Count Basie – Me and You

More Count Basie 

Me and You

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  • An excellent sounding copy of Basie’s 1983 release, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • 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 session from 1983, this is the only way to go 
  • This is the Basie Big Band album that came out right after 88 Basie Street, a hard act to follow – top engineering by Dennis Sands
  • “… recorded only a little more than a year before his death. However, the spirit of this music (helped out by some Ernie Wilkins) arrangements) make Count Basie seem ageless.”

This vintage Pablo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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, this is the record 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 Me and You 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 1983
  • 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.

Basie on Pablo — What We Listen For

Some general guidelines as to what we listen for when playing these Pablo Basie Big Band recordings — what the better pressings get right and the lesser ones struggle with.

Transparency

What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear. Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is known for.

(Note that most Heavy Vinyl pressings being produced these days seem to be quite Transparency Challenged. Lots of important musical information — the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings — is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a whole — including those that pass themselves off as the champions of analog in the audio press — do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.)

Richness & Lack of Smear

Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with this many horns, where the reproduction of leading edge transients is critical to their sound. If the sharply different characters of the various horns (trumpet, trombone, and three kinds of saxes) smear together into an amorphous blob, as if the sound were being fed through ’50s vintage tube amps (for those of you who know that sound), half the fun goes right out of the music.

Richness is important — horns need to be full-bodied if they are to sound like the real thing — but so are speed and clarity, two qualities that insure that all the horns have the proper bite and timbre.

Tight Bass

A problem we noted on many copies in addition to smear and opacity was blurry bass. Most copies are rich and full-bodied, with plenty of bottom end. So far so good. However, when the bottom is not well-defined you don’t hear Freddie Green strumming along nearly as well as on the copies where the bass is tight and note-like.

Same with the baritone sax; it got lost in the murky depths of some of the copies we played. And of course the way we know that is when we drop the needle on a randomly chosen copy and suddenly there it is! We’re finally hearing the instrument clearly and correctly; who knew it could sound like that? Only on these very special copies are we given the opportunity to appreciate the baritone’s contribution to the music.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Mr. Softie
Moten Swing
She’s Funny That Way
Right On, Right On

Side Two

Me And You Crip Bridge Work Easy Living

AMG Review

Five big-band selections (including a remake of the half-century-old “Moten Swing”) and four songs featuring an octet from the orchestra comprise this excellent outing by Count Basie recorded only a little more than a year before his death. However, the spirit of this music (helped out by some Ernie Wilkins) arrangements) make Count Basie seem ageless.