Marty Gold's Soundsational "Skin Tight"


RCA Victor's art department sure knew how to lure helpless hi-fidelity enthusiasts (circa 1958, now known as audiophiles) into their clutches, particularly with the LSP series of popular releases. However, Marty Gold's "Skin Tight" is unequalled in it's narcotic allure. First off, you've got the LIVING STEREO banner, whose fascinating design indicated stereophonic thrills within. I get all excited today when I see it - imagine the thrill in 1960. Then you have the tag or subtitle which RCA added to many pop releases. In this case, it's "SOUNDSATIONAL!" Even Marty Gold himself was given s subtitle! He was promoted and known as "Mr Stereo", because of his keen interest in expanding the possibilities of stereophonic reproduction (ok, knob-twiddling). Next you have the artwork itself which features an attractive brunette, apparently nude shaking her set of bongos (with primitive abandon), while a stack of bongos barely covers her savage nakedness. Finally, the clever title "Skin Tight" - I think we get the picture.

The strange thing is, that with all this LP has going for it, you rarely see a copy anywhere. I've seen exactly one copy in my 30 years of collecting, and I am quite obsessive in my searching. Perhaps it was banned for it's provocative cover? Fortunately, this is a near-mint Black Dog Living Stereo label pressing from RCA's Rockaway facility, with 2S/2S stampers. Not bad!

Back to the main issue here, how does it sound? Does it deliver all that it promises? On the back panel of the jacket, there is a:

"NOTE TO HIGH FIDELITY ENTHUSIASTS: THIS ALBUM was conceived with you -and your stereo system- in mind. Therefore we have provided a supplement inside the package that gives technical recording data and offers suggestions for listening that will guide you towards maximum enjoyment of both this album and your equipment"

The sound is excellent. The session was engineered by Bob Simpson (in who's ears we trust) in our favorite Manhattan location, Webster Hall. So far so good. There's a nice selection of exotic drums such as the tabla, Mediterranean Drums, Israeli Clay Drum, an African Slit Drum, Tom-Toms, Bongos, Chromatic Bongos, Chinese Bell Tree. Snare Drums, Conga Drums, a set of Woodblocks, Cymbals, Cowbells which are all reproduced accurately. My only quibble is with the brass instruments, which occasionally sound harsh and aggressive. The transparency found in many recordings from this location is absent here. The insert gives us a clue - the stage diagram shows microphones throughout the vast stage spotlighting different sections and individual instruments, robbing us of much sense of depth or air. It is a minor point for this type of "show off" album, but a three mic setup would have been interesting. If, by chance, you see this lp, grab it, cause it may be the last time you ever will. I've seen exceptional copies selling for well over a hundred. To me, it's priceless. Highly recommended!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money with this one. The review got me digging through my own collection, looking for the copy I picked up years ago. I listened to it once or twice back then, but my system has come a long way since then. It is a great sounding album and a lot of fun, especially for percussion fans. Thanks for the great reviews - would love to see more!