Blue Note inner sleeves can be helpful fixing the year of issue of Blue Note records. Prior to 1962, Blue Note inner sleeves were a simple plain white, now yellowed with age.The inner sleeve pictured below is actually a 1980′s King Japanese replica of a 1963 inner sleeve, for it’s special “Masterpiece” series (Dexter Gordon, Our man in Paris).
In the period 1962-6, inner sleeves became a marketing tool to promote the Blue Note catalogue, bearing the legend “27/26/25 Years of Blue Note” for the years 1964, 65 and 66 respectively, and no date for 1962-3. (click below to enlarge) The records featured on the inner sleeve changed from time to time, and are found on both sides.
Inners were liable to be swapped around between records, and are probably the least reliable factor in dating Blue Note pressings. They are more useful in confirming suspicion that a records is a later subsequent pressing. Any record first released in 1957-9 which turns up with New York labels and a 1965 inner sleeve is almost certainly going to be a later pressing, albeit still an “original” Blue Note. And these are a lot more common than first pressings.
A fair number of final 1966 stock turn up on re- issues by Liberty, who parsimoniously used up all pre-printed Blue Note stocks before printing their own corporate inner sleeve in a brave attempt to emulate the Blue Note approach.
United Artists tenure from 1970 produced the stylish Blue Note Wallpaper sleeve with inbuilt polythene lining, introduced in 1973. Collector advice: polythene lined sleeves have a notorious record for causing vinyl to “sweat” causing irreparable damage, and should be archived in the jacket, and the record placed in modern inners ie archivally inert mylar antistatic inner (Nagaoka-style) sleeve, and an acid-free paper outer.
The wallpaper inner sleeve was used up to the 1980 take over by EMI, who replaced it with the “Blue Note Story” inner sleeve. The EMI sleeve gives an illuminating history of Blue Note written by Michael Cuscuna,, but the EMI Capitol Manhatten period pressings are so poor that I don’t own one at this time.