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Thread: Early Stereo Records

  1. #1
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    First stereo LP?

    [ This post was made in response to a reply in an unrelated thread for another movie "soundtrack" album, Robin And The 7 Hoods. That led to an extended discussion of early stereo records, which has been split into this separate thread. Note: It's been established below that High Society was NOT Sinatra's first stereo LP issue, even though the recordings were made prior to his initial stereo studio albums at Capitol. —Bob ]

    Quote Originally Posted by Steph View Post
    The only exception to this as far as Frank's musical films were concerned was High Society, Capitol's very first stereo LP, for which the same sound recordings were used in both the movie and the record, only with different mixing and editing.
    This is not entirely true. One track on the High Society soundtrack album, "You're Sensational," was re-recorded in the Capitol studio. The LP was made in stereo only because of the multitrack film masters recorded on the M-G-M sound stage; Capitol did not produce its own stereo recordings until more than a year later. For an extended discussion of all this, see here in the Frank Sinatra In Hollywood thread:

    Re: High Society and "Well, Did You Evah?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Capitol did not produce its own stereo recordings until more than a year later.
    Yes and no. The earliest recording done for Capitol in stereo was Kenton in Hi-Fi, from February 1956. However, it wasn't recorded at either the Tower or Melorse - the sessionss were held at Goldwyn, though John Palladino engineered it. The stereo version was experimental, for lack of a better term. It's neat to hear, but the bassist is quite low in the mix. The bass is as it should be in the mono version, as it's the one they were really concerned with.

    Next was Nat Cole's Love Is the Thing, which was recorded at the Tower in December 1956, by John Kraus. Steve Hoffman got to master (and do a new mix for) it for the DCC vinyl and Gold CD issues, with amazing sound.

  3. #3
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    Martin: Do you know when the Kenton and Cole albums were actually released to the public in stereo?

    I know that Sinatra's first stereo recordings at the Capitol Tower (in April 1957 for Where Are You?) were not actually marketed in a stereo version until February 1959—almost two years later! (The monaural LP came out in September 1957.)

  4. #4
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    I don't have the info right at hand, but I think the sequence was the following:

    - Kenton In Hi-Fi (Capitol LP #724) was released in mid-1956 (but I don't think the stereo version was made commercially available at the time).
    - High Society (Capitol LP #750) was released in mid-1956 (so with regards to the timeline it IS the first actual stereo LP on Capitol, because it was offered in both formats from the start)
    - Nat Cole's Love Is the Thing (Capitol LP #824) was released in 1957.
    - Frank's Where Are You? (Capitol LP #855) was released late in 1957.

    I should be able to retrieve the exact dates when I check my files back home (this is lunch break at my office).

  5. #5
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    Oh, and there's also Various Artists - The Stereo Disc (Capitol LP #9032) whose date I'll find later, but it is most probably a 1957 release.

  6. #6
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    Steph: Where Are You (W-855) was released September 2, 1957, but the stereo version (SW-855) did not appear until MUCH later in February 1959. High Society (W-750) was back in June 1956, but are you sure the stereo issue (SW-750) was available at that early date?

  7. #7
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    Okay, Bob, thanks! As I said I don't have all my info with me, and besides, I usually have the initial release dates for the albums, not the specific dates for the stereo releases. All of the above indicates that although albums started being recording in stereo early in 1956, it took a while until the stereo versions were made available to the public. Which brings us back to the initial question: which was the first actual stereo release on Capitol? Always figured it was High Society, but could you confirm or infirm that?

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    Jeffrey Simmons's Avatar
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    What surpeises me and interests me about the movie recordings is that, for musicals, it is often (though apparently not always) the case that the artists record the songs first in a studio and then act/mime to the playback when filming. That so often being the case and taking account of what we learn here from Frank Jr, how it it that the 'Robin And The Seven Hoods' recordings needed to be re-recorded for the album. Why were they not pre-recorded at the studio before filming?
    JEFFREY

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steph View Post
    which was the first actual stereo release on Capitol? Always figured it was High Society
    I believe that was Sinatra's first issued stereo album. I don't know which was the first Capitol stereo LP. I'd have to do some research, but I don't think stereo record players were even available to consumers in 1956, however.

  10. #10
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    Followup Re: Stereophonic Records

    I'm sure Martin can supply more definitive dating, but some quick Googling has reinforced my impression that commercial stereo records were not produced and sold until at least 1958-59.

    The Westrex "45-45 stereo disc recording system" was first demonstrated at the annual convention of the Audio Engineering Society in New York, October 11, 1957. The RIAA adopted this system as the industry production standard on March 25, 1958. Audio Fidelity, a small record company, beat the large labels to market in November 1957 with a demonstration record cut by Westrex. The first ads for stereo hi-fi components appeared in mid-1958.

    So, it is impossible that stereo LP's such as the High Society soundtrack (issued in June 1956) appeared in both formats from the start. All of the albums mentioned above, although recorded in stereo format as early as 1956, were released first in monaural versions; the stereo records did not follow until at least two years later.

