Top Artists – Carly Simon

Carly Simon / Torch – Surprisingly Rich, Natural Analog Sound for the Eighties

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  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Surprisingly rich, natural and analog considering the recording date – very little sound of the sound of the day — the kind that ruined most of what was made in the ’80s — is on display here, and thank god for that
  • “Carly Simon’s Torch is a gorgeous throwback to the Fifties and early Sixties… By blending old and new material, and by incorporating a hint of jazz-fusion music into a studio-orchestra sound, Simon and her producer, Mike Mainieri, begin to suggest a continuity between Fifties torch and Eighties pop.”
  • If you’re a fan of Carly’s, this is a Top Title from 1981 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Carly Simon – Self-Titled

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  • An outstanding original Elektra LP with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • Can you believe that the producer and engineer of Carly’s debut is none other than Eddie Kramer!?
  • That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be is the killer track here and it sounds wonderful on this copy
  • This pressing really brought this Big Production to life and allowed so many elements to work in harmony.
  • It’s a good example of what a truly Hot Stamper is supposed to do – let the music work as music

The richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies are exactly what you’d be looking for on this heavily-produced pop album, and this copy gives you that sound like no other copy you’ve ever heard.

Credit must go to Eddie Kramer, legendary producer and engineer for the likes of Hendrix and Zeppelin. He knows how to get good sound all right, although Female Singer Songwriter albums in his catalog are fairly light on the ground. (Richard Perry became the go-to guy for those productions as the ’70s wore on.) This may in fact be the only one Eddie ever did. But he knows Big Production Rock, and that’s what most of this album is about. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “Wish You Were Here is maybe the best sounding record I’ve ever heard…”

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One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,  

I want to say a big THANK YOU for the Hot Stampers you sent to me.

Wish You Were Here is maybe the best sounding record I’ve ever heard (as you know I have a lot of Hot Stampers). I’m so amazed and lucky – I can’t describe it. The copy sounds out of this world with soooo well-defined bass, stunning clarity, warmth and richness, immediacy, astonishing transparency…

It murders my old copy.

Another Passenger and Honky Chateau are also Demo Discs of the highest order. 

Erik S.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

Carly Simon / Another Passenger – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Carly Simon

This is my personal favorite of all of Carly’s albums. It’s her most consistent work in terms of singing and songwriting. Nothing too heavy, just well crafted and enjoyable Singer Songwriter pop. If you like the kind of albums Paul Simon used to make before Graceland, or middle period James Taylor, you should like this.

Some of her albums can be badly overproduced, with big echoey drum thwacks; thankfully this is not one of them, so it wears well. I can personally attest to that fact because I have a tape of this album in my car and I’ll bet you I’ve heard it at least two hundred times.

Two Superb Sides

It’s one of the most transparent copies we’ve ever heard. You can really hear INTO the soundfield in a way that would never be possible with an average pressing. Even though we had played more than a half-dozen copies before dropping the needle on this one, this pressing showed us details that had previously escaped us. The presence on this copy is jarring — Carly’s voice JUMPS out of the speakers and fills the room. The bass here is PERFECTION — deep, tight, and note-like. The vocals sound amazing with lots of breath and texture. The overall sound is big and bold, smooth and sweet, and above all, musical. It’s airy, open, spacious and dynamic.

An All-Star Cast

Ultimately an album succeeds or fails on the strength of its songwriting, and here Another Passenger soars with consistently insightful material, as well as wonderful production. Ted Templeman was a hot producer in the 70’s, churning out very well recorded albums for The Doobies, Little Feat, James Taylor, even my favorite Captain Beefheart album, Clear Spot. He did a top-notch job on this one, too.

This underrated release from 1976 was a change of pace for Carly, and maybe that’s why I like it so much. There is no other Carly Simon album quite like it. She’s got some help here from a wonderful backing crew including members of the Doobies and Little Feat, plus Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Dr. John, and of course good ‘ol JT.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Half a Chance 
It Keeps You Runnin’
Fairweather Father 
Cowtown 
He Likes to Roll 
In Times When My Head

Side Two

One Love Stand 
Riverboat Gambler 
Darkness ‘Til Dawn
Dishonest Modesty 
Libby
Be With Me

Carly Simon – Boys In The Trees

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  • A KILLER copy with Shootout Winning Triple (A+++) sound from start to finish and the first to hit the site in quite a while!
  • This copy has the sound we were looking for on BOTH sides of the album: rich and sweet, with the kind of TRANSPARENCY that lets you hear every breath Carly takes
  • This pressing is just doing its job — showing you what’s really on the master tape — and not too many of the copies we played were able to do that
  • “… what really made the album a winner was that Simon had had a couple of years to write some strong songs in her unflinching, reflective style, and she continued to explore the loves and mores of her age and class movingly.” – All Music

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Carly Simon / No Secrets – Listening in Depth

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Carly Simon

Balance is key to getting all the tracks to sound their best. Many copies we played were too dull or too bright.

One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise.

Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will give you the kind of rich, sweet sound that brings out the best in this music.

Two Points

Listen to Embrace Me, You Child on side two — on the best copies you can really hear the rosiny texture of the strings as they are bowed.

