Grammy Award Winners

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

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  • 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…)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shaka Zulu

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  • Insanely good sound throughout for this Grammy-winning record from 1987 with each side earning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • This White Hot copy will show you just how good this Grammy winning record was supposed to sound
  • “In the wake of their participation on his Graceland album, Paul Simon produced this Ladysmith album, their most accessible work for Western ears, which is pristinely recorded and sung partially in English.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

This Hot Stamper will show you just how good this Grammy winning record was supposed to sound, but for some reason (or reasons) never did, a story that anyone on this site is all too familiar with. In many ways this is actually a honest-to-goodness Demo Disc, with amazingly big, open, three-dimensional, clear and transparent sound. Both sides here probably show you what Roy Halee was hearing on the tape when he was mixing the album.

It may not be perfect, but it’s a whole lot better that the vast majority of records made in 1987, that I can tell you with no shortage of confidence. (more…)

Barbra Streisand – The Barbra Streisand Album

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

A killer 360 original stereo pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish – the first copy to hit the site in many years. We recently did a shootout for this album and were thrilled at how natural and immediate the sound on the best copies can be. Good Ol’ Babs (actually, a very young Babs here) sounds LOVELY on this pressing — her voice is rich, breathy and textured with stellar presence. The orchestra backing her sounds wonderful and there’s plenty of bass to set a nice foundation for the music.

Excellent, natural, unprocessed sound. And she does a very nice job with this set of standards. This, and the album Guilty, are the two Streisand records I’m most likely to play. (more…)

Muddy Waters – The London Muddy Waters Sessions

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  • Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout making this the best copy to ever hit the site!
  • 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 these wonderful sessions, this is the way to go
  • The London Muddy Waters Sessions won the 1972 Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording! 
  • A great lineup: Blues fans Rory Gallagher, Steve Winwood and Mitch Mitchell are all featured here, along with many other Bluesmen

(more…)

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

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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 – 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…)

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…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Ella Swings Lightly

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More Ella Swings Lightly

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

Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1958, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by our man, Marty Paich. Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo – these were the days when Ella was on top of the world.

When you are lucky enough to find a album that sounds as good as this one, full of standards from the Great American Songbook, you cannot help but recognize that this era for Ella will never be equaled, by her or anyone else. (more…)

Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life

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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 – Innervisions

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Innervisions

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  • 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…)