I spotted a recent release that will interest many jazz fans: a 9-CD set of the original mono recordings of Miles Davis on Columbia Records. It contains the following albums:
- ‘Round About Midnight
- Miles Ahead
- Jazz Track
- Porgy And Bess
- Kind Of Blue
- Sketches Of Spain
- Someday My Prince Will Come
- Miles And Monk At Newport
As you may know, for these albums, as for other music of the time, the original mixes were made in mono, with the stereo mixes being often rushed out afterwards. Since very few people had stereo playback equipment, mono was the standard. Other artists have released similar sets in recent years: Bob Dylan (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) and The Beatles (Amazon.com, Amazon UK).
It’s interesting to hear these mixes, because they do often have a more refined sound than the stereo mixes (though many stereo remasters are far superior to the original stereo mixes). It’s also a bit of nostalgia: of a time when a record player was a simple device; when you didn’t worry about bit rates and dither; when all that mattered was the music.
If you’re a fan of these artists, you’ll want these releases to compare with the stereo albums you own. You’ll find that, in some cases, the tracks are from different takes, and you’ll certainly find that the music sounds different, because of the way the instruments are prioritized on a one-channel mix.