Prestige Label Guide

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An Audiophile Guide to the Prestige Label

The LJC Prestige Label Cheat Sheet v2.1

1. First “Fireworks” Label (1955-8) 446 W. 50th ST., N.Y.C. address

Battle of the Titans: Alfred Lion’s Blue Note vs Bob Weinstock’s Prestige, with master engineer Rudy Van Gelder running with both  the hare and the hounds. After some years issuing 10″ microgroove records (and 78′s in the case of Blue Note) , in the mid 50′s both independent  jazz labels moved into the new 12″ format, marked by Prestige with the Yellow/Black “Fireworks” Label.

Example below, one of the first 12-inch microgroove LPs from Prestige manufactured 1956, Van Gelder mastered - hand-written initials RVG -  and pressing by Abbey Manufacturing (AB)

7044-miles-collectors-sA-1000

The NYC label ran for two years and issued many  historically important recordings of Bop, notably Miles Davis, many of which went on to second and subsequent pressing, hence the stature of the NY label as the mark of  early pressings. Illustrated below  are two copies of early title – PRLP 7094 Miles Davis Cookin’ – the first  on NY label, the second a later pressing on NJ label.

There is no way of knowing whether the NY example below belongs to the very first batch pressed. It was very probably pressed during the two year currency of the NY label, though later pressings are sometimes found with earlier labels. It can be most safely described as an “early pressing”.The term “later pressing” is probably the most accurate way to describe what is clearly not a first pressing but still an “original Prestige”, that is, from within the period of Prestige Records ownership, prior to its sale to Fantasy Records in the early Seventies..

Prestige-early-and-later-pressing-

The audio quality of these very first 12-inch recordings on the NY label is generally excellent – recorded and mastered in most cases by van Gelder, though the earliest releases can sound a little “boxed in” due to the limited dynamic range of very early microphones, which improved dramatically towards the later Fifties.

The only criticism made is the quality of the music, which on some titles was an unrehearsed “blowing session”. Weinstock was not as fastidious a producer as Alfred Lion at Blue Note, who funded rehearsal time, supervised recording sessions along side Rudy Van Gelder, and often rejected takes according to his own musical judgement. Weinstock focused on business, which sacrificed long-term quality for short-term financial return.

2. Second  Fireworks Label (1958-64)  203 South Washington Ave., Bergenfield N.J.

In 1958, Prestige moved to new offices and introduced the Second Fireworks label – with a Bergenfield N.J. address.

7166-Miles-Davis-workin-label-12000PRLP 7141 Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis “The Eddie Davis Cookbook”, was the first release bearing the new NJ address, though particular title is found with both NJ and previously printed NY labels (seen below)

PRLP7141-NYC-and-NJ-labels

PRLP 7142 Coltrane’s Soultrane is the first title found exclusively on the second Fireworks label, obviously different label print runs. The economics of US national distribution meant increasingly, record labels would have copies pressed at different strategic locations, East Coast, West Coast, and Central US, and quite possibly these variations are geographical and not a function of chronology

7142-NJ-High-Fidelity--Coltrane-Soultrane-ochre-

The colour variation above are separate print runs: Yellow-Ochre and Lemon Yellow – and in this sample, proper case “High Fidelity” on one and .”HIGH FIDELITY” capitalised on the other. Prestige used a variety of pressing plants and likely different label print suppliers.

As with Blue Note, the confounding factor in dating Prestige pressings is the use of surplus stock of printed labels on later pressings. Below a later pressing caught in transition, the label on one side a legacy of its earlier pressing, illustrating the manufacturing practice of cannibalising labels left over from earlier pressings.

7121-NY-sA-NJ-sB--Mose-Alison-local-colour

Prestige “re-issues”

As interest in artists like Miles Davis increased, Prestige pressed further copies of their early titles, this time on NJ labels (these later pressings are probably more commonly found).  Further copies of popular titles released after 1958 were repressed during  the six years the second Fireworks label was in use, and new titles on NJ address label may be an early pressing or later pressings themselves.

The term “Reissue” is often used ambiguously in record collecting. With Prestige, when a recording was formally “reissued” it was allocated a new catalogue number, and around one hundred early Prestige releases were reissued, including most of the first  hundred of the 7000 series catalogue . Thus, PRLP 7012 Miles Davis  “Dig” was reissued as PRLP 7281 “Diggin’”. However the so-called “re-issue” was pressed with the original Van Gelder metalwork for PRLP 7012, annotated with the new catalogue number. You may have a new catalogue number, new cover design and new label, but you are effectively listening to the original pressing.

7281-Miles-diggin-reissue-of-7012-label-1000

Pressing more copies of a record, to my mind, does not of itself constitute a “reissue”, though it is of more than passing interest to those who seek to collect coveted “First Pressings”. I prefer the term “reissue” to be reserved for circumstances where another record label manufactures copies under license, or a successor organisation republishes earlier recordings from its acquired catalogue.

“HI FI” and “HIGH FIDELITY”

Across the life of the Fireworks label, mono releases initially adopted the term HI FI, later expanded to HIGH FIDELITY, with some variation in spelling and font capitalisation in the transition.

Prestige-Label-Variations-Hi-Fi

In general, NY labels use “HI FI” and NJ labels use “HIGH FIDELITY”, though there are several variations generally around the period of transition. When more labels were printed for a later pressing on the new NJ label, the earlier format “HI FI” is often retained i.e. the label is identical except for the change of address.

These variations are not tied to any known variation in sound quality and are not helpful in dating pressings as they show little consistency. The audio quality of NJ pressings is generally very high, within the golden era of vinyl quality production. They benefit enormously from improvements in microphone dynamic range and recording equipment, and of course the engineering skills of  Van Gelder and his studios.

Go here for a “helicopter view” of variation in the Fireworks Label, created from a sample of 45 record label shots uploaded to Discogs.

