Stevie Wonder – Down To Earth

More Stevie Wonder

Down To Earth

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this mono pressing of Stevie’s 1966 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Powerful sound throughout – huge and present with amazing clarity and smooth vocals – definitely not the sound of AM radio (thank god)
  • The cover’s still in the shrink on this collector’s edition – we may never see another this nice!
  • The Big Hit here is Thank You Love and it sounds just right

We love Stevie’s records from back in the day, 1966 in this case, but man, trying to find them in audiophile playing condition is almost impossible. We paid a pretty penny for this Collector Quality copy and we’re glad we did.

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with Stevie, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Down To Earth 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 1966
  • 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.

Superb sound

Rich, tubey and smooth in the midrange, the heart of the music is right. Zero smear, hi-rez, with a big bottom, we were loving it and of course, when it sounds this good you can really get into the music.

On side two, the vocals are especially big, rich and breathy starting with track two. So lively too. Listen for the swingin’ brass arrangement on the third track.

What We’re Listening For on Down To Earth

  • 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 attack, 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 vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A Place in the Sun
Bang Bang 
Down to Earth 
Thank You Love 
Be Cool, Be Calm (And Keep Yourself Together) 
Sylvia

Side Two

My World Is Empty Without You 
The Lonesome Road 
Angel Baby (Don’t You Ever Leave Me)
Mr. Tambourine Man
Sixteen Tons 
Hey Love