- With STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides, this copy is one of the best we have ever heard
- It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
- A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
- Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!
Bowie is without question one of the all-time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.
Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy.
I have never heard a CD in my life with this kind of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness. That medium never does justice to the sound of recordings like this one, in my experience anyway. People who exclusively play CDs have forgotten what that sound is; that’s why they can happily live without it. I sure can’t. At present this sound is exclusively the domain of analog and likely to remain so well into the future.
In addition, the musicianship is Top Notch and then some. Omar Hakim’s drumming is powerful, energetic, and performed with military precision. The guy is out of his mind on this album.
The combination of Nile Rodgers and the Legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar makes for a tasty, intricate mix of subtle rhythm work and searing leads. Or is that soaring leads? Hey, on this album it’s both.
What the best sides of Let’s Dance have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1983
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Compression? No Thank You!
Many copies we came across during our extensive shootout were painfully compressed and thin. Sure, they could convey some of the enormous energy of this recording, but the highs always ended up being brittle and edgy. Subsequently the vocals would lose presence and the whole operation turned smeary. When this happens, tracks like “Modern Love” turn the joy of the music into boredom and even outright misery.
But the good ones boggle the mind. They practically defy understanding. How did they get that much punchy note-like bass onto a piece of vinyl, not to mention all those silky sweet highs?
What We’re Listening For on Let’s Dance
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Bob Clearmountain in this case — would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Domestic or Import?
The scores of domestic copies we’ve played over the years are clearly better sounding than any import we’ve ever come across. The imports are clearly made from dubbed copies of the master tapes, sounding small, veiled, smeary and lifeless. (Come to think of it, that’s exactly the kind of sound we hear on many remastered Heavy Vinyl pressings these days, and exactly why we stopped carrying them.)
The fact that domestic pressings are consistently superior to the imports on this album may be counterintuitive, but that’s the kind of thing you find out when doing blinded shootouts. We have little use for intuitions (“if it’s a UK recording buy the UK pressing”) and rules of thumb (“originals always have better sound than reissues”).
Hard data — the kind you get from actually playing the records — trumps them all.
This track has a tendency to be a bit brighter than those that follow. To find out if your Let’s Dance is killer, see how the title track sounds.
The best sounding track on the album and one of the handful of best sounding Bowie tracks ever recorded. With a truly Hot Stamper copy, try as you might you will be very hard pressed to find better sound. Demo Disc Quality doesn’t begin to do it justice.
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
The best sound and music on side two. A top Bowie track.
Hiring Chic bassist Nile Rodgers as a co-producer, Bowie created a stylish, synthesized post-disco dance music that was equally informed by classic soul and the emerging new romantic subgenre of new wave, which was ironically heavily inspired by Bowie himself.