United Artists

United Artists Records was a record label founded by Max E.Youngstein of United Artists in 1957 initially to distribute records of its movie soundtracks though it soon branched out into recording music of a number of different genres, including jazz . The company recruited Alan Douglas in 1960 to run its new jazz department. There were only a few jazz titles after about 1963.

Around 1966 a subsidiary jazz label Solid State was founded, which lasted until 1969. The following year United Artists acquired the complete Blue Note Catalogue from Liberty, which was followed by a chequered history of Blue Note reissues.

1.United Artists US 1958 to early ’60s?

Deep groove, white promo, red mono “High Fidelity” (UAL series) , blue stereo (UAS series).

UA-cover-address-1959-

UA-promo-white-1200-LJC

UA red 1000px

UA-blue-stereo-1000px

(Hat tip Johnny for alerting me to this early series)

These were replaced by the black label echoing the above colours and UA corporate beige in circles on the upper outer perimeter

Sample below, deep groove mono, pressing by Plastylite, N.J. “ear” in run-out. That said, it does not especially sound like a Blue Note Plastylite. That is attributable to many other factors, including Van Gelder engineering, not present. (From its catalogue number, this is a second issue whose first should have been on red label)

2.United Artists Jazz Series (1962-3)

2.1 Stereo US  – “bendy tenor” label

2.2 Mono UA Jazz – 1962-3 German pressing. Bright primary colours.

The short-lived initiative by United Artists Jazz to rival Blue Note and Prestige nevertheless threw up some interesting titles, some of which have not been released elsewhere. Some of the US mono versions were pressed by Plasylite and have the cursive “P” in the runout; though there are differing views as to audio quality coompared to Blue Note pressings

Selection of covers from UA Jazz series (from Personal Collection, Popsike, Discogs and Ebay)

United-Artists-Alan-Douglas-collection

See UA Jazz full listing of titles

3. Early 1970s United Artists US label

Reissue of United Artists Jazz recording made a decade before under Alan Douglas. The sound is much more “modern” stereo, silky vinyl quality is very good on my copies.


4. Solid State – Stereo  (1966-9)

Division of United Artists, late sixties. United Artists never managed to get a focus on record manufacturing,  bereft of any internal sound engineering champion.

UA-Solid-State-stereo-label

Bell Sound stamp in runout.

4. United Artists Japanese reissues – Toshiba-EMI, “Liberty” label

United Artists Jazz recordings were released in Japan during late ’60s/ early ’70s via licensing to EMI-Toshiba Ltd in Japan, on a distinctive red/green spectrum “Liberty” label, the Liberty trademark being owned by US parent United Artists Inc.

LIBERTY-UAS-LABEL-EMI-TOSHIBA-JAPAN-1000-LJC

Toshiba-EMI was at that time also the vehicle for re-issuing Blue Note, and the mastering and pressing quality of all these titles is of the highest order, certainly the best quality Japanese reissues of any kind, superior to King, Victor, and later Toshiba.

4 thoughts on “United Artists

  1. Variation 3 was a West Coast pressing by Research Craft of Los Angeles, CA, which had been purchased by Liberty in 1965 and remained part of the Liberty/UA apparatus all through Capitol’s 1979 acquisition of UA, until 1981 when it (and All Disc Records of Roselle, NJ; plus a tape duplicating facility in Council Bluffs, IA) was sold to the ElectroSound Group which already owned a plethora of pressing and duplicating plants. Research Craft pressings, like Monarch-pressed LP’s, had a pressing ring a small millifraction below 2.875″ diameter.

    Variation 4, probably pressed by All Disc, has label typesetting by Keystone Printed Specialties of Scranton, PA (same entity that did label copy for Blue Note lo those many years), and the lacquer mastering was handled by Sol Kessler of Bell Sound (Kessler, from conversations I had in the mid-1990’s with a former Bell Sound colleague, Joe Brescio, always used machine-stamped characters to spell out the matrix numbers in the deadwax – and when Kessler went to another studio, Mediasound, in 1970, so did the stamped characters).

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