The Studio One Project: Joe South Album Review

The Second Album From Studio One

Welcome to my review of the second album produced at Studio One, Joe South's self-titled release. This is the second review in my ongoing series that I call "Studio One Project: Great Music From Doraville" where I acquire and review every album that was recorded at Studio One in Doraville Georgia. Why would I do that you may be asking? Good question…..to find out the reason please check out the original post in the series (which has the table of albums recorded at Studio One along with links to my review of each album). The first review was of Hampton Grease Band's only album "Music to Eat", which was definitely a bit of an experience for me.

Before we dive into the review I must first issue a disclaimer:

“Warning, I am not a trained music reviewer! I’m just a guy who likes music. Anything that is said in any of my reviews is purely my own interpretation/opinion and should not be relied upon as an endorsement of the quality of any particular piece of music or compilation thereof.”

OK, now that we got that out of the way...onto the review!

Review #2 Joe South

Joe South on The Turntable

The second album produced or recorded at Studio One was Joe South's self-titled 1971 release. Joe South (born Joseph Souter) was born February 28th, 1940 in Atlanta. He died on September 5th, 2012 in Buford Georgia. Here is his page on Wikipedia. "Joe South" was his 4th studio album and was issued about two years after his biggest album "Games People Play", which gave Joe his biggest hit, the single of the same name that reached #12 on the Billboard charts. The song earned him two Grammy awards in 1970 for "best contemporary song" as well as "song of the year". Joe South was also a successful sideman, having played guitar on Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" album among others.

Here's a summary of the LP version of the album (courtesy of Discogs):

Joe South ‎– Joe South

Label:
Capitol Records ‎– ST-845
Format:
Vinyl, LP, Album
Country:
Released:
Genre:
Style:

Tracklist

A1 High On A Hilltop 3:48
A2 Birds Of A Feather 2:45
A3 For The Love Of A Woman 3:00
A4 Rose Garden 2:48
A5 Yo Yo 3:45
B1 Fool Me 2:59
B2 How Can Unlove You 2:20
B3 You Need Me 3:03
B4 She's Almost You 2:22
B5 Devil May Care 3:05

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Capitol, Jacksonville pressing. FIrst issue, red label with purple "C" logo.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Matrix side A, on label): ST 1-845
  • Matrix / Runout (Matrix side B, on label): ST 2-845
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched): ST1 845 H1 #2
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout side B, etched): ST2 845 H1 #1
  • Matrix / Runout (Runout both sides, stamped): 0
  • Rights Society: BMI

 

*SPECIAL REVIEWER NOTE: The biggest thing I noticed in the album details is the "Music by" section. If you notice, it says "Atlanta Rhythm Section". This is the first time they are mentioned on an album as far as I know. They obviously went on to a great career of their own and recorded their albums at Studio One.

The Purchase

When I started my search for the album on Discogs I was greeted with about 15 possible choices ranging in price form $5.99 to$25 depending on condition. While the selection wasn't exactly large it was definitely better than the available options for my last review, Music to Eat. I settled on a listing marked "VG+" for both the vinyl and the sleeve and sent off my $8.99 to the seller.

The Vinyl

The record showed up about 7 days after I purchased it and when I took a look at it I was happy to find that I had a "first pressing"!!. The logo on the record label was red with a purple "C" on it, indicating a first pressing. These are always nice to get, especially for this project :-) Once I got over my excitement with that I took a llok at the vinyl and it was in very good shape. Playing it revealed just a few minor "pops and clicks", which took absolutely nothing away from the sound. The vinyl was unwarped and glossy. I was happy.......

The Packaging

The album is a basic single vinyl LP in a standard cardboard sleeve. Here's the front cover:

The front of the Joe South cover

And here's the back cover:

The back of the Joe South album

The First Listen

Side 1

When the needle dropped on side 1 I was greeted with a very nice song, "High On A Hilltop". It immediately set the tone for the rest of the album. This was my first listen to any album by Joe South and I wasn't familiar with his music at all. Within 10 seconds it became apparent that Joe South's music was more "Country" than rock and I was fine with that. The second track, Birds of a Feather, is a nice relaxing tune. The next track, For The Love of A Woman, does a great job of explaining why us males do what we do. The second to last track, Rose Garden, was probably the biggest hit on the album and for anyone over the age of 40 the tune/lyrics are immediately familiar. The song has been covered numerous times. The final track on side one is "Yo Yo" which has a bit of a Motown feel to it. Joe South has a pretty good voice and the recording  transmits a feeling of "fun" that is nice to hear.

