Illustrated Guide to Blue Note First Pressings

UPDATE September 3, 2014 – Blue Note Illustrated  Edition 2

With new content AND a new photo of the good Dottorjazz!

BNI v2


The American comedian Stephen Wright once commented: You can’t have everything. After all, where would you put it?

But now, Blue Note Collectors can have it all. Virtually. The Dottor Jazz Illustrated Blue Note First Pressing Reference Guide is available for download.

Dottor Jazz illustrated first pressing guide

Every title from the Blue Note LP Catalogue, in mouth-watering graphic detail, covers, labels, variations, commentary – all in one Acrobat PDF volume. Indispensible for collectors, browse at your leisure, yours to keep and treasure. However you will have to find enough space to put it : 421mb, to be precise. Should take around three minutes to download with a fast connection, or over a year over a 56kbps modem on to 290 3.5″ floppy disks. The choice is yours, links below.

NEW: My thanks to Alan, from Berkley CA, for a second alternative link ( to an optimised Acrobat  shrunk down to a skinny 137mb file. Recommended.

Dropbox: Link to download

Mega: Alternative link (Optimised Acrobat) recommended

A labour of love on the part of our resident Blue Note First Pressing Fundamentalist supported by other collectors who have contributed information and pictures. Never before has such an ambitious project been realised, and like the best things in life, it’s free, (sadly, unlike original Blue Notes)


The source file is in the cloud. Keep watching the skies, Blue Notes incoming…



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Visitor stats to 22nd June 2014

42 thoughts on “Illustrated Guide to Blue Note First Pressings

  1. Outstanding! Thank you, Dottore, what a joy to have this updated version that I -as you know- use together with Fred’s book 🙂

  2. dottor, another question:

    i have a copy of BN1562, The Stylings of Silver, on Lexington labels. It lists the NY23 address on the cover, has the deep groves, RVG, ear, laminated frame cover, 212g vinyl weight, flat edge, and unprinted spine.

    your guide is another in addition to discogs, many popsike auctions, and even the cohen guide when i last looked, that list that the label should have 47 W 63rd address to be an original. however we all know lexingtons came first… so what is going on?

    the prevailing theory, as has been discussed in LJC’s blue note label guide, is that 1562 was either A) given a much later catalog number for some reason, pressed in the lexington era, but not released with the rest of the lexingtons of that early era (this is strongly supported by the vinyl weight, and would be further if we could show that non-laminated covers with lexington addresses existed), or B) pressed in a rare moment when old lexington labels happened to be laying around, and it is no more special or “first” than the 47 W 63rd label version.

    it is clearly a first pressing by any other indicator, so what are your thoughts on this, as you don your crown as new resident expert?

    • what I tried to describe were the many differences from the “main road” that could be found collecting Blue Note records. I’m a collector myself, not a dealer, so I’ve used various items sources and tried to put ’em together. unfortunately I hadn’t the opportunity to see them all and this is what I asked in the preface, HELP from any collector in the world to set the best light on the many BN shadows. re 1562, I would say B is the right answer. there are other number bearing Lex labels out from the 1501-1543 series. I’m no expert on printing so I don’t know if a label could be printed in two different times in order to have a Lex label with others details added later. anyway I would be pleased to add pics of your rara avis to add a little piece more.

      • i am in no way an acceptable photographer. i have a tiny digital camera that i use when i go on trips to faraway lands (hardly ever) and that’s it. no sense of lighting or anything. no idea what “f-stop” means.

        but i can try! do you want images of just the labels specifically, or also other details too?

          • will do! I’ll do my best to get you workable images. i’ll e-mail them tonight, along with some other fun ideas i came up with.

            also, i agree with bob D. the amount of work and dedication that goes into knowing these details is insane. i’d say i’m a borderline expert at the impulse catalog but after A-9150 or so there are a few odd details that stick out and my knowledge falls off quickly and is very spotty after the red/black label is phased out. you have literally covered EVERYTHING and deserve recognition, at the very least, if it gets published elsewhere.

