Top Engineers – Bones Howe

Tom Waits – Foreign Affairs

More Tom Waits

  • This early pressing was hard to fault – it will put Tom Waits right between your speakers, with a batch of great session players behind and to the side, all playing live in the studio
  • “The album contains more ballads than most of his records do, but they were the most effective vehicles for the kind of storytelling he was trying to get to. Produced and engineered by Bones Howe, Foreign Affairs was recorded live in studio by a quintet that included West Coast jazzmen Jack Sheldon on trumpet, saxophonist Frank Vicari, bassist Jim Hughart, and drummer Shelly Manne.

(more…)

Shorty Rogers Big Band / Jazz Waltz – Leave the Originals for the Jazz Collectors

For more on the subject of reissues that beat the originals, click here.

The original Reprise pressing, whether in mono or stereo, has never sounded very good to us. The mono is quite a bit worse than the stereo – no surprise there – but both must be considered poor reflections of the master tape.

We sold one many years ago, describing it this way: “Beautiful Original with decent sound — rich, smooth and sweet.”

Which it was, but from us that’s little more than damning with faint praise. The Discovery pressing you see below is so much bigger, clearer and livelier it’s almost hard to imagine it and the 1962 Reprise original were both made from the same tape. Something sure went wrong the first time around — I think it’s safe to say at least that much.

Original equals Better? Not for those of us who play records rather than just collect them. Leave the originals for the Jazz Guys.

The Hot Stamper reissues are for us Music Loving Audiophiles.

Don’t be put off by the title; these are not some sleepy old-fashioned waltzes. This is swingin’ West Coast jazz at its best. The arrangements may be done in waltz time but that sure doesn’t keep them from swingin’.

And the amazingly good sound? Credit BONES HOWE, a man who knows Tubey Magic like practically no one else in the world. The Association, The Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension, and even Tom Waits — all their brilliant recordings are the result of Bones Howe’s estimable talents as producer and engineer.

Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

Records We’ve Reviewed that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

More of Our Favorite Recordings By Bones Howe

Recordings Engineered by Bones Howe Available Now

(more…)

Marty Paich Big Band – What’s New

  • INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it can be found on this wonderful reissue
  • Discovery may not have produced or released a lot of top sounding titles, but this record by itself puts them well ahead of Classic Records, Mobile Fidelity and the dozens of other remastering houses who have turned out close to zero records of this sonic quality
  • If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1957 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy should be just the record for you – the music and sound are enchanting.
  • This copy is super-spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience – the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny
  • With engineering from the legendary Bones Howe at Radio Recorders, this record’s audiophile credentials are fully in order
  • If you’re a fan of brilliant West Coast Jazz charts, this All Tube Recording from 1957 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This is a wonderful example of the kind of record that makes record collecting FUN.

If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing – think Art Pepper Plus Eleven – you will really get a kick out of this one.

Albert Marx was the producer of the original sessions back in 1957. Fast-forward to the ’80s and Marx is now the owner of his very own jazz label, Discovery Records. Who would know the sound of the original tapes better than he? Working with Dave Ellsworth at KM, Marx has here produced one of the best jazz reissues we’ve heard in years.

The Original

We finally got hold of an original, and sure enough, it had some of the qualities we might have guessed it would have.

It was big and rich, as expected, but it was also crude and gritty, like a lot of old jazz and pop vocal records from the ’50s are.

The reissue not only got rid of those problems, but because it was cut properly on much better mastering equipment, it was also more open and resolving of studio space and detail.

If you want to know what a properly remastered record sounds like, this pressing will show you. It should also make clear that the second-rate pressings being made today are a disgrace, pure and simple, a drum we have been beating on for at least the last fifteen years.

If only these modern engineers could put together the quality mastering chain that Albert Marx had available to him, Dave Ellsworth and his team, not to mention the knowledge of how to use it right, and the critical listening skills required to get it right and to recognize when it was right.

Practically all of the qualities missing from modern records are found right here on this budget Discovery pressing. If more reissues sounded like this, we might have to seriously rethink our business model.

