1959-best

Vivaldi / 4 Bassoon Concertos in Living Stereo

Living Stereo Titles Available Now

200+ Reviews of Living Stereo Records

If you’re a fan of Vivaldi, this Living Stereo from 1959 belongs in your collection. The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This rare and mostly quiet Shaded Dog pressing has SUPERB sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of A++. To our surprise side two was even better; we called it A++ to A+++.

It was surely one of the best sounding records we played in our classical shootouts that day.

This is Golden Age Living Stereo sound at its Tubey Magical best.

Side One

A++, with tonality that is Right On The Money (ROTM). Huge stage as well, deep and wide. Not as transparent as some of the other Golden Age pressings we played that day, we call this one Super Hot.

Side Two

A++ to A+++, and here the music seems to be better as well as the sound, which is more open and even sweeter and smoother (in a good way). (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Time Out

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Reviews and Commentaries for Time Out

  • This Six-Eye Stereo pressing boasts out of this world Demo Disc Sound – Time Out captures the ambience and huge space of Columbia’s studio like no other record has (with a little reverb thrown in for good measure)
  • A knockout pressing of Brubeck’s astonishingly well recorded Jazz Classic, a record that belongs in every audiophile’s collection
  • Early stereo LPs in clean condition like this one are getting awfully tough to find nowadays…
  • “Buoyed by a hit single in Desmond’s ubiquitous Take Five, Time Out became an unexpectedly huge success, and still ranks as one of the most popular jazz albums ever. That’s a testament to Brubeck and Desmond’s abilities as composers, because Time Out is full of challenges both subtle and overt — it’s just that they’re not jarring.”
  • If you’re a fan of Brubeck and company, this 1959 album belongs in your collection, along with quite a few others from the classic jazz era
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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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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Debussy / Images For Orchestra / Munch

The Music of Claude Debussy Available Now

Album Reviews of the Music of Claude Debussy

  • This is one of the most magnificent Golden Age Classical titles we have played in longer than I can remember – we put it in the top 1-2% of their best sounding releases, a nice place to be
  • This spectacular Demo Disc recording combines amazing richness with transparency, and even at its loudest, it is still smooth and sweet
  • It is very unlikely that all but a few of our best customers have any records in their collections that sound as good as this one!
  • The rich, textured sheen of the strings that Living Stereo made possible in the ’50s and early ’60s is clearly evident throughout these pieces, something that the Heavy Vinyl crowd will never experience, because that sound just does not exist on modern records
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, and for recordings of Debussy, that is quiet indeed

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! It’s also a better performance than the famous Reiner. Munch understands this music perfectly.

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Saint-Saëns, Chausson – Poème / Introduction And Rondo Capriccio / Oistrakh

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout this original RCA Victrola Stereo pressing
  • It’s also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that most of our classical records, even the mintiest ones, cannot quite manage
  • One of the best violin recordings we offer – the rich, textured sheen of the strings is clearly evident throughout these pieces
  • The sound is big and rich and ALIVE with pyrotechnic fireworks on side one – if you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them
  • The highlight for us on a collection like this is always going to be The Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, “one of Saint-Saëns’ few genuine showpieces.”

The violin here is superb — rich, smooth, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound. The Tubey Magical richness is to die for.

Big space, a solid bottom, and plenty of dynamic energy are strongly in evidence throughout. Zero smear, high-rez transparency, tremendous dynamics, a violin that is present and solid — it takes the sound of this recording beyond what we thought was possible.

The full range of colors of the orchestra are here presented (on side one; side two is simply violin and piano) with remarkable clarity, dynamic contrast, spaciousness, sweetness, and timbral accuracy. If you want to demonstrate to a novice listener why modern recordings are unsatisfactory, all you have to do is play this record for them. No CD ever sounded like this.

The richness of the strings is on display for fans of the classical Golden Age.

It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years. It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not lost on us.

I don’t think the RCA engineers could have cut this record much better — it has all the stereo magic one could ask for, as well as the clarity and presence that are missing from so many other vintage Golden Age records.

