Offered for sale is a still sealed copy of the scarce 1959 stereo demonstration LP from Bel Canto records, pressed on multicolored vinyl.
The short-lived Bel Canto Records was a true oddity in the music business. The were founded in the mid-1950s and began as a label that sold only stereo reel to reel tapes. In 1958, they expanded into records, but sold them primarily in stereo, which was quite unusual at a time when mono records outsold stereo records by a ratio of more than 50:1. The label also pressed all of their stereo records on colored vinyl, and they took good care to ensure that their records were well recorded and properly pressed. Another oddity about Bel Canto was that they were owned by Thompson-Ramo-Woolridge (later known as TRW), an aerospace company, rather than a company with any kind of ties to the recording or entertainment industries.
The company was also originally based in Ohio, rather than in New York or California, as were most other record companies.
Most of the Bel Canto artists were relative unknowns in the jazz and pop vocal fields. Artists included sax player Buddy Collette, singer Fran Lacey, big band leader Orrin Tucker and trombonist Si Zentner, who later recorded for Liberty Records. The Bel Canto label wasn’t around long; we haven’t seen any evidence that they ever released more than about 20 titles.
Perhaps the most sought-after title on the label is their first release – the Bel Canto Stereophonic Demonstration Record. Stereo demonstration records were quite popular in the early days of the medium, with lots of emphasis on wide and deep stereo separation and on sound effects and panning.
What mad the Bel Canto Stereophonic Demonstration Record unusual is that it was pressed on spectacular multicolored vinyl, rather than the blue vinyl used for the label’s other stereo albums.
Side one consists of an audio tour of Los Angeles, titled “This Is Stereo,” recorded using a special mobile unit created especially to record this album. Side two consists of tracks from other Bel Canto releases:
The Sounds of an Atomic Explosion
A Trip to the Hollywood Park Races
Riverside Race Track
Southern Pacific Freight Train
A History of Stereo Sound As Compared to High Fidelity
I’ll Take Romance – Si Zentner
You Stepped Out of a Dream – Orrin Tucker
Didn’t It Rain – Evelyn Freeman
Fascination Rag – Larry Fotine
Frivolous Frappe – Orrin Tucker
Oye Negra – Jack Smith
The copy of Bel Canto Stereophonic Demonstration Record offered for sale is brand new and still sealed. The record is presumably new and unplayed multicolored vinyl (we are unaware of any issues of this record that are not on multicolored vinyl.)
The wrap is tight and has only a very minor tear and corner bend at the upper right corner. This is the second issue of the album (SR-2000); the first issue (SR-1000) contained the same material but featured a different cover.
Perhaps the ultimate copy of a fascinating and beautiful record and the only sealed copy we’ve ever seen.
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