Electric Recording Co. - Jazz (Re-releases)
A while back, I read in a forum about this label with their super expensive records and I did check them out. I'm not a classical music fan (I can listen to some of it, but that's about the extent of it), and that was, as I remember, all they had on offer. I knew from other sources, that their product was supposed to be amazingly good, a lot of detail and care going into the production of these re-releases. All valve (and of course all analogue), sleeve redone (not a scan of an old issue), going as far as tracking down the original photograps and relettering the text as per the original specifications.
There's some informational video on their website. What you get is a top product, that comes at a price. No discussion or trying to downplay this fact. Haptically, this is simply an amazing product, record (no scuffs as with other "audiophile" labels), proper innersleeve, thick cardboard sleeve, OBI style wrap-around, ERC embossed protective sleeve and a certificate.
And then, they started with Jazz records. I listen to Jazz from Be-Bop upwards, but my main genre in Jazz is certainly Free Jazz, Avantgarde, Noise, Industrial and Experimental, but Be-Bop is never far away. Although I have to admit, I'm not listening to any Jazz pre-Be-Bop. Maybe Bop on a good day, the rest is not for me. I wasn't sure wether to buy one record, just for the heck of it, because they are asking serious money. In the end I put the cash down and bought their latest release at the time, Jackie McLean's "Lights Out!" and despite the cash that went out the window, I was (and still am) extremely satisfied with what I got.
What I had to do then, I bought myself another "audiophile" release by another label, to compare both LPs side by side. I'm not too good at it, but I wanted to give it a try and have done ever since. One of the reviews I read, warned the reader, not to expect a sunrise, but rather the best possible performance you can have on vinyl. I can confirm this, you have to realise, that there is no mastering done, no remixing, no nothing of the fancy stuff you get these days. It's a beautifully crafted item, that's it! Needless to say, so I say it anyway, no background noise to speak of (with vinyl you always have a certain low level), and absolutely no crackling or pops. I don't expect the record to hold up the quality forever, because the, frankly, medieval manufacturing process and the needle of a cartridge ploughing through the groove, don't really help to preserve an LP (unless you're forking out for one of these Japan turntables that work via laser, but it'll be digital in the end - and peace for your mind, because your record will survive it without detoriation - if you can afford to cough up this kind of money - we're talking about a very expensive record player).
My set-up is good, but there's nothing "audiophile" about it, nor is it "high end" per se. But for whatever it is, I can still enjoy those ERC records. Some time back, in fact because of the ERC releases, I bought myself a dedicated Mono MC and since I don't have two decks, I always need to change the cartridges. One other drawback, my amp doesn't do Mono, it's Stereo only. Apparently, there's a world of difference, listening to Mono on a Stereo System (amp and loudspeakers). But truth be told, I don't have that many Mono records to shell out for a complete second set-up gear-wise.
Up to now, my second choice, to compare these records with, had always been AP. The latest however, Bill Evans "Sunday At The Village Vanguard", is a bit of a problem. AP apparently had released this LP as well, but it seems hard to come by. My solution now, I have a MFSL One-Step copy that'll have to do.
There are, in the above example of Jackie McLeans "Lights Out!", some subtle differences between ERC and AP. There's at least one track on the latter release, that has a more pronounced noise level (must have been the tape) and I got the feeling, that Bass and Drums are somewhat clearer on the former. Actually, the problem here is, that one is trying to find a difference, there must be one, you paid of lot more for one LP than for the other. This is the same everywhere, human nature. And yet, we all know, more expensive doesn't always equal better.
At the time of writing this, I've bought all of ERC's Jazz releases, with the exception of Tommy Flanagan's Trio "Overseas". Somehow I was a bit late and some of their offers sell out quite fast. The main market must be in the Far East, because the brochure that came with one of the LPs is written in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. Says a lot in fact.Just a word of caution, don't buy these if you're planning on reselling on the secondary market. I might be wrong, but I don't see any chance for a price hike. If anything, you're likely to sell below your cost price. Buy these items and enjoy them.
P.S: Recently, ERC started to issue Mono and Stereo releases of their Jazz output, cutting it down to 150 copies of each. Standard (Mono or Stereo only) releases are numbered to 300. Talk about limited.