Top Artists – Ted Heath

Ted Heath – Swings In High Stereo

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

  • Kingsway Hall, Wilkinson and the Decca Tree add up to Audiophile Quality Big Band sound, on this copy anyway
  • Heath and his group play with all the energy and verve essential to this joyful Big Band music – he really does swing in high stereo
  • We consider Ted Heath’s early London recordings to be some of the best sounding big band albums ever recorded

This album has DEMO DISC SOUND like you will not believe. Just listen to Heath’s arrangement of Big Ben, the second track on side two, for Audiophile Quality Big Band sound the likes of which you may have never heard. (more…)

Our System Just Loves Certain Records – Why Do You Suppose That Is?

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

The Highest Fidelity Recordings Are Truly Amazing If You Can Play Them Right

That’s a big if. In fact it’s the biggest if in all of audio.

What do we love about vintage pressings like the one you see pictured?

The timbre of the instruments is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sound of every instrument is reproduced with remarkable fidelity. That’s what we at Better Records mean by “Hi-Fi,” not the kind of Audiophile Phony BS Sound that passes for Hi-Fidelity these days. There’s no boosted top, there’s no bloated bottom, there’s no sucked-out midrange. This is Hi-Fidelity for those who recognize The Real Thing when they hear it.

Tubey Magic

The best copies of Swings in High Stereo have a lot in common with the other Decca and Living Stereo titles we’ve listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Prez Prado and a handful of others. Talk about making your speakers disappear, these records will do it!

An album like this is all about Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation. For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, a killer Hot Stamper copy may be just the record for you.

The best copies are super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

This IS the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. Someday there may well be a CD of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable could care less.

The Ideal System for an Exceptionally Well Recorded Album

It’s clear our stereo loves this record. Let’s talk about why that might be the case.

Our system is fast, accurate and uncolored. We like to think of our speakers as the audiophile equivalent of studio monitors, showing us exactly what is on the record, nothing added, and nothing taken away.

When we play a modern record, it should sound modern. When we play a vintage Tubey Magical Living Stereo pressing, we want to hear all the Tubey Magic, but we don’t want to hear more Tubey Magic than what is actually on the record. We don’t want to do what some audiophiles like to do, which is to make all their records sound the way they like all their records to sound.

They do that by having their system add in all their favorite colorations. We call that “My-Fi”, not “Hi-Fi”, and we’re having none of it.

If our system were more colored, slower and tubier, this record would not sound as good as it does. It’s already got plenty of richness, warmth, sweetness and Tubey Magic.

To take an obvious example, playing the average dry and grainy Joe Walsh record on our system is a fairly unpleasant experience. Some added warmth and richness, with maybe some upper-midrange suckout thrown in for good measure, would make it much more enjoyable. But then how would we know which Joe Walsh pressings aren’t too dry and grainy for our customers to enjoy?

We discussed some of these issues in another commentary: (more…)

Ted Heath / Shall We Dance – Absolutely Amazing Sound (and We Love the Music Too)

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

One of the best sounding records we have ever played, the Gold Standard for Tubey Magical Big Band. Both sides are huge, rich, weighty and dynamic like few records you have ever heard. Three elements create the magic here: Kingsway Hall, Kenneth Wilkinson and the Decca “Tree” microphone setup.

Years ago we wrote in another listing “We had a copy of Heath’s Shall We Dance not long ago that had some of the biggest, richest, most powerful sound I have ever heard. Watch for Hot Stampers coming to the site soon.” Well, now they’re here, and this copy fulfills the promise of the album like no copy we have ever played.

DEMO DISC SOUND barely begins to do this one justice. This is Audiophile Quality Big Band sound to beat them all. The American big bands rarely got the kind of sound that the Decca engineers were able to achieve on records like this. For one thing they didn’t have Kingsway Hall, Kenneth Wilkinson or the Decca “Tree” microphone setup.

Unlike some of the American big band leaders who were well past their prime by the advent of the two-channel era, Heath is able to play with all the energy and verve required for this style of music. He really does “swing in high stereo” on these big band dance tunes. (more…)

Ted Heath – Swing Session

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

  • Ted Heath Swing Session makes its Hot Stamper debut with KILLER Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • This pressing is bigger, bolder and richer, as well as more clean, clear and open than any copy we played (which is of course the way it earned those Triple Plus grades)
  • These original pressings are ridiculously hard to come by with this kind of superb sound AND quiet vinyl – this one has it all!  
  • “… the sound is open and airy with great separation of instruments and very much alive. The band is tight and the music is energetic.”

Unlike some of the American big band leaders who were well past their prime by the advent of the LP era, Heath is able to play with all the energy and verve required for this music. He really does swing in high stereo. (more…)

Ted Heath And His Music / The Big Ones – Reviewed in 2006

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

This is a WONDERFUL SOUNDING, VERY LIVELY big band record, putatively under the direction of Ted Heath. I suspect he had nothing to do with this album though. What it sounds like is top studio musicians playing fun, clever arrangements of the pop songs that were current at the time. It reminds me of what Lincoln Mayorga and his buddies were doing direct-to-disc over at Sheffield. (The sound is as almost as good too.)

An album like this lives or dies by the quality of its musical ideas, since we know these songs so well. To me the album works because these musicians are having a ball with this pop fluff. I’m a big fan of what Lincoln Mayorga was doing on those first three Sheffield records, and if you are too you should get a kick out of this album.

Great drumming by the way. (more…)

Ted Heath / Swings In High Stereo – Specific Qualities We Heard on This Pressing

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Ted Heath

Side One

Big and spacious, yet clear, dynamic and energetic. The brass is never “blary” the way it can be on so many Big Band or Dance Band records from the ’50s and ’60s. (Basie’s Roulette records tend to have a bad case of blary brass as a rule.)

Sharp transients and mostly correct tonality and timbres, powerful brass — practically everything you want in a Hot Stamper is here! The stage is exceptionally wide on this copy. Listen to the top end on track two — man, that is some natural sound!

This side could use a bit more weight so we feel a grade of Super Hot gets it right.

Side Two

Like side one it’s big, dynamic, open and clear. It has a touch of smear and could use more extreme bottom and top, so we dropped it one half plus to not quite Super Hot.