Dionne Warwick – Soulful – Our Shootout Winner from 2008


A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

There’s a reason this record is on the TAS list, but you’d never know it by playing the average pressing. Most copies of this record just sound like an old Dionne Warwick record. You would never even know how magical this recording is by playing a copy that for all intents and purposes appears to be the pressing that Harry Pearson is recommending on his Super Disc list. The catalog number is the same; the sound is not. Unless you have at least half a dozen copies of this record — and we had more than double that — you have very little chance of finding even one exceptional side.

This has always been the problem with the TAS list. The pressing variations on a record like this are HUGE and DRAMATIC. There is a world of difference between this copy and what the typical audiophile owns based on HP’s list. I’ve been complaining for years that the catalog number that Harry supplies has very little benefit to the typical audiophile record lover. Without at least the right stampers, the amount of work required to find a copy that deserves a SuperDisc ranking is daunting, requiring the kind of time and effort that few audiophiles could ever devote to such a difficult and frustrating project.

Beyond all that, Scepter vinyl is quite problematic. A sealed copy that we cracked open for our shooutout was so noisy, it didn’t even make it past the first round. It takes a lot of work to find a copy of this (or ANY) album that’s truly a Super Disc; just picking up the titles from Harry’s list certainly can’t guarantee good sound.

This Hot Stamper puts Dionne right there between your speakers, belting out some truly great songs.

Side one is LOVELY — the bass is tight and punchy, the strings have lots of texture, and the background vocals are clean and clear. The grit and grain that plague the average copies are practically nowhere to be found here. The midrange is full of that old analog tubey magic; modern records just don’t sound this way. The sound is so open and transparent, you can hear right into the music. We gave side one an A++.

Side two is nearly as good. It’s incredibly clean and clear, almost completely free from the grit and grain that ruined most of the other copies we heard. The brass sound wonderful with breath and a nice bite. Side one had an extra measure of tubey magic, but side two’s not far behind at A+.

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