But modern reissues don’t sound like this. They practically never do. Which makes the service we offer more necessary than ever.

(more…)

Marty Paich Big Band – Why Can’t Anybody Nowadays Remaster As Well As Dave Ellsworth?

If you large group swinging West Coast Jazz is your thing – think Art Pepper Plus Eleven – you will really get a kick out of this one.

Albert Marx was the producer of the original sessions back in 1957. Fast-forward to the ’80s and Marx is now the owner of his very own jazz label, Discovery Records. Who would know the sound of the original tapes better than he? Working with Dave Ellsworth at KM, Marx has here produced one of the best jazz reissues we’ve heard in years.

We finally got hold of an original, and sure enough, it had some of the qualities we might have guessed it would have.

It was big and rich, as expected, but it was also crude and gritty, like a lot of old jazz and pop vocal records from the ’50s are.

The reissue not only got rid of those problems, but because it was cut properly on much better mastering equipment, it was also more open and resolving of studio space and detail.

If you want to know what a properly remastered record sounds like, this pressing will show you. It should also make clear that the second-rate pressings being made today are a disgrace, pure and simple, a drum we have been beating on for at least the last fifteen years.

If only these modern engineers could put together the quality mastering chain that Albert Marx had available, as well as Dave Ellsworth and his team, not to mention the knowledge of how to use it, and the critical listening skills required to get it right and to recognize when it was right.

Practically all of the qualities missing from modern records are found right here on this budget Discovery pressing. If more reissues sounded like this, we seriously might have to rethink our business model.

But modern reissues don’t sound like this. They practically never do. Which makes the service we offer more necessary than ever.

And if you can’t afford our records, we tell you how to find your own Hot Stampers.

(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

The Mamas & The Papas – Self-Titled

More of The Mamas and The Papas

  • Clear, rich, present vocals, tons of Tubey Magic, and a solid bottom end; this quintessential 60’s pop album really comes to life here
  • 4 stars: “Sometimes art and events, personal or otherwise, converge on a point transcending the significance of either… For the Mamas & the Papas, it happened twice, with their first album, If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, and, on a more complex level, with this album.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. Some will have cut corners. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice enough cover for you.

This album is ridiculously difficult to find good sound for, but this pressing finally hit the mark! While we have to wade through dozens of copies to find one this impressive, we’re happy to do it because we love records and we love the music of The Mamas and the Papas.

Unfortunately, most copies of this album sound like distorted cassettes. They’re clearly made from tapes that are at least one and probably more like two or three generations down from the master two-track mix.

The CD that Hoffman cut for MCA back in the day can be quite good, and the Creeque Alley double CD set sounds fine to these ears as well. But they’re CDs. They won’t satisfy the serious analog devotee. (more…)

The Association / Insight Out – Listening in Depth

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Insight Out. Here are some albums currently on our site with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

Never My Love is clearly the best sounding track on the album. Those of you with better front ends will be astonished at the quality of the sound. Windy also sounds excellent, but I hear some sub-generation harmonic distortion, probably caused by bouncing down some of the tracks to make room for others.

This is the era of the four track machine, and when four of the tracks are used up they are bounced down to one track, making available three new tracks. Some of the albums from this era — the Mamas and the Papas come to mind — have multiple bounces, three and four deep, which accounts for the distortion that you hear all through their recordings. The two-track finished master might have upwards of five tape generations or more on some instruments or vocal parts.

More of The Association

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Wasn’t It a Bit Like Now (Parallel ’23)
On a Quiet Night

This is an interesting track, one I never fully appreciated before. It sounds just like the Mamas and the Papas! Perhaps Bones Howe, the man who recorded both groups, had something to do with the crossover harmonies and similiar arrangements. Either way, it’s one of the stronger songs on the album.