The cymbals too can sound amazing — listen to how extended the crashes are on You’re So Vain.

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Carly Simon – Hotcakes

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  • A stunning side one, clocking in between Double and Triple Plus
  • Side two is excellent as well, earning One and a Half Pluses for its superb presence and transparency
  • Great sound for Mockingbird and Haven’t Got Time For The Pain
  • All Music Guide gives this Richard Perry production Four Big Stars

The grit and grain that plagues most copies is GONE here, replaced with the kind of space and transparency that really make sense of the recording. The bottom end has real weight and punch, and the whole thing is much richer and more natural than usual.

That Glossy Richard Perry Sound

Many copies of this album suffer from (at least) one of two problems: unnaturally hi-fi-ish sound or an excess of grit and grain. Both are in large part due to the processing-intensive production of Richard Perry.

The best copies make it easy to understand his choices: the sound is lovely. Unfortunately that rich, sweet sound he obviously got on to the master tape didn’t quite make it to the average vinyl pressing of this album. The effects used on Carly’s vocals turn her voice into a gritty, grainy mess on most copies — certainly not the kind of sound that audiophiles want to hear.

As is so often the case, it took a few exceptional copies to make us understand what Simon and Perry were going for. Compare this Hot Stamper to the typical copy and you’ll hear it for yourself right away. (more…)

Carly Simon – No Secrets

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  • Warm, sweet, rich, present and full-bodied, with much less strain on the vocals than almost every other copy we played
  • You’re So Vain was the big hit off of this one, a classic Richard Perry production with huge size and space
  • Five weeks at Number One and 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic, “. . . it wasn’t only Simon’s forthrightness that made the album work; it was also Richard Perry’s simple, elegant pop/rock production, which gave Simon’s music a buoyancy it previously lacked. “

No Secrets is a bit of a tough nut to crack. Due to the mixture of folky pop songs, big production numbers and potential AM radio hit singles, it has to be cut just right to get every track to sound the way the artists (Carly Simon and studio cats), producer (Richard Perry) and engineers (Geoffrey Cable and Bill Schnee) intended.

Balance is key to getting all the tracks to sound their best. Many copies we played were too dull or too bright, but the tonality here is Right On The Money. The clarity and detail are superb; just listen to Embrace Me, You Child on side two — you can really hear the rosiny texture of the strings as they are bowed.

The best copies such as this one are always transparent, natural and musical. The top end is wonderfully extended, balancing a BIG bottom end with lots of deep, well-defined bass. The drums are punchy and dynamic and the cymbals can sound amazing — just listen to how extended the crashes are on You’re So Vain on side one.

One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise. Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will give you the kind of rich, sweet sound that brings out the best in this music.

We’re big fans of Another Passenger, the album she cut in 1976 with Ted Templeman producing. If you like Carly, you should definitely check that one out. (more…)

Carly Simon – Anticipation

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  • This outstanding early pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Produced by Mr. Paul Samwell-Smith, this album blends Carly’s lilting vocals with lush, harmonically detailed acoustic guitars and BIG punchy drums
  • Brimming with favorites, like Anticipation, Legend In Your Own Time and I’ve Got To Have You, this is clearly one of her most consistent albums
  • “Carly Simon’s second album found her extending the gutsy persona she had established on her debut album… a frankly passionate person whose vulnerability was a source of strength, not weakness, a valuable feminist trait and one Simon would pursue in her later work.”

The acoustic guitars sound particularly good on this copy, with just the right balance of pluck and body. The vocals are breathy and full-bodied with extraordinary immediacy. The tonality from top to bottom is Right On The Money. I don’t think you could find a much better sounding copy of this album no matter how hard you tried. We went through plenty to find this one, I can tell you that.

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Carly Simon – Another Passenger

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  • A wonderful copy of Carly’s 1976 release, a personal favorite of mine, and this pressing rated Double Plus (A++) grades throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • There’s gobs and gobs of 1976 Tubey Magical Richness courtesy of engineer Donn Landee and producer Ted Templeman
  • Our pick for the best – and best sounding – Carly Simon album, a Must Own which Rolling Stone called “Carly Simon’s best record.”
  • She’s got help from a wonderful backing crew including the Doobies and Little Feat, plus Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Dr. John, and of course good ‘ol JT

There’s one quality in particular that added immensely to our enjoyment of the music — gobs and gobs of Tubey Magic. The copies that were opaque, dry, flat and “modern” sounding — which pretty much describes practically every Heavy Vinyl record we’ve played in the last five years — bored us to tears, not surprisingly in the very same way that most Heavy Vinyl does.

Most copies of the album get Carly’s voice all wrong — gritty, edgy, hard and strained, but not this one. Carly’s singing on this copy is smoother, sweeter, more immediate and clearly more emotionally compelling than we heard on most of the other copies in our shootout. The music seems to come to life right in front of you, right there in your very own listening room.

This is 1976, they were still making good records then. You would hardly know it by playing the average pressing of the album, but when you hear one like this, there is no mistaking the richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality that must be on the tape, qualities for which good tube equipment is rightly revered. (We no longer use tube equipment ourselves, preferring to be guided by the approach of reproducing the Tubey Magic of the records we play unadorned.) (more…)