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Super Hot Stamper - Talking Heads - Fear of Music

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

Super Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Talking Heads
Fear of Music

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*

  • This outstanding Talking Heads LP boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • I'd be hard-pressed to name another group from the era who put out more groundbreaking yet accessible records than the Talking Heads
  • Producer Brian Eno wasn't shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing; the texture of Eno's synthesizers gives the music depth and character
  • 4 1/2 stars: "...the music is becoming denser and more driving... with lyrics that match the music's power... its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did"

More Talking Heads / More Brian Eno

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*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 10 light ticks on Track 5, Drugs.

As huge fans of this band, it was a major thrill for us to complete a shootout for this album recently. We found that the best copies had wonderful transparency, meaty bass, Art Rockin' energy and a refreshing overall freedom from distortion.

These vintage Sire pressings have 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 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 Fear of Music 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 1979
  • 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.

On the opening track "I Zimbra," the best pressings reveal clear and correct percussion. On the average copy, they might as well be banging on a piece of cardboard, but on a top quality Hot Stamper you can clearly hear the sound of the skins.

Many copies make a mess of David Byrne's voice, leaving him sounding pinched and edgy, but here the vocals are full-bodied, smooth, and present. There's dramatically less grit and grain and the synths and effects all sounded right to us.

Much like Remain In Light, this is a brilliant album but a typically problematic record. The Talking Heads and producer Brian Eno certainly weren't shy about adding multiple layers of effects and processing, and the average pressing of this record turns some of the more complicated parts into grainy mush.

The material here is darker than the songs on the first two albums, so a copy that lacks any extension up top will have trouble bringing the music to life. The texture of Eno's synthesizers gives the music depth and character, but a copy with smear issues -- most pressings of the record have a least a touch of smear -- tend to rob the music of those very qualities.

What We Were Listening For on Fear of Music

  • Less grit - smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on any Talking Heads album.
  • A bigger presentation - more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you have to play this record the better.
  • More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a pure rock record. It needs weight down low to really rock.
  • Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
  • Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
  • Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven't played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find.

Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.

One Of Our Very Favorite Bands Of This Era

We're huge fans of late '70s / early '80s art-rock and new wave music, and these guys are obviously some of the best in the biz. I'd be hard pressed to name another act from the era who put out so many good records. Along with this album, More Songs About Buildings And Food, Remain In Light, and Little Creatures are all works of genius.

'77 is full of good ideas, but it doesn't sound like a fully realized work of art the way the next four albums did.

Speaking In Tongues has some nice material, but doesn't quite rank up there with their earlier stuff. Note that we practically never have the album on the site; it's too hard to find and too expensive when you do find it.

You can find Talking Heads albums in the bins of every used record store out there, but most of them just don't sound good. If they did you'd see more of them hitting the site, that's for sure. We love this band and their music and want everyone with a good stereo -- this means you -- to hear them at their best.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus 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

  • I Zimbra
  • Mind
  • Paper
  • Cities
  • Life During Wartime
  • Memories Can't Wait

Side Two

  • Air
  • Heaven
  • Animals
  • Electric Guitar
  • Drugs

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

By titling their third album Fear of Music and opening it with the African rhythmic experiment 'I Zimbra', complete with nonsense lyrics by poet Hugo Ball, Talking Heads make the record seem more of a departure than it is. Though Fear of Music is musically distinct from its predecessors, it's mostly because of the use of minor keys that give the music a more ominous sound.

Previously, David Byrne's offbeat observations had been set off by an overtly humorous tone; on Fear of Music, he is still odd, but no longer so funny. At the same time, however, the music has become even more compelling.

"Worked up from jams (though Byrne received sole songwriter's credit), the music is becoming denser and more driving, notably on the album's standout track, "Life During Wartime," with lyrics that match the music's power. "This ain't no party," declares Byrne, "this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around."

The other key song, "Heaven," extends the dismissal Byrne had expressed for the U.S. in "The Big Country" to paradise itself: "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens." It's also the album's most melodic song. Those are the highlights. It's an uneven, transitional album, though its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did.