The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- A KILLER sounding copy with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish
- Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they're making these days - if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
- 4 1/2 stars: "Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July... It is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch..."
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*CONDITION NOTES: On side two, the last 2-3 seconds of Track 5, Happy Birthday, are somewhat crackly.
Most copies lack the presence, energy and bottom end weight to let these funky songs work their magic, but a copy like this will let you appreciate the music without the mediocre sonics of the average pressing getting in the way.
This album was recorded right at the beginning of the digital era (1980) and most pressings won't let you forget that. So many copies we played were just too sterile to get into -- clean and clear bit lacking richness and fullness. We're huge Stevie Wonder fans around here and we've fallen in love with Innervisions and Songs In The Key Of Life over and over again because of their lush, analog sound on the best pressings. It took a ton of work (and a whole lot of copies) to find a Hotter Than July that we could get excited about. I don't think there's a copy out there that can compete with his earlier recordings sonically but at least the Hot Stamper pressings present the music in a way that audiophiles can enjoy.
Bottom line? Digital recordings are tough, but after playing a ton of copies of this album we've managed to find a few that were musical and enjoyable instead of fatiguing. If you haven't played this album in years I can understand why -- the typical pressings are just too clean and too dry to demand any time on your table. At least that was our experience until the top copies such as this one had us nodding our heads and rockin' out with these great tunes. Check out a Hot Stamper pressing to remember just what a musical magician Stevie is -- you'll be jammin' too!
What the Best Sides of Hotter Than July 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 1980
- 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.
What We're Listening For on Hotter Than July
- 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.
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.
- Did I Hear You Say You Love Me
- All I Do
- Rocket Love
- I Ain't Gonna Stand for It
- As if You Read My Mind
- Master Blaster (Jammin')
- Do Like You
- Cash in Your Face
- Happy Birthday
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Four years after the pinnacle of Stevie Wonder's mid-'70s typhoon of classic albums, Hotter Than July was the proper follow-up to Songs in the Key of Life (his Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants concept record was actually a soundtrack to an obscure movie that fared miserably in theaters). It also found Wonder in a different musical climate than the one that savored his every move from 1972 to 1977.
Disco and new wave had slowly crept their way into the mainstream record-buying public, and hindered the once-ample room for socially and politically charged lyrics. However, Wonder naysayed the trends and continues to do what he did best. Solid songwriting, musicianship, and production are evident in the majority of Hotter Than July. Wonder also carries on his tradition of penning songs normally not associated with his trademark sound, from the disco-tinged "All I Do" (originally planned to be released by Tammi Terrell almost ten years previously) to the reggae-influenced smash "Master Blaster (Jammin)," which went straight to the top of the R&B charts.
Hotter Than July is the portrait of an artist who still had the Midas touch, but stood at the crossroads of an illustrious career.