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Mono Record Reviews: Beatles’ White Album, Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess, and more

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Sometimes things just work out so good. I have just discovered the best way ever to listen to mono records; that is with the SoundSmith SG-220 strain gauge cartridge system. Now, along comes a month full of great mono reissues, not good but great! I know all of you don’t love mono recordings the way I do. The only reason I can imagine for this, is you haven’t heard them played right. A great mono vinyl setup has a solidity to it that is just right and it moves me emotionally. I think some of this is because they focus all your mind on the music itself.

Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain

Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain
Miles Davis
Mono
Legacy Import
Numbered Limited Edition
180 grams

I don’t think I can add much to what has already been written by many great music minds about how wonderful and innovative the music is on this recording. The conception of Sketches Of Spain comes during the melodic era of Miles Davis’ work. It is one of his least improvisational albums and in many ways broke out of the constraints of Jazz as a genre.

As the name implies it is influenced by some great Spanish melodies – “El Concierto de Arajuez” by Joaquín Rodrigo, and “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla. Davis was so taken with this music that he felt he needed to record them his own way. It was the third and final of the great Miles Davis-Gil Evans collaborations of 1957-59.

The real news here is that we finally get to hear it as it was first recorded. The pure mono tracks. It is rich, full and just plain wonderful. Get it while you can. (I’m heading to Jack’s place! -Pub.)

Miles Davis – Porgy and Bess

Miles-Davis-Porgy-and-Bess
Miles Davis
Mono
Individually Numbered Limited Edition
180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl
Pressed at RTIMusicians:
Miles Davis, trumpet, flugelhorn
Ernie Royal, Bernie Glow, Johnny Coles and Louis Mucci, trumpet
Dick Hixson, Frank Rehak, Jimmy Cleveland and Joe Bennett, trombone
Willie Ruff, Julius Watkins and Gunther Schuller, horn
Bill Barber, tuba
Phil Bodner, Jerome Richardson and Romeo Penque, flute, alto flute & clarinet
Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, alto saxophone
Danny Bank, alto flute & bass clarinet
Paul Chambers, bass
Jimmy Cobb, drums
Philly Joe Jones, drums
Gil Evans, arranger & conductor

As anyone in my family can tell you, I have almost every recording ever done of Porgy and Bess. This recording was Miles Davis and arranger Gil Evans’ second conceptual recording. As far as I’m concerned their best. I love this music, once I start listening I have to hear the whole thing. This is far and away the best version of this LP I have heard by a long shot. It is simply an amazing emotional and sonic experience.

The Clifford Brown/Max Roach Emarcy Albums

The Clifford Brown/Max Roach Emarcy Albums
Mosaic 180g 4LP BOX (MONO)
Limited to 2500 Numbered Copies
Re-mastered From Original Analog Masters By Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and Pressed at RTI
Booklet with Bob Blumenthal essay
Photographs by Chuck Stewart & Francis Wolff
Presented in Original Mono Version
Musicians:
Clifford Brown, trumpet
Max Roach, Drums
Harold Land, tenor saxophone
Richie Powell, piano
George Morrow, bass
Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone (LP4/B:1,4)
Selections:
LP 1 – Side A – Brown and Roach, Incorporated:
1. Sweet Clifford (MG36008 – Aug. 3, 1954, Capitol Studios LA)
2. (I Don’t Stand A) Ghost Of a Chance With You (MG36008 – Aug. 3, 1954, Capitol Studios LA)
3. Stompin’ At the Savoy (MG36008 – Aug. 5, 1954, Capitol Studios LA)
Side B:
1. I’ll String Along With You (MG36008 – Aug. 5, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
2. Mildama (MG36008 – Aug. 6, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
3. Darn That Dream (MG36008 – Aug. 2, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
4. I Get A Kick Out of You (MG36008 – Aug. 5, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)LP 2 – Side A – Clifford Brown and Max Roach:
1. Delilah (MG36036 – Aug. 2, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
2. Parisian Thoroughfare (MG36036 – Aug. 2, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
3. The Blues Walk (MG36036 – Feb. 24, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
Side B:
1. Daahoud (MG36036 – Aug. 6, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
2. Joy Spring (MG36036 – Aug. 6, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
3. Jordu (MG36036 – Aug. 3, 1954, Capitol Studios, LA)
4. What Am I Here For? (MG36036 Feb. 25, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)