3. Fireworks stereo label – NJ –  black/silver –  late Fifties

To welcome the eventual arrival of stereo at Prestige, the black and silver fireworks label was introduced. (Prestige’s UK licensee Esquire only ever pressed mono editions). The only copy I had seen and auditioned had been pressed with recycled vinyl, hissing badly throughout, so I never got an opinion on the stereo quality. The choice of titles for stereo release seems to have been mainly “old school” power  sax players –  Arnett Cobb, Jimmy Forrest, Gene Ammons and Eddie Lockjaw Davis are noted in the Discogs listing, which doesn’t increase its attraction.

7151-stereo-arnett-cobb-800

Early stereo is not always a good experience, often with only a very primitive concept of “soundstage”. Front line solo instruments would be placed either extreme left or right and not centre as you might expect, and the rhythm section oddly skewed, with perhaps piano and bass centre but drums on the far right. It can add up to an unsettling listening experience  and accounts for some collectors preference for mono at this time, though no doubt it has its fans. Early mixing consoles offered a simple choice of position – left, right or centre. Engineers like Roy duNann at Contemporary and Fred Plaut at Columbia had a much more sophisticated approach which delivered up a superior stereo presentation as early as the late Fifties, and stereo is the the preferred edition, according to taste.

There is alo a detailed argument among stereophiles as to integrity of the “recording intent” – where mono editions were created by folding down a recording made originally in stereo, which should be heard as intended.  One area of agreement however is recordings “electronically engineered to simulate stereo” which should be avoided like the plague. Universally dreadful, unsucessful in stereo presentation, and the original dynamics ruined in the process. Good only for coasters.

4. New Jazz

A Prestige new release label employed 1958 – 1964 (series 8200 – 8300)

New Jazz – a Prestige label sometimes marred by the random presence of recycled vinyl among releases. Some pressings are perfectly fine, others have the dreaded background hiss throughout. There is no consistency – even the same title can be found with hissy copies and not hissy. It all depends on whether the raw vinylite delivered to the pressing plant that week had been bulked up with recycled vinyl or not. To Weinstock, reducing the cost of vinyl seemed just good business, unaware of the consequences for future generations with Hi Fi. ( In a recent interview, Weinstock, long since retired and moved to Florida, he has  fallen for the  mainstream but uninformed opinion that vinyl is bad old-fashioned and we have progressed to better sounding technology – the CD, and now the download.)

European editions of these titles may be preferred as they do not suffer the same problem, though sometimes there is no option. The music and engineering is nevertheless superb and some artists are found only on the New Jazz label.

5. The Prestige Specialty Labels – Moodsville, Swingville and Bluesville

Often with RVG initials in the runout, these are Prestige proper recordings

Swingville

(Swingville picture courtesy of Bob Djukic)

Moodsville

Bluesville

(Bluesville picture courtesy of Bob Djukic)

Sound every bit as good as Prestige of the same period. As to why these specialty labels were introduced, the story has been told that Weinstock created these new labels not as a stroke of marketing genius, but as a device to reduce tax liabilities on sales on his primary label. Possibly true, but sums owing to the IRS has never been a good indicator as to the quality of music.

6.  The failed revolution – 16 rpm

Just as the 12″ LP replaced the 10″ single by extending playing time, in the late Fifties Prestige lanched an innovation planned to double the length of playing time, by halving the record speed. Whilst quite suited to the spoken word, 16rpm was a disaster to the quality of music, and within a dozen titles, disappeared. The innovation that would embraced by the public in the next few years was not length of playing time, but Stereo.

(16rpm picture courtesy of Bob Djukic)

6.The Trident Label 1964 – 1971

The Blue Label/Silver Trident was the primary label format successor to the yellow/ black fireworks label from 1964, adopted both for new releases and reissues of earlier titles.

Example 1.

Example below illustrates typical runout engravings – Van Gelder mastering (early handwritten form “RVG”), Abbey Manufacturing pressing plant (“AB”) and catalogue number updates (original scratched out, reissue catalogue number added, A/B side error correction)

Example 2.

Example 2 above, a reissue of an earlier New Jazz title,  showingboth New Jazz and Prestige catalogue numbers. The Blue/ silver trident audio quality is generally superb, with wide dynamic range and engaging presence.Reissues are especially great value, being pressed with metalwork derived from the original master, but not considered as collectible and therefore no where near as expensive.

Stereo label – Blue (1964)

Exists in two known variations – with and without deep groove, and variation in position of the silver trident

(Photo courtesy of Albert of Ohio)

 Mono Label – Gold

Stereo Label – Black

Stereo editions account for a large proportion of variations in label design – colours and position of trident, whether enclosed within a circle as a  logo, and of course the word “STEREO” to be fitted in.

7.Prestige’s “budget label” Status 1960′s

Difficult to see what was budget apart from saving on ink, providing minimal information saved nothing, but made it look budget. Working in Marketing in the Seventies, the big fear was always “cannibalisation”. You wanted all the sales you could get at the premium price, and extra sales at the budget price, without losing the one to the other. Extra effort was incurred to make things look less attractive. More marketing genius from Weinstock.

9. Modern Prestige 1971+

In 1971 what remained of the Weinstock empire of Prestige was sold to new owners, Fantasy Records of Los Angeles California. In the years that followed Fantasy flooded the market  with re-issues from the Prestige Catalogue, variously attributed to “Fantasy Records” or “Prestige Records”, cover address Berkley California, Tenth and Parker to be found on label and cover.

A pale shadow of their former glory, they are generally feeble pressings – often better  to buy the CD to listen to, and the LP for the cover art. From time to time I have “chanced it” for a filler and mostly disappointed.

Though exasperatingly, not always. Around the very beginning of the transition from Prestige to Fantasy, dated around 1972, we find some pressings still bearing the VAN GELDER machine stamp:

Prestige-Green-label-VAN-GELDER-900-LJC

The original Prestige catalogue number, van Gelder stamp, hands up to “Distributed by Fantasy Records” rather than an opportunist claim to be Prestige Records, but only 117gm vinyl. Five years previously the above record was released, looking like this:

Sonny-Chris-Portrait-of-Stereo--original-trident-Prestige-labels-1800-LJC

(Source: Discogs, retouched by LJC)

Looks like early days, Fantasy cranked out reissues using old stock Prestige covers from the original release, and repressed using the original stampers, so producing a record which is a very close relative of the original.

