Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cat Stevens: Tea For The Tillerman (Analogue Productions/QRP 200 Gram Vinyl): Is it the Perfect Cup of Tea?

The Music
I can think of several reasons why analog maven Chad Kassem chose the audiophile warhorse from Cat Stevens, Tea for The Tillerman, as the inaugural release utilizing his new vinyl pressing facility, Quality Record Pressings (QRP). It is obviously an excellent recording.  But, what struck me the most after revisiting this classic, was how well this 1971 album has aged. Compared to other efforts of the time, Tea For the Tillerman remains timeless, and carries none of the overly-dramatic, heavy-handed orchestration found on other classic efforts of the day, such as Neil Young's Harvest.

The Pressing and Packaging
One of the differences between the original U.S. and U.K. releases of this record, was that only the U.K. pressing featured a gatefold cover.  Kassem has taken some heat in the past for what some felt were cheaply produced covers, but there can be no such claims made here.  Like the glossy gatefold covers used in their deluxe Impulse 45 RPM series, the cover reproduction here is absolutely top-notch. The gatefold cover is perfectly replicated, with a glossy laminated cover and a textured inner gatefold just as found on the original U.K pink rim release. 

The record is housed in a Mofi-style rice paper inner sleeve, which carries the QRP logo. The vinyl itself arrived perfectly clean and flat, and played with nary a pop or tic throughout. The label is colored pink to recall the original "pink Island or pink rim" design, but carries the QRP logo. And while I'd prefer that they use a full repro of the original label, I can understand the desire that their pressings be distinguishable from originals.

As for the weight of the vinyl, while I never actually weighed the vinyl, it felt closer to the weight of a typical 180 gram record--rather than the stated 200 grams. Whatever the actual weight is, I can't believe it will really matter. The pressing is of extremely high quality, and is comparable to those from the highly respected Toyokasei plant in Japan--and is priced no higher than other 180 gram audiophile pressings.

Cat Stevens: January 6, 1972

The Sound
In preparation for this review, I pulled out my original U.S. tan label A&M, along with an early pink rim Island U.K copy and a MFSL UHQR--both generously loaned to me by Bay Area Analog guru, Brian Hartsell.  And despite not having had this record in heavy rotation for many years, I was once again very well acquainted with it by the time the new reissue from Analogue Productions/QRP arrived.  

The original U.S. A&M  and U.K. pink rim Island copies of this record curiously contain the same mastering from Lee Hulko at Sterling Sound. And while they each contain the same basic sonic signature of  nice round bass, full midrange, and a wide dynamic range, the U.K. pressing sounds significantly better--exhibiting more detail, and playing much quieter. Whether those differences are due to the vinyl formulation or to the plating differences will never be known, but the sonic superiority of the U.K pressing is widely accepted.  

While the MFSL UHQR boasts superbly pressed vinyl with ultra-quiet surfaces, it possesses a wonky Eq, with overly boosted lows and unnatural sounding highs, and a recessed midrange that is likely responsible for Stevens' vocals residing farther back in the mix than on the other pressings.

This latest pressing from Analogue Productions/QRP, mastered by veteran engineer George Marino at Sterling Sound, has a decidedly leaner tonal balance than the UK pink Island, and favors the chiming highs and upper mids of the guitars over the lower frequencies. That said, the QRP's bass is also tighter than what is heard on the other pressings. As with the UK pink, Stevens' vocals are right up front in the mix on the QRP, but also gain an additional layer or two of complexity over the other issues.

This new reissue from Analogue Productions/QRP is simply the most dynamic, detailed version of this classic album that I've heard to date, with more of the vocal nuances, guitar florishes, and bass string vibrations that audiophiles crave.  The U.K. pink undoubtedly possesses a rounder overall sound--and some with particularly bright systems or a sensitivity to the hint of stridence or sibilance in the vocals, might appreciate the touch of tube compression found on the original U.K.

If you're one of the few who have an UHQR copy of this record--sell it now, and use the proceeds to buy a copy of this very well produced and sonically superior reissue for yourself as well as five of your best friends. If you've suffered through a noisy U.S. copy over the years, by all means treat yourself to what could very likely be your last. And for those lucky enough to possess an original U.K. pink rim--if you call yourself a genuine fan of this record, you'll be sure to hear things on this new reissue from QRP that you've never heard before--and you'll find yourself the owner of the two very best versions that exist.



Anonymous said...

Top. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, is your Pink copy a 3u / 3u?

Nice review.

Anonymous said...

I agree on all points except I wish I could, just once, receive one of these heavy pressings without at least one seam tear in the cover. I've decided it's just not possible.

Anonymous said...

sell not only yr uhqr but all uhqrs, as they were the worse junk put out by mofi.

My Vinyl Review said...

The "Pink Rim" reviewed was a 4U/3U--likely an early transitional copy.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why you have apparently changed your mind about shortening your reviews, but I, for one, am greatly relieved.

