Everest Records, 1950's Hi-Fi Label, Returns in Digital Form

Monday, April 22, 2013 - 06:00 PM

Sometime in 1958 – amid the launch of the first Sputnik satellite, the invention of the laser and the debut of the hula-hoop – arrived Everest Records.

This tiny but enterprising record label based in Bayside, Queens briefly captured the attention of classical music devotees with a new technology that eliminated tape hiss in master recordings by eliminating tape. Everest LPs were recorded on three channels and made on 35mm film, considered an improvement over the half-inch tape that was common at the time.

Started by Harry Belock, an inventor who made missile systems for the U.S. military, and Bert Whyte, an audio engineer, Everest engaged a small but starry roster of conductors, orchestras and soloists. Leopold Stokowski, Adrian Boult and Eugene Goosens were among the conductors who led the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony Orchestras. Cover art was often as vibrant and fanciful as the recording fidelity itself.

Everest Records’ lifespan was fleeting, however, and by 1962 it had folded amid financial difficulties.

On Tuesday, more than 50 years later, Everest will rise again. Countdown Media, a licensing arm of BMG, plans to remaster more than 50 albums from the Everest catalog and make them available on iTunes through its "Mastered for iTunes" store, which focuses on albums with higher sound quality. Digital booklets with original cover art and liner notes will accompany each release, which are initially priced at $7.99.

Several of the first dozen reissues are notable for their historical value. They include Adrian Boult and the London Philharmonic performing the first recording of Vaughan Williams's Symphony No. 9, made on the morning of the composer's death in 1958. Aaron Copland conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in one of the two versions he led of his Symphony No. 3. And Hindemith’s Violin Concerto is given its premiere by the LSO with soloist Joseph Fuchs and conductor Goossens.

Technicolor orchestral showpieces were often given special focus. They include one of Stokowski’s later recordings, of Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy with the Houston Symphony, and the Stadium Symphony Orchestra's collection of waltzes by Johann and Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Weber (above right). 

Everest releases have been prized by audiophile collectors who credited the 35mm film with a range of benefits: a wider dynamic range, less distortion, reduced flutter. They have resurfaced before, most recently in 1994, when Vanguard Classics acquired the rights of almost 100 of the original releases for digital transfers to CD (now out of print). Of the new reissues, some have not been available since their initial release, said a label spokesman.

And whatever became of three-channel recording? It happens that the technology was expensive, and in a series of deals, Everest was acquired and its equipment sold off. Yet with the advent of home theater systems, Quadraphonic Sound and later Surround Sound brought multichannel recording back into vogue once again.


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Comments [6]


Just a short answer to David from London. He mentions the DVD-Audio and CD packages from Classic Records. If he owns one of these, he can read on the back side that these recordings are licensed from Countdown Media, who are owner of the catalog and the original master tapes.
The Countdown Media reissues are in fact remastered from the original 3-track master tapes, which can be read on several places in the net, e.g. on the Everest Records website (www.evereststereo.com).
If he had really bought one of those recordings, he also would have known it by reading the booklet...So, this comment is just complete nonsense.

Jun. 07 2013 11:07 AM
david from LONDON

I salute your obvious interest in this label. But the reissue series by Countdown Media is a travesty of the original recording quality relying on two track dubs from the original three track half inch masters or 35mm film masters.
For anybody out there who wants the true sound of Everest, go for the Vanguard reissue by Omega Records in 20bit SBM CD transfer from the original master tapes, or the DVD-Audio and CD packages produced by Classic Records. These are the true audiophile digital transfers and NOT these frankly inferior disappointing and highly exploitative discs by Countdown Media (whoever they are!)


Jun. 02 2013 05:43 PM

Ah, yes, good old Everest LP's. I remember them fondly—bought many a one in the college bookstore as a student back in the 70's. They apparently hung around in inventory for awhile. Re the cover art: "vibrant and fanciful"—well, that's one way of putting it. :-) Thanks for a great article.

Apr. 25 2013 01:10 PM
Christopher Hosford from Riverdale, NY

When I was working my way through school at the Univ of Florida, I took a job at a record store (remember those?), right on University Drive across from Murphree Hall. Everest was a mainstay of our inventory, and while I can't vouch for the other cashiers who spelled me, I can tell you that the LPs I spun while I was on duty, and the music piped through the store, were mainly from Everest. Welcome back!!

Apr. 24 2013 06:47 PM
Paul Blocklyn

I have an old Everest recording from 1960 of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" and "An American in Paris." It featured William Steinberg conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The pianist was Jesus Maria Sanroma.

Apr. 23 2013 11:16 AM
Tim Brown from Washington, DC

Enjoyed your piece about Everest Records, and my family had a couple in our record collection back in the day. Puzzled by your note about "one of Stokowski's last recordings," made in the early 1960s. I thought Stokowski was making records up until his death in 1977. No matter, thanks for the news that Everest Records, and their cover art, are being reborn again.

Apr. 23 2013 07:47 AM

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