The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- After nearly six long years, Benny Goodman's superb 1951 release finally returns, boasting outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- Rich, smooth, tonally correct, spacious (for mono) - this collection of older recordings was compiled and transferred with consummate skill, ensuring that the highest fidelity was maintained - this pressing sounds right
- Lively performances from Goodman and his bandmates in their prime, 1939-1945
- "Within this collection, in addition to the constant variations in personnel, there is a continuing variation in instrumentation that changes the mood and approach with refreshing results... yet there is a truly marvelous similarity of thought and execution and a pleasingly lofty standard throughout."
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We've dropped the needle on a number of Goodman vintage mono records over the years but I don't recall ever hearing one sound like this. Turn it up to hear Benny and his crew playing the hell out of this group of tunes.
On side two listen for the wonderful electric guitar tone, I think on the first track if my notes are correct. Great sound for this era. By the second track on side two the sound is clear and rich.
This vintage Columbia Mono Six-Eye pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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 Benny Goodman Combos 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 1951
- 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 recording 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 We're Listening For on Benny Goodman Combos
- 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 would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Bass – Arthur Berstein, Sid Weiss, Slam Stewart Clarinet – Benny Goodman Cover – Rudolph de Harak Drums – Harry Jaeger, Jo Jones, Morey Feld , Nick Fatool Guitar – Charlie Christian, Mike Bryan Piano – Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Johnny Guarnieri, Ken Kercey, Mel Powell, Teddy Wilson Tenor Saxophone – Georgie Auld Trumpet – Cootie Williams Vibraphone – Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo
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 that is a key part of the appeal 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.
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