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Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool...there's no good version on CD!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Fortune, Dec 30, 2008.

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  1. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    I just listened to all three versions of Miles Davis' - "Birth of the Cool" on CD and I don't think any of them are that great.

    And here they are (in chronological order)...

    1) Capitol Jazz CDP 7-92862-2 (C) 1989. Let's call this one the "PREMASTER".

    2) Complete Birth of the Cool CDP 7243 4 94550 2 3 (C) 1998. Let's call this one "COMPLETE".

    3) RVG Edition 7243 5 30117 2 7 (C) 2001. Let's call this one the "RVG".

    Let's go through this...

    The PREMASTER uses the dub reel as it's source. It sounds okay. Not bad, not great. The first few seconds of "VENUS DE MILO" has been cut off though.

    The COMPLETE version also uses the dub reel as it's source. But it sounds like the COMPLETE version also uses some NR on it. There's a "Cello" insignia on the back of the COMPLETE version. Is that some type of NR?

    I will say however that the COMPLETE version despite it's problems sounds the most dynamic. Isn't that weird? There's a drum hit at the beginning of "MOVE" that sounds great on the COMPLETE version. On the RVG version it lacks the same impact.

    Anyway, the RVG version uses the original tapes for the first time. Unfortunately the RVG version features the worst mastering. Even though the songs are in mono it sounds as if they were transfered on a stereo machine. The hiss travels from side-to-side in the stereo picture and the imaging is sometimes funky, like it's stereo, but not. And the EQ is killer! Sounds like lots of top-end boost.

    Also for some strange reason the song "MOVE" has been digitally limited on the RVG version. This appears to be the only song that has been limited like this. Maybe because it's the first track and they wanted it to really grab you? Who knows. Some other tracks feature minor limiting, but none as bad as "Move".

    Has anyone else listened to all three of these versions? I'm surprised in reading some posts from the archives that people actually liked the RVG version. It's awful...but then again, so are the other two, but for different reasons.

    C6H12O6 likes this.
  2. bhazen

    bhazen Fab Fourever

    Newcastle, WA
    Recently got the "premaster" for cheap; good to know I can stop there. Thanks Jason!
  3. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    Not that I endore the premaster. I gravitate to the "complete" version, but they all pretty much suck. :)
  4. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    Ever since the RVG came out many people on a jazz board I frequent seem to prefer it, apparently because it used the original tapes. I never understood why, to my ears the mastering sucks big time. I sold the CD.

    I have a Japanese pressing from 1995 (TOCJ 5953), which is not great, but not bad either.
  5. I agree with you but let's remember that the recording is from 1949, I play the complete mainly.
  6. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I always wondered if the Classic LP version made for a great improvement?
  7. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    Sagamore Beach, Ma
    It's such an old record. Love the recent one for the Syd bonuses.
  8. AaronW

    AaronW Formerly Blackie

    Los Angeles
    Yes, it's the best version I've heard but don't expect miracles. I've had the original pressing on the turquoise high-fidelity label and a later colorband pressing and the Classic is quite an improvement.

    As far as the CD goes I remember years ago there was a thread here and it was a love-fest for the RVG version, I think I was the only one at that time that preferred the Complete CD!
  9. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    Hmm, I'd love to hear the Grundman Classic LP, maybe I'll splurge for it. I'm sure it sounds WAY better than the RVG.
  10. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    And then after you've bopped to it once or twice, bring it over to my house for needle droppin' action. :laugh:
  11. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    I had an original turquoise Capitol long player of this title. I though the sound was very good. But it had some groove wear on my copy which was not acceptable, and so I tossed it up on ebay where it still fetched $75 to a buyer in Japan.

    This is legenday music with a lot of depth. It endures.
  12. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    Don't tempt me. :righton:
  13. SimonSaysCake

    SimonSaysCake Forum Resident

    No love for the Japan black triangle CP32-5181?

    rxcory likes this.
  14. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    I recently listened to this CD for the first time, and absolutely loved it. It is a black triangle - I don't have anything to compare, but assume it is the same as the 89 Capitol referred to in the original post?
  15. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    Is the first second of "Venus De Milo" cut off on it? There should be a note before the cymbal crash.
  16. Guardian

    Guardian Forum Resident

    I have the RVG I got new for $5.99 and I think it sounds okay. Not great or anything but it is such an old recording...
  17. roberts67

    roberts67 Forum Resident

    Pacific Northwest

    I have version 1 and 2 and agree the sound is not that great on either one. The music though is simply amazing. I might have to chase down the Classic version on vinyl. Peace. Robert
  18. Fortune

    Fortune Senior Member Thread Starter

    The thing is...the problems with the RVG don't seem to be inherent in the original recordings...stereo transfer of mono tapes, huge top end boost, harsh digital limiting, etc...
  19. Hello Hans,

    I have also a Japanese pressing with catalog number TOCJ-5301 from 1989. It has a total of 16 tracks (I think the last four tracks are from another album/different session with Tadd Dameron as the leader but are from the same time period and sort of match with the rest of the album).

    I have not compared this version to any other version, but to me it sounds decent, especially for a recording from 1949/1950.

    Have you ever compared your Japanese CD to the one I have?
  20. privit1

    privit1 Forum Resident

    I have PREMASTER and COMPLETE and prefer the COMPLETE version although only for extra tracks. There is not that much difference to my ageing ears.
  21. bresna

    bresna Forum Resident

    York, Maine
    Isn't this a pre-tape recording? That would mean that the masters are discs. Most disc sources need some NR, if only to clean up any obvious defects.
    Theadmans likes this.
  22. J.A.W.

    J.A.W. Music Addict

    According to the True Blue Music site Rudy Van Gelder used the original tapes for his remaster:

    "The original tapes of each tune have recently been discovered. And they sound considerably better. Rudy Van Gelder returned to these masters, transferred them in 24-bit to digital and worked his sonic magic on them."

    The RVG is certainly no "sonic magic" to my ears... :)
  23. Same thing exists w/ the Experience Remasters of the Hendrix catalog.
    They used the master, and then CRUSHED it. So, in defiance we're all listening to
    20 y.o. cds made in Europe from 3rd-6th gen tapes. Same old song.

    As for BOTC, I still play my 1976 Capitol (yellow label) vinyl w/ the ugly
    watercolor portrait on the cover. It sounds pretty good, it may however be missing
    those notes that Jason complained about, I'm not sure.
  24. I only have THE COMPLETE version, but I do appreciate everybodies comments on this classic title.
  25. Glad I'm not the only one that feels this way about this album. I thought I was losing my mind...someone recommended the pre remaster some time ago and I didn't think it sounded that much better.
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