            • ok, so major new development! i DO NOT have a copy of BN 1562. I simply have the cover. what i do have is an original “6 pieces of silver” (BN 1539) in a cover for BN 1562 on lexington labels. now where could my cover for 1539 and my vinyl for 1562 have gone? and when would i have had them out at the same time? oh dear. I don’t own a tremendous number of records: a few hundred. how does this happen? updates to follow.

    • FTR, a weight of 210 grams does not guarantee any sort of pressing vintage, for I know there are catalog numbers in the low 4000’s that were pressed that heavy as well.

      But this is indeed an interesting situation, this copy of 1562 with Lex labels. FWIW, 1562 was recorded in May 1958, which is nothing out of the ordinary regarding its catalog number. 1562 come in the middle of a very consistent run of catalog numbers with respect to their recording dates, meaning as the catalog number go up, so do the recording dates consistently and for a long stretch of time…very little jumping around, if any.

      Who knows? Maybe they found some old Lex labels and slapped em on for the first pressing, the second pressing…who the hell knows lol.

      • yes, i know the vinyl weight doesn’t guarantee anything, nor does anything else. but all of the factors together might point convincingly to something. i believe they do.

        but i did not know that into the 4000 series they were still that heavy with any regularity. another tidbit for my toolbox! thanks!

  3. Caro Dottore:

    Thank you for an amazing, lovingly compiled, brilliantly deduced , carefully assembled, methodically annotated, entirely professional and incredibly helpful work. I am in awe at the amount of work and loving care that went into this study. I am practically speechless. Now, that is one mighty rare occurrence, indeed.

    A few comments.

    • Firstly, you should have had your work copyright-protected. While I (and the rest of the readership of Andy’s blog) feel profoundly privileged to get a first peek at your work, the study you must have spent years of your life on SHOULD be copyrighted and legally protected (if it isn’t already), as it – god knows – may see an official, public release one day. This is not something that should be distributed orbi et urbi or indiscriminately, and you should not place yourself in position where someone could steal your work. I am urging you to consider the idea. While your generosity, selflessness and nobility of spirit is profoundly humbling, this is YOUR work first and foremost. If you don’t protect it, someone WILL snatch it. Everything undefended WILL be pilfered and pillaged sooner or later.
    • Secondly: if there is one thing your study shows, it is what I have been repeating like a broken (Blue Note) record for decades: there never has been and there never will be any TRUE consistency in American vinyl releases, particularly not those of the 1950s, and SPECIFICALLY NOT IN THE BLUE NOTE CATALOG, and every attempt to establish a logical or chronological sequence that will be full-proof is a priori doomed to fail (the reasons are too numerous to elaborate here, and in any event I have overstayed my welcome trying to drive my point home). . The length and complexity of your study only demonstrates what every serious Blue Note collector must have noticed the day he acquired his first few BN titles: there are no two BN titles that look, feel or sound alike. I am not convinced that many of us out there will have sufficient determination, stamina or longevity to pursue every first, first and a half, first and three quarters, first and seven eighths and second Blue Note pressing in existence, so my advice to the every Jazz lover out there is simple: do not suffer the First Pressing Fetish. It is a deadly disease which does not contribute anything meaningful to your life, but WILL rob you of money, time and energy better spent on more substantive pursuits in life. Remember the sage advice of one Suze Orman: “people first, money second, things last”. If you collect because of the sound or acoustics, there is absolutely NO guarantee that the first pressing will sound any better than the second (or even third); in fact, on early Prestige titles (1953-1957), the second pressings will CONSISTENTLY sound better than the first, and Debut originals can’t hold a candle to the Fantasy reissues.. If, however, you are collecting as a historian, I can’t help you. In all likelihood, nobody can (except, possibly, an exorcist).