Side 2

Side two starts with "Fool Me", which seems like a song about how we tend to ignore our faults in exchange for recognition. Once again, the lyrics and music are well played. The second track is "How Can I Unlove You" a song about regret that can't be undone. The next track is "You Need Me" which is a song that addresses the almost opposite feelings as "How Can I Unlove You". It's a nice back-to-back song combo. "She's Almost You" is the next and I think it's a song about reminders, specifically a women that looks and acts like the one you love. "Devil May Care" finishes up the album and is one more song about relationships and how people stay in them despite faults.

Second Listen and Thoughts

A few days after my initial listen I re-cued the LP on my Pro Ject Debut Carbon Turntable and sat down for another listen. What I took away was that Joe South was an excellent songsmith. His lyrics are well thought out and make an emotional impact on the listener. Combine that with the excellent musicianship of the band behind him, namely The Atlanta Rhythm Section (you'll hear alot more from these guys!), and you have a powerful combination. I really enjoy this album and it was a great use of my $8.99.

Bottom line is if you appreciate good songwriting and like "Countryish" music, Joe South is a worthwhile artist to listen to. He had a great career in the music business, wrote a lot of songs that just about everyone has heard and performed with some of the greats. Check out his music on Amazon (see below) and give it a try!

Help Support This Project

OK, here's where I shamelessly ask for money :-) Seriously, buying vintage vinyl and hosting this site doesn't come without a cost so any help you can provide toward that effort is greatly appreciated! If you like what you read and want to help out just click on one of the links below. You can get some Joe South music for yourself, or anything else that Amazon sells, by Clicking on one of the links.

Joe South Music on Amazon

Buy Any Kind of Music on Amazon

The Next Review

Review #3 in this series will be of the Atlanta Rhythm Section's first album. It may be a little delayed though as my first copy of the album arrived with a "crease" in the vinyl! I've never seen that before. My guess is that it was damaged in shipping. Either way, it was unplayable so I'm actively seeking a suitable replacement. Hopefully I can find one fairly soon and get it reviewed. Stay tuned...

Now Spinning: Rush 2112 Remastered

Time for another vinyl record review. This is the second review in what I hope will be an ongoing series of music reviews targeted at spinning plastic discs, better known as "vinyl". My first review was of KISS Alive and it was quite a while ago, and very early in my analog music revival. I am a music lover, but by no means a music expert so my reviews will be more about the general listening experience of the album, not the small details of each and every song. I am having a lot of fun "rediscovering music" by listening to it on my Project Debut Carbon turntable and I want to share that with anyone who is interested. On to the review.................!

 A Classic Rush Album Remastered

2112 was released on April 1st, 1976 and was the fourth album by the Canadian progressive rock trio. The album reached 5th on the Canadian charts and 61st on the US charts. The album is a double-platinum in Canada and a triple-platinum in the US. Over the years there have been a number of reissues/remasterings but the 40th anniversary of the Band happened in 2014 and that prompted a "12 Months of Rush" promotion that included a remastering for vinyl by  Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios. In addition to vinyl, high resolution digital files (24-bit/96kHz and 24-bit/192kHz) were made available for sale. The new Rush 2112 Remastered "audiophile" vinyl LP was released in March of 2015. I purchased my copy for $26.40 on Amazon a couple of weeks ago.

My "Rush" to Rush

I have to admit that I am not a Rush fanatic. My initial exposure to the band was in high school when their two best selling albums were released (Permanent Waves in 1980 and Signals in 1981). I enjoyed those albums back then but kind of got away from them as I went through college. A couple years after college (1989 or so) I picked up Signals on CD and listened to it quite a bit. But since 1994 or so I have been mostly out of the loop as far as Rush music was concerned.

