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Jazz fans - what's going on here?

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  • Jazz fans - what's going on here?

    While out digging yesterday I came across a couple of examples - two album sets in plain paper inners (both with the name of a jazz artiste in small handwriting in the corner) and stashed together in a polythene sleeve. Both records with white labels both sides with a hand printed rubber stamp reading 'STEREO' in blue on one side of each.

    Demos?...Bootlegs?....Are they worth retrieving?...
    you can hear colours when they rhyme...

  • #2
    sound like demos to me

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    • #3
      Originally posted by giantchicken View Post
      While out digging yesterday I came across a couple of examples - two album sets in plain paper inners (both with the name of a jazz artiste in small handwriting in the corner) and stashed together in a polythene sleeve. Both records with white labels both sides with a hand printed rubber stamp reading 'STEREO' in blue on one side of each.

      Demos?...Bootlegs?....Are they worth retrieving?...
      I'm guessing they'll both be single-sided discs and therefore a pair of test-pressings for a single album. You sometimes get them with a proof sleeve - like an unassembled folded over cover.
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      • #4
        Thanks guys - it's been bugging me that's all. Perhaps I should explain the context (the archaeological term is apt here...) as that might give a better idea. I'd been working my way through a pretty huge stack of vinyl (best workout I've had in months) and right at the very end, hit a seam of jazz albums, late 50s/early 60s, mostly US copies - uncharacteristically for a (largely) non-jazzer, I even bought a few - even I could tell they were worth a punt. They'd obviously been badly stored for quite awhile and smelled rather fusty, but as I'd already had the hurry up I didn't really have time to take a close look - someone wanted to leave and I'd been there a couple of hours already, so by that stage I was just picking 'em out without checking. I also had about 50 records to pay for so time had really run out (I'm dreading updating the finds thread!)

        I couldn't even tell you if those white labels I saw were in decent condition, whether or not they were one-sided or anything - they certainly weren't dance twelves or anything from after the late 70's at latest I reckon - I can only recall one of the artiste names it was such a mad rush, and I'm not going to reveal it here (for obvious reasons) but it's a premier league name (even the 'not much of a jazzer' me owns one of their albums!).

        I don't think they were demos (why would they be doubles?) but the test pressing theory is at least plausible, although there were no proof sleeves in attendance. Admittedly it seems unlikely they would end up where they were, but if other US albums were close by, it's not out of the question I suppose...I think I can see where this is heading!....
        you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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        • #5
          By demos I meant factory demos, so yeah tests

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          • #6
            Ah now THIS is what's going on....

            Well, almost a whole month has gone by and it wasn't until today I managed to return to the shop where I spotted the above. Would it still be there? Well. despite a major 'rationalisation' of the vinyl mountain that had previously existed, I managed to find the one set of white labels that I definitely remembered - were there more or was that just my imagination? Well if someone else bagged something good luck to them, I'm happy with this...

            Here's what it was all about.....



            As The Divine One predicted, two one-sided records.....



            ...with simple hand stamped white labels.....



            ...and if I'd had time to check the first time, I could have read exactly what they were.....



            ...Bill Evans' late 60's solo piano outing 'Alone' - issued on Verve around 1968 or 69......



            Apart from the artist and title, the handwriting lists the correct matrix (and stamper?) numbers MGS2106 - 1G and MGS2107 - 1G (the matrix nos. are also stamped on the runoffs) - the faded rubber stamps partially obscured by the handwriting read '18 Jul 1970' and 'September Supplement', Both sleeves also have 'Room 6' and an 'S' in a circle handwritten in the opposite corners.

            Discogs lists the UK release as being 1970 so the date might suggest these are test pressings for the UK issue.

            Well of course the only thing required to do now was to play the damned things. So what sort of condition are they in? Well, the inner sleeves and polythene cover the records were in have that musty damp smell which suggest they were stored poorly for a spell, but amazingly, the records themselves seemed in very good condition and only needed a little superficial dust taken off them before I played them. There's the odd bit of surface noise, but it sounded mostly like static so a good professional cleaning could I reckon restore the discs easily to a VG++/EX condition. They played through just fine and with the depth of sound one might expect from something early off a fresh stamper.

            The tracklisting is the same as the standard release;

            Side 1 - Here's that Rainy Day/A Time For Love/Midnight Mood/ On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)

            Side 2 - Never Let Me Go


            So jazz fans - have I done good? And what should I do with them next? Any advice welcome....
            you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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            • #7
              Originally posted by giantchicken View Post
              So jazz fans - have I done good? And what should I do with them next? Any advice welcome....
              If you need to monetise, probably ebay them
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              • #8
                Thanks Iain, luckily I'm not so impecunious that I have to sell them, but who knows, every man has their price they say. Even if I were to sell them, there's firstly the small matter of working out exactly what they are! Unfortunately this gets me into some vinyl collecting grey areas that I'm not familiar with.