    Having been a youngster at the time, my own impression is that 1959 was the year that stereo became all the rage in the consumer marketplace. My first stereo equipment was a four-track open reel tape recorder, purchased in 1960 for my 13th birthday. A Harmon-Kardon receiver and Garrard turntable followed a year later. Monaural records still predominated over stereo on store shelves for a number of years thereafter; I often had difficulty finding stereo versions of the album titles I wanted for several years in the early 1960's.

  11. #11
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    Early Stereo efforts

    One of the things about early Stereo recordings that varied from album to album was the mix.

    A particularly notable one was Vaughan and Violins, recorded in 1957 for Mercury in Paris, and scored by Quincy Jones. The mono version has Sarah Vaughan a bit submerged in the orchestra. The Stereo version finds Sarah and some of the orchestra on one side, and the balance (more than half) of the band on the other channel. This offers the listener the opportunity to increase or decrease the vocalists volume vs. the band.

    When this album was re-issued on CD, the original mix was used, but for the Sarah Vaughan - the Mercury Years, classic stereo (singer dead centre) was achieved.

    It was implied that early Stereo albums would be damaged by being played on or with monaural equipment as well, so intelligently buying for the future seemed all but impossible. (Soon Stereo albums began to include the caveat: playable on both mono and stereo equipment.)
    NICK
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    There were stereo reel to reel tapes issued before LP's. LP's began to be released by commercial labels in 1958.

    The first Sinatra/Capitol stereo reel I know of was the 2 track version of Where Are You?. If you're familiar with reels, you'll know that most commerically issued tapes were 4 track - 2 tracks (left/right) in each direction. 2 track tapes had all the music in 1 direction, and used twice as much tape. They also allowed for better sound, due to the wider "tracks".

    I don't know when the 2 track Where Are You? was issued. It may have been before the stereo LP, but I can't say. I believe it was the only Sinatra 2 track tape release, and should still command a premium in price, at least with people who understand what it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I believe that was Sinatra's first issued stereo album. I don't know which was the first Capitol stereo LP. I'd have to do some research, but I don't think stereo record players were even available to consumers in 1956, however.

    I think the stereo LP of High Society was first issued around 1961.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick in Toronto View Post
    It was implied that early Stereo albums would be damaged by being played on or with monaural equipment as well, so intelligently buying for the future seemed all but impossible. (Soon Stereo albums began to include the caveat: playable on both mono and stereo equipment.)
    The records didn't actually change, but the equipment did.

    Around 1968, when mono LP's began to be phased out, record companied told people the above. By that time, the then current mono "record players" were typically fitted with cartridges/styli that would not harm stereo records. A stereo groove have horizontal AND vertical information, where a mono groove has horizontal information only. The mono equipment from then years past did not allow for proper vertical movement, and could therefore more easily damage a stereo record.

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    That's very interesting information. I think I recall when I was very young that some albums were available in both Mono and Stereo versions when they were released. Some years later they mainly were only released in stereo as far as I know. Stereo seemed to have become much more the vogue from about the mid-1960's onwards when stereo equipment became much more available in specialist shops and the large department stores. Before that, one often saw those little mono record players available which many teenagers had to play their single 45's on. If you wanted to buy good stereo equipment, apart from the hi-fi fanatics who had some wonderful equipment with large glass valves and speakers that sometimes looked like radiators (remember the Quad Electrostatics), it often came in heavy wooden cabinets with heavy speakers, which also sounded very good by the way. Reel to Reel tape recorders were available and in stereo too. By the 1970's they were selling all sorts of stereo record players and hi fi systems and separate units with at least two speakers (and some with four - remember the early quadrophonic) and cassette tapes started becoming more available, although the sound was never accepted as quite as good as on the best record decks. Some commercially released cassettes sounded plain awful, even when they later came out with Dolby Noise Reduction which often only dulled the sound. CD's came out in the early 1980's but it took some years before most artists back catalogues were available on CD in the shops. Now they are piping the music though computers to IPODS. I wonder what will be next?
    JEFFREY

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    Martin as usual is correct. "High Society" came out in Stereo in the early 60's.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Sarbo View Post
    "High Society" came out in Stereo in the early 60's.
    Which means that Where Are You? was released in stereo FIRST (February 1959), even though it was recorded later than High Society.

  18. #18
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    You can tell from the artwork - the stereo copies of High Society have stock Capitol designs like the All the Way stereo LP's. They both have the bold CAPITOL FULL DIMENSIONAL STEREO banner across the top of the cover (like Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!), AND the then newer typeset on the spine (like Come Swing With Me!, hence a 1961 issue. Come Fly With Me in stereo was first issued in 1961 as well. It has the "arrows" stereo logo at the top of the cover, AND the earliest copies were available on the last Capitol logo @ 9 o'clock label.

