More of the Music of Stevie Wonder
Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments
A++++ Beyond White Hot Stampers Discovered! After struggling through multiple stalled shootouts, we’ve finally unearthed copies of this wonderful album that have the sound we’ve been waiting for. We’ve gone through SCORES of pressings in the hope that one day we’d find a copy like this — with two Demo Quality sides, and fairly quiet vinyl, it’s our first ever White Hot Stamper for Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.
Both sides were the shootout champions, but side one went so far beyond any other copy that we’ve ever played that we had no choice to award it the rare A++++ grade — that’s FOUR big pluses, and it earned each and every one of them!
Mindblowingly Hot Sound On Both Sides
Words are hardly going to be able top convey how superb this copy sounds, but let’s give it a try. My initial note for side one reads, simply, “Holy Sh*t!!!” It didn’t take thirty seconds before everyone in the room realized that we were hearing the best copy of this album to ever hit our table. It’s tight and punchy down low, sweet and silky up top, and warm and sweet in the middle. The clarity and transparency are nothing short of shocking. The presence and immediacy will make you forget you are listening to a record — no other copy we’ve ever played gave us such a feeling of live music happening right in front of us. Any element you can think of is PERFECTION on this side one: bass, cymbals, keyboards, vocals, guitars — all Right On The Money. We’ve always had high hopes for this album, but this copy went beyond even our wildest dreams.
Side two was also best in show, with the kind of tubey magical analog that makes this job so rewarding. It’s got extraordinarily high resolution, shocking clarity and presence to the vocals, an unbelievably punchy bottom end, and a three-dimensional soundfield. There’s tons of ambience and all the extension up top we had hoped for. The overall sound is open, spacious, and sweet with lots of breath to the vocals and wonderful richness to the keyboards and guitars. The bass is tight and meaty, setting the proper foundation for these great songs. This side two is so full of life and energy, you’ll probably want to get up and dance! We rate side two A+++ — that’s Master Tape Sound folks, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).
The Average Copy: Don’t Get Me Started!
Why has it taken us so long to come up with killer copies of this album? Millions of these were made, and most of them weren’t made right. Last year we made some progress with regards to which stampers we liked best, but trying to find clean copies with the right matrix numbers has proved exceedingly challenging — even for us. Even when you do get the copies with good stampers, they don’t always sound all that amazing. I had practically given up on making this shootout happen until a friend dropped off a copy that had some serious promise. It didn’t turn out to be the ultimate copy, but it was so enjoyable that we decided to give this thing another try. With the constant improvements in our cleaning system and evaluation process, we were finally able to strike Innervisions Gold.
The price may seem outrageous, but it reflects the cost of picking up the multiple dozens of copies it took to find just a few good ones, plus repeated cleanings, edge scrubbings, and labor costs for the shootouts. If no one out there is willing to pay this kind of bread for the best sounding Innervisions in the world, it will serve a dual purpose around here as the ultimate Ref copy for future shootouts, and, better yet, my newest, funkiest Demo Disc.