About Songs In The Key Of Life (Speakers Corner) by Stevie Wonder:
Ranked 56/500 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
To sing songs in the key of life, as the cover promises us, must be more of an exercise than a labour of love for a soul musician. But this album, which Stevie Wonder – just 26 years old – produced more or less on his own, turned out to be a raving success at the time. The collection of love songs, childhood recollections and ghetto scenes were considered to be the ultimate confirmation of his extraordinary talent according to People Magazine while Melody Maker considered the album to be the "most essential recording of the year«".
That this collection should be considered as a complete work of art is easy to understand when one has listened to it right through because it’s not a collection of hits and 'best-ofs', and one has the opportunity to make one’s own choice of top hits. Each number is a unique musical jewel: the one has an earthy basic sound, subtle percussion, a funky bass melody and a rocking Rhodes piano; another has cloudy a capella passages and makes use of electronics in a gentle, never diffuse sounding way. This results in a microcosm of black soul and feelings composed out of sounds, rhythms and lyrics which can hardly be surpassed as far as complexity is concerned. Now it becomes quite clear as to why Michael Jackson and co. borrowed an idea here or there from this work of wonder.
- Stevie Wonder (arranger, harmonica, keyboard, vocal)
- Minnie Riperton (vocal)
- Ronnie Foster (org), Herbie Hancock (keyboard)
- Michael Sembello, Howard 'Buzz' Feiten (guitar)
- George Benson (guitar, vocal)
- Jim Horn (saxophone)
- George Bohannon (trombone)
- Raymond Maldonado (trumpet, percussion)
- Raymond Lee Pounds (drums)
Recording: 1975/76 at Crystal Industries (Hollywood), Hit Factory (New York), Record Plant (Los Angeles); Record Plant (Sausalito, CA.) by John Fischbach and Gary Olazabal
Production: Stevie Wonder
Format: 2LPs 33rpm / gatefold sleeve, booklet, 7" EP
About Speakers Corner
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Speakers Corner all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s – or employed existant tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasise that Speakers Corner Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle. We have one digital recording in our catalogue (Alan Parsons / Eye In The Sky“), but even in this particular case we used the analogue tapes for cutting.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects – excluding the exception above – and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.