The dreaded OJC Reissue – 100gm vinyl weight

To be continued…

abbeyad

firtst-press-records-caphighlight

http://fipres.com  (go to tab called “Guide)

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Prestige in Europe

90 thoughts on “Prestige Label Guide

  1. This is truly of help to me..I now have a relative value to base my thinking on..
    Thank you once again..
    Mike.

  2. Hello,and thank you for your further clarification..It would seem the lable was quite erratic
    in regard to visual consistency and perhaps quality control…I would doubt anyone back then realized that collectors, such as we are would be scrutinizing every nook and cranny of their
    production..
    On the good side of it all, they certainly had a taste for solid jazz artists and put forth a wonderful number of memorable recordings..A mixed legacy I suppose…

    Yes mine has the all red cover. As you suggest, if they cannot fetch a decent price I would opt to keep it and give it a spin now and then..
    Once again may I thank you for your input.
    Mike.

  3. In the “fireworks” label era, label typesetting for Prestige (right up to about 1963-64) was handled by Co-Service Printing Co. of Newark, NJ, a printer that handled many labels over the years including US Decca (from the 1940′s up to 1956), RCA Victor (East Coast pressings from late 1955 to early 1959; 45 pressings through late 1957 with their typesetting bear the infamous “horizontal line” below the “black label, dog on top” logohead), ABC-Paramount (45′s generally between 1956 and 1964), Elektra (c.1955-59), and a few other small labels. After 1964, we hear nothing from Co-Service in Billboard International Buyer’s Guides, but the fonts used by that printer turned up on an almost exclusive basis on LP’s and 45′s pressed by Bestway Products in Mountainside, NJ. I was once told that the fonts ended up at a Mountainside printer, Shell Press, that supplied the labels to Bestway (which did not have its own print shop, but then again, neither did Abbey Record Mfg.).

    After switching to the “trident” label, Prestige also switched to different printers, among them MacMurray Press in lower Manhattan, New York City. MacMurray had a combo of Ludlow and Linotype fonts, and their typesetting was seen on East Coast pressings of many releases of custom clients of RCA Victor beginning c.1955 and on into 1968; plus on many small-label pressings into the ’70′s.

    The photo marked prestige-80s-reissue.jpg could well have come from the 1970′s; at the time Prestige was sold to Fantasy (oft-referred to as “The Label That Creedence Clearwater Revival Built,” irrespective of the label existing long before they gained fame, and especially their own history with jazz artists), Fantasy had all its product pressed by RCA plants. The label fonts in this example came from RCA’s Indianapolis, IN plant; however, the pressing itself may’ve come from another plant, given what looks like a 2.75″ diameter pressing ring; whereas RCA’s own pressings by this point had 1″ pressing ring.

    The pic of the OJC reissue – prestige-ojc.jpg – betrays a pressing by Columbia Records’ Pitman, NJ plant; the spacing of the Mergenthaler Linotype “VIP” phototypesetting fonts (among them Franklin Gothic; Spartan Bold Condensed [used for cat. # and side designation] and Trade Gothic Bold [text type]) suggests a post-1983 release. It would appear the typesetting was the best part of that label.

    • W.B. you have excelled yourself again, thanks!
      I’m going to have to eat (some of) my words on the Green Prestige label pressings. I picked up a couple recently, dated 1972, that have a VAN GELDER machine stamp, much to my surprise. Someone had the good sense to source RVG metalwork.
      I’ll post up some pictures shortly, your font-trained eye may spot something of significance.

  4. A few years ago i bought jazz records , got rid of some, keep the others, mostly new audiophile pressings. Recently , i decided to add a turntable again and to start adding some more jazz.

    I am being much more selective this time , with respect to 50-60′s pressings.For the most part, i intend to avoid the 70′s pressings to current reissues, unless i have a compelling reason.

    My question with respect to the yellow fireworks label for prestige. I understand the cut off for the NY/NJ address – but how can you tell pressings ie, NJ address , what differences are visible to discern 1st or second pressings? I just picked up 7166 , NJ address of course, How can i tell ?

    Truth be told , i am happy to have the second , third pressing as long as the quality is high and the label correct ( in this case the NJ firework label.

    same question for NY addresses?

    the site is wealth of information and i have been on this one and jazz collector alot lately

    thanks for the efforts

    • If I understand your question right, you want to know how to tell a first pressing from a subsequent (later) pressing within the correct label for that period. For example, a first pressing on NJ fireworks from a second or third pressing on NJ Fireworks, that label lasting six years from 1958 to 1964, during which no doubt a number of popular titles were repressed several times. Same probably applies to low catalogue numbers on NY Fireworks.

      I hesitate to say there isn’t – other collectors may have an answer – but I am not aware of any way of telling first from second pressing run within the period of a label. Weinstock was famously frugal (i.e. mean) in business expense, and I expect he pressed no more than he expected to sell, so repeat pressing orders were probably a common feature of Prestige production. I am guessing, of course. There are indications he used a variety of different pressing plants, and there isn’t the consistent pattern you find with Blue Note, for example, by vinyl weight.

      Personally I don’t think it matters anyway, as I don’t think they would sound any different, taken from the same master metalwork. To my mind, being a bit more recent avoids the early days of home radiogram arms that did such damage to vinyl surfaces, and is overall better. First pressing fundementalists would disagree, which is their prerogative.

      .

      • Gary has raised an interesting point which merits further study.
        We have talked already a lot on first and second issue NYC labels, so let’s skip this familiar subject and move on to N.J.
        I noticed that the first N.J. labels repeat the mention HI FI on the right, as per a NYC label. Thereafter it becomes HiIGH FIDELITY in full. The third version can be a mix (HI FIDELITY). Also, the later versions of the yellow stars label are not always DG.
        Nobody has done research on the subject. Bravo Gary to have given the idea. Anyone there??

