Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus*
- This KILLER Arista pressing has surprisingly natural sound for an '80s release - it earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to them on both sides
- Full-bodied, big, rich and solid, this album has the kind of analog sound we did not expect to find, but were pleasantly surprised, thank goodness
- Lot of hits here: "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)", "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
- 4 stars: "Whitney Houston became an international star with this album. It sold more than ten million copies around the world, yielded a string of number one hit singles across the board..."
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NOTE: *The vinyl is very quiet on this pressing overall, but near the end of track five there is a mark that makes twenty mostly light, but with a few medium, ticks.
The copies that do well in our shootouts have qualities common to many of the other male and female Hot Stamper vocal pressings we offer. The best copies are big, rich, clear and transparent, with breathy, immediate vocals.
Hardness, thinness, shrillness and the like -- the kind of sound you would expect from a 1987 recording* -- will be very costly for any copy we play. I'm sure that sound can be found on the CD, and for a lot less money.
Energy and enthusiasm are key as well. You want to get the feeling that Whitney is really putting her all into these songs, and the best copies let you do that.
Space and depth are nice to have; otherwise you might as well be listening to the radio.
What outstanding sides such as these 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 even as late as 1987
- 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
What We Want from Whitney
Having done this for so long -- 2020 marks our 33rd year in the record business -- we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound -- even as late as 1987! -- is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal 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; rather it lives or dies by its ability to recreate a solid, palpable, Whitney Houston singing and playing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, and here it's important to keep in mind that these tapes are now more than thirty years old, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard Whitney sound this good on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we've played can serve as a guide.
What We're Listening For on Whitney
- 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, 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 vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt 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 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.
*Don Henley made some hit albums in the '80s, every one of which, as far as we can tell, is flat, dry, thin, hard, shrill -- you get the picture. Why he didn't make albums that sound like this one is beyond me. The vast majority of my CDs sound much better than his vinyl records, and that's just plain wrong.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
Just The Lonely Talking Again
Love Will Save The Day
Didn't We Almost Have It All
Where You Are
Love Is A Contact Sport
You're Still My Man
For The Love Of You
Where Do Broken Hearts Go
I Know Him So Well
Whitney Houston became an international star with this album. It sold more than ten million copies around the world, yielded a string of number one hit singles across the board... She later went on to more than solidify that status, with other hit albums and a budding film career. While this is a far cry from soul, it's the ultimate in polished, super-produced urban contemporary material.
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