Esmond Edwards: a mystery in black and white
LJC reader Alan has discovered a variation in the original Prestige cover of PRLP 7142 John Coltrane’s Soultrane, where the design credit on the front cover appears in white text and black text. We haven’t had a mystery for a while, so I thought we might crowdsource an answer by bumping it to a fully fledged post
Popsike confirms the cover variation exists, however among the hundreds of copies shown, the black text outnumbers the white text version by at least ten to one, possibly more, so the white text is more “rare”.
DottorJazz has shared pictures of his original pressing. The good doctor is a devout First Pressing Fundamentalist, he swears on a stack of mint Mobley 1568’s that his is the original, which has the black text cover credit for Esmond Edwards
And the labels… 1st title on Bergenfield…
It seems probable the black text is the original, but we can not rule out the white text just yet. Because it is rare, it may have been the original print run, and as sales grew, many more covers had to be printed, which would account for the greater number of black text copies. We are in Rumsfeld Territory. Yesterday: unknown unknowns; today: known unknowns. We know we don’t know, that’s progress.
Well, probably Esmond Edwards for a start. But he can’t help us now, because he’s gone, left us in 2007. Here’s another image Esmond Edwards left us with:
A talented photographer, Esmond trained initially as a radiographer. Interesting parallels, Rudy Van Gelder trained as an optometrist.
Prestige’s answer to Blue Note’s Francis Wolff, Esmond Edwards created many of Prestige’s most iconic covers. He went on to head the Verve Records label for MGM in 1967 later becoming a noted recording producer, composer and arranger working for many of the majors. A multi-talented individual who used his abilities to the full.
Few of these things I knew, really, until today. It makes you wonder, what else don’t you know?
Postscript: Prestige Vinyl Weight “inconclusive”
Combining the vinyl weight data identified by DottorJazz and my own I have created a approximate timeline weight/catalogue number, to observe from the 27 measurements what we can learn that might help to date Prestige originals.
Counter-intuitively, some of the heavy outliers are more recent pressings. There are no 200 gram monsters like Plastylite/Blue Note Lexingtons at the outset of the mid ’50s. Abbey Manufacturing and whoever else Weinstock used pressed fairly consistently at around 160 grams, a fair bit lighter than Blue Note of the same period. It’s not an exact science, but with Prestige, it looks like heavier vinyl weight is not an effective indicator of older age as it is with Blue Note.
One less unknown