That all changed when I got my turntable last year and began my search to get all of the music I enjoyed as a kid on vinyl. That's when I rediscovered Rush and the remasters that were in progress. I kept up with the release dates of the remastered albums and purchased Hemispheres and Moving Pictures in hi-rez digital a couple months ago through ProStudioMasters to reacquaint myself with the band. I decided to get at least a couple of the vinyl editions after hearing generally good reviews on several music forums. 2112 was the one I decided to start off with even though I really hadn't listened to the album in its entirety, as people seem think that it is "the one Rush album to get if you just want to listen to one Rush album. It also seemed to the be one that had the highest overall quality in the newly remastered vinyl release.

Where The Future Meets The Past

2112 is a "concept" album with side one consisting of a 20 minute suite in 7 parts. Side two's songs are unrelated to side one's. The side one suite is apparently influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand and is based in the future, telling the story of the fate of the galaxy's planets in 2112 under the rule of the "Red Star of the Solar Federation". It was a futuristic theme that was originally executed on a decidedly "un-futuristic" format of pressed plastic. Now, nearly 40 years after the original release the album has been remastered using "state of the art Digital Metal Mastering" methods that promise a superior vinyl listening experience.

I ordered the album from Amazon on Monday and received it on Wednesday in typical speedy Amazon Prime style. But, because of a busy week at work I didn't have a chance to open the box until Friday. When I did finally open it here's what I found:

The front of Rush 2112 remaster on vinyl

The album was shrink-wrapped featuring a sticker proclaiming "200g Hologram Edition, Audiophile Vinyl". The front cover features the famous "starman" emblem that has become synonymous with the band. When I flipped the album over I was greeted with "high fashion", circa 1976:

Rush was definitely on the cutting edge of fashion back in the day!

For those of us old enough to remember, the 1970's was quite a time when it came to fashion. For those of you who weren't alive then, boy did you miss out! Rush was definitely strutting their stuff! I then opened up the album, revealing the gatefold:

Inside the Gatefold Sleeve of the 2112 Vinyl Remaster

The "starman" emblem makes another appearance inside along with lyrics to the songs. The album came with a free digital download coupon as well:

The 2112 Vinyl Comes With A Digital Download Coupon

I downloaded the 320kbps AAC files and the quality seems pretty good though I may go ahead and get the true hi rez version at some point. When I took the album out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable I was greeted with a cool hologram of the starman symbol in the deadwax of side 2.:

The Nifty Hologram on Side 2 of the Vinyl

The addition of the hologram is definitely a feature of the new remaster and I think it's pretty cool :-) Overall, I was impressed with the packaging of the album. Everything seems to be a faithful reproduction of the original based on everything I could find. The vinyl seemed to be well pressed with no obvious artifacts from the pressing and no visible warping. I gave it a quick cleaning, tossed it on the turntable and sat down for a listen.......

How Does The Future Sound?

Having never listened to the album in it's entirety before, I spent some time with the digital version while at work through my Fiio X1 music player (a great deal for $99!). After a couple of times through the complete album I put the vinyl on the turntable and sat down for a "critical" listening session.

Here's a listing of the tracks on the album (courtesy of Wikipedia):

All lyrics by Neil Peart and music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, except where noted.

1. "2112

  • I. "Overture" (0:00 - 4:33)
  • II. "The Temples of Syrinx" (4:33 - 6:45)
  • III. "Discovery" (Music: Lifeson) (6:45 - 10:14)
  • IV. "Presentation" (Music: Lifeson) (10:14 - 13:56)
  • V. "Oracle: The Dream" (13:56 - 15:56)
  • VI. "Soliloquy" (15:56 - 18:17)
  • VII. "Grand Finale" (18:17 - 20:34)"
20:34

  • 4:33
  • 2:12
  • 3:29
  • 3:43
  • 2:00
  • 2:21
  • 2:17

 

2. "A Passage to Bangkok" 3:32
3. "The Twilight Zone" 3:16
4. "Lessons" (Lyrics: Lifeson) 3:51
5. "Tears" (Lyrics: Lee) 3:30
6. "Something for Nothing" (Music: Lee) 3:59

