The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Three: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Four: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
- A superb copy of Wonder's wonderful documentary soundtrack from 1979 with Double Plus (A++) grades on all FOUR sides
- The sound here is bigger and livelier than on most other copies we played - above all it's balanced, avoiding the tonality issues we heard on so many other pressings
- "... there is beauty here. Stevie’s unquenchable desire for experimentation and love for melody are in full effect, and some of the magic and mystery of the botanic planet is evoked."
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 3 times intermittently at a moderate level at the start of track 1 on side 1.
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
These vintage Tamla 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, these are the records 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 Stevie Wonder's Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants 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 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 studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing these records are 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 pressings that sound as good as these two do.
Recently we did one of our regular shootouts for Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants, using pressings we know from experience to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them as carefully as we always do. Then we unplugged everything in the house we could get away with, carefully warmed up the system, Talisman'd it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next couple of hours playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what's right and what's wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process could not be more simple. The first step is to go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can't find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
What We're Listening For On Stevie Wonder's Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants
- 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 most 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.
- Earth's Creation
- The First Garden
- Voyage to India
- Same Old Story
- Venus' Flytrap and the Bug
- Ai No, Sono
- Power Flower
- Send One Your Love (Music)
- Race Babbling
- Send One Your Love
- Outside My Window
- Black Orchid
- Kesse Ye Lolo De Ye
- Come Back As A Flower
- A Seed's A Star and Tree Medley
- The Secret Life of Plants
U Discover Music Review
Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants is an exceptionally long suite of often lengthy mood pieces in which “songs” are few and far between, and grooves in the funky sense rarely crop up. But there is beauty here. Stevie’s unquenchable desire for experimentation and love for melody are in full effect, and some of the magic and mystery of the botanic planet is evoked.
Stevie’s obsession with electronics allied to the sort of jazzy chords he favoured are in evidence throughout; this could not be the work of anyone else. It’s a soundtrack, not really a Stevie Wonder album, but the fact that there’s a sprinkling of songs worthy of Stevie’s classic albums amid the scene-setting sounds is a bonus. It may be a curiosity, but the album’s very existence was some kind of wonder in itself, and the love and almost obsessional nurture that went into it sing out of every track.