This Columbia 360 Label pressing has TWO WONDERFUL SIDES and quiet vinyl. We just finished a big shootout for this great album and this copy was a MAJOR step up from most of them we played, particularly on side two. It’s of course not the world’s greatest recording (San Quentin is not quite Olympic Studios) but on a Hot Stamper copy the sound can actually be very good.
Most copies we’ve played are just too full of grit and grain to enjoy. Other problems we’ve run into are loose bass, smear, weak top ends, and a lack of presence. We’ve been picking these up for a while now, but only a few of them sound good enough to really get into.
The best copies, like this one, give you proper tonal balance, presence and fullness to Johnny’s voice, and enough tubey magic to combat the grit and grain.
Side one is super clean and clear with good presence and energy. There’s nice depth to the soundfield, putting the female background vocalists in the back and The Man In Black right up front. The overall sound is tonally correct from top to bottom.
Side two is INCREDIBLE — tubey magical with excellent presence and superb transparency. It’s also smooth, rich and full with more energy than we heard elsewhere. The drums sound just right.
We had a blast listening to this one, and Cash’s banter between the songs is practically as good as the music itself! You’ll have a hard time finding another copy that lets you enjoy the music without the sound getting in the way. (more…)