Last updated: January 27, 2021
Head to Head “Double Cross” Special Post
Something a little different by way of an experiment – mono and stereo go head to head in the classic “Which is best, chocolate or vanilla?” contest. The brilliant Monk record Criss Cross, considered by some his best work in a studio environment, certainly by me.
Charlie Rouse (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) John Ore (b) Frankie Dunlop (d) recorded NYC, November 6, 1962
All Music Review by Lindsay Planer: “Hackensack” — a frenetic original composition — opens the disc by demonstrating the bandleader’s strength in a quartet environment. The solid rhythmic support of the trio unfetters Monk into unleashing endless cascades of percussive inflections and intoxicating chord progressions. The title cut also reflects the ability of the four musicians to maintain melodic intricacies that are at times so exigent it seems cruel that Monk would have expected a musician of any caliber to pull them off.
Yeah, that’s what I thought too, but he said it better. On to the contest. A double take of a cover which is already a mirrored double take: you are ahead of me it’s Double Crossing Time.
First up, here is what the original mono pressing white label promo (first run off the stampers) Columbia CL2038
Track Selection: Hackensack – US original, white label
Vinyl: CL 2038 mono radio station promo – white label (photos above updated)
Note: Stamper codes 1E/ 1F. Side 2 only, there is a faint but definitive “T” stamp, characteristic of Terre Haute and a five-bar gate stamper numbering sequence
As with Kind of Blue (1959) this promo was pulled off a cutting out of the expected sequence A B C etc. KOB promos were pressed out of cutting sequence in early 1959 (the Side 2 track listing error present, corrected soon after commercial release), not later
The Kind of Blue precedent suggests not that promos were distributed long after the first commercial release (to re-energise sales) , but that promos were pressed with whatever cutting came to hand, as supplied to whichever plant manufactured them. A-B-C sequence applied to commercial release manufacture, possibly, but not necessarily to promo manufacture, which used Columbia’s multiple-supplied cuttings arbitrarily.
Track Selection: Hackensack – Stereo – CBS UK
That’s for you to decide. What do you think? Mono or Stereo, Columbia Promo white label, or CBS release for those cheeky cock-er-neys that gave America Mary Poppins and Dr House, the Brits? (btw you can keep them both. We don’t want them back)
In the event of a tie, we have the customary tie breaker: which has the better rear cover photo of Monk?. Is it:
1. the original on the left, or is it
2. the original on the left.
Monk wears his trademark pork-pie hat on the left, a Vladimir Illyich Lenin workers flat cap on the right. Cue Workers Playtime. I though they had doctored the same picture but Sothebys have just rung in to confirm they are different photographs.
Oh oh. Email just in from the Campaign Against People Smoking on the Back of Record Covers, on the dangers of tertiary cigarette smoke.
UPDATE June 17, 2017: Columbia two-eye label stereo
Symetrical 1C/1C stampers, and hand etched on Side One “SM” (presumably Santa Maria, Calif) and the start of a five-bar gate, presumably stamper numbering. If, at this time, cuttings for the commercial release were despatched to all three Columbia plants, and there is some evidence that in some but not all cases they were issued 1A – Pitman, NJ, 1B – Terre Haute, Ind, and 1C – Santa Maria, Calif (evidence from a Bob Dylan title) The logic of distributed manufacture close to markets suggests 1A 1B and 1C are equally 1st pressings according to the provenance of the originating metal-ware, since the multiple cuttings of Columbia recordings were all produced at the same time, merely manufactured at different locations close to markets.
Speaking Columbian a little more fluently every time.
UPDATE January 27, 2021
Steve from Ontario, Canada has a Canadian mono copy of CL 2038 Criss Cross with an interesting twist – a track sequence error, in the manner of Kind of Blue , but one they were unable to fix by reprinting the centre labels. It is missing the track Hackensack on Side 1 In its place is a dupicate of the track Rhythm-A-Ning which is also the first track on Side 2. Two Rhythm-a-Ning, no Hackensack, fatal.
A clue as to what happened presented itself, and slowly the story began to unfold.
Exhibit 1 is the Canadian issue, all-red Columbia two-eye with the early “GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY” text, and at the rim, “PRINTED IN CAN.”. We know that Columbia used the same distribution model for its Canadian offshoot as its US plants – send out some copy acetate for local manufacture.
The Matrix codes reveal a strange anomaly Side 1 -1D, Side 2 -2B . Different mixes.
The first stopping point is to cross-refer the mystery copy with what was the initial commercial release in the US, ideally in its earliest form, a radio station promo. That was a very fruitful entry to the Kind of Blue tracklisting error and its subsequent correction.
Bingo!. A promo auction was found, which contained a rarely offered picture, of the Columbia matrix stamp. This is usually of interest to collectors in search of those early A – B – C – cutting codes, wrongly as it happens, as Columbia’s distribution of acetates did not follow a strict alphabetic sequence. The oft-quoted Bob Dylan tapebox with plant distribution codes is merely one of a number of ways in which Columbia operated over time.
On the US promo, Side 1, XLP 59556 -2B – is a second mix, the -2#. The ‘2# means Columbia went back to scratch and remixed the tape from which all the master acetates would be cut and copies sent off to all Columbias plants for local metalware manufacture by their associated Customatrix division.
Usually there is only ever a 1st mix, a -1# code; -2 #is unusual. A second cross-reference is useful at this point, to make sure you are not down the wrong rabbit-hole
I have a white label promo, a pre-release edition, rather than a stickered commercial copy. Matrix stamps are -2F and -2E. This kills several birds with one stone ( an aphorism, a literary device, not an incitement to bird-stoning) It shows a T stamp which likely points to Terre Haute and source of promos, it shows the arbitrary selection of acetate cuttings E and F as the earliest in use, not -1A or -1B which sets collector’s hearts a flutter and reaching for their chequebook, and it more importantly it confirms the commercial release used a second mix for both sides.
One could be forgiven in thinking the Canadian plant jumped the gun, and ran with the mix 1 acetetes they were initially sent. In no-one’s job description to check Headquarters have screwed up and sent a faulty mastering mix tape. But not so fast. Steve’s faulty Canadian pressing has a -2# matrix on Side 2. So they were sent, received and put to use acetates from the replacement second mix.
The second mixtape was to remove the duplicate Rhythm-a-Ning track and restore Hackensack as Side 1 Track 1. As far as I can see, the first acetate/ mix of side 2 was actually correct according to the label and jacket track listing. The problem was with Side 1.
If Canada had mistakenly used mix -1 for Side 2, no-one would be any the wiser. However to deadly effect, they multipied the mistake by correcting Side 2 which was not faulty, and failed to apply the correction to Side 1 that was faulty. Bummer.
It is worth remembering this was the start of the 1960s, the attitude of getting things right first time was in its infancy. In those days they figured it was cheaper to let the customer do the quality control. If it’s faulty (which it often was) let them send it back (unless of course it’s a car-crash)
Nowadays faults are rare because they are more costly to fix than prevent. But remember early self-assembly furniture? Eight screws are required to assemble whatever, a bed, a wardrobe, a chair. Opens pack – heart sinks – the enclosed pack contains only seven. A smart manufacturer now encloses nine in case you lose one, or lose one and claim its missing.