Labels We Love – Liberty

Martin Denny / Quiet Village – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

More Exotica

More Recordings Engineered by Ted Keep

This superb sounding Hot Stamper copy of Quiet Village has a lot in common with the other Bachelor Pad / Exotica titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and others.

But c’mon, nobody really buys these records for the music (although the music is thoroughly enchanting). It’s all about the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation, the wacky 3-D sound effects (of real birds and not-so-real ones) and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this record does not disappoint.

If you’re an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1959 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that will do it.

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the sound here is PHENOMENAL. This is vintage analog at its best, so rich and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to “improve” it. If you like the sound of vibes and unusual percussion instruments, you will have a hard time finding a more magical recording of any of them.

Quick Notes

We were surprised that a number of copies were neither transparent nor spacious. For a while there we thought of giving up, but then we played this Black Label original copy and all was right with the world.

Unsurprisingly, we ran into plenty of noisy vinyl, too noisy to enjoy as the music is frequently quiet for extended periods.

There is a shocking amount of rich, deep bass in the recording. You could play fifty ’70s rock records and not hear this much richness and weight down low. Having played scores of Exotica titles over the years we were very pleasantly surprised to hear the bass  on this title surpass them all.

Side Two

Every bit as rich, sweet and tubey as side one, but this side is transparent, three-dimensional and spacious like no other side of any copy we played. The perfect music to demo your stereo with for anyone who thinks audio recording technology has improved in the last thirty years.

Side One

Super Hot Stamper sound, with a big stage, Tubey Magic and correct tonality from top to bottom. From top to bottom the tonality is Right On The Money. It’s very lively, with tight, clear bass.

Listen to how open the drum sound is. That sound is just not to be found on popular albums anymore.

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Julie London / Your Number Please – Skip the Mono

More of the Music of Julie London

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Albums

The mono we played (not pictured) in our shootout did not fare well head to head against the stereo pressings we had on hand.

Yes, it is rich and tubey, and Julie’s voice is solid and full-bodied, but the overall presentation is dark, opaque and small.

How do the mono record lovers of the world find this kind of sound to their liking?  We honestly don’t know.

On today’s modern stereos, the mono pressing leaves a lot to be desired, and for that reason we say Skip the Mono.

For records that we think sound best in mono, click here.

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Julie London Is a Knockout on Lonely Girl

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  • A killer recording of female vocal with guitar: Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side, seriously good Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • Julie is in the room with you – intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you’ve ever heard
  • For late night listening this is surely one of the best Sultry Female Vocal recordings ever made – you won’t believe how real the sound is
  • “Lone guitarist Al Viola plays gentle Spanish-tinged acoustic behind the hushed vocalist, and it suits London perfectly. While the singer was often chided for her beauty and lack of range, she deftly navigates these ballads without any rhythmic underpinnings to fall back on. London’s intense focus on phrasing and lyrics recalls Chet Baker’s equally telescopic approach.”
  • If you’re a fan of Miss London’s, or vintage Pop and Jazz Vocals in general, this 1956 release belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1956 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

After hearing this amazing copy in our shootout we felt that it might be a bit too noisy to list, but another scrub cleaned it up nicely and now it’s about typical for an exceptionally clean copy of the album. No marks play — the noise one hears is mostly just the vinyl of the day.

I bought this very record in 1998. It took me close to twenty years to be able to clean it and play it right! (more…)

Canned Heat – Self-Titled

More Canned Heat

More Classic Blues Albums

  • An excellent Liberty LP of Canned Heat’s debut with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • You won’t believe how rich, Tubey Magical, big, undistorted and present this copy is (until you play it anyway)
  • Composed entirely of blues covers such as Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom”
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 4 stars: “The dearth of original material on Canned Heat was less of a result of any songwriting deficiencies, but rather exemplifies their authentic renderings of traditionals such as the open-throttled boogie of ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin”…”

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Julie London – Julie (in Stereo)

  • This STUNNING vintage Liberty stereo pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl for a Julie London album too (don’t get me started)
  • In-the-room presence, preternaturally breathy vocals, and boatloads of wonderful Tubey Magic
  • This amazing sleeper of a record belongs right up at the top of Ms. London’s oeuvre (25 albums strong) along with Julie Is Her Name – high praise indeed
  • 4 stars: “Usually put into a torch song setting, this release allows London to shed that garment and become jazzy. Instead of being sultry, she becomes dazzling and sparkling. She also becomes more adept at phrasing and timing and takes a risk or two in the tradition of a jazz singer.”
  • If you’re a fan of Julie’s, this is a Top Title from 1957 that we think belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The great Jimmy Rowles plays piano, handled the arrangements and fronts the big group here, taking the music in a wonderfully jazzy direction that suits Julie’s vocal style perfectly. (more…)

Julie London / Julie Is Her Name, Volume 2 – Notes from Our First Shootout

More of the Music of Julie London

More Recordings Engineered by Ted Keep

On side one listen to how rich the bottom end is. The Tubey Magic on this side is off the charts.

