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…