There's a lot of old Mercury mono stuff floating around on pirate labels and gray-market stuff. If
the copyright laws change, it may be very much in the big companies' interest to get everything of
any value back in print so they can assert their ownership again. As long as it's available in a
good-sounding format (almost anything will beat many of the total-crap LP dubs I've heard), readily
available and sold at a reasonable price, I see that as a Great Thing. As I understood Tim Brooks'
presentation, that's the goal of ARSC -- make it all available in a good-sounding format at a fair
price, companies use it or lose it.
Bottom line on Mercury is, if it wasn't released on CD by Polygram/Vivendi/Universal in the 90's or
on SACD by Universal/Vivendi in the early 2000's or in the new CD and LP box sets by UMG/Decca now,
or the handful of LP reissues by Classic Records in the 90's or the few-dozen LP reissues by
Speakers Corner in recent years, it's not an official re-release and it's made from some mass-media
source and it doesn't sound remotely as good as it could if it were made from the master tapes. As I
said, all of the LP dubs I've heard do not sound good, most of them suffer from lopped off top end
and also terrible tin-eared overuse of "cleanup" software. One would-be "golden ear" gray-market
troll decided he needed to "re-equalize" the LP and ended up with shrill junk full of digital
artifacts. You'd think an allegedly commercial enterprise, even a pirate, would find a
good-condition copy of the LP to dub, and maybe clean the record before they start! In any case,
I've made it clear in private and in public that these products degrade the brand and should be
chased by lawyers when they are pirate products (such as those produced in the US) and ultimately,
the best solution is to reissue everything with good transfers from the master tapes, and keep it in
print (probably unrealistic given today's business environment).
To collectors I say, when you purchase this pirate and gray-market garbage, you are creating a
disincentive for good reissues to be produced by the legitimate owners of the master tapes. This is
true of ALL content, not just Mercury by any means. These pirate and gray-market companies are in
existence because there are willing buyers for their inferior products. If something is out of
print, contact the legitimate owner and say, loudly and repeatedly, that you'd like to see it back
in print. Tell your friends to do the same. You'd be surprised how little the big companies know
about pent-up demand for things, especially classical things. MANY classical reissues from the
"golden age" were driven by consumer pressure.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Randy Lane" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2012 11:50 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence
>I recall some of Dorati's mono Haydn showing up on an obscure label a few
> years ago, but a friend who acquired the CDs said they sounded like
> LP-derive bootlegs. Well restored releases of those would be of great
> interest, as well as some of the Dorati Beethoven from that era.
> I wonder if there could be enough interest in some of the artists to
> generate some Japanese funded projects. Problem with most of the
> Asian markets is an excessive focus on very standard repertory; they never
> seem to tire of hearing the same works over and over and over; not much
> variety, and opera is almost a bygone comparatively. Just when you thought
> the North American and European markets were drowning in complete sets of
> the Beethoven Symphonies, the Japanese come along take it to even greater
> lengths. Hardly a month goes by with at least 3-4 complete sets being
> released, or rereleased, there.
> Interest there in Paray, Kubelik, and Dorati could generate some projects.
> Probably not much for the likes of Fennell and anson though.
> On Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 7:29 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>> Hi Randy:
>> There were definitely some CDs yet to be made when Vivendi/Universal
>> terminated the project by not renewing my mother's contract at the end of
>> 1999. The classical music business was in a bad slump at that point, so
>> this wasn't some malicious thing or disagreement, it was "just business,"
>> in Godfather terms. In any case, there were definitely a few remaining
>> stereo items for which master tapes were accounted for. No more 35mm,
>> anything else that was originally released in 35mm and not so on CD, the
>> films were lost sometime between the early 60's and 1990. In a few cases
>> (most notably the Byron Janis Prokofiev/Rachmaninoff from Moscow),
>> 3-channel masters were never found but 2-tracks made at the time of the LP
>> cutting were found and used. Keep in mind that the Mercury tapes were
>> stored for a time in NY, then warehoused in Chicago, then shipped to
>> Holland, where they shufled around, and then many were shipped back here to
>> Iron Mountain's storage facility, some by way of Japan. Some were
>> mis-labelled, some got wet along the way, all kinds of things, typical of
>> megaglomeration of a bunch of companies. A good portion of the budget for
>> the project was spent researching and tracking down first-generation tapes.
>> In several cases, edited 3-track masters weren't found, but Harold Lawrence
>> had kept his edit notes so he could re-edit the "B" machine's reels, which
>> had survived all the moving around.
