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Dusty Springfield "In Memphis" sound quality

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by rednoise, Oct 21, 2016.

  1. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    rxcory and bibijeebies like this.
  2. drbryant

    drbryant Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Yeah, I had the CD for years, then bought the 45 rpm when it came out, and was disappointed by the sound. But, based on comments I've read here, this album just doesn't sound that great. It is what it is.
  3. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    For sure (I’ve also got an original Atlantic on vinyl, plus the AP 45rpm reissue).

    On the other hand I’d hate to see a default consensus that this album has any serious problems or is a chore to listen to, the way lots of people talk about Layla or All Things Must Past (mistakenly IMO).

    Dusty in Memphis doesn’t sound “perfect,” but it’s a perfectly excellent commercial pop recording from the late 60’s, despite Dusty’s skittishness and the somewhat Frankenstein-like process of assembling the album. It all came together beautifully, Dusty’s singing is genius, the album is massively crankable, and the experience of this album is sonic gorgeousness.

    Don’t do the audiophile thing of inadvertently waving people away from an absolute stone killer classic of ‘60s soul, guys, just because her voice falls a bit shy of the “high-end” clinical crystalline clarity of a Diana Krall torch song. This thing is sheer joy to listen to.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  4. chacha

    chacha Forum Resident

    mill valley CA USA
    Do you feel the AP is substantially better than the original Atlantic?
  5. bibijeebies

    bibijeebies Forum Resident

    Amstelveen (NL)
    The musical merits of this absolute classic have never been disputed.
    tmtomh likes this.
  6. ClausH

    ClausH Senior Member

    No noised to death and easily the worst version of the album I've heard, but the singles are nice to have.
    tmtomh likes this.
  7. Fender Relic

    Fender Relic Forum Resident

    I've had an original LP,4 Men LP,and the single CD disc Rhino and never sat down and compared any of them head to head. Had a late night listen to the Rhino CD last week and was more into the music than the recording SQ. The 4 Men always sounded thin/sterile but was the only good condition version I could find for a few years. So, maybe it's not that bad after all ? I need to go back and give it another listen.
  8. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    The AP is pretty freaking great, with a stronger focussed bottom end and more intense, palpable hi-fi presence than the original. It gives you the sense that this is as good as the master tape is ever going to be conveyed in a vinyl reissue.

    But I still listen to the Atlantic LP all the time. Some reviewers say it’s more “opaque” than the AP, but to me that understates how strong, vivid, and “right” the balance of elements sounds. It just reeks of a real you-are-there 1969 vibe. Either version or both is the way to go if you love this album.

    Definitely avoid the painfully bright, “metallic” Four Men With Beards vinyl. That was the first D.I.M. vinyl I owned and it’s long gone now.
    crispi, tmtomh, dadonred and 2 others like this.
  9. rednoise

    rednoise Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'll keep an eye out for the Hybrid SACD at a good price, but for now I'll stick to my '99 Rhino. It's good enough. Sounds like the thing I dislike about it, the weird "telephony" vocals, is common to all releases and is baked into the original tapes. No sweat, I still love the record.

    I suppose it's an intentional production decision, but overdone. I'm listening right now to Dusty's recording of "How Can I Be Sure?", and it's got a bit of the same pinched, sibilant vocal quality, though not so overdone. I think it's something they used to do to make stuff cut through on tinny AM radios. I remember reading somewhere how they would treat Diana Ross's vocals by sending a feed from her microphone to an EQ and removing all but the toppermost frequencies, then compressing it to death, then mixing it back with the untreated vocal. It's a distinctive sound, and I think I may hear it here, too.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  10. Stu02

    Stu02 Forum Resident

    I couldn't agree more. Apologies if someone took my mild criticism
    As reason to pass this by. Most definitely not intended.
    This album is so great I would recommend it if you could only listen to it through an am radio!
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  11. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    One of my top five female vocal albums. Maybe top 3. And Dusty is smeared mascara hurt bleached with strength. Thats the soul sound I hear.
  12. Alien Reg

    Alien Reg Forum Resident

    Sorry, everyone, my faulty memory again. Should check up on these things before causing confusion! But yes, it must have been the single disc 1999 CD that I didn't like. IIRC most of the bonuses came from a year or two later and had a rather bombastic tone - as if she was trying to recapture her "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" glory days.

    As I think everyone here agrees, it's still a great album.

