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<br>Still Crazy About Records After All These Years<p>Why Not? They Keep Getting Better! </p>




Still Crazy About Records After All These Years

Why Not? They Keep Getting Better!


Still Crazy is the perfect example of an album that now sounds far better than we thought would ever be possible, not in this life anyway, due mostly to changes to the stereo, the quality of the electricity that feeds it, and last but far from least, the listening room itself.
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Here is what we had to say about an older (8/07) Hot Stamper pressing of this Classic Paul Simon album. This copy can proudly hold its head up high as a well-produced, well-engineered Pop Album from the '70s with SUPERB sound. Our last commentary noted what a mess most of the pressings of this album sound like: so spitty and grainy. Have we changed our minds? Well, yes and no, and we make no excuses for either.

Yes, most copies are still a mess, but No, some copies now sound far better than we ever thought possible, due mostly to changes to the stereo, the quality of the electricity that feeds it, and last but far from least, the listening room itself. With permission I would like to steal a bit from the Aja listing we did recently:

Aja -- A World of Sound Awaits You

That's what the Recent Revolutionary Changes in Audio link is all about. If you haven't taken advantage of all the new technologies that make LP playback dramatically better than it was even five years ago, Aja won't do what it's supposed to do. Trust me, there's a world of sound lurkng in the grooves of the best Aja's that simply cannot be revealed without Disc Doctor cleaning fluids, Aurios, Hallographs, top quality front ends, big speakers and all the rest. Our playback system is designed to play records like Aja with all the size, weight and power of the real thing. We live for this kind of sound here at Better Records. We're prepared to do whatever it takes to play records like this with Absolute Fidelity, secure in the knowledge that a system that can play Aja can play ANYTHING.

As we noted in our previous commentary for the Hot Stamper Still Crazy (back in 2005!), when we first dropped the needle on side one of another copy of this record, we were shocked to hear how spitty, grainy and transistory sounding the album was. We could hardly believe that a mainstream pop album by Paul Simon could sound this bad. It was pure spitty DISTORTION with ZERO midrange magic. A CD would sound better. Even Graceland, a famously compressed, phony, digital sounding album wouldn't sound this bad!

A bad copy you say? Maybe they don't all sound bad on side one, but there sure are a lot of them that do. Two tracks in particular -- in fact, the two biggest tracks on side one -- have fairly bad sound on almost any copy you play: Still Crazy and 50 Ways...

The True Tests for Side One

What separates the mediocre-to-bad-sounding average copy from a Hot Stamper is how well mastered those two songs are. In other words, if you get those two tracks right -- breathy vocals, sounding smooth and sweet, with the sibilance under control, supported by good solid bass -- the whole side is going to be good, maybe even as good as it gets.

We noted previously that:

"... side two on every copy is better sounding than side one. Why this is I have no idea. It's not as though they recorded all of side one's tracks together and they didn't come out as well. That's not the way it's done. The order of the tracks is determined long after they are recorded and mixed. But the songs on side two are consistently more open and sweeter, with silkier, more delicate background vocals and a more natural timbre to Paul's voice. He sounds less like a transistor radio and more like a person."

That turned out to still be generally true, but there were some exceptional sounding sides twos in this batch, so we can't say that side two is always worse. Just most of the time.

There is no substitute for having multiple clean copies and shooting them out. Every copy I played was original -- no Nice Price junk, no bad imports, no throwaways. Good copies are the exception on this album -- sad, but true. If you have an LP of this one, see how much Still Crazy spits. I'll bet it spits like crazy; most of them do.

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