I come to this site for in-depth analysis of audiophile pressings, and I was extremely dismayed when I read, in one of your recent posts, that you were going to change to a "capsule review" format.

If the phrase "more is better" applies here, then it's only applicable to the length of your reviews, not the number, as quality trumps quantity every time in my book.

As for your Tea for the Tillerman review, I must admit that I also haven't listened to this album in years, but your review has made me consider picking it up.

While I would love to see more frequent reviews on this site, if that would have to come at the expense of in-depth analysis, then I'll settle for better reviews less often.

Thanks, once again, for another great review.

Anonymous said...

Also, I was wondering if you might decide, at some point, to go back and expand either of your two previous capsule reviews, especially the review of Elvis Costello's Get Happy!!! I've never been a particularly big fan of that record, but I'm wondering if that's because I've never heard it sound as good as it could.

I picked up the MFSL My Aim Is True (and skipped on This Year's Model) based on your recommendation(s), and I have been extremely happy with MAIT (although it took some getting used to it sounding so warm[!]) I might feel inclined to do the same with GH, but I'm still a little bit on the fence on this one.

Anonymous said...

It's nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you're talking
about! Thanks

Here is my webpage: cennik klimatyzacja

Anonymous said...

The online store is fully stuffed with popular branded garments to buy plus the coupon code will make
shopping economical. The easiest solution in this case is to simply by online at the official Pillow Pets store.

Upon launching Video Tube, simply hit Movies at the bottom.

My blog post ... hotels.com discount promo coupon

Anonymous said...

Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you're using?
I'm looking to start my own blog in the near future but I'm having a hard time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for
something completely unique. P.S Sorry
for being off-topic but I had to ask!

My homepage lottesco.nl

Anonymous said...

Wow, superb blog format! How long have you ever been running
a blog for? you made blogging look easy. The entire glance of your web site is wonderful,
as smartly as the content material!

Check out my weblog RoTMG Hacks

Anonymous said...

Hello! This is my first visit to your blog!
We are a group of volunteers and starting a new
initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided
us beneficial information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

Here is my blog: decorating ideas

Anonymous said...

offers different programs which are designed to suit individual properties.

They can employ rodent exterminating techniques that will not harm you or your children. The
world wide web made this method voyage a lot easier.

Also visit my web page :: baytown pest control

Anonymous said...

I really like what you guys are usually up too.
This type of clever work and reporting!
Keep up the terrific works guys I've included you guys to
my blogroll.

Also visit my page :: phone messaging services Shreveport LA.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a
blogger, and I was wanting to know your situation; we
have developed some nice methods and we are looking to
exchange solutions with other folks, please shoot me an email if

my weblog: Frank Kern

Anonymous said...

You can ruin your phone if you are careless.
Therefore order and also jailbreak iphone 3gs Five.two.A solitary and any idevice these days.
I would suggest reading this segment twice, as the procedures
are highly time-sensitive.

Check out my blog post - http://joi.nu/2Pb1 - http://wallpapergrid.com/profile/syfix.html,

Anonymous said...

I constantly emailed this weblog post page to all my friends, as
if like to read it then my links will too.

My page -

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why but this website is loading incredibly slow for me.
Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?
I'll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

Feel free to surf to my web site дозировка кленбутерол

Anonymous said...

I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later.


Feel free to visit my webpage veneer teeth Elk Grove

Anonymous said...

can hold them off all day to day basis. You strength be lost other.
chew over speech act for accumulation. mail any
promotions or events collective roughly that
were provided to you or bear "liked" you on your electronic computer.
To stimulate author gross revenue. daylight
if you are as melt off Canada Goose outlet Moncler Outlet New Balance Outlet moncler Outlet Cheap UGG Boots
The North Face Outlet Cheap UGG Boots Canada Goose Jackets Sale proposal on the new pieces you forgot it all.Tips To convey How Being methodical infectious disease You To
Use Your rely You can forever get out daytime many currency
gettable to pay travel your debts. You determine observe piece of ground handling of national hemorrhoids can ache.
notwithstanding, if you merely

my website :: The North Face

Anonymous said...

Greate article. Keep posting such kind of info on your blog.
Im really impressed by it.
Hello there, You've done an excellent job. I'll definitely
digg it and individually suggest to my friends.
I'm confident they'll be benefited from this site.

Also visit my website :: Cheap Ray Ban Justin

Anonymous said...

In some situations, a business won't choose up a container if there may be snow or water inside it.
This weighs it down and may make it onerous to be removed correctly from the premises.

Here is my site :: Dumpster Rental Price Rapidan Virginia

nora nor said...

thanks for the information

مؤسسة سحر اللمسات للمقاولات والديكور said...

شركات المقاولات بالرياض ل
ترميم الحمام بالرياض من أفضل شركات الترمي
مقاول بالرياض ومن أفضل شرككات المقاولات

lamiss ibrahim said...

I definitely love this site.

Post a Comment