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Prestige in Japan
Prestige recordings were reissued in Japan by Victor Record Company Ltd/ Victor Music Industries, Inc., in the late 70’s early 80’s. Victor had originally been a Japanese offshoot of the American RCA Victor company, but a small territiorial dispute between 1941and 1945 – the War in the Pacific – caused a falling out – and the link was never re-established. JVC was taken over in 1953 by the Panasonic Corporation, the multinational electronics company behind the familiar DJ-loved brand Technics
Victor Japan 1970’s/ early 80’s pressings are generally the equivalent of King Records for Blue Note, very acceptable, slightly punchier than the later Toshiba-EMI pressings (1983+). Usually found in immaculate condition, Victor will only ever have been played on “modern” hifi with lightweight tonearms rather than 50’s radiograms. Pressed on near-silent vinyl, they have an advantage over the recycled vinyl lottery that plagues original New Jazz titles. Many are mono format, and are inexpensive compared to the US original pressings, however they are not as forward-sounding as Original Prestige you will not own the real American historical artefact.
1a. Promo (“Factory Sample”) Victor Musical Industries Inc.
Photo Courtesy of Steven M
1b.Victor Record Company Ltd., yellow/fireworks facsimile label Stereo.
Liner Notes all-Japanese for domestic release, no Jasrac logo. Japanese reissues count the number of tracks on each side, small number in a circle, at foot of the credits.
2. Victor Music Industries, Inc. – yellow/fireworks facsimile label
Prestige Stereo PRLP 7258
3. Victor Music Industries, Inc. yellow/fireworks facsimile label
Prestige Mono 7014, JASRAC logo
4. Victor Music Industries, Inc. purple New Jazz facsimile
“Licensed by Fantasy Records, Inc.” – who took over all Prestige labels in 1971. Jasrac logo New Jazz NJLP 8277
Prestige Jazz Masterpiece Series (1976)
Taking a leaf out of the King/Blue Note Masterpiece editions, Victor produced the Prestige Jazz Masterpiece series. Vinyl 132gm in this sample, original mono 1957 recording.
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for the prestige label in Japan, there are actually 4 variants not 3. Toshiba-EMI pressed a series labeled with a prefix of LPR. Victor Music Japan pressed an SMJ series in the mid 1970s. Then in the late 1970s Victor Music pressed an SMJX series. Believe these were the same stampers as the SMJ series, but were pressed on heavier vinyl (160 gram vinyl), and gatefold jackets were used for the album covers, with additional session photos on the inside. In the mid 1980’s Fantasy in the US had Phil Delancy remaster the prestige titles for their new at the time, OJC series released in the US. In Japan, Victor Music used these remastered tapes, cut new lacquers and pressed new vinyl from these masters, Victor changed the Prestige prefix to VIJ series.
I just picked up a ’76 Japanese mono reissue of Relaxin’ with The Miles Davis Quintet, on Prestige/Victor. It has White versions of the Fireworks labels rather than the yellow ones from the same era. Can anyone shed any light on them? Can’t seem to find much info.
Any chance you could shoot me a picture of this label? I can post it up here, perhaps add some knowledge.
yes, white label fireworks labels in Japan were promo copies. So they were the first off the stampers.
How does it sound?
Have you compared it to any other pressings.
I’d love to hear your impressions.
sure, but need the prefix number to determine which version you have.
I have a couple Japanese pressings of New Jazz/Prestige. that seems to be pressed early 70s. How did the pressings? The sound really god IMHO.
who did the pressing?
Victor Musical Industries? Isn’t it printed on the label or jacket somewhere?
I’ve somehow managed to end up with two Japanese pressings of Miles Davis – Workin’. Looking them up on Discogs I noticed it’s been issued as part of these three Japanese series:
1974 – LPR-88016 Toshiba Jazz Right Now Series
1975 – SMJ-6503(M) Victor Prestige Jazz Masterpiece Series
1984 – VIJ-211 Victor Prestige Jazz Golden 50 Series
It looks like there was an earlier Toshiba series before Victor started reissuing them.
Confusingly it looks like Victor also issued a Prestige Jazz Golden 50 Series from 1972-77 though these are marked with the price JPY 1,100 and my 1984 pressing has the price JPY 2,300. I have no idea if these are re-presses of the same series. Discogs lumps them together and lists 59 titles…
I’m afraid I’ve not sat down and compared my two pressings (1974 and 1984).
I would love to know how you feel these two pressings compare sonically.
Would you be willing to compare and share your thoughts with us?
No-one let original master tapes out of their vaults. A copy tape will have been sent to Japan and remastered locally. I have never known original metal sent anywhere except:
Prestige to Esquire /Metronome/ Barclay/ Artone/ Germany
Impulse on the rare occasion to Italy
Verve sent Van Gelder metal for some German pressings
Esquire pressings very nice for that reason I guess! Does that mean the Victor pressing of the Monk isn’t worth getting, or will the recording still shine?
Esquire 32-175 Sonny Boy is the preferred reissue .Original metal. I paid very little but it was a chance find.
I’m surprised how many I have – 22 Victor Japan records, mostly Prestige origin, three are Riverside origin. . Two thirds of them are pretty good, the rest are slightly anaemic transfers lacking punch and clarity. .
Looking over my list, the Prestige transfers are mostly among the very good, the Riversides are among the weaker. Could be down to the quality of the original recording or the quality of the tape sent out to Japan by Riverside.
The tracks on Sonny Boy are van Gelder recordings, they had a good start in life, PRLP 7207, so I would be optimistic and take a punt on it.
Thanks for such a comprehensive answer. I did buy it in the end – for the reason you state: a van Gelder session would be hard to spoil. I have a very nice CBS Sony Japan mono Round About Midnight, Miles Davis which sounds terrific (unrelated pressing and engineer-wise, but it’s all I had to go on from my own collection, hence asking your opinion). I love early Monk recordings, though the tuning of the piano was sometimes pretty shonky.
I’ve also got my eye on an Esquire Cookin’, Miles Davis – dealer wants £40 for it. It seems like a good price, but vinyl isn’t without marks (though none appear serious). Do you reckon I could offer him less without seeming cheap?!
I would note the marks and offer £30 on grounds of the condition. If I was the seller, I would turn it round and suggest we split the difference, counter offer £35.
Enough to make a difference. Either would be a good price for Cookin’
Esquire are very tolerant. Around 180 gram vinyl and the music is well down inside the deep groove walls protected from superficial marks and scuffs. They play remarkably well, often much better than they look.
This of course is strictly entre-nous. Let’s hope your dealer is not an LJC reader.
I’m looking at getting a 1972 Japanese Victor pressing of Thelonious Monk Trio (Prestige LP7207, 1956) in NM condition; I’m not in the market for original Prestige issues (in EX condition, they are beyond my pocket). It says it’s ‘manufactured from a Prestige master recording’ – does that mean they used a RVG stamper or mastered it themselves from the original tape?