Soul / R&B

Stevie Wonder – The Secret Life of Plants

xxxxx

  • Wonder’s wonderful documentary soundtrack from 1979 makes its Hot Stamper debut here with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound or close to it on all four sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The sound here is bigger and livelier than practically any other we played – above all it’s balanced, avoiding the tonality issues we heard on so many other pressings
  • “… there is beauty here. Stevie’s unquenchable desire for experimentation and love for melody are in full effect, and some of the magic and mystery of the botanic planet is evoked.”

(more…)

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

xxxxx

  • An superb sounding copy of an album that almost never hits the site; Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides are super rich, full and Tubey Magical with plenty of energy and big bottom end — Gaye’s vocals sound wonderful here
  • “What’s Going On is not only Marvin Gaye’s masterpiece, it’s the most important and passionate record to come out of soul music… arguably the best soul album of all time.” — All Music, 5 stars  

Stunning Sound

Way more spacious and transparent than most copies yet still super rich and smooth in the midrange. Listen to the bells and percussion — there’s real ambience around them for once! The vocals are full and present, the bottom end is big and solid, and the soundstage is open and three-dimensional. So good!

I don’t know how many copies like this we’ll be able to track down, so if you’re a fan of this great music you should probably snap this one up. Most copies we’ve brought in were beat to death, full of groove damage or just sonically unimpressive. (more…)

Bob Marley – Natty Dread

xxxxx

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on quiet vinyl, including an AMAZING A++ TO A+++ SIDE ONE! This is one of the very best Bob Marley and the Wailers albums, and you’re going to have a hard time finding better sound for it than what you get on this SUPERB pressing. Both sides are incredibly rich, full and open with the kind of massive bottom end you’ve just gotta have for reggae music.

We recently undertook a big shootout for this album and were quite pleased with the sound of this copy, especially in relation to all the mediocre copies that hit our table that day. Side one features nothing but hits (Lively Up Yourself, No Woman No Cry, Them Belly Full and Rebel Music — what a lineup) and all four tracks sound wonderful here.

We don’t find killer Bob Marley pressings very often, so you shouldn’t let this one get by you if you want to hear the King of Reggae sound amazing! (more…)

B.B. King – Lucille Talks Back

xxxxx

  • B.B. King’s superb 1975 release finally arrives on the site with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Unusually rich, full-bodied, lively and present sound which brings out the best in this music
  • “I’m always impressed by how crafted the music sounds on this album while still managing to feel spontaneous and natural. This is exactly what this sort of jazz/blues music should sound like. The percussion, the horns, the guitar solos, the vocals. Everything just sounds so right in a low-key but effective way. All the parts fit together perfectly. …Energy, passion and emotion flow through this album; B. B. King and company make it all sound effortless.”

(more…)

Bill Withers – Menagerie

xxxxx

  • KILLER sound for Menagerie with both sides earning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them – exceptionally QUIET vinyl for this album
  • These sides are smooth, relaxed and full-bodied – practically no other copy in our shootout had this kind of exceptionally natural, analog sound
  • Includes Withers’ signature hit, “Lovely Day” as well as “Lovely Night For Dancing”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… an assured return to form by one of soul’s greatest singer/songwriters of the ’70s… this is an easy record to like, after all, with a consistent tone and a soothing vibe, plus a good set of songs.”

(more…)

Commodores – Commodores

xxxxx

  • The band’s illustrious self-titled release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • Punchy and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out both the pop-soul of “Easy” and the funk of “Brick House”
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and ‘life” 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 stars: “The Commodores’ early years were spent on the Southern funk circuit, where their energetic, catchy tunes, and keyboard-oriented funk made them both a college and a radio staple… This collection highlights early up-tempo and ballad hits.”

(more…)

Flack / Hathaway – Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

xxxxx

  • 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. (more…)

Roberta Flack – Quiet Fire

xxxxx

  • Quiet Fire finally arrives on the site with superb Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • Tubey Magical, lively and clear, with the naturally smooth analog sound that only vintage pressings seem to offer
  • “… thanks to top players like guitarist Hugh McCracken, organist Richard Tee, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie, the varied mix all comes off sounding seamless.”
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Quiet Fire proves to be an apt title, as Flack’s MOR-informed jazz and gospel vocals simmer just below the surface on the eight [titles] here. Forgoing the full-throttled delivery of, say, Aretha Franklin, Flack translates the pathos of gospel expression into measured intensity and sighing, elongated phrases… One of Flack’s best.”

(more…)

The Chambers Brothers – The Time Has Come

xxxxx

  • This early 360 pressing of The Time Has Come has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • When you play “Time Has Come Today” here – the long version of course – you will not believe how spacious, Tubey Magical and TRIPPY it is
  • This groundbreaking album of soul, funk and Psych Rock is exceptionally well recorded – you’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with such wonderful clarity
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This, the Chambers Brothers’ coming-of-age record, was a well-timed and even better executed exercise in modern record-making… [it] shows the brothers not just embracing the psychedelic trends, but also redefining their R&B leanings.”

(more…)

Roberta Flack – First Take

xxxxx

  • Roberta Flack’s stunning debut album finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish 
  • The sound here is richer, fuller, more musical and more natural – Flack’s breathy voice is reproduced with a solidity and immediacy that’s not easy to find on vinyl
  • 5 stars: “Roberta Flack’s debut album, titled First Take in true underachiever fashion, introduced a singer who’d assimilated the powerful interpretive talents of Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, the earthy power of Aretha Franklin, and the crystal purity and emotional resonance of folksingers like Judy Collins… one of the most fascinating soul debuts of the era.”

(more…)