    I have copies of Only the Lonely that have the very earliest stereo banner at the top of the cover - a relatively plain CAPITOL STEREO RECORD - THE FULL SPECTRUM OF SOUND. Most copies have CAPITOL STEREO THE FULL SPECTRUM OF SOUND (with no mention of RECORD), but some were issued with the earlier banner. I don't know of any copies of Where Are You? with the earlier one. If someone has one, please post!

  19. #19
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    WHERE ARE YOU? 2 Track reel to reel tape

    http://www.pastmasters.us/2track/capitol.html

    CAPITOL 2 TRACK 7.5 IPS (IN-LINE)

    "Capitol Records, long the leader in high-fidelity recording, applies its unexcelled reputation for perfection to the new field of stereo tape recording. Every Capitol tape combines the ultimate in engineering skill and the highest quality manufacturing. These tapes offer outstanding entertainment for your listening pleasure, in a rapidly expanding range of recordings- classical, vocal, jazz, and listening music- all backed by Capitol's reputation for top artists, superb performances, and truly matchless sound"
    - from catalog brochure.

    This list is not complete, but it provides some info... original price for ZF tapes was $14.95. When 4-track came out, they used the same serial numbers as the LP version.

    *
    ZA-1 INTRO TO STEREO
    ZH-2 A STUDY IN STEREO
    ZF-3 L'ITALIA, Dragon
    ZF-4 BOLERO, Slatkin
    ZF-5 SYMPHONIC DANCES, Slatkin
    ZF-6 GYPSY Carmen Dragon
    ZF-7 TOCH THIRD SYMPHONY, Steinberg
    ZH-8 THE ORCHESTRA, Stokowski
    ZF-9 HOUSE OF THE LORD, Roger Wagner Chorale
    ZD10 KENTON IN HI-FI
    ZD11 LOVE IS THE THING Nat King Cole
    ZD12 FRED WARING AND THE PENNSYLVANIANS IN HI-FI
    ZC13 BLACK SATIN, Shearing
    -14
    ZF15 JOY TO THE WORLD, Roger Wagner Chorale
    ZC16 WIDE RANGE, Richards
    ZD17 WHERE ARE YOU, Sinatra

    ZC18 STOLEN HOURS, Jenkins
    ZD19 VELVET BRASS, Gleason
    ZC20 PORTS OF PLEASURE, Baxter
    ZD21 THE STARS IN STEREO
    ZF22 BEETHOVEN 7TH SYMPHONY
    ZF23 BRITTEN/DOHNANYI, Slatkin
    ZF24 RUSSKAYA, Dragon
    ZF25 DEBUSSY/RAVEL, Leinsdorf
    ZF26 DVORAK VIOLIN CONCERTO, Milstein
    ZF27 GLIERE ILYA MOUROMETZ, Stokowski
    ZD28 JUST ON OF THOSE THINGS, Nat King Cole
    ZC29 WILD ABOUT HARRY (JAMES)
    ZC30 JIMMIE LUNCEFORD IN HI-FI
    ZC31 STRINGTIME, Jones, Pittsburgh Symphony Orch
    ZC32 COMPOSER'S HOLIDAY, Les Brown
    ZD33 00000 Jackie Gleason
    ZC34 YOUNG IDEAS, Ray Anthony
    ZF35 LANDMARKS OF A DISTINGUISHED CAREER, Stokowski
    ZF36 OVERTURE, Slatkin
    ZF37 SOUNDS OF WAGNER, Leinsdorf, Concert Arts Sym
    ZF38 A WORLD OF MUSIC, Dragon, Capitol Sym
    ZF39 STARLIGHT CHORALE, Roger Wagner
    ZF40 TCHAIKOVSKY PIANO CONCERTO NO 1, Pennario
    ZF41 THE MUSIC MAN, OC
    ZC42 I WISH YOU LOVE, Keely Smith
    ZC43 RENDEVOUS WITH (STAN) KENTON
    ZC44 ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, Fred Waring
    -45
    -46
    ZC47 SEA OF DREAMS, Nelson Riddle
    -48
    ZF49 STRAVINSKY FIREBIRD/PETRUSHKA, Stokowski, Berlin Philharmonic Orch
    ZF50 CHOPIN BY STARLIGHT, Dragon
    ZF51 FIESTA, Dragon
    ZF52 KHACHATURIAN PIANO CONCERTO, Pennario
    ZF53 GROFE GRAND CANYON SUITE/MISSISSIPPI, Slatkin
    ZF54 OFFENBACH GAITE PARISIENNE, Felix Slatkin, Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orch
    -
    ZF64 LA BELLE FRANCE, Dragon
    ZF66 TCHAIKOVSKI SWAN LAKE, Joseph Levine, Ballet Theatre Orch
    -
    ZF84 VIRTUOSO! Roger Wagner Chorale
    ZD88 THE MILITARY BAND, Felix Slatkin

  20. #20
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    Martin, that's wonderful! I've only just started assembling this "Z" list and here you come with the whole shebang, or just about... Amazing. Thank you so much...

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