Recording of October 1982: The Sheffield Track Record

The Sheffield Track Record
Robbie Buchanan and James Newton Howard, keyboards; Lennie Castro, percussion; Nathan East, bass guitar; Mike Landau, guitar; Carlos Vega, drums. Ron Tutt, and Jim Keltner, drum solos. TT: 22:13.
Sheffield LAB-20.

What, a recording of rock backup tracks? Who could care less? Me, is who. Quibble over the program if you will (actually, it isn't all that dull, and two of the numbers are fun to listen to), but this wasn't released for the program material. You might call it a tantalizing sample of where a lot of rock sound begins, before it is fuzzed, reverbed, and cross-dubbed God knows how many times before the final mess is released for the edification of the peons. This has to be one of the most astonishing rock recordings ever issued! The Absolute Sound's Harry Pearson (who obviously got his before we got ours, as you are reading this 9 weeks after our copy arrived) is quoted on the jacket as declaring this to be "Absolutely the best-sounding rock record ever made." He's right.

The sound is beyond belief! Incredible gut-shaking impacts, wall-flapping drum beats, and some awesomely stentorian synthesizer grunts, with some of the most unstrained, crystalline clarity and openness I have heard from any recording. (Although I'm not sure I agree with Sheffield's claim that this has more peak transient energy and more dynamic range than can be recorded by any other method, "be it analog or digital." If Sheffield had sent us our copy a week before, we could have used it to challenge the Sony PCM-F1, but one went out before the other came in. Actually, it hardly matters.)

If you thought Sheffield's Drum Record was a system buster, wait until you try this one! It's the first time I have ever heard the Acoustat TNT-2000 power amplifier gasping for breath, and I wasn't even listening that loudly. (I clocked 100dB on peaks with the IVIE IE-10 Analyzer. The amplifier strain sounded like a tiny signal compression immediately following each loud "whack!")

If you like this recording though, you'd better buy several copies; it has such high recorded velocities on it that you can safely assume it will wear out rapidly, whether you LAST it or not. I was inclined to suggest making a taped copy of it for repeated listening but, unless you own a PCM-FI (Ahem!), you can expect to lose a lot of signal quality when you try to put this on tape. The Track Record will never go down in the annals of recorded music, but as a sheer sonic tour-de-force I doubt that it will be surpassed for a long time. But then I seem to remember saying that about the Sheffield Drum Record. . . —J. Gordon Holt

markotto's picture

I have both. I generally play them only to set up or audition new equipment.I don't know if they have any collector value, but I won't part with mine.They sound wonderful on my old Ariston,Audio Design pre-amp,Bryston 4B and Infinity Reference Standard 2.5.To bad I live in an apartment now!!!! Ed Graham Hot Styx is also an excellent album.

Osgood Crinkly III's picture

God, I forgot I owned these. Talk about crappy music. This recalls the days of "hi fi," when tools used to listen to recordings of trains.

How come you guys aren't scouring the flood of new artists, new recordings? Your demographic is definitely those in wheel chairs and diapers.