1964

Junior Mance – Get Ready, Set, Jump!!!

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More Big Band Jazz

  • Wonderfully big, rich and LIVELY, with boatloads of Tubey Magic and three-dimensional space
  • This vintage stereo pressing boasts exceptionally natural piano sound and the live-in-the-studio energy of a swingin’ group of veteran horn players
  • 4 stars: “Mance is joined by some of the cream of the West Coast studio and jazz players for a session that features Mance doing his blues thing on piano while the band swings at various tempi… resembling somewhat the style of the Count Basie Orchestra.”
  • If you’re a fan of Big Band Jazz, this album from 1964 probably belongs in your collection.

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Anita O’Day – Incomparable!

More Pop and Jazz Vocal Recordings

Reviews of Some of Our Favorite Albums by Female Vocalists

  • Incomparable! debuts on the site with very good Hot Stamper sound or BETTER throughout this original Verve stereo pressing
  • The overall sound here is relatively rich, full-bodied and lively, with solid and present vocals
  • We have a devil of a time finding good sound for Anita’s records – none of the ones we’ve played have been great, but some are good, and this is one of the few good ones we’ve managed to get hold of
  • If you’re a fan of the lovely Miss O’Day, her Verve album from 1964 surely belongs in your collection

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real Anita O’Day singing live in your listening room. The best copies have an uncanny way of doing just that.

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Clark Terry – The Happy Horns of Clark Terry

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More Jazz Recordings

  • Clark Terry’s three horn lineup album returns to the site with superb Double (A++) sound on both sides of this Impulse LP
  • It’s simply bigger, more transparent, less distorted, more three-dimensional and more REAL than most of what we played
  • Credit goes to Rudy Van Gelder once again for the huge space this superbly well-recorded ensemble occupies
  • 4 stars: “This all-star LP has plenty of memorable moments… The lively music is quite enjoyable.”

We dropped the needle on a copy of the album a couple of years ago and immediately we knew it would be a record worthy of a shootout — the sound was big and lively in the best tradition of Rudy Van Gelder’s recordings from the mid-’60s. His sound is the right sound for this style of music, that’s for damn sure.

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Vince Guaraldi – Jazz Impressions Of Charlie Brown

More 5 Star Albums

  • This superb pressing boasts Shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Guaraldi introduced the world to his unique, melodic, elegantly simple style with this very album – only a pressing this good does the timeless score justice
  • Not the quietest copy we’ve ever played, although finding one much quieter than this is simply not in the cards unless you’re willing to settle for much poorer sound quality
  • 5 stars: “The most remarkable thing, besides the high quality of Guaraldi’s whimsically swinging tunes, is that he did not compromise his art one iota for the cartoon world; indeed, he sounds even more engaged, inventive, and lighthearted in his piano work here than ever.”

On both sides, but especially on this Shootout Winning side one, the sound was jumpin’ out of the speakers. There was not a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course).

If you have full-range speakers, some qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano on this recording are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead, the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.

In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies.

But a few copies survive all such hazards. (Too few, hence our prices.) They manage to reproduce the full spectrum sound of the piano (and of course the wonderful performances of the musicians) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we never expected from a ’60s Fantasy pressing such as this one.

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Ray Charles – Have a Smile With Me

More of the Music of Ray Charles

More Soul, Blues, and Rhythm and Blues

  • Have A Smile With Me returns to the site after more than a year with superb Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two mated to an excellent sounding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The richness in Ray’s vocals and the wonderfully Tubey Magical sound overall makes this killer copy especially impressive
  • It’s not easy to find a Ray Charles stereo pressing from the Sixties that plays this quietly, but marks in the vinyl are the nature of the beast with these early LPs – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “…[Charles] elevates the material with soulful vocals and good arrangements, particularly when the Raeletts back him up (as they do on half the tracks).”

We search high and low for Ray’s records and have played them by the score over the years. We hope to keep a good supply on to the site in the coming years, so keep a close eye on the New Arrivals section.

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Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

More Bob Dylan

  • This 360 stereo pressing offers outstanding sound from first note to last
  • The keys to this stark recording – just Bob, his acoustic guitar, and harmonica – is correct tonality, as well as vocal presence with breathy intimacy, and here you get a good helping of all three
  • If you’ve played the MoFi or Sundazed LP, on the CD, the Tubey Magic here might just blow your mind
  • “These are beautifully crafted, tightly focused mini-masterpieces. And they have a radical edge, a political toughness, that one rarely finds in the folk music of the period. …the songs are uncompromising in their anger and unsparing in their analysis.”
  • If you’re a fan of the man, this title from 1964 is clearly one of his best, and one of his best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1964 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Just about everything you could want in the sound is here: wonderful clarity, mindblowing transparency, clearly audible transients on the guitar, breathy texture to the vocals, full-bodied acoustic guitars, and more. If you’ve played other copies of the album — on MoFi, Sundazed or Columbia LP, on the CD, on whatever — the immediacy of the vocals and the Tubey Magic of the midrange are going to blow your mind. (more…)

