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"Audiophile" refers to records that are specifically manufactured to a standard that is higher than the norm - e.g. either remastered or "re-stored" sound, original master pressing or recordings, or as is becoming increasingly common, 45 RPM speed albums. Usually they are of a heavier duty, high quality vinyl (usually 180 gram) to ensure a flat playing surface. We are blessed these days in that there are quite a few specialist Audiophile companies, where once they were few and far between - Pure Pleasure, Speakers Corner, Mobile Fidelity and others including newcomers Boxtar and Original Recording Group are but a few. Even the major companies are having a go with specialist deluxe pressings from Sony, EMI and Warners (Rhino Label). You can pay a premium for some labels, but if you want the best...... We deal on a wholesale basis with these companies as agent and distributor, therefore our prices are comparable to their cost overseas without you having to worry about postage, insurance, and if (god forbid) you have any problems, we are here right here to sort things out - not a million kilometres away.
Ansermet "Royal Ballet Gala Performance"
The wait is finally over...
Double LP plus gatefold jacket with an integrated multi-page book inside
Mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analog tape
200-gram double LP plated and pressed at Quality Record Pressings
Duke Ellington "Masterpieces by Ellington"
Highly Recommended by Mel.
Masterpieces By Ellington shines from an astonishingly brief period of history that gave the recording industry two of its greatest achievements — the introduction of magnetic tape recording and the 33 1/3 LP, or long-playing record. Four years. That's all it took to go from the discovery by Americans, of German advancements in the field of sound recording, to the marketing of tape decks in the U.S. by the Ampex company, to Columbia's unveiling of its 12” LP, and the first long-playing record to be sold to consumers. The four selections contained here catapulted the Maestro Ellington into the LP era, as the great composer/arranger/pianist and his matchless orchestra took full advantage of the possibilities afforded by magnetic tape recording and the still-new 33 1/3 RPM LP to, for the first time, capture uncut concert arrangements of their signature songs. Plated and pressed at Quality Record Pressings.
RCA Living Stereo
Long considered to be among the finest classical recordings ever made in America, Analogue have done them proud with superb remastering and almost unbelievably good 200 gram pressing from their Quality Record plant.
Debussy 'La Mer' / Ibert 'Port of Call
Munch & the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sibelius 'Violin Concerto in D Minor'
Bruch 'Scottish Fantasy / Vieuxtemps 'Concerto No. 5'
Sir Malcolm Sargent & Jascha Heifetz
Click on the cover for more information and to purchase online.
Berliner Meister Schallplatten Direct to Disc
Any one who has foolishly been into Quality records recently and asked Mel what he is is playing has probably been given the spiel as to the wonders of Berliner Meister Schallplattern's (BMS) Direct to Disc. The Berliner Studios are responsible for the mastering of many audiophile worthy L.P's and have started their own direct-to-disc Label. The benefits to sound quality of direct-to-disc by the very few labels that had a go was obvious. The drawback was that the system requires a live recording and any mistakes end up on the final product, or had to be re-done, and so it really was not viable. So of course these quirky Germans have resurrected the process. And they are quirky. The organ and drum duo, Die Tommy, with their stop/start, jerky style, sound like a theatre organ, or those awful middle of the road electronic organ records from the sixties (before your time folks). The difference is the legendary Hammmond B-3 (Jimmy Smith) with it's unique sound, and the duo's commitment - you know they are feeling it, just look at the cover - and it is an utterly stunning recording - you are almost inside the organ. American born Jocelyn B Smith, is a Berlin stalwart, and she has been performing there for 30 years. Her BMS album, "Pure and Natural", is the most "live" with between tracks noise and Smith's enthusiasm comes across as she encourages (goads?) her young players into giving their all. Muddy Waters "Hoochie Coochie (Wo)man" is one of the best and most rocking tracks to have made in to onto vinyl. Elaiza are another superbly recorded trio, consisting of piano, double bass, and accordian. Elaiza, the vocalist, overdoes the emotion and the words are occasionally almost embarrasing in their naivity (second language?), but no one can doubt their commitment, and did I mention the recording??? A lovely album.