        • Love a challenge. This is like pieces of a jigsaw, but not enough pieces to get the whole picture, and you are never sure if they don’t belong to different puzzles.
          I’ve checked out sixty Prestige labels, (my own and on discogs) and so far the evidence stacks up as follows:

          During the Fireworks label NY period, catalogue numbers 7001 to 7140, the convention is almost universally “HI FI” (capitals) to the right of the spindle. Interestingly, when second editions of early titles are found on the later NJ address label, they appear to retain the “HI FI” text, unlike their NJ contemporaries, which are almost always printed as “HIGH FIDELITY” However they are immediately recognisable as second issues from the address anomaly.

          Through most of the Fireworks Bergenfield NJ label period 7140 upwards , the convention “HIGH FIDELITY” (occasionally in proper capitalisation “High Fidelity”) is found.

          Approaching the label changeover from NYC to NJ, and shortly after, there are some anomalies, such as “HI FIDELITY” but I think these are random and of no consequence. Similarly, on some occasions, the text “HI FI” appears on a NJ 1st Edition for no apparent reason ( eg PRLP 7169).

          I am still of the opinion that on limited evidence, there is no reliable means of identifying 1st from subsequent pressings within a fireworks address label, at least from the HI FI/ HIGH FIDELITY assignation. Always open to persuasion otherwise.

          The deep groove question is not so easy to determine with out a lot more samples. Some of those Discogs photos are pretty poor.

          • good to find ourselves in the dark. The definite first N.J. issues sometimes have (in round letter type) “High Fidelity”, so only two capital letters, like my # 7144, a “not for sale” copy.

                • Well, a quick look through did not dispel any of your excellent new research, but there were a few wrinkles.

                  (1) Nearly all pre-7141 represses state “Hi Fi” and have the ochre labels and DG.
                  (2) The exception: my 7086 states “Hi Fi,” but has lighter labels. Not lemon like the very earliest NYCs, but not ochre either. And no DG. (So a “later” NJ pressing?)
                  (3) 7141 states “Hi Fidelity” and has the ochre labels and DG.
                  (4) Interestingly, my 7142 states “High Fidelity” with the ochre labels and DG. As does my 7158.
                  (5) Except as noted, all others of mine between 7142 and 7157, and then after 7158, state “Hi Fidelity.” They are all ochre, except for my 7159, which is the same lighter color as my 7086.

                  They are similar vinyl weight, they all sound the same (excellent) on my system.

                  Not sure if there any conclusions there, assuming the variations of yellow are simply different plants, dye mixtures, etc. The only real outlier is my 7086, as it lacks DG. But, again, it has the original matrix info and sounds dynamite.
                  Thanks.

                  • Interesting, but what conclusions to draw? Your 7142, of course, is a first pressing.
                    There is still another angle: the adress (or absence thereof) on the rear. I have a N.J. 7095 without adress on the rear, but with the G E M mark. I have a 7094 with the Bergenfield adress on the rear and without G E M. So the 7094 is a more recent vintage.

    • I can’t figure it

      PRST 7304 Eric Dolphy in Europe Vol 1 = “Stereo” = no Van Gelder

      PRST 7350 Eric Dolphy in Europe Vol2 “Remastered for Stereo” = yes, “VAN GELDER”

      Not helpful, eh?

      • RVG (stamped or etched) and Van Gelder just seems to indicate that the respective lacquer has been cut by Rudy Van Gelder (cf. e.g. Prestige 7053, Thelonious Monk ‘Thelonious Monk’), as there are some Prestige releases, where A- and B-side have been mastered by different engineers, but both sides have been signed by Van Gelder in the runout area.

        • Judging by the CD versions, all the “Eric Dolphy in Europe” sessions seem to have been recorded in true and unmistakable stereo. I know this is a little off topic because it doesn’t say anything about the vinyl, but I don’t see why anyone would bother with electronic stereo when real stereo versions are available – unless the electronic stereo were a rare collectible item. LJC, do you own the PRST 7350 “remastered for stereo” version? Could it be real stereo all the same (with Dolphy in the left channel)?

          • Oops… I wasn’t looking. There it is, in your Dolphy department. Take my word: It is genuine stereo although the cover says “remastered…”

      • I just picked up Two Tenors by Coltrane and Mobley, blue trident stereo with a Van gelder stamp but with the Electronically remastered for stereo on the front cover. Hmmmmm

        • Does the catalog number etched in the deadwax begin with PRST or PRLP? Does it play stereo or mono? I have yet to see a “fake/enhanced stereo” mastered record with VAN GELDER in the deadwax, it’s either true stereo or mislabeled mono.

        • I recently picked up this title too – but it’s in mono and sounds pretty good to these ears. I’ve been burnt before (recently as LJC probably has seen from my posts) w/ buying fake stereo where there wasn’t any labeling to tell the difference – in other words, it fell in Rumsfeld’s land of ‘known knowns’ and ‘unknown knowns’! Anyway, Aaron makes a good point if it says “PRST” then I’d feel more confident you bought true stereo.

          • The deadwax indicates PRST 7670 with what it looks like a “WL” with the van gelder stamp. Can it be a case where they ran out of covers? since i’ve seen my cover with the latter green label pressings which is probably electronically remastered for stereo.