The more I listen to 2112, the more I enjoy it. So far I've listened to the album 3 times (twice digital and once on the vinyl) so I'm still getting the full feel for the music. I've found that it really takes me about 4-5 listens to really become familiar with a complete album but so far I'm really enjoying it. Their music is a good mix of "hardish" rock, blues, and progressive rock. Side one's 7-part suite is well written and performed. I'm becoming a fan of Geddy Lee's vocal style the more I listen to him. Side 2 has 5 separate tracks, with my favorite at this point being "A Passage to Bangkok".

As for the quality of the vinyl I can find no complaints. The vinyl is solid (200 grams) dead flat and also super-quiet where it needs to be. I got a few static pops but those were very minor. The album has a slightly more open feel to it that the digital files and the reverb/echo on "Ovature" (part 1 of 7 on side 1) is great, both on my Hawthorne Open Baffle speakers as well as my Mad Dog headphones. I haven't detected any dropouts or  missing channel either which is usually a sign of a quality mastering/pressing. Overall. I'm very happy with the listening experience and with the quality of the vinyl and packaging.

Conclusion And Thoughts

I am really enjoying 2112.

The recent remastering of Rush albums has definitely caught my attention and I have a new appreciation for the band and their music. I only wish I had paid more attention to them earlier in my life. The good news is that with the newly remastered music I think I will get a better overall listening experience than before. The remasterings seem to have kept true to the original intent of the band and the sound is very good. I plan on getting a few more Rush albums on vinyl because of it. The price for the albums is in line with most new vinyl these days ($20-$30). I might even seek out some of the earlier releases on "original" vinyl just for comparison. Currently on Discogs, a 1976 original 2112 in Near-Mint condition will run $20-$30. If you have been a fan of Rush and haven't tried any of these newly remastered albums, I encourage you to give one or two a go in either digital or vinyl. If you have never really listened to Rush this is a perfect time to give them a try. Just make sure you get one of the recent (2015) remasters as the quality is much better than many of the previous attempts.

What Are Your Thoughts

I'm interested in hearing any of your feedback on the Rush remasters. If you have purchased any of the 2014/2015 remastered albums (digital or vinyl) and want to share your opinion please leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

That's it for now. Stay tuned for another vinyl music review fairly soon as I have picked up some vinyl (both vintage and new) over the last few weeks that I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts on.

Cheers!

I'm Still Here-An Update And What's Coming Up

What's up? I've been pretty much AWOL from the blog so far in 2015 but I wanted to let y'all know that I'm still here give you an update on what's been going on as well as what I'm planning for this blog moving forward.

Busy, Busy, Busy

So far 2015 has been a bit of a blur. I've been very busy with work and while I've had time to decompress each week I've been pressed to find time for the blog on top of everything else. I've spent some of my free time indulging my new obsession, vinyl music. I purchased a turntable at the end of December and have been having a blast with it. See this post for more information on why I like vinyl.

Some Changes In My Photography

In addition to spending time with my turntable I have spent some time on photography so far in 2015. I've managed to get out with my local street photography group a couple of times and have had fun learning to use my new used camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M5, which I got in December. I've been spending the last couple of months learning as much as I can about the camera and seeing if it is the camera for me and a possible replacement for my DSLR-based Canon T3i. I will be doing a post on my experiences with this camera very soon so stay tuned for that.

I also plan on getting back into the habit of posting images to the blog a long with information about the image

Some New Features

One of the things I want to do with this site in 2015 is to expand the content a bit. My rediscovery/commitment to music, both analog and digital, has been a great thing and I want to share that with all of you. So, expect to see some reviews of the music, equipment and tools I use to enjoy music. I think music, and the enjoyment of it, is something that many of us take for granted but don't put much effort into.

In addition to music I also want to do some content related to getting the most out of life. Things like my thoughts on food and cooking, nutrition/diet, health & fitness and other things that I have found to help me get the most out of life will probably find their way onto the pages of this blog.

I'm excited about 2015 and stay tuned for