Genre – Soul / R&B

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

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Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

With Let’s Dance the name of the game is ENERGY, and boy does this copy have it! Both sides have the deep, punchy bass and sweet, extended highs that Bowie’s music needs to come ALIVE. With that big bass and smooth top end this is one record you can turn up GOOD and LOUD without fear of fatique. On a big pair of dynamic speakers you will really get your money’s worth from the best Hot Stamper pressings. 

Compression? No Thank You!

Most copies we came across during our extensive shootout were painfully compressed and thin. Sure, they could convey some of the enormous energy of this recording, but the highs always ended up being brittle and edgy. Subsequently the vocals would lose presence and the whole operation turned smeary. When this happens, tracks like “Modern Love” turn the joy of the music into boredom and even outright misery.

But the good ones boggle the mind, they practically defy understanding. How did they get that much punchy note-like bass onto a piece of vinyl, not to mention all those silky sweet highs? (more…)

Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s The Way of the World – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This BEYOND White Hot Stamper Two Pack has AMAZING SOUND for both sides, which makes it BY FAR the best copy that has ever hit the site! Side two (of record two) earned our highest and rarest grade, A++++. It went beyond any side of any copy we have ever played. When you hear “Reason” on this side you will be floored at how well recorded it is. Think about it: How many people on the planet have ever heard it sound this good? We hadn’t until this copy came our way, and we’ve been playing the record since the ’70s!

On top of that, side one of the other record in this two pack has A+++ sound. Simply put, this copy has the best sound for this album you will ever hear from first note to last, a claim we happily back up with a 100% Money Back Guarantee.  

Record Two – Side Two

We’ve been known to award a “Four Plus” A++++ grade to a record that goes far beyond anything we’ve heard before, and that’s exactly what we heard on this side two — sound that went well beyond our former benchmark copy. (more…)

Al Green – Gets Next To You

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  • Incredible sound throughout for this Hi Records pressing with each side earning Top Honors — Triple Plus (A+++) from start to finish
  • These sides are both stunning — clean, clear, dynamic and spacious with tons of bottom end weight 
  • “Al Green and producer Willie Mitchell established their classic sound with Green’s second album… Alternating between Sam Cooke’s croon and Otis Redding’s shout, Green develops his own distinctive style, and Gets Next to You only touches the surface of its depth.” – All Music 

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Stevie Wonder – Innervisions – Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2008

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Innervisions

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

A++++ Beyond White Hot Stampers Discovered! After struggling through multiple stalled shootouts, we’ve finally unearthed copies of this wonderful album that have the sound we’ve been waiting for. We’ve gone through SCORES of pressings in the hope that one day we’d find a copy like this — with two Demo Quality sides, and fairly quiet vinyl, it’s our first ever White Hot Stamper for Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions.

Both sides were the shootout champions, but side one went so far beyond any other copy that we’ve ever played that we had no choice to award it the rare A++++ grade — that’s FOUR big pluses, and it earned each and every one of them!

Mindblowingly Hot Sound On Both Sides

Words are hardly going to be able top convey how superb this copy sounds, but let’s give it a try. My initial note for side one reads, simply, “Holy Sh*t!!!” It didn’t take thirty seconds before everyone in the room realized that we were hearing the best copy of this album to ever hit our table. It’s tight and punchy down low, sweet and silky up top, and warm and sweet in the middle. The clarity and transparency are nothing short of shocking. The presence and immediacy will make you forget you are listening to a record — no other copy we’ve ever played gave us such a feeling of live music happening right in front of us. Any element you can think of is PERFECTION on this side one: bass, cymbals, keyboards, vocals, guitars — all Right On The Money. We’ve always had high hopes for this album, but this copy went beyond even our wildest dreams. (more…)

Thoughts on a Direct to Disc Recording – Side One Vs. Side Two

I’ve Got The Music In Me

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In our last shootout this White Hot Stamper tied for the best side two we have ever heard! In the final round it simply came down to the fact that the other copy was a little more clear, this one is a little richer. They were both so amazing we couldn’t decide which we preferred so we gave them both White Hot Stamper grades.

In our experience this rarely happens. Most of the time one side of one of the records in the shootout will show itself to be the clear winner, doing everything (or almost everything; there is no such thing as a perfect record) right. When you play enough copies, eventually you run into the one that shows you how the music wants to be heard, what kind of sound seems to work for it the best. The two side twos we liked were variations, and fairly subtle ones at that, on a theme — a little richer here, a little clearer there, but both SO GOOD!

Side two fulfills the promise of the direct to disc recording approach in a way that few — very few — direct to disc pressings do. To be honest, most copies of this title were quite good. Few didn’t do most things at least well enough to earn a Hot Stamper grade. This has not been the case with many of the Sheffield pressings we’ve done shootouts for in the past. Often the weaker copies have little going for them. They don’t even sound like Direct Discs! (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Down To Earth

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Down To Earth

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this mono pressing of Stevie’s 1966 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Powerful sound throughout – huge and present with amazing clarity and smooth vocals – definitely not the sound of AM radio (thank god)
  • The cover’s still in the shrink on this collector’s edition – we may never see another this nice!
  • The Big Hit here is Thank You Love and it sounds just right

We love Stevie’s records from back in the day, 1966 in this case, but man, trying to find them in audiophile playing condition is almost impossible. We paid a pretty penny for this Collector Quality copy and we’re glad we did. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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Hotter Than July

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

For the first time ever, White Hot Stampers discovered for Hotter Than July! We’ve been trying to find copies of this fun Stevie Wonder album that really deliver for quite some time, but until our gigantic shootout this week we just hadn’t had any luck. The average copy lacks the presence, energy and bottom end weight to let these funky songs work their magic, but a copy like this will let you appreciate the music without subpar sonics getting in the way.  (more…)

Sly and The Family Stone – Fresh

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Fresh

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

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.   (more…)

Lou Rawls – Natural Man

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Natural Man

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  • This outstanding copy of Lous Rawls’ 1971 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too 
  • The immediacy of the vocals is striking, putting a living, breathing Lou Rawls right between your speakers
  • 4 stars: “Relying on his deep, rich voice, he sings with confidence everything from the bluesy ‘I’m a King Bee’ and the Beatles cover ‘Got to Get You into My Life’ to Duke Ellington’s jazz ballad ‘Sophisticated Lady’… a representative collection covering the eclectic range of styles in which Rawls has always performed.”

This Original MGM 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 Lou, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Ray Charles – Soul Meeting

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Soul Meeting

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  • This outstanding pressing of Ray Charles and Milt Jackson’s 1958 collaboration boasts solid Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them on both sides – exceptionally quiet too
  • Wonderful sound from start to finish — full-bodied and warm with wonderfully sweet vocals
  • Kenny Burrell lends his innovative guitar stylings to this soulful jazz collaboration
  • 4 1/2 stars: “With Oscar Pettiford, Connie Kay, and Kenny Burrell in the various lineups, this is bluesy jazz in a laid-back manner; it surprised many hardcore R&B fans when these albums were originally issued.”

This wonderful pressing has superb sound throughout! It’s EXTREMELY rare to find a stereo copy of this title in anything but beat condition. (more…)