            • I have a bit of confusion regarding an early (1959/60) Prestige STATUS Mono LP
              On the back cover It is printed as Status volume 1. On the front cover it depicts the Status logo and identifies the album as ST 1. The name of the album is
              RED GARLAND with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis THE RED BLUES…I cannot find this album listed anywhere….I found the same tune line-up on (perhaps) the very 1st Moodsville album…..entitled Red Garland with Eddie Lockjaw” Davis.
              It offers the address of Status Records as 203 SO. Washington Ave. Bergenfield NJ…It is a Rudy Van Gelder’s masterful recording..
              My own guess would be that this is perhaps a transitional recording…I would think it quite rare…The album surfaces are clean and without serious scratch or blemish…a few “whisks” most probably the result of returning the vinyl to the jacket over time…I have play tested this album using my Saec we 407/23 tone arm with Denon’s R103 cartridge..It plays beautifully and the musicianship is superb (albeit) the quality of vinyl that was used back in the day was not without a bit of background noise…In my opinion the quality of sound is the same as my Moodsville LP’s…
              The jacket seams however have been mended using a permanent clear acrylic based pressure sensitive tape 3M’s “finger print tape” (Good stuff) does not yellow or become brittle over time.
              I’m thinking of going to auction with some of my original stuff..(These are ,for the most part) from my own long time collection…
              I could use some assistance evaluating this unusual recording..
              With thanks,
              Mike.

              • AS you say, it appears to be the recording first released on Prestige’s Moodsville sub-label, but on their later “budget label” Status, though I don’t see it listed in the Status release index (8300 series) Weinstock was a master of business and tax juggling, and its entirely possible this was an experiment that wasn’t brought to any conclusion.

                A “rareity” is not necessariliy valuable in its own right if the same music is also available on a full Prestige pressing (RVG mastered) like Moodsville already. Lockjaw doesn’t have the Mobley cachet. Difficult if not impossible to say whether a Status “anomaly” issue has any value over and above the Moodsville, or other Status issues, which are not especially valuable.

                The only way to determine the value of anything is to put it up on auction, with the best story you can tell about it. The market will make its own judgement.

              • When Bob started Status, he put quite a number of originals with the original labels under the Status banner. To that end he used a Status sticker on the sleeve. In a further stage he changed the labels to become orange, used cheaper vinyl and sometimes he changed the cover too. Is yours the red cover? I think I have had that one. Difficult to sell at a decent price. If you have the original, keep it.

    • I have “remastered stereo” albums which are just excellent mono. It is my impression that they just printed stereo on the cover and labels for commercial reasons. A mono record would not sell. But the product is just basic, honest mono.
      In your system, do they sound wonderful as stereo or mono?

      • My Prestige Blue label /silver trident Eric Dolphy in Europe Vol2 says on the cover “remastered for stereo” while Vol 1 says simply “stereo” – not sure why the difference but they both sound bright and punchy, as you would expect. Can’t recall whether they were actually mono dressed up as stereo, or actually stereo. Early stereo isn’t always a pleasant experience -(DuNann and Columbia excepted, of course)

        • Yes, I have number of repressings which are clearly mono but the covers say they were electronically reprocessed for stereo. I have seen that often particularly for older Prestige records repressed under the Swingville or Moodsville labels. The covers say reprocessed stereo, but the labels and matrix show they are straight represses from the original metalwork.

        • “Electronically re-processed stereo” – I picked one up the other day by chance – the seller described it as “stereo”, which I suppose in theory it is. I think the 60′s engineer filtered off the very low frequencies to left speaker and the very high frequencies to the right, and the remaining mud in the middle. Dire, it won’t ever be played again.

          My phono stage has a mono/stereo switch, but for reasons I don’t understand, switching to the opposite of what the record is results in a noticeable drop in quality, whichever way you do it. May be a peculiarity of my WD phono wiring. If you take a “reprocessed for stereo” LP and switch it to play back in its original mono form, it sounds worse. You can’t reconstitute the sum of the parts.

          • Maybe this is just semantics, but I thought about this some more and you know what they say about curiosity…..is there any difference between records that say ‘electronically rechanneled for stereo’ and ‘electronically remastered for stereo’ or are they one in the same? I’m assuming not and that they are both considered ‘fake stereo’ and maybe just in a few cases (‘Soultrane’ and ‘Traneing In’) they still ended up sounding halfway decent?

            Also, sorry if I may be too dense here, but LJC are you saying that even if the LP may actually appear to sound like ‘mono’ but the record is labeled as being ‘stereo’ that you can’t press the mono button to improve the sound through your system? I guess I can mess around w/ my system to see which way brings the best results.

            Thanks as always for any add’l insights here….

            • If its been done electrically to simulate stereo its bad news, whatever other words are used.

              The only legit (as far as I know, correct me anyone) is as in the Dolphy linked below, “Remastered for Stereo” meaning they have gone back to I assume twin track tapes and made a new master which is stereo, as opposed to the original mono master

              http://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/eric-dolphy-in-europe-vol-2-1961/

              The stuff that is done “”electrically” I assume means frequency filters applied to a mono tape mix to pull off some instruments stick them somewhere else in the sound stage. I am not an engineer so my understanding may not be entirely correct, but the end result is usually a mess.

              Flicking the mono switch is only a partial solution because you can’t restore any loss of frequencies incurred during the transfer process. It’s been fundamentally monkeyed with: Franken-music.

              With Ebay you watch out for sellers who claim the record is “stereo” but is not pressed from a true stereo master, but electronically rearranged mono. Those early 1500 series Blue Notes that were never issued in stereo turn up from Liberty/UA as “Stereo”. I’ve been caught a couple of times, and sellers get uppity about whether it is true stereo or fake stereo.

              • Perhaps it’s just less noticeable then for whatever reason but the ‘Soultrane’ copy I have that says ‘remastered for stereo’ doesn’t sound all that bad. I have avoided these, however, except w/ ‘Soultrane’ and ‘Traneing In’ where I’ve heard other say on here or the Hoffman Forum that these were basically mono despite the labeling on the album covers.

                As for early 1500 series sold by Liberty/UA as ‘stereo’, you had me doublechecking my recent Ebay purchase list and it looks I may have been spared from those purchases thankfully!

                As always, I appreciate the information and helping to clear things up for me.

