- This Limited Edition Sheffield Lab Direct Disc recording has some of the best sound we have ever heard for Volume III, clearly the best sounding title in the series
- A superb pressing with energy and presence that just jumps right out of your speakers – this is but one of the qualities that separates the truly Hot Stampers from the pack
- Many copies of this album tend to sound a bit thin and somewhat bright – on this copy, the sound is rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom
- If you’re a Lincoln Mayorga fan, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this title from 1974 is clearly one of his best, both musically and sonically
- The complete list of titles from 1974 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
What do Hot Stampers give you for this album? It’s very simple. Most copies of this album are slightly thin and slightly bright. They give the impression of being very clear and clean, but some of the louder brass passages start to get strained and blarey. This copy is rich and full. The sound is balanced from top to bottom. You can play it all the way through without fatigue.
Trumpets, trombones, tubas, tambourines, big bass drums — everything has the true tonality and the vibrancy of the real thing. The reason this record was such a big hit in its day is because the recording engineers were able to capture that sound better than anybody else around at the time.
That’s also the reason this is a Must Own record today — the sound holds up, and there are not many audiophile recordings you can say that about.
Just listen to the astoundingly powerful brass choir on Oh Lord, I’m On My Way. It just doesn’t get any better than that. If ever there was a Demo Disc, this is one.
What the Best Sides of Volume III 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 1974
- 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.
Good Music On An Audiophile LP, How About That?!
The CLARITY and undistorted sound of all the instruments is off the charts. The beginning of That Certain Feeling is so warm and smooth it makes the hard, typical copy sound like crap.
When we dropped the needle on You Are The Sunshine Of My Life we knew we had a Side Two that was something special. Immediately, we heard more LIFE and ENERGY than we had heard before. It was so spacious and transparent we felt as if we were in the studio; which is the point of listening to recording like this, isn’t it?
The bass is PUNCHY and full. The saxophone solo on ‘Sunshine’ is so breathy and textured you can hear the keys clacking as top studio cat Plaz Johnson plays his trills.
If you have another copy, listen for noticeably different sax solo performances to see if you have a different take.
What We’re Listening For on Volume III
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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.
- 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.
A Round of Applause for Sheffield
As I’m sure you’ve read on the site, time has not been good to the sound of the typical Mobile Fidelity record. We may have been impressed back in the day, but now it’s clear their mastering approach was disastrous for most of the titles they did.
Sheffield, in this period anyway, turns out to have made some truly amazing sounding records, this one in particular, as well as the other two Mayorga titles. The Grusin is killer, and Thelma Houston too. After that their catalog is hit and miss.
But the early days at Sheffield produced some wonderful, wonderful albums.
Mint Minus Minus 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.
A Must Own Audiophile Record
We consider this Mayorga album his Masterpiece. It’s a recording that should be part of any serious popular Music Collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- The Perfect Song – My Love
- That Certain Feeling – Oh Lord, I’m On My Way
- You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
- Le Grand Medley – Madeleine Theme, Waterfront Song, Elise Theme
- From Menaggio To Bellagio
- King Porter Stomp