Much like our best copies of Jazz, this pressing really conveys the live-in-the-studio performance qualities of the music. This is a tight ensemble working at the top of their game, no surprise there; Ry surrounds himself with nothing but the best.
Absolutely crucial to this album is the sound of the various stringed instruments. Over the course of the two sides you’ll be treated to many different styles of guitar — electric, slack-key, Hawaiian, bottleneck, steel, and acoustic — plus mandolin, mandola, tiple, and more. You’ll need an open and spacious copy with superb transparency and clarity to fully appreciate the lovely and unusual sounds of these instruments.
Like we’ve said about Ry Cooder’s Jazz, rounding up a panoply of relatively exotic instruments for an album doesn’t make it especially noteworthy. Thankfully, it’s obvious that Ry Cooder’s up to a lot more than that. Using an ensemble of seriously talented musicians, as well as studio engineers who really understand how to capture these instruments, Cooder again succeeds in giving the audiophile public a full course spread of lovely and uncommon sounds.
What to Listen For
Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is known for.
Note that most Heavy Vinyl pressings being produced these days seem to be quite Transparency Challenged. Lots of important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found.
Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with so many plucked instruments. The speed and clarity of the transients, the sense that fingers are pulling on strings, strings that are ringing with tonally correct harmonics, is what makes these Ry Cooder records so much fun to play.
The best copies really get that sound right, in the same way that the best copies of Cat Stevens’ records get the sound of stringed instruments right.
No two pieces of electronics will get this record to sound the same, and some will fail miserably. If vintage tube gear is your idea of good sound, this record may help you to better understand where its shortcomings lie.
These Are Some of the Qualities We’re Listening For in Our Ry Cooder Shootouts
- High Frequency Extension
- Midrange Congestion
- Midrange Presence
- String tone and texture