  5. Anyone have any interesting tales of Prestige pressing errors? I had Mai key owned yellow label pressings for my first year of collecting, but recently have tracked down some blue label LPs. I found two instances where the wrong music was pressed onto the record. They were:

    - a blue label copy of Jackie McLean and Co. where side B featured only organ, guitar, and drums. I I
    Can’t remember if the catalog number was accurate…and at this point I am kicking myself for not googling it if it had the number of the inadvertently pressed music. Anyway, this was an eBay purchase, and my first hint that something was amiss should have been that there were three songs when there should have only been two…the seller proposed “a bonus track?” I tried to explain that the wrong music was on this record and that, as such, it was listed incorrectly and that I should have received a refund on shipping both ways (couldn’t hurt I figured) and the seller said “I don’t know anything about the music or this record.” Yeah. Turned me off to eBay big time.

    - just the other day I picked up a copy of Joe Newman’s “Joe’s Hap’nin’s” which was originally a Swingsville release. It was cheap but beat up, a later pressing on blue labels. I didn’t read the dead wax carefully but noticed a scratched out catalog number and an etched “RVG”. It was pretty grimy so the shopkeeper cleaned it and played it from side A. A particularly acidic alto and a forceful trumpet lit into the first tune, and I realized that there was no alto listed on the jacket. Then I listened some more. It was Jackie McLean. We checked the dead wax and the number was NJ 8290, which is mclean’s “Steeplechase,” a later issue of “Jackie’s Pal”. Plays well with some pops, but fidelity is good. Now I just need the correct jacket and to not do a double take every time I look at the label of the LP while its playing. Super mongrel copy…but well worth my $3!

    • when Prestige acquired the rights on Progressive material, they issued 7819 Broadway, Al Cohn and 7820 George Wallington Qnt. The music of 7819 was to be found on 7820 and vice versa. Later on Prestige was not the quality label it used to be, sloppy is the best qualification. The later issues are not very collectable anyway.

      • I have seen that Wallington record (meaning, it says Wallington but is the Al Cohn Broadway album). Very strange.

    • Yes – I bought the Saxophone Colossus issue recently on Amazon for £25. Despite the wonderful presentation with thick sleeve and tip-on jacket I wasn’t hugely excited by the sound although it is from a decent master which the OJC also uses. Quiet vinyl, detailed but lacking in volume and presence.
      Given I’ll never own the original/or near original (probably) I was happy enough. I think the OJCs, which is basically what these are, are a decent option when compared with other reissues. They are variable though, I recently bought Quiet Kenny OJC which went back because of shocking pressing defects. A recent barcoded issue of Way Out West in stereo though, which may have been digitally remasted, sounds great. And I have to say my Sonny Rollins Plays for Bird OJC CD sounds superior to my Esquire original although that may be because of the limitations of my TT.

  6. Not sure if this has been mentioned, but I came upon what I believe is a first pressing of Manteca by Red Garland trio plus Ray Barretto…PRLP 7139, so the last release on the NY labels. It does in face have NY labels, but they say HI FIDELITY instead of HI FI and has RVG stamped instead of etched. I guess the label design/dead wax info must have begun to change right before the label moved to NJ?

  7. Hi,
    I’m looking for infomation about the ‘AB’ runout etchings on Prestige, Folkways and other records. Abbey (Record) Manufacturing, NJ, appears nor and then as the pressing plant of these copies, but there doesn’t seem to be hardcore evidence. I wonder, if someone could support me by giving a reliable source for ‘AB’ being definitely ‘Abbea Manufacturing’. Thanks and best

    Mark

  8. LJC, great labelography! I really enjoy your blog. I have a much higher opinion of OJC reissues, though, especially in terms of “bang for the buck”. The pre-1990s ones were all analog transfers from the original tapes and I’ve very rarely encountered even a slightly noisy pressing. The vinyl is lighter, but the sound is usually excellent. Given a VG or worse original and a VG+ or better OJC, I’ve preferred the OJC every time. I think paying under $10 a copy (often sealed) for the OJC is also part of the thrill.

    • Welcome Chris. All opinions are good here. I haven’t listened to every issue of every record, and I often surprised myself when I find a pressing which I just “know” is rubbish, and it turns out a gem. Isn’t that annoying? I even had a French DMM Blue Note that defied all expectations and turned out terrific. I haven’t had much luck with OJC but I know some have, so thanks for putting the word in for them. At the end of the day it is what sounds good to you that matters.

      • The early pressings with paste-on back covers and “GH” in the matrix often sound very good (and look and feel decent too – heavier cardboard and crisp graphics than later glossy bar-coded covers). For example, I recently play-compared a blue twin-reel label mono “Sound of Sonny” with an early OJC pressing, and they sounded very similar. It was both wonderful and annoying (happily, I paid little for the blue label, so not annoying in that way, but you know what I mean). For very rare or expensive pressings, an early OJC pressed in the US with a paste-on back cover for under $10 is not a bad way to go as a starter, in my humble opinion.

  9. LJC – any thoughts on Status audio quality? I have a copy of Oliver Nelson’s “Main Stem” (killer record), and aside from the label looking like crap, the vinyl is heavy, “Van Gelder” is in the matrix, and the sound is superb to my ears. It appears to me to be a top-quality blue trident label, just with a crappy orange Status label. Any contrary thoughts or experience?

    • Just lent an ear to my Jackie McClean Alto Madness ST8312 on Status. Pressed direct from an original PRLP/ RVG stamper, chunky 150gm vinyl, good dynamic range, no roll-off at the top, firm springy bass, McClean sounds fresh and inside in the room, nice mono presentation, in a word…Great!. Nothing budget about Prestige’s budget label. I’d be happy with a Status any time, and being issued around 1966 it has by-passed the most damaging years for vinyl. Quickly flipped on my Kenny Burrell Guitar Soul ST8318 and the same story, really nice listen. Good value for listeners, if not those wanting only the original artefact.

      • Glad you had the same experience. All of my copies sound great, and were all cheap. Labels are super ugly, but oh well.

