Friday, May 26, 2017

Audiophile Nightmares

This past March I I ordered four albums off of Amazon to flesh out my record collections. Yes, they were Jazz, but more importantly they were the four iconic Jazz albums from 1959. Charles Mingus “Ah Hum”, Ornette Coleman “The Shape of Jazz to Come”, Dave Brubeck “Time Out” and of course Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”.

To be honest, it wasn’t like I didn’t need them. No, this was strictly a purchase for my favorite music. I of course had a few of those recordings in digital format and they sound great. Remastered by technological wizards in the music industry. However; I wanted to hear them in their original format. You know, like when you watch Star Wars “A New Hope” without being digitally remastered, where Han shoots first, there aren’t platoons of storm troopers everywhere and no storm trooper is riding an oversized lizard. It’s like that but only for my ears.

Eight days after I ordered them, three of them arrived in the mail. I was happy and excited. I however did restrain myself from opening them. I knew I had to take them into my office where the rest of my records are kept, so I sat the three records on my desk and dreamed of what they would sound like. Oh, you want to know which record wasn’t packaged with the other three? Okay, I’ll tell you, it was Dave Brubeck’s masterpiece “Time Out”.

When I walked into my office the next morning, being ever so careful with my records, it was all I could do to not just sit down and play them. Instead, I bided my time, went to work getting the museum set up for the day and in no time I was opening my records. 

The first one, Ornette Coleman, opened easily, I stared at the cover of the legend holding his sax and I swear I could almost hear his tonality and fingering of that brass beauty. I pulled the record out, placed it on my turntable and began to listen. I pulled up a chair and just watched the vinyl spin and I could almost see the notes drifting out of my speakers.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through “Eventually”, the second track on side one that I noticed something odd about the record. More to the point, the label. It wasn’t the green over red label. I became disturbed. So I picked up the album cover and looked for the label marks. What I found was the name “Wax Time” where the “Atlantic” name should be. I became upset.

Now to be fair, I didn’t expect an original 1959 copy of the record. What I did expect was an official “Atlantic” reissue of the record. Not some company using public domain music to make a quick buck.

Which is about the time I opened the Charles Mingus album only to discover the same thing. Only this time, it was not by “Wax Time”, but another company just like “Wax Time”. Not the “Columbia” label. Not even close.

When I picked up the Miles Davis album I knew it wasn’t a Columbia record. After all, the cover art was all wrong and so was the back. I almost didn’t open it. But I did and I was once again disappointed.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’ve listened to those three records on numerous occasions since I’ve bought them. And, with each listening, I love the music even more but there is something that always bugs me.

You see, I’m sort of an artist. I write and that is not just a skill but an art form. When I sell a story, I expect to get paid. When someone else sells my story, I don’t get paid. When I die and all the rights to my stories get turned over to my daughter, I expect she would get paid for any publication of those stories. That is where my mind was. Who is getting the money for these records since they are in my opinion “Bootlegs”?

Since that time, I’ve managed to replace one of those three albums with an authentic labeled album and I’m still searching for the other two. I know eventually I will find them. It will just be a matter of time and effort.

As for the fourth album, the Dave Brubeck album, well, that is an interesting addendum to this tale. You see, when I purchased that particular album from Amazon, it was from a private seller. This was a fact I didn’t know. When it came in a week after the other three I fully expected it to be another bootleg copy. It wasn’t.

What was it? It was an original 1963 black six eye Columbia recording. How do I know it was a 1963? Simple, 1963 was the only year that Columbia used the black six eye label. I was over the moon. It wasn’t a modern reissue or remaster. Nope, an original, period record. It has become one of my favorite finds and almost makes up for getting taken on the other three.

But that is okay. This is what life is all about. Learning and moving forward.

Have a great week.

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