie has ever had. It’s so rich, smooth and natural — in other words, analog sounding — that it puts to shame what has come to be expected from pop recordings over the course of the last thirty years.
Yes, records used to actually sound like this, as hard as that may be to believe after playing so many dismal sounding modern recordings, modern reissues and audiophile “product”. A good pressing of this album is one of the best reasons I can think of to own a high quality turntable these days. I find it hard to imagine that the CD would sound remotely as good.
Note that this record sounds even better when played loud, no doubt the result of having no trace of phony top end boost and very little processing throughout, unlike — you guessed it — much of the vinyl product being produced today. (And of course all digital releases, which should go without saying to anyone reading this commentary I hope.)
Many if not most pressings of the legendary Stardust album have some phony top added to the sound. The good ones — meaning the Hot Stamper copies — are the ones that sound more like this: natural up top and and throughout the midrange.