    • Yellow and black make a horrible color combination, but once you come to associate the label with the excitement of the music itself, the bad effects fade in importance. The blue and silver Bluesville label was fairly handsome though, wasn’t it?

  10. Your guide got me interested in the sound quality of Prestige compared to Blue Note. I won an Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis album on Ebay, very cheap: http://www.benl.ebay.be/itm/160913293277?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649 There is organ it (and flute) :)
    It’s the first Bergenfield NJ (Prestige 7141)
    Same for Jimmy Smith on Blue Note, they go cheap too!
    But the sound is amazing. No hiss at all, and so ‘you are there’. Prestige, hmm, need some Miles albums now. They’ll be not that cheap I’m afraid.

  11. Hi LJC

    Could you explain how to make the distinction between the original Fireworks Yellow/Black labels and the ones reissued by OJC (Original Jazz Classics), because the labels of the latter seem to be a facsimili of the original ones.

    Thanks, loving your blog

    Dirk

    • Hi Dirk, the dreaded OJC – Ive added a picture at the end – has no address on the label, has OJC number where the Prestige number used to be, and weighs only 100gm compared to around 175gm for the real thing.

  12. I have a gold label copy of Dolphy’s Outward Bound that is in really nice shape and it’s not hissy at all. I also have an original pressing of the Roy Haynes album Cracklin’ on the purple New Jazz label that also sounds fantastic. While I agree that a lot of the green label lps lack the magic that draws one in like the earlier pressings it really does matter if you have a good turntable/cartridge set up for enjoyment of those later pressings.

    In recent years I have bought some used Prestige albums that were pressed in Europe that have blue Victor labels on them with HIs Master’s Voice in French at the top of the circle and the dog and phonograph below it. The only one I can think of at the moment is Red Garland’s When Skys Are Grey. I have a few others but I can’t retrieve them from my biological mainframe at the moment :-). They are quiet pressings but agree that they too lack any real magic though I’m happy to have them until a better copy comes along.

    • Hi Les, thanks for the input, Seems the Prestige Gold are hit and miss – my Colossus hisses like a gas leak. I really envy you that Roy Haynes Cracklin’ on New Jazz. There will be a post shortly on the light green Prestige reissue – watch this space.

  13. New to buying online? Ouch, I can remember that feeling! I don’t have a sellers “blacklist” but I do have some rules for successful buying online, which you may find helpful. There are rather too many issues to put in a post reply so I have committed these to a page, under the heading “Buying records online, including thoughts on record grades. You will find it here:
    http://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/buying-records-online/tips-on-buying-records-online-successfully/
    It is also linked under the heading WHAT’S NEW in the blog header

  14. Hi again LJC, you mentioned a couple of Ebayers that I have seen also. In your experience, is there anyone that I should avoid buying records from on Ebay? I am new to buying online!
    Also, purely from an audio point of view, what grading and beyond should I be avoiding? ie. dont buy anything worse than VG+?? Or is VG+ still mostly (and I realise this can be debatable between sellers/collectors) still sounding fine? Thanks for the help.
    I’ve just realised my Prestige Swing Ville 2009 Claude Hopkins ‘Yes Indeed!’ has the RVG stamp and is older than I realised! Cool!
    Cheers,
    Sam

  15. do you have any real proof that PRESTIGE recycled vinyl a la CROWN records. were you inferring that the complete gold label run is recycled?

    • I have around 30 Prestige and New Jazz original pressings. Four of the Prestiges are hissy – PR7295 and PR7326, PRST7342(double) and two of the New Jazz – the Walt Dickersons NJLP8275 and 8254 as best I recall. In all cases later pressings around mid Sixties. The rest are all fine. I have only the one gold label, which is hissy, so I have no knowledge of others in this series.

      btw I note Organisso thread October 2010 on subject of gold black trident, comments from “Chewy”. Hi!

      Reputable ebayer Euclid Records is currently selling a copy of NJLP8286 Roy Haynes Cracklin “GRADE & DESCRIPTION (RECORD): VG+ Multiple light surface scuffs, recycled vinyl.”
      Another seller Fifties Jazz on negative feedback (11/03/11)
      “member unaware of surface noise in later Prestige albums due to inferior vinyl”

      Seems well known within record collector circles .Interestingly my copy of 8286 doesnt hiss, which suggests the issue may even be batch-production specific rather than record specific. Down to whoever was the supplier of vinylite to the plant and which batch was used in that run that day. If anyone out there knows more, welcome the input. We are all learning.

  16. Thank you mate, very helpful :) I am interested to hear the quality of a decent Japanese (king or victor) press of my favourite album, compared to what I consider great, the relative cd that I’ve listed to for years. I am coming completely from the listening perspective, rather than a collectors view with pristine cover etc, and am excited to know that I could potentially hear my favourite musicians even clearer than I have before!
    P.s….you don’t want to off load that Louis Smith ‘Smithville’ album by any chance do you??
    Thanks again.
    Sam

    • No chance. It flew to me all the way from America and its staying here.

      Just a thought about vinyl compared to CD re “clarity” .The additional information found in an analogue source, vinyl, provided you have a set up that can retrieve it!, adds a range of different dimensions. “Clarity” is part of it but the music should evoke a stronger emotional response, engagement with the artist, a more natural airy presentation, one where the music flows more, where you want to listen rather than flick to another track or album (a real sign of disengagement) . Vinyl’s extra information is a gateway to a higher quality of musical enjoyment.

  17. Hi LJC, what do you think of the 1977 Japanese ‘Victor’ pressings of Prestige recordings? I’ve never heard one, any idea on the audio quality? I cannot afford an original Prestige pressing unfortunately.
    Cheers,
    Sam

    • All respect to our Japanese jazz friends, record companies in Japan always employed superior audio engineers and best quality vinyl manufacturing processes, throughout the years when US and European vinyl went into decline. Japanese manufactured re-issues during the seventies and eighties (King (for United Artists), Victor ( for Prestige) and Toshiba ( for EMI) are all hugely superior to their US/European re-issue counterparts and superior to modern CDs.
      They are relatively inexpensive as Japanese collectors lust for US originals. I have bought direct from Japan and dealers tell me pressings like King are even becoming very hard to find in Japan..
      I have around a dozen seventies Victor Prestiges and find them very nice listening. Not as strong as US Originals, a little “polite rather than ballsy” but much better quality than most later reissues, and the condition is invariably excellent as a bonus.

