Art Lande/ Rubisa Patrol: (1976-7) ECM – Guest Post

8 thoughts on “Art Lande/ Rubisa Patrol: (1976-7) ECM – Guest Post

  1. I have about 5 boxes of ECM in storage and not listened to them for many years. I remember that the Polydor US pressings tended to be worse than the Warner copies. The Polydor pressings tend to have more surface noise and pops. As discussed above, the German pressings tend to be slightly better than the Warner copies and imo significantly better than the Polydor versions. I believe the distribution in the US was switched in the late 70s and Warner repressed a lot of the early titles. I bought most of my copies in the Boston area about 10 years ago. Both pressings were widely available and most of them in the $5 to $10 range. I also bought them because most of the ECM records were in much better shape than other Jazz labels and your typical used record in the US. That in itself is an interesting topic.

    I grew up in Germany and used inventory generally in better shape than in US. The ECM titles usually are comparable in shape to Classical Music genre, which tends to be well kept records. I was wondering if it maybe has to do with the type of buyers or if the label was in fashion with certain circles but nobody actually listened much to the stuff? I also noted that Warner used high quality inner sleeves that are almost archival quality like the MoFi ones I use today. Finally, the early German pressings have laminated covers and prone to peeling. The covers were more flimsy, the typical stuff seen in Germany or Europe in 70s.

    I know the criticism of ECM regarding its sort of sound or new age blandness. However, I was surprised back then and still am about the relative lack of interest of collectors in the label. Prices still modest. In many ways, ECM is to me the 70s and European counterpart to Blue Note. Mostly in terms of vision of the owners and consistent aesthetics in terms of production quality and brand identity. Manfred Eicher is sort of no compromise it seems on his standards and musical vision. The sound quality, pressing quality, unique studio settings, and the recognizable covers as well as the engineering. And there are also the long standing partnerships the label has and the mixing of label musicians into novel outfits. The owner really had a lot of ideas and encouraged that sort of experimentation. That all resembles to me the Blue Note story. Minus the corporate takeover. ECM stayed independent and worked with the corporate entities mostly for the distribution aspect. So maybe this will eventually become an area of interest after the owner dies or finally retires? I think so much still hinges on his presence. Just as Blue Note thrived under the direction and presence of A. Lion and his co owner.

  2. I’m still relatively new to collecting (if that is in fact the name for what I’m doing) and have recently acquired a few ECM titles from the ‘70s and early ‘80s (all analog recordings, pre-digital) — a few Keith Jarretts and an Abercrombie/Holland/DeJohnette. One of the Jarretts is a German pressing; all the others are US pressings, Warner Bros. or Polydor. No duplicates in the bunch, so I’m comparing apples and oranges, but to me the German pressing sounds dynamically richer, a bit less flat. I’m wondering if Pedestroika, LJC, or any readers have noticed any differences between the audio quality of German vs. US ECM pressings, generally speaking.

    The sample from Rubisa Patrol is terrific, BTW. I’ll have to track down a copy.

    • Hi CJP, In my experience (and the sample size is small at 2), the German pressings are definitely heavier and there is the issue of mastering that I discussed above. Both may influence sonics, though with RL behind the wheels in Rubisa Patrol, I dare not pick one pressing over the other. I’ll have to pull out my other set of duplicates to enquire into the sonics there. In terms of pressing quality, a couple of my US ECM pressings have inivisitics, i.e., tics arising from invisible scuffs/scratches on what appear to be VG+ or better discs. I don’t know if others have experienced similar issues. All said and done, glad you liked the music.

        • I had a US white label test pressing of Solstice, one of the greatest lps on the label for me, and a standard German 1st press. The German was better. I tend to find this most times, but I would give the US recorded ones a try from either side of the pond.

          • Thank you, very helpful! It’s actually a bit of a challenge to get the German pressings in the U.S., or so I’ve found with limited experience. The U.S. pressings I have are fine — better than the average ’70s/early ’80s audio quality of most U.S. pressings from other labels, again based on limited experience. It’s only that the German pressings seem audibly better. Interesting to hear that your impression is similar to mine.

  3. Superb stuff. I will be frank and admit that I grew up listening to more of this wonderfully complex European jazz before trying blue Note, and for me the difference is this labels best is less easy listening but for more rewarding when it soaks in. When I tried to thin down my jazz collection I ended up with about 60 blue notes and 500 ECM’s. There’s loads of other stuff, but it just shows my idea of what’s essential on both labels to my ears. Isham is a kindred spirit of Enrico Rava and Don Cherry stylistically. Cherry is a great point of comparison as well, because he made great albums with both labels. 3 with Blue Note and 10 with ECM.

    • Hi Mark, Thanks for the feedback and pointers to the Rava/Cherry discographies. I am adding a list of ECM albums to my want list, not sure my wife is going to be happy when she sees those media mail deliveries beginning to pile up at the front door again. The “Christmas came early” defense only flies for one season.

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