Labels We Love – Motown

Marvin Gaye / Tammi Terrell – Easy – Reviewed in 2009

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This Minty looking Tamla LP has AMAZING SOUND on both sides. Some songs sound better than others here but the ones that do sound good, WOW, they are out of this world!

Drop the needle on California Soul on side one to hear some tubey magical and sweet sound.

The best sounding track on side two is How You Gonna Keep It.

Some of the tracks have that slightly pinched Motown vocal EQ but that’s a small price to pay for this kind of sound.

We rate both sides A++ (on the best sounding songs). 

AMG Review

Along with the hit, the best songs here are “This Poor Heart of Mine,” an uptempo number and good workout for the duo, and “Love Woke Me Up This Morning,” an endearing exercise in romanticism.

Marvin Gaye / Let’s Get It On – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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AMAZING SOUND for one of the best soul albums of all time! This is the first Hot Stamper copy of Let’s Get It On to ever hit the site, and it is KILLER on side one, giving you better sound for the classic title track than you probably ever dreamed of! It’s not easy to find clean original copies, and even when you manage to track them down they often don’t sound all that hot. This side one takes the music to a whole new level — the vocals are smooth and sweet, the bottom end is punchy with real weight, and the vocals have the kind of presence that carries them out of the speakers and front and center into your listening room. Let’s get it on indeed!

If you’ve ever sat through a few copies of this album, I’m sure you know how plain the sound can be. We had a big stack of copies (it took us ages to pull so many together) and most of them left us cold. When I’m listening to music this important, I don’t want to miss a thing. I need the sound to fall into place and give me the kind of magic that the artist intended. This side one does EXACTLY that. We heard subtleties in the music that had completely escaped us before. It was a truly special experience to hear this music sound like this, and you’re a fan of this kind of stuff you will be BLOWN AWAY.

Side two is excellent as well, but not quite in a league with the first side. The sound is rich and full with good presence and energy. The transparency and clarity are both wonderful and the vocals sound great. The first side just performs a bit better in the extremes — punchier down low and silkier up top — but it won’t be easy to find a side two much better than this one. (more…)

Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • One of the better sounding Marvin Gaye records we do shootouts for – this copy is big and rich, just the way we like ’em
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this groundbreaking album from 1973, you need a vintage pressing that sounds as good as this one does
  • 5 stars: “… no other record has ever achieved the kind of sheer erotic force of Let’s Get It On, and it remains the blueprint for all of the slow jams to follow decades later — much copied, but never imitated.”

It’s surprising how good some of the classic soul albums from the early ’70s can sound. Let’s Get It On is up there with Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions as albums that offer sound every bit as good as the music.

We had a big stack of copies (it took us ages to pull so many together) and many of them left us cold. When I’m listening to music this important, I don’t want to miss a thing. On the best copies, it was a truly special experience to hear Gaye’s music sound so good. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Innervisions

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Hot Stamper Pressings of Innervisions Available Now

  • With two outstanding Double Plus (A++) sides, this is an all around killer pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • One of the funkiest audiophile-quality discs money can buy, but you need a copy that sounds as good as this one to make that case
  • The key qualities are richness, warmth, Tubey Magic, and clarity, and here you will find a healthy dose of all four
  • “Stevie Wonder applied his tremendous songwriting talents to the unsettled social morass that was the early ’70s and produced one of his greatest, most important works, a rich panoply of songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, and what looked to be the failure of the ’60s dream — all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he’d written before.”

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Stevie Wonder singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life

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  • This outstanding copy of Stevie Wonder’s epic double album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Here you will find Tubey Magical Richness, as well as the kind of immediacy and transparency that few copies have – all qualities essential to getting the best sound from Stevie’s Magnum Opus 
  • A true musical genius (according to Eddie Murphy) here joins forces with other legends including Herbie Hancock, George Benson, and Deniece Williams
  • 5 stars: “…Stevie Wonder’s longest, most ambitious collection of songs… that — just as the title promised — touched on nearly every issue under the sun, and did it all with ambitious (even for him), wide-ranging arrangements and some of the best performances of Wonder’s career. “

Double albums are usually very tedious work for us, but this one had us smiling and tapping our feet all the way through to the end of the last side. I’m sure you don’t need a rundown of why this is such a great album, but the 5 star AMG review is an excellent read for those who want to be reminded. (Click on the tab above.) (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Hotter Than July

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More Soul, Blues and R&B

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  • A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July… It is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch…”

*CONDITION NOTES: On side two, the last 2-3 seconds of Track 5, Happy Birthday, are somewhat crackly.

Most copies lack 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 the mediocre sonics of the average pressing getting in the way.

This album was recorded right at the beginning of the digital era (1980) and most pressings won’t let you forget that. So many copies we played were just too sterile to get into — clean and clear bit lacking richness and fullness. We’re huge Stevie Wonder fans around here and we’ve fallen in love with Innervisions and Songs In The Key Of Life over and over again because of their lush, analog sound on the best pressings. It took a ton of work (and a whole lot of copies) to find a Hotter Than July that we could get excited about. I don’t think there’s a copy out there that can compete with his earlier recordings sonically but at least the Hot Stamper pressings present the music in a way that audiophiles can enjoy. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – The Woman In Red

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  • The Woman In Red finally makes its Hot Stamper debut here with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Surprisingly good sound, perhaps the best sound Stevie Wonder got after about 1976 – we were shocked as you no doubt are
  • A superb collection, including I Just Called To Say I Love You and Love Light in Flight
  • “An ingenious jump from his trademark, spectacular, blend of Funk, R&B and Soul,contaminated with Pop, Disco, Gospel and Reggae, to a brand new Synthpop/Pop-soul sound that characterizes his ’80s works.”

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Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale

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  • This pressing of the classic 1974 album from Stevie Wonder boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A++) sound on both sides and plays about as quietly as any early pressing ever will
  • Finding the right balance between Tubey Magical Richness and Transparency is the trick, and we think this copy strikes that balance as well as any pressing we’ve heard
  • Boogie On Reggae Woman and You Haven’t Done Nothing were the big hits but the other tracks on the album are where the real Stevie Wonder MAGIC can be found
  • 4 1/2 stars [but we give it 5]: “The songs and arrangements are the warmest since Talking Book, and Stevie positively caresses his vocals on this set, encompassing the vagaries of love, from dreaming of it (“Creepin'”) to being bashful of it (“Too Shy to Say”) to knowing when it’s over (“It Ain’t No Use”).”

We’re big fans of Stevie here at Better Records, but it’s always a challenge to find good sound for his albums. Tons of great songs here, including the ones everybody knows, Boogie On Reggae Woman and You Haven’t Done Nothing. Both sound WONDERFUL on this pressing.

But…

For the first time in my life, over the course of the last five years or so I’ve really gotten to know the album well, having found a CD at a local store to play in the car (and now I also have a cassette to play in my Walkman while working out).

I’ve listened to Fulfillingness’ First Finale scores of times. I now see that it is some of the best work Stevie Wonder ever did, right up there with Innervisions and ahead of any other Stevie Wonder album, including Talking Book and Songs in the Key of Life.

The best songs on the album to my mind are the quieter, more heartfelt and emotional ones, not the rockers or funky workouts. My personal favorites on side one are: Smile Please. Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away, Too Shy to Say and Creepin’, which, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, are all the songs that weren’t hits.

On side two the two slowest songs are the ones I now like best: It Ain’t No Use & They Won’t Go When I Go (famously and brilliantly covered by George Michael on Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in 1990). (more…)

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

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  • 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…)

Commodores – Commodores

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  • 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.”

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