(more…)

The Fifth Dimension – The Age of Aquarius

More of The Fifth Dimension

More from The Master of Tubey Magical Pop Recording, Mr. BONES HOWE

xxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

  • An outstanding copy of The Age of Aquarius with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Tubey Magical sweetness and richness is key, and here you will find plenty of both, with virtually no sacrifice in presence, clarity or resolution
  • You can thank legendary engineer and producer Bones Howe, the man behind the phenomenal recordings of The Association, The Turtles and even the likes of Tom Waits(!)
  • 4 stars: “The Age of Aquarius, the 5th Dimension’s fourth album, was the group’s commercial peak… The 5th Dimension were the successors to the L.A. vocal group mantle passed on by The Mamas and the Papas… their work had a sheen and a zest that sometimes contrasted with the original tone of the material.”

(more…)

The Real Stars of Windy – Bones Howe and The Wrecking Crew

The sound of the sixties will fill your room like never before — wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with layers upon layers of depth. You would be very hard pressed to find a pop rock recording from 1967 that sounds as good as a Hot Stamper Insight Out. (Sgt. Pepper comes to mind, but what else?) Can you imagine the Mamas and the Papas or The Jefferson Airplane with this kind of rich, sweet, open, textured, natural, tonally correct sound quality?

The midrange is pure Tubey Magic! If you have the kind of system that brings out that quality in a recording, you will go wild over this one. In fact it’s so good, it made me appreciate some of the other songs on the album which I had previously dismissed as filler. When you hear them sound this good, you can actually enjoy them.

Hal, Joe and Bones

The real stars of Windy (and the album itself) are Hal Blaine and Joe Osborne, the famous session drummer/ bass player team, who create the driving force behind these songs. Osborne’s web site puts Windy front and center as the first track demonstrating what a top rhythm section can do for a pop song. This whole album can be enjoyed simply for the great drum and bass work, not to mention the sound that both of those instruments are given by the pop recording master Bones Howe.

He produced and engineered the show here; Bones is a man who knew his way around a studio as well as practically anybody in the ’60s. He’s the one responsible for all the tubey magic of the recording. That’s his sound. Those of you who appreciate that sound will find much to like here.

More of The Association

The Master of Tubey Magical Pop Recording, Mr. BONES HOWE

Bouncing Tracks

Never My Love is clearly the best sounding track on the album. Those of you with better front ends will be astonished at the quality of the sound. Windy also sounds excellent, but I hear some sub-generation harmonic distortion, probably caused by bouncing down some of the tracks to make room for others.

This is the era of the four track machine, and when four of the tracks are used up they are bounced down to one track, making available three new tracks. Some of the albums from this era — the Mamas and the Papas come to mind — have multiple bounces, three and four deep, which accounts for the distortion that you hear all through their recordings. The two-track finished master might have upwards of five tape generations or more on some instruments or vocal parts. (more…)

Original Is Better? Sez Who?

Which albums sound better on the right vintage reissue pressing?

These do

Don’t be put off by the title; these are not some sleepy old-fashioned waltzes. This is swingin’ West Coast jazz at its best. Of course, the arrangements are done in waltz time, but that doesn’t keep them from swingin’.

And the amazingly good sound? Credit Bones Howe, a man who knows Tubey Magic like practically no one else in the world. The Association, The Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension, and even Tom Waits — all their brilliant recordings are the result of Bones Howe’s estimable talents as producer and engineer.

Original Vs. Reissue

The original Reprise pressing, whether in mono or stereo, has never sounded very good to us. The mono is quite a bit worse than the stereo – no surprise there – but both must be considered poor reflections of the master tape.

We sold one many years ago, describing it this way: “Beautiful Original with decent sound — rich, smooth and sweet.” Which it was, but from us that’s little more than damning it with faint praise.

The Discovery pressing is so much bigger, clearer and livelier it’s almost hard to imagine it and the 1962 Reprise original were both made from the same tape.

Something sure went wrong the first time around — I think it’s safe to say at least that much.

Original equals Better? Not for those of us who play records rather than just collect them. Leave the originals for the Jazz Guys. The Hot Stamper reissues are perfect for us Music Loving Audiophiles.