Labels We Love – Roulette

Tony Bennett & Count Basie – Strike Up The Band

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  • You’ll find INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout this Roulette stereo pressing
  • So hugely spacious and three-dimensional, yet with a natural sounding Tony – this is the best way to hear it
  • The Roulette pressings tend to be gritty, edgy and bright, but we found a good one here, and it won the shootout
  • Richness, transparency and Tubey Magic are key to the sound of Basie’s orchestra and you will find all three in abundance on these two sides
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The band raves through tunes like ‘With Plenty Of Money And You,’ and Bennett matches them, drawing strength from the bravura arrangements, while band and singer achieve a knowing tenderness on ‘Growing Pains’…This is an album well worth owning.”

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Armstrong & Ellington / An Historic Recording Event

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  • Lively, dynamic, transparent, spacious and musical throughout – you won’t believe how good this Jazz Classic from 1961 sounds
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything you have ever heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market (or the Classic Records pressing, which sounded fine at the time, but up against the real thing, forget it
  • “The music resulting from Thiele’s inspired experiment is outstanding and utterly essential. That means everybody ought to hear this album at least once, and many will want to hear it again and again all the way through, for this is one of the most intriguing confluences in all of recorded jazz. Armstrong blew his horn with authority and sang beautifully and robustly.”

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Sarah Vaughan / The Lonely Hours on Classic Records

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Classic Records remastered this album back in the day, and I can see why: the average pressing on Roulette is borderline unlistenable. Of course we didn’t know that when we started this shootout. We had found a nice sounding copy and subsequently went on the hunt for more. Little did we know how wide the variation in sound quality we would find on the original Orange Label pressings. There was simply no denying that many of the copies we played were just too thin, shrill and pinched in the midrange to be of any interest to our audiophile customers.

As mediocre as Bernie’s Classic cutting may be, it’s still better than the average Roulette original one might throw on the turntable.

And you can forget the monos completely; they were by far the worst sounding of them all.

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Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie – Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan

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  • A KILLER copy of this superb collaboration with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two mated with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side one
  • On a copy this good, Vaughan will appear as a living, breathing person right in your very own listening room – we call that “the breath of life,” and this record has it in spades
  • Here is what’s best about vintage analog – sound that is exceptionally spacious and three-dimensional, relaxed, full-bodied and natural
  • 4 stars: ” Basie’s Orchestra and pianist Kirk Stuart are purely in a supporting role behind the magnificent voice of Sarah Vaughan… her wide range and impeccable musicianship carry the day.”

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Joe Williams – Sings About You

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  • KILLER sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • We have a devil of a time finding good sounding Joe Williams records – discovering that this title was so well recorded was a very pleasant surprise, and this copy takes the record about as far as we think it can go, hence the very high sonic grades
  • “Joe Williams was the last great big-band singer, a smooth baritone who graced the rejuvenated Count Basie Orchestra during the 1950s and captivated audiences well into the ’90s.” – All Music, Biography

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Sarah Vaughan – The Lonely Hours

 

  • The Lonely Hours debuts with killer Hot Stamper sound – this copy took top honors with Triple Plus sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this early Roulette pressing for size, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal richness
  • With Benny Carter brilliantly handling the arrangements, we feel that this is a badly underrated album of Ms Vaughan’s from 1964, a glorious year for music
  • “Vaughan sounds excellent on “I’ll Never Be the Same,” “These Foolish Things,” and “If I Had You,” lightly caressing the notes.”

Wonderfully warm, big and clear, not to mention exceptionally dynamic, this copy shows the listener just how good the master tape must be.

Not only could no other copy touch it; as far as I can tell it’s the only copy with two sides good enough to put on the site!

Classic Records remastered this album back in the day, and I can see why: the average pressing on Roulette is borderline unlistenable. Of course we didn’t know that when we started this shootout. We had found a nice sounding copy and subsequently went on the hunt for more. Little did we know how wide the variation in sound quality we would find on the original Orange Label pressings. There was simply no denying that many of the copies we played were just too thin, shrill and pinched in the midrange to be of any interest to our Hot Stamper customers. (more…)

Harry “Sweets” Edison – Sweetenings

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  • Edison’s superb 1958 release makes its Hot Stamper debut here, boasting Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them on both sides
  • The sound on this Roulette original is big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and three-dimensional space
  • It’s hard to imagine finding a copy with a better first side than this one, and side two is right up there with it
  • True, we did not have a big stack of copies for our shootout, but we recognize a killer pressing when we hear one
  • “Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison added something special to any date in which he took part, but these 1958 sessions he led for Roulette are especially enjoyable…. Edison’s trumpet swings effortlessly through a batch of standards and originals.”

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Sarah Vaughan – Sarah Slightly Classical

  • ‘Sarah Slightly Classical’ debuts with KILLER sound – this copy took top honors with Triple Plus (A+++) sonics on both sides
  • No other copy could touch this early Roulette pressing for size, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal richness
  • About as quiet as we can find them — Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • “Vaughan cuts loose on numbers such as “Be My Love,” “Intermezzo,” “Full Moon and Empty Arms” and “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life.”

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Sarah Vaughan – You’re Mine You

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  • Vaughan’s wonderful 1962 album on the original Roulette stereo pressing makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are exceptionally low-distortion, solid and dynamic, with the natural, relaxed, analog warmth and richness missing from the Classic Records pressing (and most likely missing from whatever current reissue is on the market)
  • “This LP finds Sarah Vaughan backed by big-band and string arrangements from Quincy Jones that could easily have been used for a Frank Sinatra date. Vaughan’s voice is typically wondrous… In the repertoire are such tunes as “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “The Second Time Around” and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.”

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Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington – The Great Reunion

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  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one, this vintage stereo pressing was one of the best in our most recent shootout
  • So big, so rich, so Tubey Magical, we doubt you have ever heard Louis Armstrong sound remotely as good as he does here  
  • We remember the Classic pressing as being a very good sounding record but make no mistake, this is a GREAT sounding one
  • “One of the best things about this configuration is the sound of the Duke’s piano – an underrated pianist, he seldom recorded in such an intimate context.”

Note that the second track on both sides is slightly smoother and more natural than the first. Listen for it! (more…)