Thanks for the review. Looking forward to hearing it soon.
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I received mine today and am listening to it now.
I have never owned this record so I have no preconceived notions or expectations about it (other than the expectation of excellent sound). I do know most of the songs but have never heard the album from beginning to end. I bought it knowing that it is a classic and with the curiosity of the One-Step releases (I also own the Donald Fagen release).
As expected, the sound is excellent. The vinyl is superb in every way as far as dead silent backgrounds and lush musicality. Records are flat and track wonderfully.
I recently saw Paul Simon on his farewell tour so I am feeling a bit nostalgic for the 60's and 70's music I heard growing up back then.
I am now comfortable with the folk music I really didn't appreciate when I was young. This album feels like a good one to smoke a joint and just relax to. Maybe I'll do just that...
I picked up my pre-ordered through my local record shop copy last Saturday and have about 5 spins thru it.
Overall it is A.) a phenomenal performance, just a totally great record, B.) the clarity, detail, separation, dynamics, and output are incredible but C.) not perfect, which for $100 retail copy I get to voice my comments after the entry price, and one could expect near perfection for the price.
I too noticed that there seemed to be some issues with the levels changing during playback. Side 3 seems the most noticeable.
I also found the highs to be a bit bright and almost overwhelming due to the dynamics of the record. The beginnings of certain songs, like the title track, and The Boxer, start off pretty mellow and end in a big crescendo, which depending on where the volume started at the beginning of the track is almost too much at the end. Mainly in the sharpness of the high end of the register.
Cecelia is a phenomenal track due to the dynamics but I also enjoy Baby Driver much more than ever along with Keep the Customer Satisfied. I have to admit I alway thought that Frank Lloyd Wright was kind of a corny song but it sounds so amazing on this Box that I really enjoy it.
Overall I think this pressing is worth the money and worth picking up. Nit picks aside, the dynamics and clarity are worth the price of admission. And the packaging and overall product is very well done.
I know you're commenting on records but what you are saying is also true on the cd . I have one of the first issued cd's of BOTW. I also bought this album when it came out in the early 70's it had the same inconsistency as well. I think it has always been a limitation of the master tapes of this album.
The problem with BOTW is that the master tape leaves a lot to be desired. As such, any reissue is IMO going to suffer in the SQ department. Pity that this is the case, as the music is superb. Music Direct picked this tile for its obvious appeal and ability to sell well...but they could have picked any number of better sounding albums that have excellent master tape sound quality. As a lot of guys are finding out, the One Step is only going to be as great as the original master tape...and that is the major limiting factor here.
I’ve always found Mobile Fidelity’s choices of titles to redo inexplicable. They always do a great job, I just can’t discern what the rational is in those choices. It doesn’t seem to be the sound quality of the original master tapes, as that varies widely. And it doesn’t seem to be a universal critical approval of the music. So what is it? I could name some Mobile Fidelity titles that I can’t see any justification for redoing, but I don’t want to offend anyone who may love one of them ;-).
MOFI uses ONLY the original analog tapes, (usually). A lot of these either aren’t around anymore, are pretty much wasted or very expensive.
Kinda narrows down the choices.
You’d be surprised at how many test pressings, (or titles that never even made it that far) were never reissued because the original tapes were awful.
I agree that some of their choices are strange...
Just wanted to check in with my thoughts on how this compares with the obvious next best comparison - the Classic Records 45RPM
Firstly the overall issue with this recording as it stands is that it’s a bit of a mess from the get go. Pushing the available technology of the time it can tend to overloading and stridency especially on the busier tracks. The best you can hope for is that the pressing sorts things out and gives an attractive presentation.
In a nutshell then this is what distinguishes the MoFi and Classic 45s. The latter does a better job of "sorting things out" while the former gives a more "attractive" presentation.
I’ll take two tracks for comparison -- Bridge itself and Only living boy.
On the Classic the impression is of dynamics and an extremely wide and layered soundstage. The bass guitar on both tracks is super (maybe too) rich and bouncy while the cymbals are clear if a little strident. Simon’s voice is small but in scale and tilted slightly to the higher ranges.
On the MoFi Simon’s voice has more body and weight and a lower tone but the bass guitar is much diminished, frankly now rather mundane in the mix and the higher percussion well integrated but less dynamic. Overall the soundstage is substantially reduced in all dimensions but the individual elements are pleasingly integrated.
The same broad comparisons hold on "The Only Living Boy in New York". On the Classic Simon’s voice is pulled far off to the right, on the MoFi it’s more right of center. The layered backing strings and vocals are more distinct in the Classic, more integrated in the MoFi.
There also seem to be some strange mix differences between the two. In "Bridge" on the Classic in the intro section Simon's voice moves clearly from center to right of center as he moves between the first and second part - when the echo effect changes -- he then moves back to center. On the MoFi he stays center all along ... not sure what to make of the decisions on how to change the mix -- but clearly someone has been editorializing on at least one of these two versions.
The Classic being one sided suffers from endemic and unavoidable bowl warp but the MoFi wasn’t perfect -- having some surface noise and an audible scratch in "Bridge".
Overall they both have pluses and minuses -- personally I prefer the Classic because I’ve gotten used to how it sounds and because I believe it gets me closer to the mixing desk. Arguably the MoFi is nicer to listen to however.
My impression based on two of these MoFi’s (this and the Evans) is that while they present a valid version of the original tapes they are by no means the "best" version -- I prefer my AP 45s of the Evans for example. I’m not sure I’ll be anteing up for any more, especially if it’s a disc I already own in a version I like.
"I’d say the MoFi makes Art sound like Paul:-"
How could anyone make that comparison?
"Garfunkel has a better voice than Simon, but I don't care about that"
WOW! I DO CARE about that! Their whole importance, their very existence as their history in the history of recorded music suggests nothing less.
slaw, my putting "better" in quotation marks was deliberate, for a reason. Better in terms of technique (a voice as an instrument) and being "prettier", but those are only two element in a singers voice, and not at all the most important to me. I do appreciate Art’s abilities at harmonizing, though. While he has his faults (to put it mildly), David Crosby is a REAL good harmony singer.
The "closest" thing which would've been near the master source when *new* (and: NOT duplicated from any dubious RIAA-eq'd "cutting master" down the line) would've been: the 3 3/4ips reel to reel tape of Columbia catalog number "HC1212".
Since it's a collector's novelty for the sake of sound comparison purposes: I have a 16/44 WAV upload of my copy on a soundcloud. There's (obviously) more hiss at the slower speed (and, as I did NOT use any outboard NR filtering); however, next to (I think?) the discrete quadraphonic 8-track-only mix (the cart in the orange case?)....this reel IS one of the cleanest-sounding analog (original) sources of B.O.T.W.