LJC Guide to the Mono First Pressings of Atlantic

Illustrated Guide to Atlantic First Pressings

Permanent page: LJC Guide to Record Labels/Atlantic/label transitions

I hope this will be the enduring and unique  visual “Labelology” of Atlantic Jazz, the go-to reference for title by title identification.  Scope is limited to 1200, 1300, 1400 and 1500 series (roughly years 1955 – 1968)

Part One: Mono

1311-label-black

Which is the “original” Coltrane Giant Steps?

Giant-Steps-3fer

The one on the left, of course: the First of the First.

Label detail is inconveniently (or conveniently) lacking in many auction seller descriptions. Charitably, they were all waiting for the LJC definitive Guide. No excuses, here it comes. Well, first draft.

Atlantic-LogoOrnette Coleman and John Coltrane are just two good reasons to become familiar with Atlantic. My first stab at this label in a title by title forensic guide, completely is evidence-based – you see, not I say.

Sources the bounty of the Internet, not an entirely complete collection of the label of every title, but concentrated around the points of transition, to determine the cut-off and any transitional overlaps or anomalies. The inclusion of promo’s where found is a guarantee of early provenance. Not every title has been found at good quality picture and a few are not found at all. Cover detail, at this stage I have nothing to offer, though covers often overlap periods of issues. The label is the thing.

One or two titles not found, but the label is consistent (so far) –  a black label exists for each title in the wild, in some cases it appears to be quite rare,  outnumbered many times by later reissues. The tableau can be viewed at 2000 pixel wide full screen, mostly legible, (except where the only source is a seller’s tiny picture of jacket and record in one.)

The 2000 Series is preceded by an early Binaural recording, that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. Atlantic Jazz 1200 series 12 inch LP commences at 2012:

Atlantic-Transitions-1200-series-1200-1230-2000px-LJC

Atlantic-Transitions-1200-series-1231-1250-at-2000px

Atlantic-Transitions-1200-series-1251-1274-at-2000px

Atlantic-Transitions-1200-series-1275-1299--at-2000px

1299From 1212 to 1304 the 1st label is always black. Atlantic seems to have had an orderly manufacturing process, not like small independent jazz labels who cannibalised old labels. With the 1300 series, matters become a more complicated, especially as revenue streams were sought from reissues alongside new titles.

1305 c1959Contrary to my expectations from general Atlantic labelography, detailed research title by title reveals the “bullseye” design which some refer to as the “pinwheel”, appears only for selected releases, starting with 1305 Mingus Blues and Roots, whilst the black label continued in general use. The bullseye label did not “take over” from the black label.

Pictured below are those titles where the bullseye is the 1st release (ie there is no earlier black label found) and those where an earlier black label is found. The bullseye was also used for some second pressings of earlier back label titles – not shown here.

1333 The black label was phased out at 1332 and the Plum/Orange White Fan label took over as the main Atlantic label for new releases and reissues.

This was news to me, I hope I have got it right but that is what the examination title by title suggests.

There are titles where black, pinwheel and plum orange white fan are all found – here for example, three mono  editions, 1312 The Genius of Ray Charles:

1312-three-mono-editions

The existence of a black label is definitive. More than a few pinwheel are second pressings, several years following the black label. There is no evidence that different pressing plants unilaterally decided to issue different labels, or there would be more evidence of chaotic variation than is the case. All possibilities need to be considered, but looking at the choice of titles on which the first pressing is on the pinwheel/ bullseye (ie a black label is not found), these are no doubt high-profile prestigious release for Atlantic, and that is where I think the better explanation is likely to be found. That is my hypothesis. See that long run of black labels which continues after the pinwheel first appears, then a continuous run of plum/orange.

Atlantic-Transitions1.2-Black-label-1300-2000px

The pairing between mono and stereo original pressings is not always symmetrical. For example where you might expect the plain green stereo equivalent to the plain black, there is the green/blue bullseye (possibly by reason of the time-lag between release of the mono and stereo editions).

1311mono-and-stereo

(Stereo labels will be looked at more closely in later section of this guide)

1960-62 Plum Orange White Fan, and the Registered Trademark arrives

On to the Plum/Orange Black Fan transition from the White Fan.It is not uncommon to find auctions where sellers claim “original” status merely because the label is Plum/Orange, or bullseye, without regard to the existence of earlier labels. Examples currently found:

THREE-ORIGINALS-EBAY

Gentlemen, gentlemen, they can’t all be “originals” can they?

The significance of “R”

As with Blue Note, trademark registration occurred around 1961. Note the presence or otherwise of the Registered Trademark R symbol on the label. If it is the pre-R range and it has an R, or it is black fan where it should be white fan, it is a later pressing. Example:

PLUM-ORANGE-FIRST-or-LATER-LJC-1200

Transition from Black label to Plum/Orange Black Fan via the white fan, replaced by black during 1962. Many of this series were first issued in white fan, reissued in black fan. The fan-colour is the essential identifier of provenance.

Atlantic-Transitions2-White-Fan-label-1800-LJC

Plum/Orange Black Fan

(Work in progress) This is a fairly mammoth task, but it is clear there are two important design variants which effectively “datestamp” a plum/orange black fan label – the “Atlantic” name appears in the logobox either as a vertical left sidebar (up to 1966), or later as a horizontal footer from 1966-68.

