In our recent shootout we were shocked — shocked — to hear how good our old copy of Diamonds and Rust on Nautilus sounded head to head against the best first pressings. Hard to believe, but it actually beat every one.
If I hadn’t heard it with my own two ears I wouldn’t have believed it.
OUR MOST RECENT HOT STAMPER COMMENTARY
If all you know are the originals you will be surprised at just how rich, natural and Tubey Magical the sound here can be
Guaranteed to handily beat the Nautilus Half-Speed as well as the TAS List-approved MoFi (which is awful by the way)
Five Stars: “…the real hit was the title track, a self-penned masterpiece and… her finest moment as a songwriter…”
Wonderful sound — rich, full, warm, and sweet. The vocals are full-bodied and breathy. The acoustic guitars are fairly natural for a pop recording from 1975.
Play Jesse on side two to hear the lovely space of the studio, as well as more harmonic extension on the acoustic instruments. Watch out for track two; the EQ on the vocal is always a problem. (more…)
Stunning sound on this original Vanguard stereo pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to it
Glorious All Tube chain recording quality, kicked up a few levels on this pressing because it beat all comers on side one and came in close on side two, with vinyl that is going to play as quietly as any early pressing ever will
One of Joan Baez’s best sounding albums in our experience, shockingly free of artificiality – play it against your favorite female vocal to hear the difference
140 weeks on the charts and Five AMG Stars: “…a brace of traditional songs (most notably “East Virginia” and “Mary Hamilton”) with an urgency and sincerity that makes the listener feel as though they were being sung for the first time…”
This former member of the TAS list is the kind of recording that has everything going for it: Golden Age equipment in a live acoustic with a simple arrangement for voice and guitar (or two).
The voice and the material come together nicely. If I were to recommend only one Joan Baez record it would surely have to be this one. Diamonds and Rust is a nice pop album but I think if you go back and play it today you will find that it sounds somewhat dated. Good folk tunes like the ones found on this album, however, never seem to go out of style.
The record sound like a live demo session because that is exactly what it is:
In 1983 Baez described the making of the album to Rolling Stone’s Kurt Loder:”…It took four days. We recorded it in the ballroom of some hotel in New York, way up by the river. We could use the room every day except Tuesday, because they played Bingo there on Tuesdays. It was just me on this filthy rug. There were two microphones, one for the voice and one for the guitar. I just did my set. It was probably all I knew how to do at that point. I did ‘Mary Hamilton’ once and that was it…That’s the way we made ’em in the old days. As long as a dog didn’t run through the room or something, you had it…”
In 1967 Vanguard still knew how to record pure, rich, sweet, Tubey Magical analog. Some of these tracks are amazing sounding. Once a year we run across a clean stereo copy of this album. (With such complex arrangements we don’t feel the mono could do the album justice. You may feel otherwise.)
This pressing appears to be the original stereo label, although with so many Vanguard labels — dozens by my count — this could easily be an early reissue. The paste-on rough cardboard back is a good sign of its age.
Double Plus, with the remarkably innovative reworking of Eleanor Rigby.
White Hot, shootout winning and just plain Hard To Fault (HTF). The second track, a traditional folk song, has Demo Disc quality sound. If you are in the market for a natural sounding female vocal you will have a hard time finding a better one.(more…)
Natural, unprocessed, clear, breathy vocal reproduction is the key to any Joan Baez album, and this side two will clearly demonstrate just how well-recorded Joan’s voice (and guitar) were by the Vanguard engineering team. We heard immediately that this side one was excellent. We had no idea the sound could get as good as it is on side two. It takes the sound and music to an entirely new level.
With just guitar, vocal and occasional cello, the “truth” of recording quality is hard to fault. After only a few moments there’s really no sound, only music.(more…)
Very nice fairly original Vanguard LP with EXCELLENT SOUND.
These early Black Label Vanguard pressings are actually better in some ways than the 180 gram reissue, as good as that one is. Of course, they all vary in their sound. But listen especially to tracks two and six on the first side to hear a more natural sounding Joan.(more…)