WHEN DIGITAL WAS BETTER THAN DIGITAL


January 19, 1981
Venice, California

Clark Terry, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Art Hillery, John Heard, Roy McCurdy, and George Smith lay down some bouncin' tracks inside Spectrum Studios and these tracks become the LP, "Yes, The Blues" on Norman Granz's PABLO label.

The recording system was what has been described in the LA Times of that era as "Sony's PCM Digital recording system" - I haven't found any specifications for it, or even specific references to the machine models themselves.

Like so many of the Pablo recordings, with special reference to the 'Digital" Pablo recordings, these were released to LP only as CD had yet to emerge as a commercial format.

I'm not entirely sure as to when they became available on CD for the first time.

But I'm entirely sure, based on my own listening (and preferences) that this "digital" recording, when played back on LP, outclasses just about every CD release I owned or otherwise heard throughout the 1980's and early to mid 90's. There were some exceptions, of course - notably from audiophile labels - but no exceptions from the general market filling the shelves with CDs.

We tend to think that the march of technology is always to the benefit, toward improvement, and that this kind of iterative evolutionary process will always lead to results that are superior to the outcomes that predated the new iterations. But this isn't necessarily so, and I'm using the "Pablo Today" digital recordings as an example to demonstrate that the older 'digital' technology used for recording these sessions produced - in my opinion, of course - results far superior than anything I heard in the decade (or more) of 'digital evolution' that came after it.

In the 36 years since this album was recorded, the quality of playback - the delightfulness of the sound - exceeds many of the 21st century digital recordings I own and listen to. (the red vinyl is nicely sexxy, too ...)

Pablo LPs are usually pretty inexpensive to buy, so if you've a mind to - go find yourself a copy of "Yes, The Blues" and listen for yourself.

I'd love to know what you think of this record.

Chris Sommovigo September 18, 2017