Whenever I’m bragging about my middle-aged man’s audiophile stereo system, the all important “demo” record that I always pull out first is Intervention Records’ ridiculously fantastic reissue of the first Flying Burrito Bros. album. Pressed on a super flat 180 gram platter at RTI, the Intervention LP of The Gilded Palace of Sin is dead quiet. Remarkably so. So quiet that even people who don’t care about such things… well they tend to remark about it. It’s as quiet as a CD so when the music starts from the blackness with nary a click or pop, it’s almost startling. Gilded Palace with its chiming acoustic guitars, clean electric leads and the pedal steel work of “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow, along with that snappy Nashville drum sound, has always sounded pretty decent, but the Intervention pressing is better than any prior version, even the first pressing. Mastered by Kevin Gray at CoHEARent Audio from a 1/2” safety copy of the original stereo master tapes using all analog gear, it’s the best this album will ever sound. I simply can’t imagine how anyone could possibly find any additional sound particles on the masters that Gray hasn’t already employed here. And the bass! The bass is so focused, I guess, is the word. Really punchy bass. It’s almost odd to hear such tightly articulated bass on recordings of this vintage.
The best way to get across how great it sounds short of inviting you over and playing it for you would be comparing it to going from HD to 4K. It’s just that extra bit better than previous iterations of the album (I have the Japanese HDCD, for instance, which I always thought sounded great, and this utterly blows it away) and one of the most notable cases that I can think of of a 50-year-old album sounding better than on the day it was first issued. Already great to even greater, in other words. For one thing, that’s not easy to do, for another, you have to truly care about what you’re doing to achieve that level of audiophile quality. For those of us into vinyl, it does not get better than the lovingly restored products of Shane Buettner’s archive quality reissue label Intervention Records. Buettner is a genuine audiophile hero. He’s doing the Lord’s work. And he’s just released the second Flying Burrito Bros. album Burrito Deluxe and given it the same carefully buffed sonic treatment that Gilded Palace got.
It’s often said of Burrito Deluxe that it isn’t as good as its classic, genre-defining predecessor and while, yes, this technically might be true, it’s still a helluva good album. I first heard both albums at the same time, packaged together so they have always seemed like a two-record set to me. Was there much growth between the first and second FBB album? No, there was obviously almost none, but that’s not something to, you know, complain about either. And as with the first Intervention FBB album, the sound quality is simply astonishing here. I don’t care if you paid $600 for your mint condition “hot stamper” of Burrito Deluxe, this one sounds better and is the best, the definitive audiophile grade pressing.
And that’s the point, the very raison d’etre behind Buettner’s company, always achieving the best possible results (heavy pressings, 45rpm versions, beautifully restored artwork, think cardstock sleeves) with the shortest signal path (all analog if possible) and from the ultimate best possible source, of great albums from the 70s/80s/90s that were not being respected by the vinyl reissue market. He’s put out the definitive versions of classic albums by Joe Jackson, Judee Sill, Stealers Wheel, Erasure, Gene Clark, Matthew Sweet and more. If any of this sounds of interest, and it should, for more information visit his website at InterventionRecords.com.
The Flying Burrito Bros. sing “Older Guys” on ‘Something Else.’