Mercury got into stereo relatively early, so there was a lot of material in the hopper to release as
soon as stereo LPs came along. Plus, they had a concerted and organized plan for cutting stereo
disks and pressing them, all lined up as soon as the playback equipment became available. The big
labels did the same thing, especially RCA. I have test cuts from RCA made using prototype Westrex
equipment in 1957, proof of concept stuff that circulated in the disk-cutting and engineering
communities, probably also was provided to the first makers of stereo cartridges. I'm sure Columbia
was right on this, too. But I think Mercury was ahead of the mid-sized and small labels. Audio
Fidelity was an outside-of-the-box exception, a very notable one.
By the way, that David Carroll album was SR60001. The first pop stereo catalog number, SR60000, was
Richard Hayman "Havana In HiFi," recorded 1956 at Capitol Studios NYC and LP cut at Fine Recording.
An abbreviated version of that album was also the first catalog number in Mercury's 2-track tapes.
Another interesting thing is that jazz sessions recorded in stereo by Max Roach and Cannonball
Adderley in 1956 didn't make it to LP in stereo until the 1970's and 80's compilations and reissues.
All of that material was subsequently reissued on CD in stereo.
One other tidbit -- Buddy Morrow's version of "Night Train" was a huge hit, especially in jukeboxes.
Almost all releases of that single and album were in mono. But the session was recorded in stereo
and was available as a stereo LP right from the earliest days. Another interesting very early stereo
record was Eddie Chamblee "Doodlin'", which featured his then-wife Dinah Washington on the cover.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Roger Kulp" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, August 07, 2011 7:35 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] David Carroll "Let's Dance"
Considering all of the 1958-59 Mercury stereo records I've seen,popular and classical,there were a
lot of those well-heeled audiophiles out there.I've often why the records,and tapes,turn up so
much,but rarely,if ever do you see any of that early stereo audiophile equipment turning up withit.
From: Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, August 5, 2011 5:23 PM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] David Carroll "Let's Dance"
Following up on a previous thread here ...
This album was definitely an early stereophonic pop-album recording, but it was not made in the
early 50's. Ruppli lists one song, "A Gliss To Remember" (unless I'm remembering incorrectly) as
recorded in 1956. The studio setup described would match a 1956-era stereo session with
mono-compatibility built in via the mic techniques. Basically, the instruments were close-mic'd and
somewhat isolated and then stereo "bridge" mics were hung above the ensemble to use room-tone and
leakage to make a stereo field. There's still a somewhat weak center, but this worked well when done
in a nice room like Universal Studios in Chicago and engineered by an expert like Bill Putnam.
Ruppli also lists other songs recorded in 1957. The original 2-track reel has a different song
sequence but the same songs as listed on the LP:
The later quarter-track reel has the same sequence as the LP.
On LP, this was first released in mono, MG20281, may have had the same sequence as the early 2-track
reel (I don't have a copy of MG20281 but the microgroove.jp website refers to a slightly different
sequence on the mono LP.
As noted on the page linked above, the original stereo LP was mastered at Fine Recording (the FR-
tag in the deadwax) and pressed by RCA Indianapolis (the I in the deadwax). Mercury did this with
most or all of their earliest pop and jazz titles, probably through 1959. These records were
premium-priced and only an elite band of audiophiles had the newfangled stereo cartridges and
two-channel playback systems, so Mercury wanted to offer an excellent-quality product, including
premium pressings on RCA's quiet vinyl. Mercury Living Presence had used RCA for years, and
continued to do so until Philips eliminated the practice in 1963.
Sorry to post this late. I didn't have time to look into it deeply when the original thread was
active. Today I dug out Ruppli and my stereo LP, 2-track reel and quarter-track reel to gather
facts. I played the 2-track and it still sounded very good. Bill Putnam was a master engineer for
these sorts of albums.
-- Tom Fine