Now also Available Jocelyn B. Smith "Honest Song"
Another stunning direct to disc recording from Berliner Meister Schallplatten. More reflective than the previous "Pure and Natural", and Jocelyns reworkings of classicial piano works makes the album more than worthwhile.
New from Speakers Corner Records
Dave Brubeck & Gerry Mulligan "Compadres"
Highly recommended by Mel ('A Stunning Live Recording')
To this day, the typical sound coloring of the Dave Brubeck Quartet is quite distinctive and unmistakable thanks to Paul Desmond's tenor saxophone. But Gerry Mulligan's low-pitched horn and his restrained swing also offers enough appeal to make one want to listen to these somewhat less popular but — for all that — very worthwhile recording by the Quartet. The Quartet's concert tour of Mexico's major cities in 1968 was a great success and so Dave Brubeck's recording company had no qualms in making live recordings of the group — complemented by bassist Jack Six and drummer Alan Dawson. Themes from indigenous folk music were skilfully coupled with new compositions with the result that the LP Compadres with its concert excerpts was in great demand and became a top hit.
Debussy "Images for Orchestra" Ataulfo Argenta
And the blind shall see - promising words indeed! And very apt to describe the impressionist tonal paintings of Claude Debussy, who exchanged the paintbrush for a pen and the canvas for manuscript paper. Debussy's musical tools were not so much the etching-needle or sharp pencil but rather more a rich variety of glorious paints on his palette and thick brushes and sponges to form flowing figures and shapes on his musical canvas. With the Images pour Orchestre, the art lover possesses three of the mature composer's most important musical paintings to hang in his gallery. Thanks to its rhythmic and melodic structure, Iberia is very probably the most striking of these three studies. The impressionistic, frazzled theme is lent substance through the familiar sounds and rhythms of Spanish folk music; Debussy conjures up the moods and impressions of a landscape which he himself hardly knew. And should the listener not be in a position to wander the streets and pathways, to breathe the perfume of the night, nor to enjoy a fiesta morning, then this record will certainly enable him to see all this for himself.
Byron Janis "Encore"
It is an unwritten rule of concert life, signalised by the continuous applause of an enthusiastic audience, that no good soloist is allowed to leave the platform before he has given at least one encore. Whether the virtuoso pulls a contemplative, lyrical or thrilling piece out of his hat is entirely up to him or her to decide. But one thing is absolutely imperative: an encore must be short and popular. Twelve such little gems, all of them different in their own way, have been chosen by Byron Janis for this coupling. They are all well-loved – from the technically demanding Sixth Rhapsody and the frisky "Valse oubliée" by Liszt, to Schumann’s seemingly weightless Romance in F sharp major and his energetic Novelette with its cascades of chords.
Borboletta was the first new Santana band studio album in 11 months and the group's sixth overall. Borboletta and Illuminations are noteworthy for their rhythm sections. Bassist David Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, who sparked Miles Davis's late '60s band, are on the latter album, while Borboletta includes Stanley Clarke and Airto Moreira (who played together with Gato Barbieri and in the first edition of Chick Corea's Return to Forever), jazz drummer Mdugu, and Santana standbys David Brown, Michael Shrieve, Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas.
Harry Belafonte "Belafonte at Carnegie Hall"
The grandaddy of all live albums, this set captures the excitement of a Harry Belafonte concert at the height of his popularity. Sampled from two consecutive performances of identical material, Belafonte at Carnegie Hall was an anomaly at a time when only comedy albums were recorded outside of the studio environment. It wasn't the first live album ever made, but it was certainly the first to be a major financial and artistic success. It stayed on the best-selling album charts for over three years and remained in print until RCA discontinued pressing LPs.
New from Pure Pleasure Records
Lonnie Johnson "Portait in Blues Vol. 6"
Cassandra Wilson "New Moon"
This is no easy listen ... sparse, complex, often brooding arrangements coupled with Cassandra Wilson's deep, earthy voice and complicated phrasing demand your attention. Waver and you're lost. But ... give this album the listening time & space it deserves and reap the rewards. Unusual, highly atmospheric tracks that combine superb singing and marvellously 'distant' musical backings to weave real magic.
