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<br>Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon<p>Our Shootout Winner from 2008</p>

Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This Ladies Of The Canyon absolutely BLEW US AWAY on side two, defeating a huge stack of originals! When we dropped the needle on this side two, we heard the kind of Joni Mitchell magic that is so hard to come by, even when armed with dozens and dozens of pressings.

Folks, this album comes to life on this side two in a way that is natural and musical, and never forced or phony. It's The Real Sound, plain and simple -- and very few copies have it.

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Sku # : mitchladie_2008
Manufacturer : Reprise LP

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The growl of the cello on Rainy Night House can clearly be heard behind Joni, with the wood of the instrument sounding real and correct. The kind of You Are There immediacy and transparency of this copy has to be heard to be believed.

Listen to the piano Joni plays throughout the album: this is not the thin and hard-sounding instrument that accompanies her on practically every LP you have ever had the misfortune to audition, hoping against hope that someday you would find that "elusive disc" with sound worthy of such extraordinary music. No, this piano has real weight; it has body; and it's surrounded by real, three-dimensional studio space.

This side two is warm, rich, and sweet in a way that we've only heard on a handful of other copies in the past. Joni's vocals just couldn't sound any better; they're full-bodied, breathy, textured, and shockingly present. This is the copy to play if you want Joni Mitchell singing to you right there in your listening room. What could be better than that?

Side one is darn good as well, rating A+. Almost all of the elements we look for in a great copy are here, but side two takes the music a bit further with a little more presence and tubey magic. Breathy vocals, weight to the piano, clear guitar transients, superb transparency, top-notch clarity, and startling immediacy are yours for the taking.

With the transparency of the better copies comes the sound of Joni's right foot on the pedal. It's clearly audible through most of the takes, something the engineers no doubt never heard. (Of course they didn't have the kind of high-res equipment we take for granted today. $5k phono stages have a way of bringing out these things.)

One of the Few. One of the Very, Very Few

We needed to find the right cleaning technologies to get LOTC to sound right, just as in the case of Blue. Our best copies got much quieter after applying some of our new cleaning techniques, and the sound became even warmer, richer, sweeter and more transparent.

In 2005 we tried to explain why it is practically impossible to find good sounding copies of Blue, and those comments apply equally well to Ladies of the Canyon:

The main reason it's so difficult to find a good sounding pressing of this record is that most copies have a tendency towards hardness, shrillness and aggressiveness. There is a great deal of mid to high frequency information in this recording, and the problems arise when you take all that energy and try to stamp it into a piece of mass-produced cheap domestic vinyl. If the vinyl wasn't good on the day they pressed the record, it doesn't matter how good the mastering is. The result is grain. Grunge. And since Joni pushes hard in her upper registers on many of these songs, it's enough to make you leave the room.

That's on the copies that are mastered right! The copies that are mastered with thin and aggressive sound to start with can only get worse. Those are the rule, not the exception.

The best copies bring out the breathy quality to Joni's voice, and she never sounds strained. They are sweet and open, with good bass foundation and transparency throughout the frequency range.

But There's So Much More

The best pressings (and our better playback equipment) have revealed nuances to this recording -- and of course the performances of all the players along with it -- that made us fall in love with the music all over again. Of all the tough nuts to crack, this was one of the toughest, yet somehow copies emerged that allowed us to appreciate the sonic merits of LOTC and ignore its few shortcomings. Hot Stampers have a way of doing that. You forget it's a record; it's now just Music. The right record and the right playback will bring this music to life in a way that you cannot imagine until you hear it. That is our guarantee on Ladies of the Canyon-- better than you ever thought possible or your money back.

[Much of this commentary was taken from our listing for Blue, a recording it shares much in common with.]

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