Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- A STUNNING copy of the band's 1978 release, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from top to bottom - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Spacious, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a solid bottom end and driving rhythmic energy, this is the right sound for this music
- "... even if 'Three Times a Lady' isn't your cup of tea, Natural High still has a lot to offer R&B fans. 'X-Rated Movie,' 'Such a Woman,' and 'I Like What You Do' are exhilarating examples of hardcore funk, and those who appreciate artists like Heatwave and the Brothers Johnson will find a lot to admire about 'Fire Girl' and 'Flying High' (both of which are sleek examples of the sophisticated funk style)." - All Music
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This vintage Motown 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 the Commodores, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What separates the best copies from the also-rans is more than just rich, sweet, full-bodied sound. The better copies make Lionel's voice more palpable -- he's simply more of a solid, three dimensional, real presence between the speakers. You can hear the nuances of his delivery much, MUCH more clearly on a copy that sounds as good as this does
What the best sides of Natural Highhave to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1978
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We're Listening For on Natural High
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Cal Harris in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
Three Times A Lady
Such A Woman
I Like What You Do
The Commodores' sixth studio album, Natural High, is best known for the ballad "Three Times a Lady," which became a staple of adult contemporary radio and reached number one on both the pop and R&B charts. "Three Times a Lady" was their first number one pop hit, and Lionel Richie was being recognized as a major crossover star. Not everyone liked "Three Times a Lady" -- some people found the song to be much too sappy, and R&B purists argued that the Commodores were watering their music down.
But even if "Three Times a Lady" isn't your cup of tea, Natural High still has a lot to offer R&B fans. "X-Rated Movie," "Such a Woman," and "I Like What You Do" are exhilarating examples of hardcore funk, and those who appreciate artists like Heatwave and the Brothers Johnson will find a lot to admire about "Fire Girl" and "Flying High" (both of which are sleek examples of the sophisticated funk style). Meanwhile, "Say Yeah" (featuring Richie) is a first-rate R&B slow jam. Whatever your opinion of "Three Times a Lady" -- whether you love it or hate it -- the fact is that Natural High has more plusses than minuses and was a generally respectable, if imperfect, addition to the Commodores' catalog.
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