- A superb copy of this 2-LP set with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides
- My personal favorite EWF song of all time, “Can’t Hide Love,” sounds INCREDIBLE on this Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side four, where you will also find “Sing a Song,” “Gratitude,” and “Celebrate”
- We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
- 4 1/2 stars: “Gratitude brilliantly captures the excitement EWF generated on-stage at its creative peak… Neither hardcore EWF devotees nor more casual listeners should deprive themselves of the joys of the live versions of “Shining Star” and “Yearnin’ Learnin’.”
This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 Gratitude 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 1975
- 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.
We Love This Record!
These live tracks are very well recorded. The sound is rich, smooth, sweet, and tonally correct. The soundstage is big, wall to wall as we like to say, and on the best copies the presence of the vocalists puts them right in front of you. You can clearly make out each of the voices in the choruses. What a sound! Nobody does harmonies better than these guys. For audiophiles who like to play their music loud, it’s GLORIOUS!
The great thing about this album is that it allows Earth, Wind & Fire to stretch out and incorporate some funky jazz into their music, like on “Sun Goddess”, a song that they recorded with Ramsey Lewis and which doesn’t appear on any other EW&F album. They do a couple of extended saxophone solos on the live stuff that really take the songs to another level. The band is on fire for practically every track here.
This and The Greatest Hits Volumes One get you most of what’s great about the band. Both are Must Owns for anyone who likes Big Production Pop, soulful and otherwise.
A while back I happened to have heard the Gastwirt mastered CD and noted:
What a joke! LIFELESS and DULL. This record kills it! If you want to hear this music right you better own this record or one like it, otherwise you are wasting your time. (Of course, since this is a Hot Stamper copy, “one like it” is hard to find. But if you don’t want to buy one from us, get a hold of any LP you can, because this music belongs in your collection.)”
What We’re Listening For On Gratitude
- 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.
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.
Side One (Live)
Side Two (Live)
Sing a Message to You
Side Three (In The Studio)
New World Symphony
Side Four (In The Studio)
Three major hits on this one side!
Sing a Song
Can’t Hide Love
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
With That’s the Way of the World having made Earth, Wind & Fire one of the best-selling soul bands of the 1970s, Maurice White and co. had no problem filling large arenas.
As dynamic as EWF was on-stage, it’s a shame that there isn’t more documentation of the band’s live show. Only one live EWF album was released by a major label in America, the superb Gratitude. First a two-LP set and later reissued on CD, Gratitude brilliantly captures the excitement EWF generated on-stage at its creative peak.
Neither hardcore EWF devotees nor more casual listeners should deprive themselves of the joys of the live versions of “Shining Star” and “Yearnin’ Learnin’.” Maurice White is magnificent throughout, and Philip Bailey truly soars on extended versions of “Reasons” (which boasts a memorable alto sax solo by guest Don Myrick) and “Devotion.”
The album also introduced some excellent new studio songs, including the haunting “Can’t Hide Love” and the uplifting “Sing a Song.” One could nitpick and wish for live versions of “Evil,” “Keep Your Head to the Sky,” and “Kalimba Song,” but the bottom line is that Gratitude is one of EWF’s finest accomplishments.