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Hathaway, Donny - Donny Hathaway Live - Super Hot Stamper (With Issues)

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

Super Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Donny Hathaway
Donny Hathaway Live

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*

  • Superb sound for this classic live album, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades and playing quietly (for this album)
  • Hathaway and his band are on fire here playing for an enthusiastic small club audience – this is the best album the man ever made and a true Must Own
  • It takes us years to run across enough clean copies of this album to do a shootout, so don’t expect to see another one in audiophile playing condition on the site for a while
  • If you need a copy that plays quietly, or for those who might be on a budget, buy the plain old Atlantic CD - it's excellent
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Donny Hathaway’s 1972 Live album is one of the most glorious of his career… Live solidified Hathaway’s importance at the forefront of soul music."

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*NOTE: On side 1, there is a mark that plays 8 times lightly a few rotations into track 1, "What's Goin' On." There is also a stitch that plays once at a moderate level at the start of track 2, "The Ghetto." On side 2, track 2 ("We're Still Friends") and track 3 ("Jealous Guy") play a little noisier than Mint Minus Minus.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG

This is an absolutely outstanding recording. The better copies capture the feeling of a live club like few recordings you’ve ever heard. The enthusiasm of the crowd, the honest, emotive performances, the superb musicianship -- it’s all there on a Shootout Winning Hot Stamper copy like this.

I’ve been playing this record regularly since I first heard it back in the mid-90s and it never gets old. If I could take only one soul album to my desert island, it would be this one, no doubt about it.

This vintage Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 band, 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 The Best Sides Of Donny Hathaway Live 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 1972
  • 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.

Side One Versus Side Two

The average pressing of this album is hard, compressed, veiled and lifeless. It is an absolute travesty to hear one of the smoothest, most soulful singers who ever lived sounding harsh and biting. It just doesn’t add up. With a copy like this you can immediately understand and appreciate the honest, emotive sound that made Donny Hathaway the tremendous performer he was known to be.

Having said that, this is a live recording, which means there are always going to be mistakes that can’t be fixed. In some places Donny overdrives the mics -- or the board, or the tape, who can say for certain? It’s a small price to pay for such an energetic performance.

Side two, recorded at The Bitter End in New York, has consistantly better sound than side one, which was recorded at The Troubador here in L.A.. Side two is almost always richer, sweeter and more Tubey Magical.

Listening Test — Don’t Be Fooled

Pay close attention to the audience chatter and clapping. Most copies, being compressed and veiled, have no hope of reproducing the handclaps and audience shout-outs correctly. Only those copies with transparency and presence let you "see" the crowd properly.

But don’t be fooled by thinner, leaner sounding copies. There is tons of low end and lower midrange in this recording -- it’s one of its greatest strengths, and it’s what it would have sounded like if you were there -- so make sure you have plenty going on in the lower frequencies before you start evaluating the audience participation. Many audiophile recordings are leaner and cleaner, producing a phony kind of transparency and detail at the expense of the fullness and richness of the recording. This is almost never a good thing.

Listening Test — Conga Energy

The copies where the congas are up-front, punchy and full-bodied were the ones where the rhythmic energy really carried the day. You know it when you hear it, that’s for sure. Most copies failed in this regard to some degree. If you have more than one copy, focus on just this one element and see if you don’t hear quite a bit more energy on the copies with more prominent, solid-sounding congas.

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.

A Must Own Record

We consider this album Hathaway's masterpiece. It's a recording that belongs in any serious Soul Music Collection.

Others that belong in that category can be found here.

Side One

  • What's Goin' On
  • The Ghetto
  • Hey Girl
  • You've Got A Friend

Side Two

  • Little Ghetto Boy
  • We're Still Friends
  • Jealous Guy
  • Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Donny Hathaway’s 1972 Live album is one of the most glorious of his career, an uncomplicated, energetic set with a heavy focus on audience response as well as the potent jazz chops of his group. Hardly the obligatory live workout of most early-70s concert LPs, Live solidified Hathaway’s importance at the forefront of soul music.