A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.
An absolutely killer pressing of one of our favorite jazz albums! The album is comprised of alternate takes from the Way Out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders sessions, and as such there is a bit of sonic variation between these tracks and the ones on the actual albums. The best-sounding songs here, particularly the material from Way Out West, sound amazing!
Stop the Presses, Circa 1995
Dateline February, 2012
A good customer emailed us recently with the quote below, authenticating our rather negative disposition at the time concerning these AP releases:
Recently I unearthed a pile of “The Tracking Angle” magazines, Michael Fremer’s short-lived venture in publishing, that I’d kept all these years (this may damn me in your eyes, but at the time he was one of the more animated writers on audio). I dutifully reread the very first issue (Jan. 1995) for the first time in many years, even a review of “Tea for the Tillerman,”… I was flabbergasted to come across this:
So what does Mr. “Better Records” think? In a newsletter where he says a digital remastered OJC vinyl title sounds better than Acoustic Sounds’ all analogue version and says the whole lot of them “suck” and “simply cannot sound good on a good stereo,” he calls this Cat Stevens reissue “Fabulous. Very dynamic with plenty of presence in the midrange, unlike the ‘audiophile’ records of today.”
We proudly stand behind every word. If the comparable OJC title sounds better than the remastered one Acoustic Sounds is peddling, then it sounds better, digital remastering or no digital remastering. We don’t pay any attention to who makes the records, how or why. We just play them and report our findings. No doubt most audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them think that making records the “right” way should result in better sound, but we have found precious little evidence to back up that theory, and volumes of evidence to refute it.
Yes, those Analogue Productions records sucked, they continue to suck, and they will always suck. The “audiophile” records of that day did lack presence, and the passage of time is not going to change that fact. Play practically any Reference, Chesky or Classic title from 1995 to the present and listen for the veiled midrange, the opacity, the smeary transients, and the generally constricted, compressed, lifeless quality of its sound, a sound that has been boring us to tears for close to two decades (and fundamentally undermining the very rationale for the expense and hassle of analog itself in the modern digital age, a much more serious charge).
Ask yourself, where are those records now?
Piled on the ash heap of analog history, that’s where (apologies to Leon Trotsky). Nobody writes about them anymore, and it’s not because they were so good, no matter what audiophile reviewers thought or may still think about them.
I’m an Old Cowhand
Way Out West
The Song is You
I’ve Found a New Baby
This LP contains alternate versions of selections from two famous Sonny Rollins albums: Way out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders. These “new” renditions of “I’m an Old Cowhand,” “Come, Gone,” “Way out West” “The Song Is You,” “You” and “I’ve Found a New Baby” hold their own against the classic versions.
Rollins is heard with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne on the first session and is joined by a four-piece rhythm section (including pianist Hampton Hawes and guitarist Barney Kessel) on the later date. In any case, the music is often hard-swinging and is frequently superb.