The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- A KILLER 6-Eye original stereo pressing of this wonderful recording, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one, followed by an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
- An incredibly Tubey Magical disc, exactly what would be expected with Teo Macero producing and Fred Plaut engineering in the Jazz Golden Age
- Reasonably quiet playing surfaces considering that we're dealing here with a more than 50 year old Six Eye Columbia pressing
- 4 Stars: "One of Dave Brubeck's more adventurous albums... Highly recommended along with Brubeck's other Time recordings."
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Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These vintage Brubeck recordings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality -- everything that we listen for in a great record is here.
In addition to the fine qualities outlined above, there was also barely a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience for a vintage All Tube recording from 1962, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course).
Getting The Balance Right
Clean and clear yet rich and sweet, this copy managed to find the perfect balance of these attributes so essential to the sound of vintage jazz recordings. You want to find that rare copy that keeps what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Jazz while managing to avoid the pitfalls so common to them: smear, lack of top end extension, opacity and blubber.
To be sure, the fault is not with the recording (I assume, not having heard the master tape) but with the typical mediocre pressing. Bad vinyl, bad mastering, who knows why so many copies sound so smeary, thick, dull and veiled?
This copy has no such problems. Full-bodied sound, open and spacious, bursting with life and energy -- these are the hallmarks of our Truly Hot Stampers. If your stereo is cookin' these days this record will be an unparalleled Sonic Treat. We guarantee that no heavy vinyl pressing of any Brubeck album has the kind of analog magic found on one of our Hot Stampers.
What the best pressings of Countdown - Time In Outer Space 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 1962
- 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.
If you have full-range speakers some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano 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 -- a very few -- copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano's wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.
What We're Listening For on Countdown - Time In Outer Space
- 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 common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Fred Plaut in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Fred Plaut, Engineer Extraordinaire
Frederick "Fred" Plaut was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label's chief engineer.
Plaut engineered sessions for what would result in many of Columbia's famous albums, including the original cast recordings of South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and West Side Story, jazz LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, Time Out by Dave Brubeck, Mingus Ah Um and Mingus Dynasty by Charles Mingus.
It's not clear whether he recorded the entire album or just the tracks from the same sessions as Time Further Out. Since Time Further Out may just be the best sounding record Brubeck and company ever recorded, whoever the engineer may have been, he did one helluva job!
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.
Someday My Prince Will Come
Three's A Crowd
Back To Earth
One of Dave Brubeck's more adventurous albums, this LP finds his Quartet exploring originals in a variety of potentially difficult time signatures including 11/4 and a polyrhythmic version of the dates' one standard "Someday My Prince Will Come." Other highlights include "Countdown," "Castilian Drums" and "Three's a Crowd." Highly recommended along with Brubeck's other Time recordings.
Reviews and Reception
On release, Billboard expected the album to be "another smash" because of the "persuasive and exciting performances." Both the monaural and stereo version appeared on the respective Billboard charts. Countdown's first appearance on the Billboard chart was on June 16, 1962. It reached a peak position of No. 24 and remained on the chart for 21 weeks.
The St. Petersburg Times called the album "modern jazz at its finest." Louise Stone recommended the album but found it inferior to Brubeck's Fantasy recordings and Jazz Goes to College. The album has been cited as a superior example of utilizing "off" time signatures. The Age stated that the album "breaks new ground."" The Seattle Post-Intelligencer called it one of Brubeck's most creative records.
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