Flack / Hathaway – Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

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  • An outstanding copy, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades throughout, making this the best copy to hit the site in many years!
  • There’s Tubey Magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording – when it all comes together on Where Is The Love, you won’t believe how good it sounds
  • One of our favorite duet albums, Flack and the woefully underrated Soul Man Donny Hathaway are in top form here
  • Allmusic raves: “A duet classic, and perhaps the most popular album Roberta Flack made. ‘Where Is the Love’ dominated urban contemporary radio for almost the entire year, while ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ was just as influential…”

These soulful duets sound wonderful. The best sides are big, bold, open and transparent with a huge three-dimensional soundfield, strong presence, good rhythmic energy, and wonderfully dynamic leads and choruses.

Speaking of Tubey Magic

The original pressings have 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. On the best copies, you can hear into a recording, actually “see” the performers, and feel as if you are sitting in the studio with the band. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for.

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 superb sides such as these 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 1972
  • 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 studio space

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.

What to Listen For

Extension high and low was hard to come by on this album. So many copies sound flat and midrangy with grainy vocals, not unlike an old Motown record.

On the best copies, we can hear how magical the album is. This is real music that still sounds fresh and relevant, perhaps more so today than when it was released in 1972.

Overdriven Microphones

On even the best pressings, these two super soulful singers overdrive the mics; that sound is on the master tape, of that we have no doubt. But some copies play that sound “clean” and some make a mess of it. Some pressings seem to be compensating for those bright spots by equalizing out some of the upper midrange, but the result is a copy that never comes to life the way the best do, lacking the breathy, present vocals that are the sine qua non of this recording.

The opposite is just as big a problem if not more so — any copy that was thin and dry, lacking lower midrange weight, just made a mess of the vocals. The best copies are rich and sweet in the midrange with warmth and Tubey Magic for days.

What We’re Listening For on Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

I (Who Have Nothing)
You’ve Got a Friend
Baby I Love You
Be Real Black for Me
You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Side Two

For All We Know
Where Is the Love
When Love Has Grown
Come Ye Disconsolate
Mood

AMG  Review

A duet classic, and perhaps the most popular album Roberta Flack made. Their single “Where Is the Love” dominated urban contemporary radio for almost the entire year, while “You’ve Got a Friend” was just as influential and was later covered by numerous artists (of course they didn’t write it, but a lot of folks thought they did). It did so well that Flack eventually did other duet material and also became very close to Hathaway.

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