  18. Hi, The Vinyl Detective is IN.
    The magic number with Prestige catalogue numbers is 7140 – the last record released on the NY address label. After that it’s Bergenfield NJ. for first pressings and subsequent pressings of earlier titles.
    So, your copy is 7025, the first press would be on NY labels. Yours being on NJ indicates a later pressing. Whether it is a “second pressing” or a “re-issue” is a debating point. From what I have seen, both were pressed from the same source RVG master, the only difference being reissues were given a new catalogue number (found etched in the runout alongside the original catalogue number) They should sound the same – within the variation between first and last off the stamper in use.
    However they are not worth the same in collector dollars. The original artefact will always be worth a lot more, though I would say both are desirable. And MDwH is a great cover, I am envious.

  19. I have Prestige LP 7025 (MDWH) with the Bergenfield Yellow Fireworks label. etchings on the vinyl – PRLP 7025 A and B (each side) plus etched RVG each side. Was this a re-issue or re-pressing after the original with the NYC address ??? I’m guessing that it was a big seller and Weinstock had to go to another pressing???

  20. I have 7005 (MJQ) Concord with RVG and AB in the deadwax. Its a Metronome copy, pressed in Denmark with a label that doesn’t appear above. Ring any bells?

    • Short answer Tom, no bells. If its got RVG and AB its pressed from a stamper that originated from the US master – that’s how Prestige overseas marketing worked. My guess is that just as Prestige had a press and sell agreement in the UK with Esquire, and later, Transtlantic, a French, a Japanese, and a German, I guess they could have had other European /Country distribution agreements. Denmark and Paris were the US Jazz expatriate centres. What you have may be rare here, and not rare in Denmark. May be some one else has the story.

  21. after careful check of my trail off Prestiges, I couldn’t draw any useful info.
    all but one have RVG, in different shapes, as on Blue Note.
    interesting if others collectors could compare their copies.
    7003: m jackson: NY 7E
    7004: l konitz: NY no marks
    7005: mjq: NY no marks
    7007: m davis: NY 7E
    7012: m davis: NY no marks
    7013: m davis: NY no marks
    7014: m davis: NY no marks
    7017: a farmer: NY no marks
    7020: s rollins: NY no marks
    7025: m davis: NY IIII side 1 only
    7027: t monk: NY no marks
    7029: s rollins: NY no marks
    7032: g wallington: NY no marks
    7034: m davis: NY AB and a small D
    7038: s rollins: NY A
    7044: m davis: NY AB and a small A after RVG. on side 2 AB is readable in the external part of label
    7047: s rollins NY: AB plus A on side one and B on side two
    7053: t monk NY AB plus B
    7054: m davis: NY AB; small B next to RVG and 1 opposite side on side 1; D next to RVG on side 2
    7055: c brown: NY AB
    7058: s rollins: NY AB plus A both sides
    7070: t dameron: NY AB
    7074: tenor conclave: NY AB and A
    7075: t monk: NY AB plus F side one or D side two
    7076: m davis: NY side 1: AB, E next RVG, 1 opposite side; side 2: AB on label, D next to RVG
    7079: s rollins: NY AB plus C dide one and E side two
    7080: p woods: NY side one: AB and A; side two no AB but B
    7083: g ammons: bergenfield AB
    7089: j raney: NY AB plus A side one; A side two
    7094: m davis: NY AB; on side one A and 1; on side two C
    7095: s rollins: NY AB plus B both sides
    7104: t macero: NY AB plus A
    7105: j coltrane: NY AB
    7109: m davis: NY AB and A, both sides
    7112: i sulieman: NY AB and A, both sides
    7114: j mclean: NY AB plus D side one or B side two
    7118: t jones: NY no marks
    7123: j coltrane: NY B only, first cover
    7125: s lacy: NY AB; A next to RVG both sides
    7126: s rollins: NY AB, almost hidden under label both sides; additional B side one, C side 2
    7129: m davis: NY C side one, A side two
    7130: r garland: bergenfield AB plus hierogliph
    7131: f wess: NY 58
    7132: g ammons: berbenfield T8
    7142: j coltrane: bergenfield E side 1; AB and E side 2
    7150: m davis bergenfield: AB (C side one and what looks like LI side two)
    7158: j coltrane: bergenfield no marks
    7166: m davis; bergenfield no marks side one; 06-L-L MBA on side two
    7181: r garland: bergenfield AB (specular)
    7188: j coltrane: bergenfield AB with additional separate A on side 1
    7200: m davis: bergenfield AB
    7201: g ammons: bergenfield AB (different font)
    7209: r garland: bergenfield AB
    7206: e davis: bergenfield AB
    7213: j coltrane: bergenfield AB
    7229: r garland: bergenfield AB
    7243: j coltrane: bergenfield: ZA1
    7268: j coltrane: bergenfield no marks
    7280: j coltrane: bergenfield no marks
    7292: j coltrane: bergenfield no marks
    7294: e dolphy: bergenfield no marks (catalogue numbers for prestige AND new jazz NJLP 8288)
    7304: e dolphy: bergenfield no marks (there are 2 catalogue numbers on each side, one for prestige and one for new jazz. this one, NJLP 8300, is erased on side two, no RVG)
    7316: j coltrane: bergenfield no marks
    7334: e dolphy: trident no marks ( a deep groove on side 2 only)
    7350: e dolphy: trident no marks
    7353: j coltrane: trident no marks (has 2 catalogue numbers, one scratched and erased)
    7366: e dolphy: trident no marks
    7378: j coltrane: trident DM
    7382: e dolphy: trident no marks

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