The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With superb Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this copy was getting the Big Band sound of one of Basie's best records for Pablo really right
- This is a Top Pablo title in every way - musically, sonically, you name it, 88 Basie Street has got it going on!
- With 18 pieces in the studio this is a real powerhouse - the sound is is rich, lively, dynamic and HUGE
- 4 stars: "One of Basie's final albums, the very appealing title cut seems to sum up his career, a lightly swinging groove with a strong melody. Two small-group performances with guest Joe Pass on guitar add variety to a particularly strong set."
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This album can be a real powerhouse -- if you have the right copy -- and this killer pressing can show you just how lively and dynamic this music can be. It's a true Demo Disc, no doubt about it.
Both sides here have real strength down low, nice extension up top, and incredible clarity and transparency. Play this one good and loud and put yourself front and center for a rip-roarin' performance led by the king Bill (The Count) Basie.
We've become huge fans of these Basie Big Band records. Allen Sides knew just how to record this stuff by the time Basie came around to Pablo -- on the best pressings you can hear that this is big band music recorded just right. The sound is clean and clear with excellent transparency and the kind of separation between the instruments that lets you appreciate the contributions of each player.
What the Best Sides of 88 Basie Street 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 even as late as 1983
- 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 space where you want to be
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 describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.
Musically 88 Basie Street is a Top Basie Big Band title in every way. This should not be surprising: many of his recordings for Pablo in the mid- to late-'70s through the early '80s display the talents of The Count and his band of veterans at their best. Based on our recent shootout for this album, in comparison to the other Basie titles we've done lately we would have to say that 88BS is one of the two or three best Basie Big Band titles we've ever played.
The following are some general guidelines as to What to Listen For while you critically evaluate any of the Basie Big Band Pablo recordings (or any other big band recordings for that matter).
Simply put, we offer here a short list of qualities that we've come to appreciate on the best of the Basie Big Band pressings, qualities that we find are often in short supply on lesser LPs (and, as a rule, those that have been remastered onto Heavy Vinyl).
What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear. Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambiance and subtle musical cues and details that high-resolution analog is known for.
(Note that most Heavy Vinyl pressings being produced these days seem to be inordinately Transparency Challenged. Lots of important musical information -- the kind we hear on even second-rate regular pressings -- is simply nowhere to be found. That audiophiles as a whole -- including those that pass themselves off as the champions of analog in the audio press -- do not notice these failings does not speak well for either their equipment or their critical listening skills.)
Lack of Smear
Lack of smear is also important, especially on a recording with this many horns, where the leading edge transients are so critical to their proper reproduction. If the sharply differing characteristics of the various brass instruments (trumpet, trombone, and three kinds of saxes) smear together into an amorphous blob, as if the sound were being fed through '50s vintage tube amps (for those of you who know that sound), half the fun goes right out of the music.
Richness is important -- horns need to be full-bodied if they are to sound like the real thing -- but so are speed and clarity, two qualities that ensure that all the horns have the proper bite and timbre.
What We're Listening For on 88 Basie Street
- 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.
A problem we noted on many copies in addition to smear and opacity was blurry bass. Most copies are rich and full-bodied, with plenty of bottom end. So far so good. However, when the bottom is not well-defined, you can't hear Freddie Green strumming along nearly as well as you can on the copies where the bass is tight and note-like.
The same is true for the baritone sax; it got lost in the murky depths of some of the copies we played. And of course, the way we know that is when we drop the needle on a randomly chosen copy and -- suddenly -- there it is! Now we're hearing the instrument clearly and correctly. Who knew it could sound like that? Only on these very special copies are we given the opportunity to appreciate the baritone's contribution to the music.
What do we love about these vintage pressings? The timbre of every instrument is Hi-Fi in the best sense of the word. The unique sound of every instrument is 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 record up is guaranteed to get a real kick out of it.
Mint Minus Minus 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 later 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.
A Must Own Jazz Record
This Demo Disc Quality recording should be part of any serious Audiophile Jazz Collection. Others that belong in that category can be found here.
- 88 Basie Street
- Contractor's Blues
- The Blues Machine
- Sunday at the Savoy
AMG 4 Star Review
One of Basie's final albums, the very appealing title cut seems to sum up his career, a lightly swinging groove with a strong melody. Two small-group performances with guest Joe Pass on guitar and the tenor of Kenny Hing add variety to a particularly strong set.