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Wonder, Stevie - Talking Book - Super Hot Stamper

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

Super Hot Stamper

Stevie Wonder
Talking Book

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus

  • This is a Talking Book that sounds the way you always hoped it would, with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades from top to bottom - unusually quiet vinyl for this notoriously problematic title
  • Richer, warmer, more natural, more relaxed, this is what vintage analog is all about, that smooth sound that never calls attention to itself and just lets the music flow
  • So many great songs: "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "Tuesday Heartbreak," "You’ve Got It Bad Girl," "Superstition," and many, many more
  • "Superstition" is one of the funkiest songs ever recorded, with my favorite clavinet work of all time
  • Add in moog bass and, with big speakers playing at loud levels, you now have yourself a Demo Disc for funky low end that's so good it's hard to believe
  • Finding copies with audiophile sound and surfaces, and no marks that play, is no mean feat, which makes this a very special one indeed
  • 5 stars: “What had been hinted at on the intriguing project Music of My Mind was here focused into a laser beam of tight songwriting, warm electronic arrangements, and ebullient performances — altogether the most realistic vision of musical personality ever put to wax…”

More Stevie Wonder / More Soul, Blues and R&B

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*NOTE: Track 3 on side 1, "You and I," plays a little noisier than Mint Minus Minus.

Those of you who are familiar with this record will not be surprised to learn that these shootouts are tough. Very few copies are any better than mediocre.

This copy is more dynamic, open and transparent than most pressings by far. There’s plenty of space around all of the instruments, the bass is big and punchy, and the vocals are present, warm and tonally right on the money.

What The Best Sides Of Talking Book 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.

Shootout Criteria

What are sonic qualities by which a record -- any record -- should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, vocal presence, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get a number of these qualities to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally give it a ballpark Hot Stamper grade, a grade that is often revised during the shootout as we hear what the other copies are doing, both good and bad.

Once we’ve been through all the side ones, we play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner for that side. Other copies from earlier in the shootout will frequently have their grades raised or lowered based on how they sounded compared to the eventual shootout winner. If we’re not sure about any pressing, perhaps because we played it early on in the shootout before we had learned what to listen for, we take the time to play it again.

Repeat the process for side two and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing -- or your money back.

What We're Listening For On Talking Book

  • 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.

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.

Side One

  • You Are the Sunshine of My Life
  • Maybe Your Baby
  • You and I
  • Tuesday Heartbreak
  • You’ve Got It Bad Girl

Side Two

  • Superstition
  • Big Brother
  • Blame It on the Sun
  • Lookin’ for Another Pure Love
  • I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Like no other Stevie Wonder LP before it, Talking Book is all of a piece, the first unified statement of his career. It’s certainly an exercise in indulgence but, imitating life, it veers breathtakingly from love to heartbreak and back with barely a pause.

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

Robert Margouleff’s iconic photo of Stevie Wonder — clad in African robe and crouched in clay, deep in thought — spoke of the solitary vision his early 1970s trilogy of masterpieces pursued. But the sleeve (featuring sightless Stevie unusually sans sunglasses) also suggested that Talking Book was a confessional album about love, and the loss of it, as befits an artist who has just left his mate (singer Syreeta Wright, who wrote lyrics for two downbeat tracks here).

Opener “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” was upbeat enough, an ecstatic paean to the redemptive powers of love that was, tellingly, written before Wonder’s contractual hiatus from Motown (which resulted in these auteurist soul classics). But the paranoid, sludgy funk of “Maybe Your Baby” (played entirely by Stevie, save for a solo from guitarist Ray Parker Jr.) announced the album’s true, uncertain tone.

The heartbreaklingly vulnerable “You And I” pondered the fragility of love over a rapturous soundscape of ghostly piano and Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil’s keening synths. And “Superstition,” the bad-ass clavinet riff Stevie stole back from Jeff Beck, announced a bruised Stevie’s cynical take on free love, set against the meanest funk he ever wrote.

The album ended on a hopeful note absent from Fulfillingness’ First Finale, two years later. “I Believe” finds Stevie’s heart broken, but his belief in love still intact. He would write love songs that charted higher, but never would he deliver so personally felt and so painfully wise a treatise as Talking Book. The book was Stevie Wonder’s heart, and it was talking truthfully.

Rolling Stone Review

At twenty-two, an age when most men don’t even own twenty-two pairs of clean underwear, the prodigious Stevie Wonder had already released twenty-two albums. But Talking Book was only the third since he had taken control of his career from Motown, and it was the one where all his talents first cohered. Playing almost all the instruments and writing all the songs, Wonder made his first masterpiece.

It spawned two huge hits, one a ballad — “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” whose charm hasn’t been killed by decades on adult-contemporary stations — and one a funk stomp, the deathless, ignorance-decrying “Superstition.” Wonder also demonstrated his willingness to try offbeat harmonies and sounds and his unfailing ability to pull them together in a rhythmic whole (like the noodling bursts of harmonica he plays in “Big Brother”). Particularly wonderful is “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)”; its glowing harmonies could make you believe in anything. [Five Stars]