The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- You’ll find INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout this original Mercury Stereo LP, only the second time this pressing has made it to the site
- Top sound but there are some marks on this copy that are serious
- We used to think the early Limelight pressing was impossible to beat, but this killer original Mercury showed us just how wrong we were - it takes the recording to another level
- This copy sounds like a big room full of musicians (25 in all!) playing live, which is exactly what it was
- The Tubey Magical richness of this 1960 recording (released in 1961, and again in 1965 as Mingus Revisited) is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- Allmusic gives it 4 stars and we think it’s maybe even a bit better than that
- Two tracks are contrapuntal arrangements of two swing era pieces, whereby “Take the “A” Train” (left channel) is paired with a simultaneous “Exactly Like You” (right channel), and likewise “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” with “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”.
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*NOTE: On side 1, there is a mark that plays 25+ times at a light to moderate level throughout the last 1/2 of track 1, "Take The 'A' Train." There is also a mark that plays lightly to loudly 25+ times about 1/4 of the way into track 3, "Eclipse."
The best copies recreate a live studio space the size of which you will not believe (assuming your room can do a good job of recreating their room). The sound is tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it -so high-resolution too.
If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that fact.
This vintage Mercury pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Pre-Bird Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What do we love about these vintage jazz Hot Stamper pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sounds of the instruments are 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. I’m pretty sure our customers do, and whoever picks this one up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.
What We're Listening For On Pre-Bird
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Take The "A" Train
- Prayer For Passive Resistance
- Mingus Fingus No. 2
- Weird Nightmare
- Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me
- Bemoanable Lady
- Half-Mast Inhibition
AMG 4 Star Review
This pair of 1960 studio sessions represents some of Charles Mingus' best arrangements. Leading the smaller of two groups, he interpolates "Exactly Like You" into a driving version of "Take the 'A' Train" and adds a soulful blues, "Prayer for Passive Resistance," both of which feature great solos by tenor saxophonists Booker Ervin, Yusef Lateef, and Joe Farrell. A much larger ensemble is utilized on three tracks, including the advanced bop "Mingus Fingus No. 2" and "Bemoanable Lady," which features a rather strangely conservative alto sax solo by Eric Dolphy. Less successful are Lorraine Curson's vocals on the dissonant "Eclipse" and pulsating "Weird Nightmare."
Pre-Bird (later re-released as Mingus Revisited) is an album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus consisting of music that was composed before Mingus first heard Charlie Parker, hence the Pre-Bird title. The music is scored for various sized large jazz ensembles and features many soloists prominent at the time of recording.
The album includes two tracks which are contrapuntal arrangement of two Swing Era pieces, whereby “Take the “A” Train” (left channel) is paired with a simultaneous “Exactly Like You” (right channel), and likewise “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” with “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”.