Hank Mobley “No Room for Squares” (1963)

Pictures updated October 25, 2019

Selection: Carolyn (Morgan)

.  .  .


A split-session release recorded six months apart,  line-ups are the best of both worlds – piano, Hancock or Hill, trumpet, Morgan or Byrd, spoiled for choice.

Donald Byrd (tp) Hank Mobley (ts) Herbie Hancock (p) Butch Warren (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, March 7, 1963

Lee Morgan (tp) Hank Mobley (ts) Andrew Hill (p) John Ore (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, October 2, 1963

Cultural notes:

Selection, “Carolyn”: “Lee, who is Carolyn??” One of those difficult questions the song’s composer, Lee Morgan, would probably rather not have been asked by his long-term girlfriend, who’s name happened to be Helen. Especially when it is a tender sensitive ballad. “Carolyn? My mother’s pet labrador, sweetcakes. She’s so affectionate don’t you know? I named it after her”  Several years later, Helen had the last say,

The term Squares got me thinking. In the Sixties, squares were people who endorsed conventional  social, political and economic values. The very opposite of people who were hip, who espoused alternative social, political and economic values. And took drugs.

A lot of Hip people, like musicians, used narcotics. This resulted in hip people owing a lot  of money to square people, such as drug dealers. The money to pay for drugs was funded by more square people – record companies.  And when hip musicians overdosed on drugs, they relied on more square people, called doctors, who required many years of expensive training. It clearly wasn’t easy being hip, however the contradiction has never bothered truly hip people,  who are easily capable of holding contradictory opinions simultaneously.


Some Mobley-holics  focus on titles where Mobley was leader, whilst others (including me) believe many of his best contributions were as a sideman. Who cares, he is just a beautiful player. The solo in Carolyn tears my heart out every time, especially on the second verse, where a repeating cry resolves tension released through a magnificent downward cascade of notes, simply beautiful. Coltrane is more exploratory and driven, Rollins is technically more accomplished, but Mobley has a gigantic heart, that shines in his playing.

Labels, run out and liner notes.

NY labels,  deep groove on Side 2 only, which is correct for 1st pressing. Mono, of course. Curiously, the VAN GELDER stamp appears only on Side 1, missing from Side 2. Rudy slipped up there.


Plastylite “ear” in the run out, confirming provenance of an original Blue Note pressing.

All the right markings, including that lovely LARGE catalogue number at the top right. In record collecting circles, the catalogue number is everything. The most hip collectors speak of records only by their catalogue number. There are only eight hundred Blue Notes to memorise, how difficult can that be?

Hip person: “So, what do you think of 4149 – honestly?”

Wannabe Hip Person: “Errr.. 4149?  Yeah, uh 4149!.. like, wow, err… its… really … um…cool… And you?”

Hank-Mobley-BN-4149-No-Room-For-Squares-back cover-1920px-LJC

Collectors Notes – a cautionary tale

After a string of bargains, I was overdue a good spanking, and I got it. Sitting for most of the auction at around £60 and only a couple of bidders interested it looked to be a bargain. I threw in a high safety bid, confident I wasn’t going to have to pay anywhere near that much. I figures £70, maybe £80. However it rang up  £120 in the closing five seconds, as another bidder tossed in a “daisy-cutter”. That’s a term I borrowed from the US military, basically, a bomb which wipes out everything standing below it, down to and including the daisies. It more or less guarantees you won’t be pipped by a small margin, but you take the risk there is another bidder playing the same strategy. There was. Me.

Just happened that my snipe was a tad above his, leaving me to pay his offer as price-setter. £123.  Ouch. It wasn’t like it was a twelve bidder firefight, so it came out of the blue, and I got spanked.  I think the last minute bid was in collusion with the seller who was’t happy with the way the price was going, though I can’t prove it. Worse, the seller described the labels as “no deep groove”, which was a lie as it has a DG or side two, and I didn’t notice on delivery. Careless! It happens. I paid too much, I got a spanking.

No matter, it is a great record, still an original if not a first pressing, and an even greater cover. Today that cover would probably be a non-smoking edition. Hank Mobley pictured with an organic health-drink, “rich in anti-oxydants”.

You can put that CD away. Real men play vinyl.

Or at least, “hip” real men.


Seller claims “no deep groove” – it is deep groove, on side 2. Notes VAN GELDER, but omits stamp is absent on Side 2. “Orig NY issue” – it is, but not if it was as miss-described.


20 thoughts on “Hank Mobley “No Room for Squares” (1963)

  1. Pingback: Hank Mobley – No Room for Squares (1963) | Open Door

  2. Late to the party but better late than never. This is a great Title ! My copy represents 2 strikes, and a foul ball to prevent strike 3, before a solid double ! My copy is stereo (strike ONE; Fastball at the knees), Liberty (strike TWO; slider on the corner), Etched matrix information (Foul into the stands to stay alive), VANGELDER Stamped ( BALL outside, and proving original metal work)…..and Plays NM (Double down the line !).

