RFR-1. The music sounds alive, with more fire than the famous Kogan/Monteux recording. Performed by the London Symphony, under the direction of Antal Dorati.
This copy was so good on side two it almost left me speechless. How is this title not on the TAS List?
Why is it not one of the most sought-after recordings in the RCA canon? Beats the hell out of me.
But wait just one minute. Until a month ago [now years ago] I surely had no idea how good this record could sound, so how can I criticize others for not appreciating a record I had never taken the time to appreciate myself?
Which more than anything else prompts the question — why is no one exploring, discovering and then bringing to light the exceptional qualities of these wonderful vintage recordings (besides your humble writer of course)?
HP has passed on. Who today is fit to carry his mantle into the coming world of audio? Looking around I find very few prospects. None in fact. But then again, I’m not looking very hard. I could care less what any of these people have to say about the sound quality of the records they play. They all seem to like records that don’t sound very good to us, so why put any faith in their reviews for other records?
Reviewer malpractice? We’ve been writing about it for more than 25 years.
But I digress. (more…)
SUPERB Nearly White Hot Stamper sound on side two. With a grade of A++ to A+++, this is clearly the best sounding Romeo and Juliet we have ever heard. Rich lower strings, clear horns, big cymbal crashes, zero smear — rich and tubey but clear, right up there with the best of the RCA’s and London’s. And Dorati turns in a top performance with the London Symphony.
Was We Wrong?
We played an Orange label late reissue of this title a while back and had this to say about it:
DEMO QUALITY thanks to superb low distortion mastering. Another very exciting Mercury recording. Some of these Orange Label pressings, which are cut with much better cutting equipment than was available when the original album was released, can show you just how good the master tape really is. This kind of sound is not easy to cut, and it appears that the amplifiers of the day just weren’t up to it. This copy gets rid of all the cutter head distortion and coloration and allows you to hear what the Mercury engineers accomplished!
Dorati breathes fire into the famous Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet on side 2. Unfortunately, the mastering on this copy is not very good. The sound is bright and dry.
This work frequently is recorded with harsh sound; the orchestration must be difficult to capture on tape. But Mercury here seems to have managed a feat few others can claim. I’m guessing the earlier pressings have too much cutter distortion to get this one right; I don’t recall the other copies I’ve heard sounding this good.
This RFR early Colorback pressing — is there an FR pressing? Don’t know — has superb mastering for the Tchaicovsky, so in that sense we can say that the old cutter heads were doing just fine, thank you very much.
But side one is awful — crude, harsh and full of the old school cutter head distortion we decry above. So which is it?
Both I guess. Depends on the record, right? That’s why you have to play them to know. Which we don’t mind doing as long as we can charge $150 for our trouble (not to mention what it takes to find a pressing like this nowadays). (more…)
This record is so good on side two it almost left me speechless. How is this title not on the TAS List? Why is it not one of the most sought-after recordings in the RCA canon?
Beats the hell out of me. But wait just one minute. Until a month ago I surely had no idea how good this record could sound, so how can I criticize others for not appreciating a record I had never taken the time to appreciate myself?
Which more than anything else simply begs the question — why is no one exploring, discovering and then elucidating for the record loving public the wonderful qualities of these vintage recordings (besides your humble writer of course)?
HP has passed on; who is fit to carry his mantle into the coming world of audio? Looking around I find very few prospects.
But I digress.
White Hot and simply amazing on every level. Rich, clear, undistorted, open, spacious, with depth and transparency like few recordings you may have heard, the music flows from the speakers effortlessly. You are there.
The loudest brass and string sections of the music are never brash or shrill, something that no other side could manage.
My notes read: The Big Living Stereo Sound, and man is it ever! The players are arrayed on a huge stage, with transparency that lets you hear all the way to the back of the hall.
This record will have you asking why so few Living Stereo pressings actually do what this one does. The more critical listener will recognize that this is a very special copy indeed. Everyone else will just enjoy the hell out of it. (more…)
Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.
We ran into a number of copies of this title that had what we like to call that “Old Record” sound, which is surprisingly common on even the most revered Golden Age labels, RCA included.
No top, no real bottom, congested climaxes and a general shrillness to the sound — we’ve played Living Stereos by the dozens that have these shortcomings and many more.
Some audiophiles may be impressed by the average Shaded Dog pressing, but I can assure you that we here at Better Records are decidedly not of that persuasion. Something in the range of ten to fifteen per cent of the major label Golden Age recordings we play will eventually make it to the site. The vast majority just don’t sound all that good to us. (Many have second- and third-rate performances and those get tossed without ever making it to a shootout.)
Probably more than ten years ago we had written
The famous TAS list recording. The Decca 180 gram version is very good, but those of you who appreciate the qualities of the original mastering will want to have this one.
We played three or four copies of the album recently and none of them quite worked for us. The sound was a bit opaque, and not as tubey as we would have liked.
A good record, not a great one, and for that reason really not worth cleaning up and doing a shootout for. The best copy would not pay for the labor to find it.
A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame.
12s Hot stampers. The best sounding copy I’ve ever heard.
Jim Mitchell is famous for pointing out that many of the RCA’s that were re-recorded a few years later are inferior to their earlier counterparts. This record is no exception. LSC 1817 is an amazing record. This record is merely good, with depth, soundstaging, nice string tone, etc., but not the kind of sonic fireworks to be found on the 1954 2-track recording that RCA first did of this work.
A very good Sabre Dance as a bonus, check it out! It’s the lead off track on Destination Stereo (LSC 2307) for good reason: it sounds great. (more…)
Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we’ve ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When “in -the-know” audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real – proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume.
This reasonably quiet RCA Shaded Dog LP has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND on BOTH sides. It is without a doubt THE best sounding copy we have ever heard*. (more…)