More of the Music of Harry Belafonte
Live and Learn, Right?
We’ve long known that some copies of the album are mastered with the polarity reversed. This is one of those copies.
But the crazy news we have today is that this copy of the album sound just fine without adjusting the system polarity, better than any other copy we played.
It sounds a bit better with your polarity reversed, but it is still our Shootout Winner even with the polarity wrong.
I would never have believed that to be the case in the past, but my theory is that the new studio we built has reduced distortions and problems to such a degree that polarity issues are less of a problem now than they might have been in the past.
As I say, it’s just a theory, and as time goes on we will revisit this idea with other recordings that we know to have polarity issues, and we’ll be sure to let you know what we find.
The best sounding versions we played are cut super-clean; the brass and strings have dead-on correct textures and timbres.
As good as some pressings are, the best pressings are clearly a step up in class. The brass has more weight and body and richness. Same with the strings. The voice gets fuller and sweeter and less sibilant, while still maintaining every nuance of detail. The presence is startling; Belafonte is absolutely in the room with you.
An Amazing Recording
A long time ago in an audiophile world far, far away, Harry Pearson brought this record to the attention of audiophiles with his TAS list, and rightfully so: it’s an amazing recording.
We happen to love the music too, which makes it one of the most recommendable records we offer. If you can find a better combination of demo disc sound, with music worth the hassle and expense of reproducing it properly, more power to you. We sure can’t.
Because this is a live recording, because it has lots of natural instruments as well as a vocal, because it was recorded in the Golden Age by one of the greatest labels of all time, RCA, by Bob Simpson no less — for this and many other reasons, it has to be considered one of the most amazing recordings in the history of the world.
That said, it is our contention (and the basis of our business model) that the brilliant quality of the recording can only be appreciated if you have the pressing that captured the sound that the engineers recorded. In other words, a Hot Stamper.
From an audiophile point of view, you get to hear live musicians and all the energy they bring to this music, all on the stage at the same time: strings, brass, percussionists and Harry Belafonte front and center. Tube mics (and not too many of them), a tube tape recorder, RCA’s superb engineering and all-tube mastering chain ensure that the “breath of life” is captured intact. I know of no better live popular vocal recording on the planet.