Some copies — or, to be more precise, some sides of some copies –can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on this one.

The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best sounding female vocal albums of all time.

To take nothing away from her performance, which got better with every copy we played.

If only Ella Fitzgerald on Clap Hands got this kind of sound!

As good as the best copies of that album are, this record — like the first volume, the 1955 mono recording — takes the concept of intimate female vocals to an entirely new level.

The notes I took during this shootout lay out just how impressed I was with the sound of this remarkable copy:

  • Wide stereo.
  • Big Bass.
  • Swingin’.
  • Just the right amount of reverb.
  • Tonal perfection.
  • The stereo kills the mono (on this album, on the copies we played anyway).

Condition Is Always a Problem

Some of the copies we will be putting up may well have marks that play for a short while on a track or two (not this one of course), as finding copies that don’t have one flaw or another is difficult when the record is 57 years old, especially considering that the album was also extremely popular in its day. Few have survived in as nice a shape as this one. If some light crackle in the background is not going to cut it for you, it’s unlikely that we will be able to supply you with Hot Stamper sound for a copy of Julie Is Her Name, Volume II.

And we would never point you to the awful Boxstar 45 RPM pressing of volume 1 cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say we actually sold some, but in my defense I can honestly say we never had a single nice thing to say about it.

We found the Tubey Magic on his pressing to be non-existent, as non-existent as it is on practically (there are a few exceptions!) every Classic Records release he cut. If you have his version you are in for quite a treat when you finally get this one home and on your table. There is a world of difference between the sound of the two versions and we would be very surprised if it takes you more than ten seconds to hear it.

Forgotten Sound

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These Liberty pressings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

THIS is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made that sound like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but those of us with a good turntable could care less.

Bud & Travis – …In Concert

More Folk Revival Music

This original Liberty Black and Rainbow Label LP has exceptionally quiet vinyl and very good sound.

About fifteen years ago, I played side one and thoroughly enjoyed it. These guys are very entertaining, especially their between song banter.

What was surprising was how dynamic the vocals are on this recording. You would never hear a studio recording with these kinds of dynamics, I can tell you that.

Why does this 1960 recording of live folk music sound so good?

Well, Liberty was a label that tended to produce very good sounding records. We’ve played scores of them, and we did some shootouts for the ones that had music that could justify our high prices the cost of all the time and effort required to find the best sounding copies.

But the most obvious reason this record has such good sound is that Ted Keep recorded it.

You don’t have to, but if you want this kind of sound quality, it pays to go back to the All Tube Recording and Mastering chains of the late ’50s and early ’60s. That is where you are most likely to find it.

If you’re a fan of live folk music, this album from 1960 surely belongs in your collection.

The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Julie London / Calendar Girl in Glorious 1956 Mono

More Julie London

More Recordings Engineered by John Krauss

  • An excellent copy of Julie London’s 1956 classic featuring solid Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than many of the copies we’ve played over the years, especially the reissues, but it sure is hard to find them quiet enough for audiophiles
  • Julie’s voice sounds particularly nice on this copy – intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound
  • 4 Stars: “… Julie London had an extremely limited vocal range but she did the most with what she had, possessing a special knack for torch songs that cast her in the role of a woman constantly being destroyed by love in general and by men in particular.”
  • If you’re a fan of Miss London’s, or vintage Pop and Jazz Vocals in general, this 1956 release belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1956 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Julie London – About The Blues

More Julie London

  • About The Blues with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last; we rarely have this title on the site 
  • Julie’s lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you’ve ever heard
  • This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original Mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout
  • 4 stars: “About the Blues … may just be her best orchestral session. Since downbeat torch songs were London’s specialty, the album features an excellent selection of nocturnal but classy blues songs that play to her subtle strengths…”

Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.   (more…)

Bob Florence / Here And Now – So Tough to Find in Stereo We Finally Just Gave Up

More of Our Favorite Recordings By Bones Howe

Recordings Engineered by Bones Howe Available Now


Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

A Five Star Album in the All Music Guide. This lively big band LP has excellent sound. We loved the music too.

Wish we could find some. It apparently sold very poorly, so poorly that there simply aren’t any copies around.

At 32, Florence already largely had his writing style together. He utilized top L.A. studio players for this set including such soloists as altoist Bud Shank, the tenors of Bill Perkins and Bob Hardaway, and trombonist Herbie Harper, but it is the tricky charts on the four originals and four standards (including “The Song Is You” and “Straight No Chaser”) that make this an LP worth searching for.” – AMG