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1. Original US Mono Contemporary Records 1950′s
Deep Groove, thick vinyl, authentic rich detailed sound. Often engineered by Roy DuNann, the West Coast’s answer to RudyVan Gelder. Machine Stamp matrix code LKL – Mono.
2. Original US Stereo “Stereo Records” Black & Gold Label:
Cover with distinctive addition of the word “STEREO”on a white oval.
3. Stereo Records Green/ Gold label
(Photo courtesy of Shaft, Photoshop retouching by LJC)
Early stereo releases of Contemporary recordings were produced by “Stereo Records” (black and gold label, later green and gold label) , and not by Contemporary Records until some time later (also black and gold, and green and gold)
Steve Hoffman says of early stereo production at Contemporary:
“In the early 1950′s they were using Capitol’s Melrose Studio to cut “Contemporary” records. When Capitol switched over to the Tower Studio in July of 1956, Contemporary didn’t follow over there. Instead they bought their own Ampex 350-2 portable tape recorder and started recording in the back storeroom of the Contemporary/Good Time Jazz offices. The two engineers, Howard Holzer and Roy DuNann, just set up their three or four microphones and let her rip, live to two track. They also had a mono machine going for the mono feed.
“At that time the idea of “binaural” sound meant (to them) a very obvious left/right deal, with nothing in the middle. They actually had not heard any stereo recordings before they started recording in the medium so they just guessed that it was the correct way to do it. The reason they did a binaural recording at all was because of the open reel audiophile tape market. This had nothing to do with stereo LP’s which didn’t come along until 1958. Of course when stereo records were finally perfected, Contemporary found that their backlog of stereo master tapes could be utilized.
“Therefore such groundbreaking works from 1956-7 such as “Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section”, Sonny Rollins “Way Out West”, Shelly Manne and Friends “Jazz Impressions Of MY FAIR LADY” and the great Brown/Kessel/Manne “The Poll Winners” exist in true binaural form and they sound great. I’ve listened to the mono master recordings of these albums and they sound a bit pinched compared to their binaural counterparts. The mono tapes had a bit of compression and EQ done to them during recording (like any major studio would) but the two-track tapes were done pretty much neutral and uncompressed…”
– Steve Hoffman
4. Black and Gold label (US Contemporary Stereo – early)
(Photo courtesy of Tony, Photoshop retouching LJC)
Green and Gold label (Contemporary Stereo – later)
Deep Groove, Green/Gold label, and as always machine stamp matrix code.
Note: with Contemporary Records, the catalogue number is never present on the matrix or on the runout – only the matrix code, typically LKS or LKL and two or three digits, and then what looks like a code for the mother and or the stamper. The original metal matrix has a sequential number each side eg LKS 69 on one side, LKS 70 on the other. The Catalogue number is found only on the label, and of course is the same each side.
5. Modern US first Press 1976
(Photo updated March 17, 2013 to illustrate matrix)
Not DG (deep groove pressing dies were phased out in the very early Sixties), Artist and record title in “eccentric” font, date of manufacture on label (1976). As an original Contemporary pressing it bears a machine-stamped original matrix code in the runout - LKS 329 (“Lester Koenig Stereo”) and the mother and stamper “D 6″. The only other engraving is a faint hand-written letter “A”, to remind someone in the factory which was side A.
6. Clone Alert!
Be wary of covers in too good condtion, with excellent condition vinyl: life is not like that. This copy had an authentic-looking label, no indication of being anything other than 1959 original according to the excellent condition cover, but the vinyl was on the thin side and almost “unplayed” (you bet!), not deep groove despite being a late 1950′s recording, and the giveaway is the matrix code.
Hand-inscribed matrix code in the run-out, not machine-stamped, because it’s never been near an original matrix, mother or stamper, though it has been faithfully transcribed. I have seen copies where the catalogue number is also hand-inscribed in the run-out. Additional job codes seen here, possible reference to a pressing run of 4,500. It is not a “reissue”, it is a vinyl clone, the music a digital transfer to vinyl probably from a CD and the label photographically copied from another vinyl pressing, knocked out by the thousand, seller asking £20 (and agreed to a refund as it was not described as a copy or reissue)
Mixed parentage copies – recently seen, Contemporary copies with BOTH machine stamped matrix codes AND hand-written job codes in the same run-out. It suggestes a pressing which had available to it pairs of stampers derived from the original matrixes, but as part of a modern job lot of pressings.