>> More interesting to me is the mono catalog. I would love to see a bunch of
>> that material reissued. There are modern techniques that can clean up
>> problems on some early tapes and I think if a dedicated program of
>> high-quality transfers of the full-tracks were begun, it just as soon
>> encompass all the good stuff. I'd like to see all the mono Hanson back in
>> print, plus items like Dorati's mono "Rite of Spring" and Copland 3rd, and
>> the Respighi "Church Windows." I'd also like to see the mono "1812" back in
>> print, for historical purposes, because it was the best-selling classical
>> record from the beginning of the LP era into the 1960's. There are a few
>> Kubelik albums that didn't get released because they have very problematic
>> tapes but I think modern technology could solve the problems if the budget
>> were there. And even though only Dolby-ized dub tapes from the Golden
>> Imports exist for the Fennell Gabrieli album, I'd like to see that back in
>> print. Also, just because it was a neat album, "The Music of the Bells,"
>> recorded at the same time the Riverside Cathedral bells were used for the
>> stereo "1812." That album is more a sonic document of bells above busy
>> Manhattan circa 1959 than a classical-music album, but the bells are played
>> very well. I think there was talk at the time the "1812"/"Wellington's" CD
>> was being made of doing a 2CD set that also included the mono "1812" and
>> "Music of the Bells," but the budget was used up re-synchronizing and
>> re-mixing the weapons and SFX, this time with Wellington's Victory
>> perfectly in beat with the score.
>> There are also a few interesting late 60's Mercury albums made after
>> Harold Lawrence departed. The last sessions with the San Antonio Symphony
>> netted interesting material, plus Hilde Somer made two interesting Scriabin
>> solo-piano records, which I think should be packaged with some sort of DVD
>> production similar to the light show she used to put on, per Scriabin's own
>> notes and sketches. Evelyn Crochet also made at least one interesting
>> solo-piano record, it was released on Philips.
>> I doubt any of this material will get a proper reissue because there's
>> just not a business model for it anymore. Again, it's "just business," no
>> underlying malice.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Randy Lane" <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2012 9:01 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence
>> How much classical material (expressed as a persentage) would you estimate
>>> (Tom) was NOT digitized under the direction of WCF? Is that material, due
>>> the required equipment, like "lost" forever now?
>>> On Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 5:22 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>**
>>> Carl, you are correct that it was B&W 808's with big amps, I think by
>>>> Levinson, maybe Cello brand? That system got LOUD, like full orchestra in
>>>> your face loud. The studio had a nice stereo spread and reliable
>>>> and frequency response, so the 3-2 mix could be done with reliability and
>>>> repeatability. I've described the audio chain before, so I'll just say it
>>>> was very direct and there was no DSP stuff after conversion.
>>>> The playback equipment and digital technology used in Germany were
>>>> different. I think the SACD's sound like the same tapes played back on a
>>>> different machine, not a huge difference in sound (so if you're hearing
>>>> one, check your CD player regarding playback of the original CDs) but
>>>> "solid-statey" compared to playback on an Ampex 300. The first two issues
>>>> have "un-Mercury" 3-2 mixes (the 2-channel SACD layer), not enough center
>>>> channel in the mix. The last two batches sounded better (more like the
>>>> original CDs) in all respects, but I still prefer the CDs because they
>>>> real-deal Mercury.
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Carl Pultz" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2012 8:00 PM
>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence
>>>> At Edison NJ, they had B&W 808s and, iirc, B&W amps and a Cello Audio
>>>>> used as a line amp/switcher - not too shabby.
>>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>>> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
>>>>> [mailto:[log in to unmask]****GOV <[log in to unmask]>] On
>>>>> Behalf Of Clark Johnsen
>>>>> Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2012 1:07 PM
>>>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mercury Living Presence
>>>>> On Sat, Jun 2, 2012 at 11:21 PM, DAVID BURNHAM <[log in to unmask]>
>>>>> Why would they not have heard these differences when they issued the
>>>>>> Two possible answers: 1) Recording studio audio systems generally
>>>>> Wishful thinking.
>>>>> I recall that back in the late Seventies Victor Campos asserted that he
>>>>> found a cartridge that made LPs sound "just like the master tapes" (of
>>>>> which he owned numerous good copies). That cartridge? A mid-priced Audio
>>>>> Technica. Yes.
>>>>> A couple years later he had a Sonus Blue... much better!
>>>>> Dave b