Steely Dan Aja vinyl shootout

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sam, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Paul P.

    Paul P. Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA, USA
    It depends how the record contract is written. If the artist retains ownership of the tapes - like Neil Young for instance - then they are responsible for keeping/losing them. However - if the label owns them - then generally - the tapes are cataloged and stored in the label's vault "for easy retrieval" ;). This is where things can get lost if the label changes owners, etc. (like ABC Dunhill --> MCA). The band would have little to no control over these tapes. My guess is that Steely Dan owns their latest tapes, but not the ABC/MCA stuff.

    Occasionally, the studio itself makes safety copies before they send off the recordings. I've heard of this happening from time to time - depends on the studio and their tape archival policies.

    Sometimes you can use the system to your advantage. I do remember a story about Felix Pappalardi checking in the original 3 channel multitracks for Live Cream as the released mastered album, therefore surviving the 1978 Atlantic Vault fire. (Can't find the reference for that online though - so feel free to call me out if I'm remembering incorrectly.)

    Cheers,
    Paul
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
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  2. Joe071

    Joe071 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sarajevo
    I read somewhere on this forum that Yugoslav pressing is the one to go to. I used to have that one and remember it suffering from the blanket-over-the-speakers syndrome so typical for the Yugoslav pressings. It's highly unlikely they used anything but a high generation dupe.
     
  3. fab4

    fab4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    France
    Hello,
    Sorry to bump this topic, but I am wondering which release I've just bought.
    It is an american release (Printed in USA), non gatefold cover, insert with lyrics, ABC Records multi color label.
    I think it is a first press because it has the cat. n° AB 1006 on the spine and labels. But I don't think I have the matrix numbers that you are refering to. Mine are handwritten and are :

    side 1 : AB 1006 . A . E 928
    side 2 : AB 1006 . B . E 929

    the A and B before the E look difficult to read, they don't look like the same as "AB 1006", they look like a bad handwritten R.
    Any thoughts ? Thank you !
     
  4. GreatTone

    GreatTone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    I believe the AB matrix indicates a first press, but every AB (and also every subsequent AA for that matter) have had a gatefold cover. If you are familiar with Bernie Grundman's writing style (he mastered the original), then you could tell that way. His numbers are almost like a serif font.
     
  5. fab4

    fab4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    France
    Thank you for your answer. Unfortunatly i have any other record mastered by B.Grundman. if you have Aja, would you mind to send me a picture of the etching deadwax in order to compare the handwritting ? I would be greatful.
     
  6. GreatTone

    GreatTone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    I don't really have a setup to photograph something like that. If you post a photo of yours, I can tell you if it's BG's. Also, you may be able to find a photo online somewhere.
     
  7. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Forum Resident

    I must have 6 or 7 copies of Aja but just bought a sealed Cisco version. Can't wait to compare it to the MOFI & US AB 1006, which is most certainly BG style script, although mine is RE-3. As it stands, the US AB 1006 stands above all my other versions. (CDN ABC, CDN MCA, CDN LTD edition coloured Vinyl, US ABC, US MCA & the MOFI.)
     
  8. GreatTone

    GreatTone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    I'll be interested to hear about the Cisco. I didn't get it when it came out due to wildly varying opinions on it. I opted for the Japanese reissue that came out at that time. I think it was cut from digital, but it sounds really, really good -- a little more detailed than the original, and very clear. I still find myself playing the original. RE-3 is the first pressing, btw.
     
  9. richarm

    richarm Well-Known Member

    Location:
    UK
    Any views out there on the best UK vinyl?
     
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    I've not compared too many but the usual earliest cut is best seems to apply. The A2/B2 being the earliest I've found to date. There are quite a few label variations for this one, plus there's a point where the gatefold sleeve is replaced by a cheaper single sleeve.
     
  11. mike catucci

    mike catucci Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    I love this album and recently purchased the AA 1006 thinking it was the best only to find out the AB 1006 is the one I really want. I have to say the AA sounds darn good though. I'm looking to get a good copy off eBay of the AB but can anyone tell me what the current Universal UK Import Back to Black version offered at Music Direct is and how it compares quality wise? I have tried researching this newest vinyl version but cannot find much at all on it.
     
  12. rob303

    rob303 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I've scoured the internet and cannot find the indicator for the Santa Maria plant. Can anyone offer some help on this? I have three AB copies and recently snagged one with 1A scribed on both sides. I'd love to know what plant it came from!
     
  13. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Forum Resident

    I have to say, I also passed on the Cisco when it came out as well. My US first sounded really good and it was easy to dismiss a high priced reissue when the original sounded so good. But the Cisco sounds better. Is it worth the difference between hunting for the magic AB first US for 5 or 10 bucks and hoping it plays well or dropping 75-100 on the Cisco? That's for the buyer to decide but at the end of the day and many years later, for me it was. I like the shimmer and sheen of the Cisco high end and I think the bass is more...accurate, especially when you're pushing the volume. Compression can be a sexy beast and I think that's what makes the US first cut sound so good. Let's face it, it's a very highly processed album to start with. But when I compare these two, especially with the volume up, the Cisco wins out.

