1957

These are records from 1957 that we’ve played, usually but not always in shootouts, and the best of them were found to have audiophile sound quality.

Rimsky-Korsakov – Christmas Eve Suite / Ansermet

More of the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

More music conduced by Ernest Ansermet

  • An early pressing of Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic orchestrations that was giving us the rich and Tubey Magical London / Decca sound we were looking for, with an INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated to an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • These sides are clear, full-bodied and present, with plenty of space around the players, the unmistakable sonic hallmark of the properly mastered, properly pressed vintage analog LP
  • The texture on the strings and the breathy quality of the woodwinds are superb, making this a very special copy indeed

James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from May 1957 in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

The gorgeous hall the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day; possibly of all time. More amazing sounding recordings were made there than in any other hall we know of. There is a solidity and richness to the sound beyond all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

It’s as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is of course all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the weight and power of the brass, combined with timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. None of them, I repeat not a single one, can begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in your decision to rid yourself of their insufferable mediocrity.)

The Christmas Eve suite takes up the entire first side, with three shorter pieces comprising the second. Rimsky-Korsakov’s exotic orchestrations, much like those found on his wonderful Scheherazade and The Tale of the Tsar Saltan, are pure audiophile ear candy from first note to last.

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Rimsky-Korsakov / The Tale of Tsar Saltan / Ansermet

More of the music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • This London Whiteback stereo pressing boasts big, bold, dynamic Tubey Magical Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • No question this is a Demo Disc Quality recording – it’s rich and real, with huge WHOMP factor down low, as well as clear, uncolored brass and robust lower strings
  • Here is the kind of depth and three-dimensional soundstaging that the recordings by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande are famous for
  • The Speakers Corner pressing of Ansermet’s famous recording is mediocre, with many faults, all discussed here
  • We would love to be able to find Ansermet’s Scheherazade on London (not Decca!) vinyl, but as you may have read on the blog, the right stampers of that record are almost impossible to find these days, although that has not stopped us from trying

James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these sessions from April of 1959 in Geneva’s glorious Victoria Hall. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time. More amazing sounding recordings were made there than in any other hall we know of. There is a solidity and richness to the sound beyond all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

It’s as wide, deep and three-dimensional as any, which is of course all to the good, but what makes the sound of these recordings so special is the weight and power of the brass, combined with timbral accuracy of the instruments in every section.

This is the kind of record that will make you want to take all your heavy vinyl classical pressings and put them in storage. None of them, I repeat not a single one, can begin to sound the way this record sounds. (Before you put them in storage or on Ebay please play them against this pressing so that you can be confident in you decision to rid yourself of their insufferable mediocrity.)

This London pressing contains a stunningly BEAUTIFUL Tale of the Tsar Saltan Suite. It’s clearly one of the great Demo Disc Quality recordings from the Golden Age (or any age for that matter), with everything that a top Golden Age Orchestral recording should have: all the magic; all the timbral and harmonic subtlety; all the sweetness and warmth; all the Tubey Magical richness.

All that and more. Folks, this is the kind of record that makes you sit up and take notice. Finally, HERE is the kind of sound that can bring an orchestra to life in your very own listening room.

It has the kind of depth and three-dimensional soundstaging that the recordings by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande are famous for. (Unlike some of their recordings — Pictures at an Exhibition comes readily to mind — the tempi here are not too slow. The tempi are in fact just right. We love the sound of Ansermet’s records but when the performance drags it’s hard to enjoy the music. For top quality performances of the work by other conductors — rarely in stock I regret to say — please check the site.)

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Marty Paich Big Band – What’s New

More Marty Paich

More Jazz Recordings of Interest

  • 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.

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Sarah Vaughan – Sings George Gershwin, Volume One

More Sarah Vaughan

  • Sarah Vaughan’s 1957 release returns to the site for only the second time with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this early Black Label Mercury stereo pressing
  • This copy has more richness, space, clarity, dynamics and, most especially, vocal intimacy than most of what we played
  • Hard to imagine we would ever run into a quieter copy than this one – Mint Minus Minus with no marks that play and no groove damage makes this a very special copy indeed
  • Hal Mooney brilliantly handles the arrangements, letting Sarah stretch and bend Gershwin’s notes to her heart’s content

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Jackie McLean – A Long Drink of the Blues

More Jackie McLean

  • You’ll find seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage reissue – impossibly quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides have close to the best condition grade we give out, Mint Minus – there may not be another record on the site with vinyl that quiet!
  • Shockingly good All Tube Mono sound from 1957 courtesy of Rudy Van Gelder, and the high-rez, tonally correct and wide-bandwidth mastering brings out even more of the most subtle nuances of this superb sextet’s recordings
  • McLean’s sax is joined on the first side by Curtis Fuller on trombone and Webster Young on Trumpet
  • 4 stars: “Although not quite as intense as McLean’s later Blue Note dates, the ballad renditions show just how mature and original a soloist he was even at this early stage.”
  • If you’re a fan of Jackie’s, this is a Top Title from 1957 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Ella Fitzgerald – The Duke Ellington Songbook, Volume Two

More Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Albums We’ve Reviewed

  • An excellent Verve Mono reissue with wonderful sound on all FOUR sides
  • Forget the originals – like so many of the early songbook pressings, they suffer from painfully hard and honky mastering EQ (and gritty sounding vinyl)
  • We know whereof we speak when it comes to early Ella records – we’ve played plenty of them and found that most just don’t sound very good
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl throughout* — Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “Duke’s spectacular catalog dazzles, and his sprightly, lush textures are transfigured under Fitzgerald’s warm-timbred voice and elegant, precise delivery… each tune as familiar as it is delightful to hear in this new context.”
  • If you’re a fan of Ella’s, this Top Title from 1957 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This mono reissue is the only way to find the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from modern records. As good as the best of those pressings may be, this record is going to be dramatically more REAL sounding.

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Bill Evans – Conception

More Bill Evans

  • This wonderful Milestone Two-Fer from 1981 boasts STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on the other three – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • 4 stars: “Even in 1956, Evans had his own chord voicings and a lyrical yet swinging style… A strong start to a significant career.”
  • “In addition, there is a full album of previously unreleased music: an alternate take of ‘No Cover, No Minimum,’ an unaccompanied version of ‘Some Other Time’ from 1958 and four solo pieces that Evans cut in 1962, his first recordings after the tragic death of his bassist Scott LaFaro.”
  • If you’re a Bill Evans fan, this All Tube Recording released in 1957 should make a welcome addition to your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1957 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Mozart – A Great VTA Test Disc

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Mozart

This is a handy record for VTA adjustment

Listen for fullness and solidity, especially in the piano, although a rich, full sounding clarinet is a joy here as well. 

Some of the copies we played in our shootout lacked the weight and solidity to balance out the qualities of transparency and clarity.

The resulting sound is less natural, with the kind of forced detail that CDs do so well, and live music never does. There is a balance to be found.

The right VTA will be critical in this regard. When you have all the space; the clearest, most extended harmonics; AND good weight and richness in the lower registers of the piano, you are where you need to be (keeping in mind that it can always get better if you have the patience and drive to tweak further).  (more…)

John Coltrane – More Lasting Than Bronze

More John Coltrane

  • This superb Prestige Two-Fer offer outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from top to bottom – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Compiled from two nearly complete Classic albums, Lush Life and Coltrane, this collection boasts masterful sound – thanks RVG!
  • Full-bodied, energetic, and tonally correct from top to bottom and, these pressings are guaranteed to bring Coltrane’s music to life
  • “Rarely does a single performance uncover the essence of an artist with such aptness. The well-crafted melody is treated above all with dignity, which may be part of the reason it remains flawless.”

The jackets for these Two-Fers tend to have some ringwear. We will of course put these two discs in the nicest cover we have available.

This is the kind of recording that makes people respect Rudy Van Gelder. And since he mastered these pressings, we have to give him even more credit for doing the transfer exceptionally well. I am on record as saying that some of his own transfers are problematical. Not this one. Since this has two of Coltrane’s greatest albums together, I can’t recommend this record any more highly.

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Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite & Scythian Suite – Dorati

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Sergei Prokofiev

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound is found throughout this original (but not FR-1, those didn’t do as well!) Mercury LP
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
  • We have a preference for Dorati’s work with the London Symphony Orchestra, and a record like this will show you exactly why we do
  • If you’re a fan of 20th century orchestral showpieces such as these, Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart have here produced a very special record of two of the best
  • We hope you like your sound big and bold, because that is the sound they were obviously going for
  • I have to admit I was never a fan of this album until only a few years ago, when I finally got my hands on a clean copy and heard the powerful sound of the London Symphony come blasting out of my speakers – what a thrill!
  • This record seems to have been dropped from the TAS Super Disc list, which is only fitting since the current crop of nitwits has been watering it down with one crappy title after another since HP passed in 2014
  • If you’re a fan of Prokofiev’s music, this superb 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.

In the heyday of the ’90s, when these records were all the rage, this copy would have sold for as much as $1000 and maybe even more. And the copy that sold for that would have been very unlikely to sound as good as this one, if only for the fact that cleaning technologies have advanced so much over the last twenty years or so (and no, I do not mean ultrasonic cleaning. I mean scrubbing the right fluids and using the right machines to vacuum them off).

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