Selections:
LP 3 – Side A – Study In Brown:
1. Cherokee (MG36037 – Feb. 25, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
2. Jacqui (MG36037 – Feb. 25, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
3. Swingin’ (MG36037 – Feb. 23, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
4. Land’s End (MG36037 – Feb. 23, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
Side B:
1. George’s Dilemma (MG36037 – Feb. 24, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
2. Sandu (MG36037 – Feb. 25, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
3. Gerkin For Perkin (MG36037 – Feb. 23, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
4. If I Love Again (MG36037 – Feb. 24, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)
5. Take the A Train (MG36037 – Feb. 23, 1955, Capitol Studios, NYC)LP 4 – Side A – Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street:
1. What Is This Thing Called Love? (MG36070 – Feb. 16, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
2. Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (MG36070 – Feb. 16, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
3. I’ll Remember April (MG36070 – Feb. 17, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
Side B:
1. Powell’s Prances (MG36070 – Jan. 4, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
2. Time (MG36070 – Feb. 17, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
3. The Scene Is Clean (MG36070 – Feb. 17, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)
4. Gertrude’s Bounce (MG36070 – Jan. 4, 1956, Capitol Studios, NYC)

The reason I gave you so much info on this box set is that you might be like me and had never heard of these recordings. In 1954, Max Roach was forming his own quintet with Clifford Brown in Los Angeles. It would become the first defining group in the music that would soon be known as hard bop. That in itself was enough of a reason for me to purchase this box set. I really like hard Bop and this is about as good as it gets.

Mosaic has returned to the original analog masters of these four seminal recordings and remastered them and pressed them on 180-gram vinyl at the renowned Record Technology Inc. plant in Camarillo, California. The booklet boasted a great essay by Bob Blumenthal and a wealth of photographs by Chuck Stewart and Francis Wolff. If you love Hard Bop, then you need to give these a listen. I liked them enough to listen to all four LPs in one setting.

Beatles’ White Album

Beatles’ White Album
Top Load, English Mono Release

I already reviewed his mono recording here on Dagogo, but with the recent release of the new Beatles’ reissues and the addition to my system of the SoundSmith SG-220 strain gauge cartridge system; I feel I should mentioned it again.

Counting the new reissue, I now own four copies of The White Album, namely the newest reissue, an early stereo version, a latter stereo version, and this mono copy. This was one of my favorite albums of my teen years and it has stayed with me all these years. It was released in November of 1968, I was 14 and attending a college prep boarding school. Music and girls were the most important things in our lives. I spent many afternoons and evenings in the dorm with friends listening to this album.

The top-load, mono was only released as a first-issue English pressing. In that review I wrote that “The first issue mono is a whole different ball game though. It is full sounding with a nice, natural warmth. It’s not at all two-dimensional, and has nice body and scale. Of course, it is mono and does not have much image width, but it still has the better spatial presentation. If you want to really hear The White Album you need to hear this version. Of course, the only problem is finding one.”

I want to say again that this is by far the best way to hear this LP and with the SG-220 my less-than-mint copy still sounded wonderful. Like the Dylan mono recordings, there is something very special about these early rock and fold mono recordings compared to the somewhat poor stereo versions done at the time.

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4 Responses to Mono Record Reviews: Beatles’ White Album, Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, Porgy and Bess, and more


  1. Adam says:

    “I’m heading to Jack’s place! -Pub.”

    We better order some pizzas, I’m headed over there, too!

  2. Erik says:

    Hi Jack,

    I wonder if those Miles “Mono” reissues are actually mastered from the original mono mastertapes or a digital 24/96 master………any thoughts?

  3. charlie mathews says:

    I really liked hearing about your audio evolution. I also love that little jazz club in Oakland. I was also impressed to hear about you church leadership role. Thank you for sharing that with us. I have always wondered if somehow listening to music, and I mean really listening developed ones imaginative/spritual predispostions.

    Best wishes

    Charlie

  4. Jack Roberts says:

    Erik, my understanding is from the original mono tapes.

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