    BTW- I did a count and actually have 8 copies of this!
     
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  14. RelayerNJ

    RelayerNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Whippany, NJ
    Framer tends to favor reissues over originals in many of his recent reviews. Recently picked up an AA scratch out B and love it. I also like the mfsl. It's a different listening experience. I might have to compare with a Cisco. I've seen enough used ciscos for sale to lead me to believe many of you are not alone with your disappointment.

    Reading through this thread, there seems no definitive answer on the master tape, and whether AB and AA cross out are identical, use same source tapes, etc. No one knows exactly when he tapes were lost either to confirm the the change in tape use (or does anyone?) he op and fremer don't like AA and one person sonically compared AB and the cross out with identical results. Hmm.....
     
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  15. DangerousKitchen

    DangerousKitchen Forum Resident

    I have them all and I make no mistake, the Cisco is just incredible. To me. I think the main reason you see Cisco's for sale is purely for profit. If you bought the Cisco when they came out you paid $30/40 and you can now sell them after having enjoyed them for 7 or 8 years for $100 and buy a "good enough" AB for $10/20 and live with the groove noise of 70's inferior quality vinyl, etc.

    I usually place myself squarely in the original pressing camp but I really think you owe it to yourself to borrow or buy one of those Cisco's.
     
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  16. GreatTone

    GreatTone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Falls Church, VA
    This weekend I compared the Japanese Universal reissue with a NM original AB. I played the Japanese first, and thought it sounded really good. Then I followed it with the original...suddenly the Japanese wasn't sounding so hot in comparison. The original was miles ahead in warmth, realism, and especially, in each voice/instrument occupying its own 3D space. The Japanese sounded flat and a bit pale in comparison. The vinyl was about the same in terms of noise level on both, ie, there was hardly any. At the time I bought the Japanese version, I chose it over the Cisco due to various reviews. Now I'm wishing I had made a different choice.

    Recently, I have had the same experience with reissues cut from digital -- it sounds great on its own, but compare it to an all-analogue version, and the one cut from digital suddenly seems flat and washed-out in comparison. Very recently in the same store I happened on the new In the Court of the Crimson King reissue, which was cut from hi-rez, and a 1970s German copy. Same thing -- I played the new reissue first, and it sounded great. Played the German version and couldn't believe how much better it sounded.
     
  17. RelayerNJ

    RelayerNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Whippany, NJ
    I've heard it once some years ago and from what I remember, I liked it, but it lacked a certain "airiness" found on the original. I do want to give it another try though.
     
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  18. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I choose AB1006 all the way, so much so that I just sold my Cisco (and only broke even). The Cisco while certainly a nice sounding record. IMO lacks the air in the room and energy I hear on the first pressing, it has that"polite" quality that some of the recent MFSL remasters I've heard also have. When I first learned of the Cisco last year I was very excited to get a hold of one but sadly was disappointed in it from the first listen. I also have a well pressed version of the European "Back to Black" edition from 2008 that sounds very nice and is quite affordable, the mastering credit is hand etched on Side 2: Greg Moore @ Masterpiece. I've heard that Back to Blacks vary wildly in quality so either I got lucky or their edition of "Aja" was just one of the better ones all around. I found a great part of the album to compare versions is the featured drum solo on "Aja", when you've got a good pressing it's just so REAL!
     
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  19. RelayerNJ

    RelayerNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Whippany, NJ
    Ok, my label reads "AA 1006" but the dead wax reads"AB 1006" side A and AA B cross out side 2. What the heck is this?? I assume everyone is reading deadwax. If so, are people listening to AB copies have it written on both sides of dead wax?
     
  20. Pappas3278

    Pappas3278 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New York City
    That's the case where the 2nd press (new catalog#), if you will, uses original first press stampers. They just cross out the 'B' and etch in an 'A'. Voila!
     
  21. RelayerNJ

    RelayerNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    Whippany, NJ
    OK, but AB is on the first side (I'm assuming AB is on both sides for first press). If it's a 2nd press, why doesn't it have the cross out on both sides?
     
  22. Pappas3278

    Pappas3278 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New York City
    Side1 and Side2 are two separate pieces of metal and would not likely be coordinated at pressing time. That 'AB' stamper just might have been missed by factory. Either way you've got yourself a "first press" copy. Enjoy it!
     
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  23. rob303

    rob303 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Anyone?!
     
  24. MYKE

    MYKE Offended By The Easily Offended

  25. scoutbb

    scoutbb Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Abbeville, LA
    I have a AA promotional copy with B scratched out in deadwax.
    It also has 0798 on spine. Anyone knows what this means?
     

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