Cassandra Wilson's own excellent, jazz tinged compositions sit alongside a stunning set of ingenious covers from a highly diverse spectrum of composers. "Last Train To Clarksville" is transformed from a catchy pop song into a stripped-down and genuinely effective jazz vocal work-out. "Harvest Moon" slows down Neil Young's already wistful ballad to an almost painful level and, in so doing, takes it to an even higher level of gentle reflection. Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" & U2's "Love Is Blindness" are transformed into three in the morning jazz club classics. The vocals and backing to Robert Johnson's "32-20" are simplified to the point where only the essence of the blues is allowed to shine and, Lewis Allan's "Strange Fruit" becomes as desolate and challenging as it's horrific lyrics.
Clever, very effective and worth the required effort!
Etta James "Self Titled"
Etta James, one of the most fabulous and respected figures in the history of R&B music. Here are some of Miss Peaches’ legendary pre-Chess recordings including the first session, cut on Thanksgiving Eve 1954, when she was just 16, which yielded “Roll With Me, Henry”.
Mobile Fidelity Original Master Recordings
New from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, the MoFi Silver Label Vinyl Series is a cheaper product that their famous “Original Master Recording” series. Presumably this means they have not had (or been able too) access the original master, but they claim that they are mastered and cut using Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s state-of-the-art mastering system. The records are pressed at RTI on audiophile-grade standard vinyl and are numbered limited-editions. The feedback on these records from Quality Records…plus customers is that the sound quality is definitely up to standard with rave comments with regard to the Dead Can Dance records (superbly recorded) and even the B52’s (recorded) rated a mention from a few folks who love to party. Their version of Inxs’ “Kick” is an audio award, so these records could just be this years bargains.
Mobile Fidelity were once THE name in high quality Audiophile records and although the number of players in the top-end vinyl area has increased enormously in recent years. since their rebirth about five years ago, they have once again taken their place among the finest of Labels offering superior vinyl quality. After a slow start, a comparitive flood of titles have been issued in recent months. They include artist such as Frank Sinatra (5 titles so far including the iconic "Sinatra at the Sands"), Madeleine Peyroux (see below) and many others.
Men at Work "Business As Usual"
They came from the land down under. And they conquered the charts like no band before or since, with a 1983 debut that shattered records by staying for 15 consecutive weeks at the pole position on the Billboard Top 100. They were Men at Work, a quirky bunch led by a Scottish-born vocalist whose humor, style, and distinguished singing helped the quintet become one of the 1980s' definitive new-wave acts. And it all started with the irresistible Business As Usual.
Particia Barber "A Distortion of Love"
Highly Recommended by Mel.
Patricia Barber A Distortion of Love on numbered limited edition 180-gram LP
Acclaimed pianist/singer's oft-neglected 1992 sophomore effort teems with intrepid originality. Patricia Barber's origins are commonly associated with 1994's Café Blue and the follow-up, 1998's Modern Cool. Both quickly established the singer/pianist as an immediate audiophile favorite whose rare combination of astute instrumental performance, daring originality, poetic enterprise, intrepid vocals, and sculpted production announced her as an artist that both takes immense care in her music as well as in her sound. A Distortion of Love signaled the beginning of Barber's unfettered creativity. Half-speed mastered from the original master tapes and pressed at RTI, MoFi's numbered, limited-edition 180-gram LP of the Chicagoan's sophomore album features the similar wowing detail and perspective-altering clarity offered on the reissue label's celebrated versions of Mythologies, The Cole Porter Mix, and also Café Blue, Nightclub and soon to be released Companion, from her original label, Premonition - if anything even better. Such is the attention brought to Barber's tastefully reverb-assisted singing, the quartet's stripped-down arrangements, the grand piano's resonance, the background finger snaps, and the astounding transparency of every note and breath uttered in the studio. Smoothness, balance, and neutrality abound. Through and through, this is an audiophile delight.
A 2 record set from Mobile Fidelity.
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