                The two one-sided discs implies a test pressing, but usually these seem to be accompanied by a label that in some way reflects this, white perhaps, but with at least the label logo and something to state it's a test pressing. Here we have only plain white labels with the 'stereo' handstamp. I'm pretty sure they're not lacquers ('acetates') either, not that I'm familiar with such discs - certainly they 'wobble' like vinyl, there's nothing to suggest there's any aluminium in there and they don't have any peculiar odour to them, which I gather is sometimes an indicator. It's a lovely album (it's Bill Evans...playing piano - of course it's good ...) but I wouldn't want to keep it and play it if it's going to damage it, and anyway the actual album is available fairly cheaply.

                I've read of incidences where early pressings have had a plain white label slapped on them and been distributed in the manner of 'promos' and this would perhaps be the most likely explanation here, but usually such discs were lacquers and thus had limited playing potential. I've even spent awhile on Google Images just looking for anything that looks the same or similar, but no luck.

                Also, I noticed that most test pressings from the early seventies onwards seemed to be two-sided although I'm prepared to stand corrected on this. This is (I assume) from 1970 - did the practice of one sided test pressings end shortly after? Oil crisis fallout perhaps?.

                The only additional information I can offer is that the 'blank' sides of the album are not smooth and shiny but are banded and play a test tone and have 'LPFB 2' stamped in the run-offs.

                Can anyone shed further light on this mystery, or perhaps point me in the direction of someone who can? I'm bloody curious now....
                you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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                • #9
                  I have seen several double one-sided white label test pressings/promos from the 1960s ... so they go back further than the 70s.
                  My old boss was a Byrds nut and he had quite a few double one-sided promos in his collection.
                  He rated them as sounding better than the regular releases.

                  Why they cut them on two records - I don't know. Could be the test tones were important in those days when vinyl spec was higher.
                  Maybe sides 1 and 2 of these records were reviewed independently and differently for some technical reason.

                  The place to ask, in my opinon, would be the Steve Hoffman Music Forums where they seem to have several old pet cutting engineer types who really seem to know their stuff.
                  I bet if you ask there you will get an instant answer.
                  galaxy of fallon to telepath 1

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Mr X - yes, I was just wondering if the Evans album was from the last days of two single sided test pressings - typically I was musing on something that's probably unimportant! Were the white label promos your boss owned lacquers/acetates or not though?

                    I think you're onto something with the test tones - Discogs lists a number of single sided records with LPFB 2 (or similar) stamped on the runoff, usually related to a test tone, like this or this - I'm guessing this is something to do with the pressing plant - possibly Lyntone?

                    The Steve Hoffman Forum, huh?....I've happened upon it a few times on my interweb travels...might give it a try, cheers....
                    you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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                    • #11
                      The Byrds promos he had were regular vinyl cuts / not acetates.
                      They had blank white labels, they didn't have 'test pressing' printed labels - so maybe I am erroneously describing them as TPs.
                      One was definitely Turn Turn Turn which is a Byrds 1965 album. From memory it was in a fold-over proof sleeve - but to be honest - I only glanced at it briefly as he quickly flashed it before me and then promptly withdrew it from view. I don't really see him anymore otherwise I'd quiz him on it. He is a great record man, 10+ years older then me and has good knowledge.

                      I was looking at a Steve Hoffman thread about the Scully lathe which cut TPs with test tones on the flip. But to be honest - a lot of the info was v technical and well over the boundaries of my extremely limited intellect.

                      The Byrds are discussed on one such thread .... apparently sometimes the matrix on side 1 is hand-scratched, whilst on side 2 its machine etched. Hmmm. That seems odd to me.
                      But as I know bugger-all about it really, I'm in no position to comment further
                      galaxy of fallon to telepath 1

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                      • #12
                        Well as you can see from the pictures, there's nothing other than their one-sidedness that suggests that the Evans discs (which I'm still presuming are not lacquers/acetates) are test pressings either - but there's certainly plenty of evidence that Verve did produce test pressings with a special black and white label, so if I were selling I'd be reluctant to describe them as 'test pressings' for that reason. Your Byrds evidence would suggest that early single sided pressings were distributed for demo/promo purposes in vinyl form, so I still think it's most likely that the Evans discs fall in that category.

