Pictures updated December 20, 2019
Selection: Majoun (La Roca)
. . .
Fast-paced Bop-Not Bop, with the young Chick Corea looking to establish his own forceful identity, while la Roca leaves no-one in any doubt he is the leader, and he isn’t just going to keep time. This piece is not one usually pointed to for the album (more on that later) but it captures the pull of jazz in different directions in a post-Blue Note world.
John Gilmore’s presence on tenor introduces the “straight-ahead post-bop” field which he ploughed for Sun Ra’s Arkestra over four decades. It leads you to ask “Whose record is this anyway?” la Roca – Corea – Gilmore? All of them
John Gilmore (ts) Chick Corea (p) Walter Booker (bass) Pete LaRoca (d) recorded Impact Sound Studios, NYC, May 25, 1967
Produced by Alan Douglas in 1967 under the Turkish Women title, the rights were subsequently sold to Muse Records, who released it with a different title, Muse MR 5011 Chick Corea – Bliss! listing Chick Corea as the leader. An aggrieved La Roca sued Muse and won. Unfortunately, when Muse took it off the market as a Chick Corea record, it was never re-released as a Pete LaRoca record and consequently qualifies for that much overused adjective “rare!”
Alan Douglas created a uniquely quirky series of one-off recordings for United Artists in the early Sixties – Bill Evans/ Jim Hall Undercurrent, Duke Ellington/Mingus Roach The Money Jungle ( subject of a future post) to name just two. He courted controversy as curator of Jimi Hendrix recordings, incited more controversy with productions of Miles Davis, John McGlaughlin and Alice Coltrane, and is still going strong five decades later. Pete la Roca, on the other hand, retreated from music and returned to his original vocation as a lawyer, returning only in his final years for a belated come back. Welcome move Pete, we already had too many lawyers.
Vinyl: Douglas SD 782 138 gm.
The run-out looks like a battle zone: one for the mono/ stereo-heads I think. The machine stamped matrix gives the code U5RM, but the label is U5RS. I know what you are thinking – M mono S stereo? The machine stamp matrix is one number different from the hand-correction: 1662 and 1663 but the hand-corrections are 1663 and 1664. Someone at
Best Bell Sound was having a bad day. Or was it like this everyday at Bell Sound?
You must have a double…
A clone to be precise. Pete LaRoca’s Turkish Women at the Bath was one of the first records I bought five years ago. I didn’t know what a Scorpio was, and I didn’t know much about anything, and it certainly looked real enough. Cost all of about $15, which seemed a bargain. And it was mint!
The clone makers art. Apart from the lack of depth of colour, the cover is photographically perfect. As long as you don’t have the real thing to hand for comparison. I left the shrink on for effect. “Mint! Shrink!
Now here is the challenge. Does the $15 clone vinyl sound better, worse, or little different from than the original? You decide.
Selection 1. The Dancing Girl (Original vinyl 1967 rip)
Selection 2: The Dancing Girl (Scorpio vinyl clone – 1990’s?)
The test doesn’t replicate a true vinyl turntable test. The original vinyl here is reduced to the lowest common denominator – both to an MP3 rip at 160 kbps, but I think there is clear blue water between the two. Play the two alternately for a couple of bars, and decide for yourself.
For a fair fight, you would need to play in the Evil Silver Disk to the equation, as almost certainly the source of the clone transfer to vinyl. The tab? The original cost a little more than the clone. Music aside, it’s worth that for the cover alone.
Telling differences: the run out:
The labels look superficially similar. The colour fidelity is a bit off and the font is subtly different. The runout that tells the story. In place of genuine machine stamped matrix codes, or original catalogue numbers and any other engravings of authenticity, there are the hand-written job codes and batch numbers of the pressing plant churning out clones. Always the same – the runout is the DNA of a vintage record. The whole story is here, or in this case, not here.
Vinyl: Scorpio 154 gm – heavier than the original, which is only 138 gm. There goes another bit of marketing hype out the window. The weight of vinyl plays no part in the quality of sound.
Back cover a perfect copy too., though the card is thin modern lightweight shiny photo glossy, not heavy card with dimpled laminate. No sign of 50 years ageing, no handwritten pen and ink date of purchase, no owner’s name – to take it to parties and improve the odds of taking it home again. Or ticks against selected tracks and exact time for DJ and radio airplay. I’m quite fond of the marks of real life on my records, unlike the fastidious collector who insist the record must be a virgin, “looks unplayed”, in Ebay seller parlance.
What to do with the clone? Or the original? The answer is – nothing right now. It’s just over a week until the new Dynavector Kia Ora (or is that an orange juice drink?) low output moving coil cartridge is to be fitted. Exciting. Who knows what anything will sound like when the Beast from the Far East has settled in? There are a thousand records that want to know that too. Their coats could all be on a shaky nail…
I have never heard a recent reissue of this LP but I did have an original pressing on a couple of occasions and recall the sound being wavy or with added reverb. All I recall is that I did not care for it and never tried to snag another as they can fetch around $50 if miinty. For me, the Bliss pressing has been the best I have heard and its what I have now. I thought it was a diss that it was issued under Corea’s name and not LaRoca but this happens from time to time as sidemen get more popular. Had no idea LaRoca sued and won!
Just thought I’d throw some more runout info into the mix. I think that’s Bell Sound, (not Best Sound) a well-regarded New York presser, though maybe more for rock/pop albums. My copy has the same RM/RS discrepancy between labels and runout, but the stamped matrices are not crossed out and the numbers on the labels and matrices match, although the matrices include a “-2” at the end, so maybe a second pressing? My copy also has a small, backwards, circled “RM” stamp on both runouts. Thick, glossy cover with a punch-hole, which would support the notion that this was a second pressing that did not sell out originally.
