Labels We Love – Motown

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

xxxxx

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this is the way Talking Book is supposed to sound 
  • Richer, warmer, more natural, more relaxed, this is what vintage analog is all about, that smooth sound that never calls attention to itself and just lets the music flow
  • So many great songs: You Are the Sunshine of My Life, Tuesday Heartbreak, You’ve Got It Bad Girl, Superstition, etc.
  • 5 Stars: “What had been hinted at on the intriguing project Music of My Mind was here focused into a laser beam of tight songwriting, warm electronic arrangements, and ebullient performances — altogether the most realistic vision of musical personality ever put to wax…”

Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are TOUGH. Very few copies are any better than mediocre.

This copy is more dynamic, open and transparent than most pressings BY FAR. There’s ton of space around all of the instruments, the bass is big and punchy and the vocals are present, warm and tonally right on the money. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind

xxxxx

  • AMAZING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this early Stevie Wonder classic
  • Anyone who has followed the site for a while surely knows how difficult it is to find Stevie Wonder records with excellent sound
  • This pressing gives you everything you ever hoped for from this music and then some — it’s full-bodied and spacious with plenty of extension on both ends
  • “Music of My Mind was also the first to bear the fruits of his increased focus on Moog and Arp synthesizers, though the songs never sound synthetic, due in great part to Stevie’s reliance on a parade of real instruments — organic drumwork, harmonica, organs and pianos — as well as his mastery of traditional song structure and his immense musical personality… his first truly unified record…” 

(more…)

The Supremes – Sing Rodgers and Hart – This Is a Motown Record?

xxxxx

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

What an amazing find! You could have knocked me over with a feather when this record started playing. Where was the awful Motown bright, gritty, distorted sound I’d been suffering through all my life? Certainly not on this copy.

The Tubey Magical richness is off the charts on this side one, with a healthy but not quiet equal dose on side two (hence the grade). As everyone knows by now (everyone who comes to our site at least), not every copy has the magic. Having access to a big pile of pressings is the only way to figure out just how much magic the grooves can contain.

This side one is proof that the grooves can indeed contain huge amounts of richness, sweetness, smoothness, naturalness and, above all, Tubey Magic.

Listen to how tight and note-like the string bass is on the second track of side one. What a sound! (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

xxx

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

EXCELLENT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES on this White Hot Stamper pressing of the great follow-up to Innervisions! We’ve been collecting clean copies for ages and were able to have a MASSIVE shootout for this album, so I can say with complete confidence that you will not find a better sounding copy of this album no matter what you do! Both sides are warm, rich and natural with excellent immediacy to the vocals. The drums are clear and crisp, the bass has real weight, and the overall sound is big and lively.

It’s very difficult to find copies of Stevie’s albums that sound great and play quietly. I know many of you are aware of this because we get so many requests for Hot Stamper pressings of his various albums. You might be able to get quiet vinyl on the Japanese Stevie pressings, but you won’t find The Real Sound — no way, no how.

The vinyl on this copy plays between Mint Minus Minus and Mint Minus — not too bad but far from silent. There’s constant light to moderate noise behind the music, particularly audible in the quietest passages. It’s a small price to pay to get sound this good for music this important, but it’s not a record for anyone who demands Minty vinyl. If you can’t live with a little surface noise, you probably won’t ever hear any of Stevie’s classic albums sound as amazing as this one does. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed and Delivered

xxxxx

  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side one and a better than Double Plus (A++ to A+++) side two, this copy is killin’ it – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Much more natural and relaxed, this is what finding the right mastering with the right EQ is all about – it’s the only way to hear tonally correct, distortion-free sound for the album
  • Has anyone ever done a better cover of a Beatles’ tune than “We Can Work It Out” here?
  • Christgau noted that the album was “still the most exciting LP by a male soul singer in a very long time, and it slips into no mold, Motown’s included.” Rolling Stone said that the album “holds more creative singing than you’re likely to find in another performer’s entire body of work.”

Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are TOUGH. Very few copies are any better than mediocre.

Many copies were gritty, some were congested in the louder sections, some never got big, some were thin and lacking the lovely analog richness of the best — we heard plenty of copies whose faults were obvious when played against two top sides such as these. (more…)

Four Tops – Still Waters Run Deep

xxxxx

  • The band’s 1970 release finally arrives on the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy is hard to fault – big, open, clear, with space and three-dimensionality that modern pressings can only dream of
  • It’s not easy to find Motown records with natural tonal balance and freedom from distortion, but here’s one that has both those qualities, and more
  • These guys helped establish the quintessential Motown sound that brought “Still Water (Love)” and “It’s All In The Game” instant success
  • “Everything from the vocals to the music to the brilliant production and songwriting came together here to form a near-masterpiece of soul-stirring entertainment.”

(more…)

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

More Stevie Wonder

Innervisions

xxxxx

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…)

Stevie Wonder – Down To Earth

More Stevie Wonder

Down To Earth

xxxxx

  • 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

More Stevie Wonder

Hotter Than July

xxxxx

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…)

Stevie Wonder – Music of My Mind – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

More Stevie Wonder

Music of My Mind

xxxxx

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

AMAZING A+++ SOUND and relatively quiet vinyl on BOTH sides of this early Stevie Wonder classic, an album that earned four-and-a-half big stars (out of five) in the All Music Guide. Anyone who has followed the site for a while (or tried the shootouts on their own) surely know how difficult it is to find Stevie Wonder records with excellent sound or quiet surfaces — let alone both. This monster pressing should give you everything you ever hoped for from this music and then some!

We had a ton of copies for this shootout and most of them weren’t fit to list on the site at any price. You can go down to your local store and pick up a copy with noisy surfaces and mediocre sound, but we don’t want to be in the business of selling records like that. I don’t know too many audiophiles who want to put up with dull, recessed, congested and compressed sonics no matter how good the music is, and that’s just what you get on most copies of this one.

This copy is an entirely different story, which we recognized immediately when we dropped the needle on each side. There’s real immediacy and plenty of extension up top. The soundfield is open, spacious and transparent with lots of analog tubey magic. (more…)