    • Finally, some of your points and views elude me. This is not the right place and time to discuss them (the webmaster will give me a public whipping if I attempt to :-), I simply wanted to register a mild divergence of opinions with some of your points. Of those, I think the chunkiest is your refusal to accept stereo as a legitimate format. Believe you me, there ARE original Blue Note stereo pressings that do now, and always will, sound better than mono (granted, a minority) and that reveal fine sonic detail which the robust BN mono recordings can easily drown out.. Likewise, some of your deductions and inferences escape me,. Nonetheless, in the overall scheme of things, my gripes are too trivial and insignificant to dwell on. This is one phenomenal labor of love, and you have my kudos, hosannas, blessings and three (3) thumbs up!

    Again, thank you for a wonderful work.



    • thanks Bob:
      1) you’re right, we live in a wolves’ world but I did it for passion only, I’ll think about some protection anyway.
      2) as LJC raised me to the “first edition fundamentalist’s throne”, as I am, my personal interest is in mono recordings. I would need two lives at least to dispatch stereo too. hope some goodwill collector will begin this job.
      3) I’m very interested in questions and corrections or simply different points of view. I started from controversies and would like to go on so yours will be welcome.

    • This brought a welcome smile to my face this morning… Only Bob D could write “I am practically speechless” and then commence a post of over 600 words. 🙂

      Anyway, Dottore, your generosity in this will surely not go unrewarded.

    • Bob, you are so right in calling the First Pressing Fetish a deadly disease – but isn’t it an inevitable long-term (or not so long-term) effect of The Vinyl Fetish Itself? Where do you draw the line? The trouble somehow starts with the words “I believe that vinyl doth, and will always, sound better than…”.

      Parenthesis: I do believe that it looks, feels, and smells better.

      Quote: “If, however, you are collecting as a historian, I can’t help you. In all likelihood, nobody can (except, possibly, an exorcist).”
      Well said. But you don’t even have to be a historian to be hopelessly and foolishly in love with vinyl – to the point of making irrational and unfounded allegations about technology in some cases, and of spending “money, time and energy better spent on more substantive pursuits in life.”

  4. dottore, knowing that you made this for free makes it clear that the details were assembled out of love, which makes this an invaluable resource! thanks so much. my download has begun, and i am nervous to compare my modest few “original” blue notes to your details.

  5. A PDF Splitter app can break the file into more digestable chunks. Believe there is also software that can publish the PDF to the web in various formats and sections. LJC might even be able to host it here.

  6. I have an old .doc version of this from a while back (1-2 years maybe?), and it is indeed a really interesting reference tool, so I hope that the renewed PDF-version comes online again soon. I will of course see if I can contribute to it in any way possible.

  7. thanks for your great interest, overwhelming. I’m trying a new way to have the file available for download and gonna send the new link to LJC as soon as I get it, hope in a couple of hours. please check later.

  8. I must say, I refer to Dottore’s guide so much, I feel I need to return the favor. Dottore, if you are ever in the Boston area, please let the internet know. I can take you shopping to my favorite spots. Thank you so much for your work on this invaluable guide.

  9. I am sure Dottore’s work dwarfs Mr. Cohen’s Blue Note “Bible”. The problem: the “cloud” has burst and the account suspended. Help, Dottore! Do something! The eager collecting world is Blue Note-starved!

  10. The link says “Error (509) This account’s public links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!” I hope the file can be reposted elsewhere so it can be accessible again. I’m very excited to see this – Thanks to Giorgio and the LJC for making this available!!!!

    • Price of success, looks like Dropbox is fatigued. Problem with these “free” 15gb cloud storage offers. They are compete with each other, Google Drive, One Drive, but none of them seem robust enough to carry any degree of traffic. If any techies out there have any suggestions of alternative ways to distribute a 420mb file on demand to several hundred simultaneous users, earn your spurs. Otherwise , “Please Try Later”

      • A fast and easy alternative would be a file sharing program, like bit torrent. This would allow everyone to share the burden of traffic and the file would move around quickly. You would need to generate a torrent file for the book, post the file on LJC for anyone interested to download and then the BT program will redistribute the book to all of the people who join the swarm with their BT program.

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