    The sound of this LP is bright and clear, with wonderful drive. Excellent instrument placement in a realistic soundstage. This title was recorded in RVG’s Englewood studio and you can hear the studio as plain as daylight. Drums bounce off of the walls, Mobley’s sax echos through the room. Drums are close miked with each drum head and cymbal occupying distinct space, and you can hear sticks hitting different parts of the drum head. Bass is bit rolled off, but there is a solid foundation to the beat. Trumpets have a bell like clarity. OK enough about sonics. Musically this a collection of mostly uptempo compositions with achingly beautiful ballads. Hank can really communicate emotion through his horn. Byrd and Morgan do their typical things, and you can tell who is playing what; Morgan with several fiery rolls and Byrd more emotive with a degree of subtlety to go along with playing.

    Given the quality of this title, I am surprised First Pressings can be found for less than $200 US (about 150 GBP, and 170 EU). LJC- you indeed have a first pressing Mono copy- Bravo ! My copy proves once again that a clean later pressing is often preferable to a mediocre or worse first pressing.

    • Very insightful and expressive analysis of Bule Note sonics, you are welcome to the party, late or not. However, the sporting analogies lost me completely. “It’s a game of two halves” is the best I can do..

  3. There is a G condition Copy on Ebay for $200usd. OMG, some people have completely lost their Minds. I had a bid of $20 bucks for a “G” one this week and it sold for 53 Dollars.He had a Picture of it and you can see the deep scratches. Hope that customer doesn’t get pissed off. 53 bucks is well in range of a Japanese pressing. INSANITY!

    • I have noticed a bit of an uptick in Blue Note prices very recently. Only an observation but I have been losing auctions by a very wide margin where I have made what I consider a very realistic high bid. There are players in the market, I suspect arbitrage, buying in order to resell, at the high-end.
      Just one example, a Hancock I expected to close at around $250 went to $420. Everything tells me its not the right price. If you check the winners they rarely leave feedback, and have scores in the 3,000 – 4,000 range. The finger of suspicion points to dealers reselling to markets with no natural local availability, high-end collectors to whom the cost is not an issue.
      It is not “wrong” – sellers are entitled to the best price – but it is a little depressing.

  4. Well, I paid 215 USD so according to your logic a bit to much then ;-(
    But then again both the seller and I assumed it was an original pressing. It is not in mint condition. No clicks ans pops ata all but with some groove distortion in strong passagges on side 1 and less so on side 2.

    Sometimes it feels hard to be an Blue Note collector…..

    • Don’t feel bad – its all part of an averaging process. Sometimes we pay not enough, a bargain, other times we pay too much. On average everything works out about right. I had quite a few bargains one week, and then I paid £40 for a record on buy it now, and saw it for £17 in a store a few days later. It’s all part of being a collector, you can’t avoid it. Youve got a nice record, thats what counts.

      • I guess you are right. Thanks for your support 😉
        I will however probably let the dealer know that it was not “original” and maybe get a good price on something else…..

  5. This record is interesting on Popsike – lots of copies sold (in the US) at the lower price end $30 – 40 with flaws, scratches, Japanese and Liberty, and the price rises quite steeply as condition improves and you get to original BN near mint VG++ at $200-300 but very few in that condition. Its not really “rare” unless you want in top condition.

    As regards strict first and second press and what it sounds like I doubt you would notice any difference between a first and second pressing by Plastylite in that short space of time.

    You haven’t said what you paid, so that is not influencing my estimate.

    My take – for a VG+ 2nd press 1964-5 with later cover but still an original BN , anywhere between $120-150 would be a fair shake (in London stores, if they ever had one, which they haven’t), may be up to $170 but after that you are in the how bad do you want it, are you prepared to sit and wait for another to come along territory. If you paid less I reckon you can call it lucky.

  6. Hello!
    Finally got me a copy of this excellent 1963 session on LP. I bought it at a local store for a not so small sum of money. Seller priced it with popsike as guide and set it down a little in respect to the VG+ condition.
    However I just discovered that it was not a first pressing I aquired based on that the cover is not laminated and there is no deep groove on side two (Confirmed by Fred Cohen and sellers description on Popsike). Otherwise the LP is OK with New Yourk USA labels. Plastylite “P” and Vangelder in dead wax and the cover has the right adress. It looked fine when I bought it. The insert sleeve also has the 25 years to 1939-64 so I suspect that it is at least from 1964 or later but before 1966 since it has the P.

    My question to you guys: I think I overpaid but how much? How much do you think is resonable to go back to the seller and get a store credit or something?

  7. Great Record – sure a lot of money but Cohen should be right. It has the Plastylite symbol? The it should be ok. This Deep Groove thing can be tricky. Some say the plants used their new “non deep groove” stampers first . This could mean that a deep groove would not necessarily have to be first if you have one with and one without – ceteris paribus.
    But collectors like deep grooves so I guess they will always attract more bidders 😉

  8. “You can put that CD away. Real men play vinyl.”

    Can’t really argue against that, but you’ve got to get your jazz fix any way you can, right? so I’m putting on my downloaded Mobley cd into my 100 euro hi-fi from Lidl and letting Hank and friends do their thang the best way I can.

    • Can’t argue with that either! Short of embarking on a life of crime, or courting a wealthy heiress, there are times in life when Lidl will have to do. Get in some of their stollen cake, and make it a Jazzy Christmas.

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