                        There's still room for doubt on this though. Apart from the lack of proof art, the one difference is that on the Evans discs, the matrix numbers and stamper suffixes are machine stamped, so I suppose it's possible that someone with access to the pressing plant and an eye for a business opportunity may have sold your former boss a pup!
                        you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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                        • #13
                          They look like test presses, not promo copies..

                          If the record itself is available cheaply than it's probably only of marginal interest to hardcore Evans collectors (whether that translates into any real money idk..), but I'd verify that it is the same version which is available cheaply - same mix, same performance, etc. I bought that Hannibal Peterson The Tribe lp on ebay for 5 quid when it was marked as a promo copy, turned out it was a test press for an album that was never released so of significantly more interest...

                          Once you verify that I say the move is to put it on ebay and see what happens...

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                          • #14
                            It wasn't my boss's Byrds promos that were hand/machine stamped ... it was just mentioned on this forum I was browsing earlier that happened to be (purely co-incidentally) on the subject of the Byrds.
                            http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/thread...s.76313/page-2

                            I'm not sure how much of that thread is relevant though, so I wouldn't delve too deeply, unles you're into the minutae of track lead-in measurements.

                            Now I think a bit more about it ... I think the Byrds records may have come from Gene Clark as my boss was on fairly good terms with GC. ... and Gene Parsons as well actually.
                            (He also sat next to Gram Parsons in a pub one day and had a brief chat... I think about bus times, I can't remember exactly. (off topic, sorry)).

                            Back on topic - I'm sure your Bill Evans discs would be sought after by a collector and would realise at £40 - £50, maybe more / or maybe less as Lord No points out above.
                            Perhaps around £30 may be more realistic.
                            galaxy of fallon to telepath 1

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by No, LordNo View Post
                              They look like test presses, not promo copies..

                              If the record itself is available cheaply than it's probably only of marginal interest to hardcore Evans collectors (whether that translates into any real money idk..), but I'd verify that it is the same version which is available cheaply - same mix, same performance, etc. I bought that Hannibal Peterson The Tribe lp on ebay for 5 quid when it was marked as a promo copy, turned out it was a test press for an album that was never released so of significantly more interest...

                              Once you verify that I say the move is to put it on ebay and see what happens...
                              Thanks NLN - Again, there's nothing to immediately suggest that there's anything different to the music on the standard release on these discs - certainly the tracks and running order are the same. Of course I'd need a copy of the standard release to compare it against, but as it's just solo piano music it would probably be beyond my audio capabilities to discern any difference in the mix for example anyway...there is a school of thought that believes the sound quality on early pressings is superior and also that UK pressings are themselves of better quality than US pressings and I suppose both these factors, wedded to the fact that Bill Evans is big pretty much everywhere might have a bearing on any potential price, which of course is useful to know, although I should point out that in over 40 years of buying records, I've very rarely ever been a seller of them! I'd say the prices BradX quotes sound about right to me.

                              I suppose I was more interested here in examining the grey areas of defining what these discs actually are - you for instance confidently state they're test presses and not promos and yet to me they don't clearly fit what I see to be the definition of either - chances are someone else will say something else and there will be as many opinions as there are people to express them - we should all bear this in mind when buying stuff!

                              Originally posted by bradx View Post
                              I wouldn't delve too deeply, unles you're into the minutae of track lead-in measurements.

                              Now I think a bit more about it ... I think the Byrds records may have come from Gene Clark as my boss was on fairly good terms with GC. ... and Gene Parsons as well actually.
                              (He also sat next to Gram Parsons in a pub one day and had a brief chat... I think about bus times, I can't remember exactly. (off topic, sorry)).

                              Back on topic - I'm sure your Bill Evans discs would be sought after by a collector and would realise at £40 - £50, maybe more / or maybe less as Lord No points out above.
                              Perhaps around £30 may be more realistic.
                              Mike, my bosses talk about bus times a lot (well it is their job) but I can't help thinking they'd have benefitted a little from a bit of shared bar time with GP- mind you they'd have probably just moaned about Clark and Crosby polluting the environment with their Porsches and started to make plans for cycle lanes on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Your ex-boss sounds interesting - wasn't Mr Solzer was it?

                              Anyway, having just had a quick look at the Steve Hoffman Forum, I assure you I won't be delving too deep - just remembered that I'd stumbled on it before when trying to decide on a new turntable and left shortly afterwards dazed and with a big headache - I mean it's ridiculous isn't it? Just one big talking shop for middle aged men (and I mean MEN) who are just obsessed with going on and on about the music of their youth endlessly....ha, now you'd never catch us doing anything like that eh?....
                              you can hear colours when they rhyme...

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