Crazy Good Vinyl recording fidelity on COMMAND label

I’ve always wondered why those cheesy but cool looking covers from the 60’s have recordings that sound so darn good. Command records. You probably have some already. I did a deep dive today and found out some cool info regarding their 35MM recordings.

I should point out that being an ex drummer. I’m a bit more interested in the percussion aspects than most folks. One of the cool but slightly unknown Enoch Light albums he did was a tribute to the Beatles. There are quite a few on eBay at the moment.

Everything below is from a variety of online sources.

35mm recordings were severely expensive to make. Those custom Westrex machines and their custom heads were over triple the price of an Ampex 300-3 back then. Magnetic film was triple the cost of 1/2" Scotch 111. And the industry was going from 3 tracks to 4 tracks, on 1/2" tape and 1” 8 track was already being used by a few studios. Command primarily was the last user of 35mm magnetic film, and ABC/Paramount Records bought the label from Enoch Light in 1965. Enoch Light stayed with the label until the late 1960's and then founded Project Records.

Even with all of his ping pong and other gimmicks Enoch did try to faithful capture the actual live sound of the instruments. He wasn't a fraud to use a ribbon mic to capture the faithful sound of an instrument where a condenser mic might add too much emphasis to high frequencies. He was very careful in choosing his mic and the way he grouped sections of musicians to get an accurate blend. He was not only a great musician, but had a great ear. I really enjoyed some of his classical symphonic recordings. He had a real ear for how percussion instruments should be captured.

From what I've been able to determine, the 35mm gear used by Everest, Mercury and Command was actually the same exact machine, sold from one label to the next for various reasons. So while it may appear that lots of labels were doing this, it was in reality just one at a time. Of course there was nothing stopping them from pressing records form master tapes made with 35mm film long after they sold the stuff...
Those custom 35MM machines were built by Westrex for Belock Recording, the original owner of the Everest label. When they went kaput, I believe Bob Fine was the purchaser, who used them for many recordings for Mercury, Command and others.

Enoch Light created Grand Award, which marketed many cheesy albums in the late '50s - early '60s before morphing into Command (and making a fortune!).
A great example of how many different things are going on and always changing over time. Equipment, materials, technique and a whole lotta skill goes into a record. Would love to know a backstory like this for one of my favorites, Sinatra-Basie. But I am not up to your historical-archeological skill level! Well done. Thanks!
The Command label is good sounding stuff if you like the genres. Most of the offerings are background music for a period movie.

I have several LP’s. For me, they are more kitsch or to play for another audiophool to appreciate.

I have some of the Classical pieces, and a few other things. I don’t think there are many fans left to appreciate " The Doc Severinsen Sextet(Johnny Carson) or pre wrecking crew guitarist Tony Mottola.

Now, if some of my Zeppelin,Stones and Who were done this way, that’s another thread.


Since you're a drummer, you might want to be on the lookout for Audio Fidelity label LP's. Another early audiophile press company.

I buy obscure stuff and a recent find is this

they have some psychedelic tunes, but they're harder to find. one of the band recorded by command label fresign theatre  
Everest was well known for their 35mm recordings issued on LP, many engineered by Audio Magazine writer/reviewer Bert Whyte. I started buying every copy I found in my crate-digging days (1970's-90's), available for peanuts unlike the more-famous RCA Living Stereo (particularly the "shaded dog" pressings) and Mercury Living Presence LP's (which became rather expensive after Harry Pearson started mentioning them in his TAS reviews).
Command records huh. I never knew about them till recently a lady gave  me five of Doc's recordings of which any of them I don't believe has ever been played. Absolutely the best stuff I have. And also one of Tony Mottola. I wish The buddy Rich album she gave me also was the same label. Good stuff. 
Everest records were recorded well but their pressings were cheaply done. There are Everest reissues that were remastered from the original tapes, so they may be worth looking into. I like Folkway's records but they've been difficult for me to find.

Thanks again  1111art

Was not cognizant of this process. Many are still available very reasonably. They DO sound wonderful. No need to pay up for curated copies.

Appreciate the heads up.