Top Producers – Jimmy Miller

The Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup – Live and Learn, A Lesson from 2011

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This is a classic case of Live and Learn.

We would agree with very little of what we had to say about Goat’s Head Soup as a recording when we wrote about it back in 2011 — and for the previous 35+ years since I first played a domestic original.

Having done a big shootout for the album in 2016 we now know there most certainly are great sounding pressings to be found, because we found some. The data are in, and now we know just how wrong we were. In our defense, let me just ask one question: Did anybody else know this record was well recorded? I can find no evidence to support anyone having ever taken such a contrarian position.

But we’re taking that position now. All it takes is one great sounding copy to show you the error of your ways, and we had more than one!

Here’s what we had to say back in 2011. After having played dozens of copies and never hearing the record sound good, can you blame us?

This domestic Rolling Stones Records pressing has an A++ side one and an A+ side two. It was dramatically better than most of the copies we played it against, but I want to make it clear that the sound is still pretty rough. There just are not amazing sounding copies of this album out there, but this one was clearly a big step up from the average pressing. It gives you more energy, more presence, more weight down low and more extension up top than the typical copy. If you’re a die-hard Stones fan who wants a good copy of this one for your collection, you’ll have a tough time doing much better than this. Casual Stones fans looking for great sound would be better served waiting for a Hot Stamper copy of Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet or Sticky Fingers.

Most copies of this record usually sound like compressed cardboard. This is one of a very small number of copies of GHS that I’ve ever heard sound good. This is not the kind of record you’re going to use to show off your stereo or impress your pals, but it should allow you to enjoy the music without terrible sound getting in the way. There are only a few Stones records that can sound amazing, and Goats Head Soup is never gonna be one of them I’m afraid.

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet on London

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  • A killer vintage copy of this exceptionally well-recorded Stones album from ’69, with superb Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Clear, rich and lively throughout – the Tubey Magic of the best pressings is what has them sounding the way they should
  • One of a select group of Rolling Stones Must Own records which we prize above all others – Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed round out the trio
  • 5 stars: “Basic rock & roll was not forgotten, however: ‘Street Fighting Man’… was one of their most innovative singles, and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’… was an image-defining epic.”

Good pressings are certainly not easy to come by — this kind of rich, full-bodied, musical sound is the exception, not the rule. And there’s actual space and extension up top as well, something you certainly don’t hear on most pressings. This is a fantastic album, and excellent sides like these give it the kind of sound it deserves.

Raw Rock & Roll Sound

Of course, Hot Stamper Sound still only gets you what’s on the tape. In this case, it’s some rude, crude, dirty rock & roll. That’s clearly what the Stones were going for here. In terms of audiophile appeal, Tea For The Tillerman this ain’t. Nor does it want to be!

What sets the best copies apart from the pack is a fuller, richer tonal balance, which is achieved mostly by having plenty of bass and lower midrange energy. The copies that are bass shy — most of them, that is to say — tend to bring out more of that midrangy shortcoming. (more…)