Thanks for the correction David, Bell not Best – I’ll update. Interesting there was another pressing, not something you would not expect with a fairly scarce record. The suffix “-2” sends a strong signal there was a second master, may be RVG fixed that “missing” bass? Who knows. Appreciate the input.
Well, thank you for your awesome site.
That’s a great little LP that is as long on my want list, as I can think. I can remember listening to it (of course not on a turntable) while moving around in the NYC subway system and the music captured the hectic and moving quite well. Strange to say that, but this is one of my favourite NYC experiences.
While looking on ebay, I found this auction: http://www.ebay.de/itm/380588578131?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649
The record looks original and vintage, but I can’t see a DG. What’s your opinion on that one?
The Ebay is a clone. If you eyeball my original label, my clone, then the copy on ebay, you will see the track listing on the original is in a serifed font, the clone and the ebay copy is sans-serif font. Also the word “Stereo” on the original is upper case and lower case, the clone and ebay has it all in capital letters “STEREO”. No doubt in my mind its not the original as described, but you would have to see an original to know. Game set and match.
Interesting, thank you. Yo clearly need to focus on the details here. But with the record on ebay being an older pressing, not a recent (Scorpio) reissue – because of the paperback cover and the drillhole – this means, that there was a second run an these pressings were used by Scorpio for reprinting.
A second pressing, used as the source for clone. Good theory, I’ll go with that. Its almost worth buying it just to find out whats in the runout.
I accept generous donations for finding out 😉
I can help there as I bought it – although I clearly should have checked here first.
I’m pretty sure it’s not a clone – the runout is suffixed -2, machine stamped (with RM), not crossed out and has the small circled stamp as per David’s comment further up the page. The innersleeve is suitably aged (although I guess this might not be the original sleeve) and there are some age spots on the inside of the cover.. so hopefully I haven’t bought a dud!
Supports the theory that there’s a second pressing with the different font…
Outstanding contribution, thanks Joel. Definitely looks like this record went to two pressings back in the Sixties. Which is the earlier is moot – both seem “vintage”, I don’t subscribe to The Church of the First Pressing -I’ll leave others to fight that out.
My litmus test for clones is mint-grade vinyl, extraneous hand-written pressing-plant batch codes in the runout, photographically-reproduced artwork and notes, and most important, anonymous manufacture: no admission they are a copy.
LJC is slowly but surely becoming the hangout of choice to not only read great posts, but equally interesting comment exchanges as well!
Anyway, I listened to both rips of The Dancing Girl and to me the original Douglas pressing sounds a wee bit fuller than the Scorpio, especially when the sax kicks in.
And listening to both Majoun and The Dancing Girl ripped from the Douglas, I also have to say that Walter Booker’s bass playing is barely audible. I’d say it’s faint and buried so deep in the mix that it almost seems as if the engineer forgot Booker all together. Granted, I’m listening on a speaker set connected to a laptop right now, but even when I listen to the rips from previous postings, then they still have good bass.
Ahem, thanks Matty, you picked up the bass issue – as much as it pains me to say, the Evil Silver Disk boasts that it “corrected” the poor level of bass in the original mix. I suppose The Evil One sometimes does Good.
AHA! The Evil Silver Disk just got a bit less evil 😉
Makes one thing clear: to lay hands on the CD issue asap!
Nice record–I didn’t know about the “Bliss” repress. I actually have a copy of that with a group of LPs I haven’t listened to yet, so I guess I lucked out there….I’ve bid on LaRoca’s “Basra” a couple times but never snagged it. Underrated drummer for sure.
I think I emailed Andy when Pete passed away but what really pissed me off was that during the grammy’s memoriam this year. Pete and Donald Byrd were not mentioned. Imagined that SHIT! I turned that fucking joke of a program right off.
We seem to have lost an awful lot of people i won’t miss because I have never heard of them in the first place. Jazz losses are almost totally absent. The awards industry is in a “different place” from the rest us here, and they are welcome to it.
I counted Ray Bryant, Bob Brookmeyer, perhaps a few other talents among a huge number of unknowns
Love this album, especially the track Bliss.
I have it on a distinctly cheeky 70s press on Muse Records where it is credited as an album by Chic Corea. Very naughty! Sounds good though.
Great to see Richard Williams posting on here. One of the very best music journalists. I would recommend checking out his piece on West Coast trumpeter Dupree Bolton which was in an issue of Granta from 2000. (Bolton was the trumpeter on Harold Land’s ‘The Fox’).
Just as an added swot-note, the cover painting is ‘La Bain Turc’ (1863), by Ingres.
Indeed. And for an additional swot-note, the same painting graces the cover of Don Ellis’ ‘Electric Bath’ — both excellent albums, by the way, although they are different.
Maybe you don’t know that Pete La Roca died recently. My obituary is on the Guardian website.
THAT Richard Williams? OMG, a real journalist, here! (feign cool, conceal panic) Someone who can actually write properly, about jazz? Great! Welcome, Richard!
Richard cites La Roca’s profoundly true statement about jazz, which I will repeat here:
“Music is the result of bow on string, breath through metal, fingers on ivory, sticks and mallets on brass and strings – all applied by real people who’ve taken the time to learn the skill and magic of it”
You can read the full text of Richards Obit of La Roca here Its quite well written, naturally, (harrumph)… for a journalist. Great!