Straight Answers to Your Questions
This is only the second title by Jerry Jeff that we've been able to do shootouts for. Most of the records we've played of his from the '70s left a lot to be desired sonically and we gave up on them.
His Vanguard release from 1969 has superb sound, as does this Atco from 1968. There may be one or two more coming down the pike but that could be many years from now. His records never sold all that well, and not many of them can be found in Southern California.
What to Listen For (WTLF)
This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Country Folk record. A few qualities to listen for:
Immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant);
Natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this simple but sophisticated recording.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
I Makes Money (Money Don't Make Me)
Round And Round
I Keep Changin'
The Ballad Of The Hulk
My Old Man
The Ballad Of The Hulk
My Old Man
Jerry Jeff Walker's debut introduced his dry vocals and narrative songwriting style, with support from many session musicians, the most notable of whom were Ron Carter and David Bromberg. The influence of Bob Dylan and other singer/songwriters of the time is felt fairly strongly on this extremely low-key release (especially on the seven-minute "Desolation Row"-like "The Ballad of the Hulk"), but Walker favored the country and folk side of folk-rock much more than the rock side. The title track, taken into the Top Ten by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, remains his most famous song.
Ironically, however, Walker is not a native Texan. He was born Ronald Clyde Crosby in upstate New York and recorded his first several albums while living in New York City. He didn't move to Austin until 1971, but he's remained a major figure in the area ever since. Walker has been quoted as saying, "the first time I set foot in Texas, particularly in Austin, I knew I was home."
Walker first recorded with the folk-rock group Circus Maximus for Vanguard in 1967. The band split after its second album, and Walker signed with Atco and released his first solo album, Mr. Bojangles, in 1968. He is, for better or worse, best known as the writer of "Mr. Bojangles," an enduring pop classic he wrote at the after meeting a street singer named Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in a New Orleans drunk tank. His version of "Bojangles" never hit it big, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's rendition made the Top Ten of the pop charts in 1971.