The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- With two superb Double Plus (A++) sides, you'll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this vintage Contemporary pressing
- One of our favorite Sonny Rollins records for sound - both sides here are incredibly big, full-bodied and Tubey Magical
- 4 1/2 stars: "This LP contains alternate versions of selections from two famous Sonny Rollins albums: Way out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders. These 'new' renditions... hold their own against the classic versions. [T]he music is hard-swinging and frequently superb."
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Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
The album is made up of alternate takes from the Way Out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders sessions, and as such there is a bit of sonic variation between these tracks and the ones on the actual albums. The best-sounding songs here, particularly the material from Way Out West, can sound amazing!
All Tube in '58
The best copies are rich and tubey; many pressings were thin and modern sounding, and for that they would lose a lot of points. We want this record to sound like something Roy DuNann recorded with an All Tube chain in 1958, and the best copies give you that sound, without the surface noise and groove damage the originals doubtless suffer from.
Some copies have much more space; some are more present, putting the musicians right in the room with you; some are more transparent, resolving the musical information much better than others, letting you "see" everyone in the studio clearly. Some have more rhythmic drive than others. On some the musicians seem more involved and energetic than they do on the average pressing.
The copies that do all these things better than other copies are the ones that win our shootouts.
This is one of the better copies we have ever played. We think you will enjoy it immensely.
What The Best Sides Of Alternate Takes 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 1958
- 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.
Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl
Considering their dismal track record -- an unbroken string of failures, with not one success of which I am aware -- I'm guessing the Hot Stamper we are offering here will blow the doors off anything they will ever do on vinyl.
Hey, here’s a question for you: when was the last time you read a word about those Heavy Vinyl pressings, so badly mastered by Doug Sax? With no real presence and bloated bass, they're pure audiophile "smile curve" trash of the worst kind.
They’ve rather fallen from favor, have they not? I wonder why. Could it be that they were as ridiculously bad as I said they were back in 1995, and it just took the rest of the world a little longer to recognize that fact? Perhaps audiophiles are making progress. It’s just taking them a long, long time. Hey, it took me a long, long time, so who am I to talk?
What We're Listening For On Alternate Takes
- 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 for the horns and drums, not the smear and thickness so 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 -- Roy DuNann in this case, see below -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
We love the recordings made at the legendary Contemporary Records in the '50s and '60s -- it's our favorite jazz label for sonics by a long shot. Roy DuNann, their principal engineer, always seems to get The Sound of Real Instruments out of the sessions he recorded -- amazingly realistic drums in a big room; full-bodied, breathy horns; Tubey Magical guitar tone; deep, note-like bass; weighty pianos; vocal immediacy, and on and on.
On the better pressings such as this one there's just nothing between you and the music. You will have a very hard time finding a much better sounding jazz record than this very copy.
- Bass – Leroy Vinnegar, Ray Brown
- Drums – Shelly Manne
- Guitar – Barney Kessel
- Piano – Hampton Hawes
- Tenor Saxophone – Sonny Rollins
- Vibraphone – Victor Feldman
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 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.
- I'm an Old Cowhand
- Come, Gone
- Way Out West
- The Song is You
- I've Found a New Baby
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
This LP contains alternate versions of selections from two famous Sonny Rollins albums: Way out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders. These "new" renditions of "I'm an Old Cowhand," "Come, Gone," "Way out West" "The Song Is You," "You" and "I've Found a New Baby" hold their own against the classic versions.
Rollins is heard with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne on the first session and is joined by a four-piece rhythm section (including pianist Hampton Hawes and guitarist Barney Kessel) on the later date. In any case, the music is often hard-swinging and is frequently superb.
Stop the Presses, Circa 1995
Dateline February, 2012
A good customer emailed us recently with the quote below, authenticating our rather negative disposition at the time concerning these AP releases:
Recently I unearthed a pile of “The Tracking Angle” magazines, Michael Fremer’s short-lived venture in publishing, that I’d kept all these years (this may damn me in your eyes, but at the time he was one of the more animated writers on audio). I dutifully reread the very first issue (Jan. 1995) for the first time in many years, even a review of “Tea for the Tillerman,”… I was flabbergasted to come across this:
So what does Mr. “Better Records” think? In a newsletter where he says a digital remastered OJC vinyl title sounds better than Acoustic Sounds’ all analogue version and says the whole lot of them “suck” and “simply cannot sound good on a good stereo,” he calls this Cat Stevens reissue “Fabulous. Very dynamic with plenty of presence in the midrange, unlike the ‘audiophile’ records of today.”
We proudly stand behind every word. If the comparable OJC title sounds better than the remastered one Acoustic Sounds is peddling, then it sounds better, digital remastering or no digital remastering. We don’t pay any attention to who makes the records, how or why. We just play them and report our findings. No doubt most audiophiles and the reviewers who write for them think that making records the “right” way should result in better sound, but we have found precious little evidence to back up that theory, and volumes of evidence to refute it.
Yes, those Analogue Productions records sucked, they continue to suck, and they will always suck. The “audiophile” records of that day did lack presence, and the passage of time is not going to change that fact. Play practically any Reference, Chesky or Classic title from 1995 to the present and listen for the veiled midrange, the opacity, the smeary transients, and the generally constricted, compressed, lifeless quality of its sound, a sound that has been boring us to tears for close to two decades (and fundamentally undermining the very rationale for the expense and hassle of analog itself in the modern digital age, a much more serious charge).
Ask yourself, where are those records now?
Piled on the ash heap of analog history, that’s where (apologies to Leon Trotsky). Nobody writes about them anymore, and it’s not because they were so good, no matter what audiophile reviewers thought or may still think about them.