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Earth, Wind & Fire - The Best of Earth Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 - Super Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper

Earth, Wind & Fire
The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1

Regular price
$149.99
Regular price
Sale price
$149.99
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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • Both sides of this vintage pressing were doing just about everything right, earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them
  • This side two boasts sound and pop soul energy that is bigger and richer than anything you've ever heard, and side one is not far behind in all those areas
  • Tubey Magical, rich, smooth, sweet (particularly on side two) - everything that we listen for in a great record is on display for everyone to hear (everyone with audiophile equipment that is)
  • 5 stars: "The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 still ranks as a strong encapsulation of EWF the funk innovators. The singles gathered here constitute some of the richest, most sophisticated music the funk movement ever produced..."

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The first track on the album is "Got To Get You Into My Life" and it sounds quite good on this copy.

What a song. And it's not on any other EWF album. Three points to make here: 1) It's from the real master tape; 2) It happens to have Hot Stamper quality sound, which means: 3) You need this record in your collection.

Since this is a Best of..., every song is a hit and every one of them will have you singin' yourself hoarse. If you like pop soul music at all, you have to like these guys. And these songs. Every one is a gem of popcraft, with arrangements as tight as the sequined white suits the band members wore.

What The Best Sides Of The Best of EWF, Vol. 1 Have 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 studio space

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.

Finding The Good Ones

Lucky for us, EWF was always an audiophile-oriented band. They produced some of the best 70s multi-track recordings around. With a big speaker system turned up good and loud the first track is simply mind-boggling.

As you can imagine, most copies of this album leave a lot to be desired. Most were, to one degree or another, dull, smeary, opaque, gritty or shrill.

Our Hot Stampers, on the other hand, depending on how hot they are, will give you the sound you're looking for. If you're a fan of big horns, with jump-out-of-the-speakers sound, this is the album for you. Some of the best R&B-pop brass ever recorded can be found here -- full-bodied, powerful, fast, dynamic and tonally correct.

What We're Listening For On The Best Of EWF, Vol. 1

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

More of What To Listen For

When the brass sounded the least bit squawky on a given copy, that was almost always a deal breaker and out it went.

When the big, multi-tracked vocals get going they need to be spacious, breathy and warm, with airy extension for the harmonies (and those crazy high notes that only Philip Bailey can sing). Proper tape hiss is a dead giveaway in this respect.

Once Again, Choruses Are Key

The uniquely analog qualities of richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality are most apparent where you most often hear them: in the biggest, loudest, densest, most climactic choruses.

We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly be without crossing the line into distortion or congestion. On some records, Dark Side of the Moon comes to mind, the guitar solos on "Money" are the loudest thing on the record. On Breakfast in America the sax toward the end of "The Logical Song" is the biggest and loudest sound on the record, louder even than Roger Hodgson's near-hysterical multi-tracked screaming Who I am about three quarters of the way through. Those, however, are clearly exceptions to the rule. Most of the time it's the final chorus that gets bigger and louder than anything else.

A pop song is usually structured so as to build more and more strength as it works its way through its verses and choruses, past the bridge, coming back around to make one final push, releasing all its energy in the final chorus, the climax of the song. On a good recording -- one with real dynamics -- that part should be very loud and very powerful.

It's almost always the toughest test for a pop record, and it's the main reason we play our records loud. The copies that hold up through the final choruses are the ones that provide the biggest thrills and the most emotionally powerful musical experiences one can have. Our Top 100 is full of the kinds of records that reward listening at loud levels.

We live for that sound here at Better Records. It's what vintage analog pressings do so brilliantly. They do it so much better than any other medium that there is really no comparison and certainly no substitute. If you're on this site you probably already know that.

Vinyl Condition

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 other 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 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.

Side One

  • Got to Get You into My Life
  • On the better pressings of this album the groove is so heavy and lively in this song that the typical copy sounds just plain cheap. It may be an original but the sound is pure cheap reissue.
  • Fantasy
  • Can’t Hide Love
  • This is our favorite EW&F song here at Better Records, a beautiful ballad that is truly a perfect representation of the band's capability to change pace from blowing doors down to tugging heart-strings. They do both as well as any soul band ever could. This song is a Masterpiece.
  • Love Music
  • Getaway

Side Two

  • That’s the Way of the World
  • September
  • EW&F's biggest hit, but only the better pressings brought out the magic in the powerful horns and layered vocals without being smeary or spitty. Our best copies soared higher than we have ever heard for this song; the sound just leapt out of the speakers. What a great track.
  • Shining Star
  • Reasons
  • Sing a Song

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

(By the way, we agree with practically every word of praise here. This guy is a Big Fan and so are we!)

When it was originally released in 1978, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 was a succinct, ten-track collection of the group's best and biggest singles up to that point. There was one brand-new song, the excellent "September," which soon became a hit in its own right, plus the non-LP Beatles cover "Got to Get You Into My Life," which was recorded for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band film, makes its first appearance on an EWF album here...

...The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 still ranks as a strong encapsulation of EWF the funk innovators. The singles gathered here constitute some of the richest, most sophisticated music the funk movement ever produced; when the absolute cream of the group's catalog is heard in such a concentrated fashion, the effect is dazzling. That's why The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 was remastered and reissued along with the rest of EWF's catalog, even though it's been supplanted by more extensive single-disc (Greatest Hits), double-disc (The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire), and triple-disc (The Eternal Dance) anthologies. 1998's Greatest Hits now stands as the definitive single-disc EWF overview...