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Horace Silver – Blowin’ The Blues Away

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More Albums on Blue Note

  • A Must Own from Horace Silver, with the kind of sound that only the best vintage pressings can offer
  • If you don’t know Horace Silver’s music, this is a good place to start
  • Another triumph for engineering maestro Rudy Van Gelder – he refined a “live-in-the-studio” jazz sound that still sounds fresh to this day, even after 60+ years
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Blowin’ The Blues Away is one of Horace Silver’s all-time Blue Note classics, only upping the ante established on Finger Poppin’ for tightly constructed, joyfully infectious hard bop… one of Silver’s finest albums, and it’s virtually impossible to dislike.”
  • If you’re a fan of Silver’s, this 1959 album belongs in your collection, along with quite a few others, if only we could fine them
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music — uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we’ve found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his “you-are-there” live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more. (more…)

Wes Montgomery Trio – ‘Round Midnight

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More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

  • This incredible 2-pack offers INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides
  • We’ve known for many years that this is a very well recorded session – the original OJC pressing from the ’80s sounds great, but these reissues from the late ’60s seem to our ears to be even better
  • Surfaces are the problem, which explains the two pack — we can find you top quality sound, but that sound is going to be on vinyl we have no control over
  • 4 Stars: “Montgomery’s style, block chords and octaves, is already firmly in place, and he delivers lovely solos on ‘Round Midnight,’ ‘Whisper Not,’ and ‘Satin Doll. The choice of material, in fact, from classics like ‘Yesterdays’ to originals like Montgomery’s Jingles,’ never falters.

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Bach / Brandenburg Concertos / Munchinger

More of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

More Imported Pressings on Decca and London

  • A wonderful 3 LP Box Set with stunning Nearly White Hot (A++ to A+++) sound on sides 1, 2, 3, and 6 and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on sides 4 and 5
  • The first five sides play about as quietly as any UK pressings from this era ever do
  • There are only two complete Brandenburgs that we like for music and sound, this Munchinger on Decca/London from 1959 and the Britten from 1969
  • When you have enough of each for a shootout, and can play them side by side, you hear the differences between 1959 and 1969, but choosing one over the other when they can both be so good is a lot harder than it sounds

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Suppe et al / Overture Overture / Agoult

More Classical and Orchestral Music

  • This 1957 Decca recording is overflowing with the kind of rich, spacious, Tubey Magical sound that can only be found on vintage vinyl
  • Cyril Windebank was the engineer — you may remember him from SXL 2012, the legendary recording of Peer Gynt with Fjelstad
  • The most energetic performances we heard, with sound like nothing else we played – Agoult’s overtures are in a league of their own
  • Classic Records did this title back in the ’90s, and it was as mediocre and unsatisfying as most of their sorry releases
  • “Suppé certainly has a knack for a good tune, well suited to even the most unpolished of brass band arrangements – the characterful orchestral playing, however, brings these neglected works to life with aplomb.”
  • If you’re a fan of orchestral showpieces such as these, this Living Stereo from 1959 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • To see Living Stereo titles with Hot Stampers, click here.
  • To see the 200+ Living Stereo titles we’ve reviewed, click here.

When this 1957 recording was first released, you could only buy it in mono, under the title Overtures… In Spades! It would be two years before the stereo pressing was available through RCA. There are two covers and I believe we have Shaded Dog pressings with both. This copy, our Shootout Winner, has the first cover you see in the listing.

Everyone needs a good album of Overtures – the music is exciting and fun, not to mention Demonstration Quality on a pressing such as this. The combination of sound and performance on the best of the RCA Shaded Dog pressings could not be equaled.  (more…)

Benny Carter – Swingin’ the ’20s

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More Shelly Manne

  • These excellent sides are so much bigger and more open, with more bass and energy – the saxes and trumpets are immediate and lively
  • Mr. Earl Hines himself showed up, a man who knows this music like nobody’s business – Leroy Vinnegar and Shelly Manne round out the quartet
  • “Great musicians produce great results, and most of the LP’s tracks were done in one or two takes. The result is ‘a spontaneous, swinging record of what happened’ when Carter met Hines ‘for the first time. . . .'”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1959 All Tube Analog recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)