- The right UK pressings are dramatically better than the domestic and Dutch pressings we played
- The key to the best copies is Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, and this vintage analog copy has plenty of both
- 4 1/2 stars: “[Sade] projects a wised-up sensuality, and the record neither creaks with the revivalism of Harry Connick nor the sterility of Simply Red, to name but two of Sade’s neo-cocktail rivals.”
This copy gives you the kind of present, breathy vocals absolutely critical to this music. There’s no denying the power of Sade’s sultry voice when you can actually hear it. All it takes is a top copy such as this to make her talents — and those of her bandmates — abundantly clear.
This vintage British import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely 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 the band, 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 Diamond Life 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 even as late as 1984
- 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.
You can be sure this album was a big hit at the audio shows back in the day; this music can really bring out the best in a stereo — especially on a killer copy like this one! We played a big stack of copies and most of them just didn’t do it for us. Most lack transparency; most are recessed, with the sound stuck behind the speakers; and few of them really open up spatially the way the best can, showing you a huge room full of players with space surrounding each and every one of them.
Another quality we found wanting on many copies was rhythmic energy. Some pressings had it and some just laid there on the turntable. The best copies really bring out the percussion and bass; you find yourself moving with the music.
What We’re Listening For on Diamond Life
- 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.
Don’t Be Ashamed To Enjoy Yourself
Hey, part of the fun of audio is appreciating different sounds and different styles. Sure, we get a lot more out of Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, but if we played their records every week we’d be bored to death of them (and deaf) by now. There’s a lot going on here for audiophiles to appreciate — tight production, innovative arrangements, and, of course, lovely female vocals — so don’t let this music’s mainstream success turn you against it. This is music worth listening to.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Your Love Is King
Hang On To Your Love
Frankie’s First Affair
When Am I Going To Make A Living
I Will Be Your Friend
Why Can’t We Live Together
In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau applauded Sade’s “taste, concept, sound”, and avoidance of indulgent musicianship, arguing that these qualities enhanced the “humanitarian” themed songs.
Los Angeles Times critic Connie Johnson said “there’s an earthy substance to some of the cuts–not much substance, but enough to draw you back for another listen”, while crediting Sade for knowing how to “clamp personal style onto recycled R&B idioms and make it all look invitingly new.”
Paul Lester was more enthusiastic in a retrospective review for BBC Music, crediting Sade for her ability to wrote “songs that were sufficiently soulful and jazzy yet poppy, funky yet easy listening, to appeal to fans of all those genres”.
Paul Evans called Diamond Life a “victory of attitude” in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992), writing that Sade “projects a wised-up sensuality, and the record neither creaks with the revivalism of Harry Connick nor the sterility of Simply Red, to name but two of Sade’s neo-cocktail rivals.”
Diamond Life was voted the 14th best album of the year in the 1985 Pazz & Jop, an annual poll of American critics, published by The Village Voice; “Smooth Operator” was voted 25th in the singles poll. The album also won the 1985 Brit Award for the Best British Album.
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Former model Sade made an immediate and huge impact with her 1984 debut album, Diamond Life. Her sound and approach were deliberately icy, her delivery and voice aloof, deadpan, and cold, and yet she became an instant sensation through such songs as “Smooth Operator” and “Your Love Is King,” where the slick production and quasi-jazz backing seemed to register with audiences…