    I wonder what it was about those Southern studios (Fame, Stax, American and others) - the quality of the equipment (microphones) or the tape? Or the way they set up before playing? They created a great sort of "pressure cooker" sound, but I do hear lots of drop out and distortion if I listen to any of that music on head phones. Were they on a low budget? I don't really mind - just glad those records exist.
  13. razorball

    razorball Forum Resident

    Agreed. Me I prefer the original altlantic US version and sold my 45.
    Stone Turntable likes this.
  14. The 45 rpm LP is my go to.
    dadonred and Long Live Analog like this.
  15. Pelvis Ressley

    Pelvis Ressley Down in the Jungle Room

    Capac, Michigan
    The files-only mono reissue is....interesting. Not a must have by any means, but the jury is still out on whether it's a fold, all dedicated, or a mix of both. There were dedicated mono singles mixed for the album, so it's hard to say.

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
  17. Long Live Analog

    Long Live Analog Forum Resident

    Analogue Productions 45 rpm for me...
    ssmith3046 and tmtomh like this.
  18. Ed Hughes

    Ed Hughes Forum Resident

    Ugh! I made the mistake of buying this. Just awful. Ended up buying the AP SACD.
    tmtomh and Bill Mac like this.
  19. Perisphere

    Perisphere Forum Resident

    Such a shame that the multis are gone for this album, if they went up in the Atlantic fire in the 1970s. I have the 45 of 'Windmills of your mind' (and the label states 'CSG PROCESSED MONO MASTER') and her vocal sounds much more natural on the intro, not so heavily EQd....then just as the rhythm section begins to appear, someone suddenly yanked in that nasal midrange boost. Agreed, some of those Philips era tracks sound horrendous. I understand she was pressuring them to do that in the recording or mixing, trying to out-Motown Motown.
    crispi likes this.
  20. e.s.

    e.s. Forum Resident

    United States
    Has anyone picked up the recent Universal reissue of this?
  21. muffmasterh

    muffmasterh Forum Resident

    East London U.K
    I am surprised nobody has a view on the original UK philips.....
  22. dance_hall_keeper

    dance_hall_keeper Forum Resident

    Y'know how some albums start with a great song and you anticipate it's
    going to be a great album?

    "Just a Little Lovin'" - Dusty Springfield.
    bibijeebies and Marry a Carrot like this.
  23. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    UK Philips vinyl or AP 45 rpm great. 4MWB or on CD pretty poor sounding.
  24. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    The vocals on this album are quite uneven - On some tracks, Dusty's voice definitely crosses the line from "velvet blanket" to "bizarrely muffled, WTF." Still an amazing record.

    As for the sound of various masterings, I've owned and/or heard the 1990 Philips CD, the 1992 Rhino CD, the 1999 Rhino CD, the 2002(?) EU Mercury CD, the AP 45rpm LP, the 4MWB LP, the HDTracks high-res files, and the AP SACD.

    It's no contest: The AP releases are the best, easily. Whether you go with the 45rpm LP or the SACD is a matter of taste and your preference in formats. IMHO the SACD sounds better than the LP, because to my ears the vinyl is slightly rolled-off on the treble compared to the SACD, and even a little bit of treble roll-off does the original source no favors, given the already muffled quality of Dusty's voice on several of the tracks. But I'm splitting hairs here - the AP LP is fantastic.

    The HDTracks release is very nice, and I think it's supposed to be a 2012 mastering(?). If so, the 2012 CD on Amazon that @SKATTERBRANE asked about above might be a CD version of the HDTracks mastering. But the HDTracks mastering, while nice, is not as good as the AP mastering, and sounds to me very much like the 1992 Rhino CD, which is the mastering I preferred before the AP came out and blew away everything else.

    The EU Mercury CD is, as others have noted, awful. So too does the 1999 Rhino represent a step down from the 1992 Rhino - it accentuates the weak points of the '92 Rhino (thin and trebly) with no compensatory benefits over it.

    The 1990 Philips CD seems made from a markedly inferior tape source, and when I finally got around to hearing it, I was quite disappointed - before the AP came out, this early Philips CD was a forum favorite, but I think it's just bad. Not thin-sounding, and not ruined by NR, but still not at all good IMHO.

    The 4MWB is, as others have noted, not worth having.

    Finally, I've only heard one original/early vinyl pressing, and that was a needle-drop, so I'm by no means an authority - but I would be shocked if any original vinyl sounded as good as the AP remaster LP.
    bluesbro, Mylene, stem and 1 other person like this.
  25. e.s.

    e.s. Forum Resident

    United States
    I had one a couple years ago, but it was a noisy copy, so hard to really say. My current copy is an original Atlantic, which is fine, but I'm curious about this new reissue.

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