Britten / Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra

More of the music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

More Classical and Orchestral Recordings

  • An original UK Unboxed Decca stereo pressing with STUNNING Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • This one plays Mint Minus Minus to EX++ throughout, with no audible marks and no groove distortion of any kind, which is not bad considering it is an early pressing from 1964
  • We learned in our shootout that the London pressing can also be quite good, but none of them earned the kinds of grades the early Deccas did
  • For those who have never heard the work, check out The Young Person’s Guide on youtube — it is a tour de force of orchestral excitement, especially the percussion section

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Dave Brubeck – Time Changes

More Dave Brubeck

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • This early 360 Stereo pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on side one – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • With a breathy sax, lively and present piano, and a smooth, full sounding orchestra on some of these tracks, this is just the right sound for this music
  • The legendary CBS 30th Street Studios in New York deliver another amazing Demo Disc for Dave Brubeck and his famous fellow jazzmen
  • Produced by the legendary Teo Macero, this is the fourth entry in Brubeck’s time signature series of classic jazz

Production and Engineering

Teo Macero was the producer, Fred Plaut the engineer for these sessions in Columbia’s glorious-sounding 30th Street Studio. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

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The Rolling Stones – Self-Titled

More Rolling Stones

More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

  • You’ll find solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this outstanding pressing of The Stones’ 1964 release – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • This is the real, honest sound of the early, early Stones
  • “The Stones’ debut knocked The Beatles from the chart summit… They were on their way.” – BBC Review
  • If you’re a fan of the early Stones, their debut from 1964 belongs in your collection.

The best word I could use to sum up both the sound and the music on this record is HONEST. If you want to hear how early Rolling Stones records sound when they sound right, this is the ticket. This is the real sound of the early, early Stones.

Probably what any modern engineer would want to do to the album would only end up making it worse. It is what it is and that’s good enough for us. Since the tapes are now more than 60 years old, no modern reissue will sound remotely as good as this one.

The Stones wanted their stuff to sound like the old Blues albums they grew up on and revered, and with that sound in mind you can’t argue that they didn’t succeed here.

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Respighi / Strauss – Pines of Rome / Don Juan / Kempe

More Orchestral Spectaculars

More Reviews and Commentaries for The Pines of Rome

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, we guarantee you’ve never heard The Pines of Rome sound remotely as good as it does here (unless you own one of killer Living Stereo LPs of the work)
  • This Readers Digest pressing of Kempe’s superb 1964 recording for Decca has glorious sound on both sides and plays reasonably quietly for any LP produced by this notoriously difficult label for audiophiles
  • There were only three performances with top quality audiophile sound, and our Wilkinson-engineered pressing here was right up there with the best we heard in our massive shootout
  • If you know anything about these works, you know that they have tons of top and bottom end, and it is the rare pressing that captures both
  • The texture and harmonic overtones of the strings are superb – as we listened we became completely immersed in the music on the record, transfixed by the remarkable virtuosity Kempe and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra brought to these difficult and demanding works 50 plus years ago

This shootout has been at least thirty years in the making — that’s how long I have been picking up these RDG sets, ever since my friend Robert Pincus turned me on to them all those years ago.

Around 2016 we surveyed the recordings of the work we had on hand, close to a dozen different performances I  think, and found them all wanting, save three: the Reiner (which is still on the TAS List), this Reader’s Digest pressing with Kempe (our second favorite, and a close second at that), and a London with Kertesz.

If a particular performance had any distortion or limitation problems in the higher frequencies, it was quickly rejected out of hand. Same with low end whomp and weight. On The Pines both are crucial.

No other pieces of music of which we are aware have so much going on up high and down low. This narrowed the field of potential Hot Stampers considerably. Great performances by top conductors could not get over these hurdles — high and low — time and time again.

For these reasons, it took us years to find the right recordings. We knew the Reiner would be hard to beat, but we kept trying record after record hoping that we could find one to wrest the crown away from what is widely considered the greatest recording of the works ever made.

The best pressings were doing everything right. There was plenty of top end, with virtually no harmonic distortion, and when I say plenty, I mean the right amount. Not many engineers managed to get all the highs correctly onto the tape, but Wilkinson working with his Decca colleagues nailed it — in 1964!

So many recordings had screechy strings and horns. When the music would get loud, and the Pines gets very loud indeed, assuming the recording will let it, the sound would become unbearably harsh and unpleasant. This is the opposite of what should happen, and it was obvious that those recordings would not make it past the first round.

All three of the finalists could claim enthusiastic performances with powerful energy and top quality orchestral playing.

Kempe and Wilkinson’s Take

For The Pines, the main difference between our top two favorites is that this recording is a bit more modern, which is only perhaps the difference between 1960 and 1964.

Our notes for side two read:

  • Rich, clear and present.
  • Great space. 
  • Performance is very lively. As the record played, we noted:
  • Really clear, big and open, weighty and spacious.

This is what we want in our orchestral dreadnaught recordings, and Kempe and Decca more than delivered.

For Don Juan, which takes up all of side one, this is certainly as good sounding a pressing as we have ever heard. We are no experts on the work — we have yet to work through the many pressings and performances that we have of it, a dozen I would guess — but we know a good sounding record when we play one.

Our notes read:

  • Clear, really open and detailed. Great space.
  • Great weight. Solid, clear, and balanced.

This recording can certainly serve as a benchmark for when we finally get around to doing the shootout.

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