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Light, Enoch and the Light Brigade - Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2 - Hot Stamper

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Hot Stamper

Enoch Light and the Light Brigade
Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2

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Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)*

Side Two: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)

  • An early Stereo Command pressing with very good Hot Stamper sound from first note to last - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they're making these days - if you want to hear Tubey Magic, size and energy, a vintage pressing like this one is the way to go
  • We guarantee there is more space, richness, and presence on this copy than others you've heard or you get your money back - it's as simple as that

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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 6 times at a moderate level at the start of track 4 on side 1, "Good Night Sweetheart - Cha Cha."

This vintage Command 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 Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2 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 1959
  • 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. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

A Big Group of Musicians Needs This Kind of Space

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings are just plain more involving. When you hear a copy that does all that -- a copy like this one -- it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What We're Listening For On Provocative Percussion, Vol. 2

  • 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, full-bodied 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.

Vinyl Condition

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.

Side One

  • Hernando's Hideaway
  • Speak To Me Of Love - Cha Cha
  • Matilda
  • Good Night Sweetheart - Cha Cha
  • What Is This Thing Called Love
  • Lady Is A Tramp

Side Two

  • Speak Low
  • I've Got The Right To Sing The Blues
  • Mack The Knife
  • Temptation
  • The Natives Are Restless Tonight
  • Foggy Day Cha Cha

AMG on the Provocative Percussion series

This is the second in a series of Provocative Percussion platters under the supervision of Enoch Light. He led his own Light Brigade big band during the 1930s, then became a prolific arranger and producer for the better part of the 40s and early 50s. Later in the decade he formed the Grand Award label and then in 1959 the Command Records moniker. It was here where Light began to create products specifically for the burgeoning stereo LP market, which at the time was more or less a hi-fi audiophile novelty.

Under the direction of Terry Snyder, Light and the revolving cast known as either the Command All-Stars or simply just the All-Stars, began to experiment with extreme stereophonics, using close microphone techniques and hard-left or hard-right panning to re-create a comparatively austere sense of what could be accomplished with two distinct channels of sound. This contrasted the conventional monophonic playback medium, which delivered a solitary audio source. As innocuous as that may seem, it was cutting-edge technology for its time. Light's interest extended into the recording process itself as he was one of the early proponents of 35 millimeter film rather than magnetic-based audio tape.

This would significantly increase both frequency response, as well as the permanence of playback. In many ways, Provocative Percussion is the fraternal twin of Persuasive Percussion (1959). They are both borne of the same motivation and are "modern" interpretations of familiar and popular music standards circa 1960. Stylistically, however, the Provocative collections utilize a much more aggressive approach to the presentation, as if it were a novelty rather than actually furthering the dimension to the listening experience. The bongo intro that harshly pans from left to right during the introduction to "You're the Top" is essentially replicated with a wooden guiro during the incipient moments of "Love for Sale."

These are notably austere when compared to the extended instrumental ensemble scores that follow. They evoke the late-50s Atomic Age retro chic and space-age bachelor pad sensibility borne of John Lautner's Googie-inspired abstract architecture, which likewise informed a majority of the gatefold LP jackets.