Atlantic-two-logoboxes-LJC-1600

Black Fan/Left Sidebar kicks in  at Atlantic 1390. During research I came across a good number of especially Herbie Mann titles which were first released  on Black Fan/Left Sidebar which went on to be reissued on Plum/Orange with Black Fan 2nd design,  “ATLANTIC” below the fan, which was in use 1966-8.

Atlantic-Transitions3-Black-Fan-label-1390-1420--2000px

Atlantic-Transitions5-Black-Fan-label-1461---1486-2000px-LJC

Atlantic-Transitions6-Black-Fan-label-1487--14xxx-master-2000px

My God, what a year of transition: 1968, it looks like mono is officially certified  “dead”. Plum/ Orange is jettisoned – last year’s colours, the future is Blue/Green, (until killed off rapidly by new corporate branding: Green/Orange).  The 1500 series kicks off in Stereo only with 1501 (shadowed at 1500 by the well established stereo series in Blue/Green Black Fan)  Perhaps nervous execs at Atlantic worry about backlash from buyers without stereo equipment, so a new magic “scientific process” CSG is rushed out of the marketing laboratory. (Compatible Stereo Generator) CSG is compatible. The matrix numbers switch to a CSG -A prefix. Briefly

SC-1501-CSG-cover

The catalogue number of the 1500 series is re-branded SC 1501 (stereo compatible, for mono users?) instead of SD. False alarm, the new SC  identity reverts within a few titles to the familiar  SD catalogue number, leaving only collectors baffled.Strange things happen in the footer of the label. Suddenly, sales distribution is credited to Atlantic, then suddenly manufacturing credits appear.

From SD 1512 onwards the green/orange/multi maintains the continuity of label for first pressings in the 1500 series.

SC-1512-17-five-series

None of this matters except if you are concerned about the provenance of a record, particularly its’ status as an “original pressing” . In the course of this research I have seen the over-used word “original” in countless auctions where it does not stand scrutiny, to a large extent due to the lack of knowledge on the part of sellers. It’s a nice word, and if no-one really knows, why not?  As far as Atlantic is concerned that is now  game-over.

Still to follow: -Stereo, though that would appear much less complicated, plain green label becomes blue green, easy peasy.  I hope*.

*Correction (October 12, 2014) Stereo is wearing me down! I will return to it at a later date.

The redoubtable BSNPUBS states stereo label transitions at :

1211-1332

1333-78

1379-1463

Never mind the labels, LJC, what about the music?

The Atlantic Jazz 12″ 1200 series is extraordinarily diverse. Along side the pioneering cutting edge of Mingus, Coltrane, and Ornette, and the soul of ray Charles, there are Dixieland and Southern Heritage, Avant Garde numerous popular jazz singers like Chris Conner and a stable of others with little lasting appeal, lots and lots of Herbie Mann, more than a few novelty records, a mirror to American life in the Fifties and early Sixties.  Some things to treasure, and a few things better forgotten.

The long run of the Plum/Orange Black Fan through to the eponymous Red/Green label between 1962 and 1968 contains fewer interesting revelations and wanders into less musically interesting territory.Coltrane moved to Impulse, and Atlantic focussed on the emerging teenage markets for rock and pop. The markets had spoken, Atlantic jazz was a spent force except for reissues from the back catalogue, but they left a rich legacy from the early years, and thank them for that.

LJC

Please send any errors found or anomalies to LJC, and help improve The Guide.The payback long run is an authoritative source to improve the accuracy of auction descriptions and therefore to the benefit of both buyers and sellers.

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56 thoughts on “LJC Guide to the Mono First Pressings of Atlantic

  1. Post tenebrae lux. I wish to congratulate LJC for this tremendous job. LJC has had the courage to literally attack, dig himself in and explore new territories. The result is a handy guide for the interested collector. I learned a lot. Some pre-conceived ideas proved totally wrong

      • Andy, a few quick comments:

        • I checked my image archive, and I can confirm that the trademark symbol (R) was initially applied ONLY to the 1300 series (none of the stock labels in the 8000 series appear to have one until at least 1965), and then only to a relatively small subset of the 1300 line. Atlantic appears to have trademarked only a fraction of their Jazz line, presumably to make sure that Ahmet and Nesuhi receive separate revenue accounting from the rest of the management, and that they continue receiving their royalties long after they had divested from the company. However, and this is where things get to become extremely curious, a handful of 1964-1965 promotional releases in the 8000 line do carry a trademark symbol and, to make things even more interesting, have no Atlantic “sidebar” around the “fan logo” — a design that was discontinued on 8000 stock labels nearly four years prior.
        • You claim that (quote): “The “Atlantic” name appears in the logobox either as a vertical left sidebar (up to 1966), or later as a horizontal footer from 1966-68.” . I have some misgivings about your timeframes: namely, the “vertical” sidebar was discontinued at some point in late 1966. The Exciting Wilson Pickett (8129) released mid-year 1966 still carries a vertical bar. Pickett’s Wicked Pickett album (8138), which was copyrighted and trademarked in 1966, but, according to Wikipedia, released in 1967), has a horizontal footer on the stock mono labels, but vertical on the promos. To me this serves as a pretty significant proof that virtually all horizontal “footers” are of the 1967 vintage, with a handful of them spilling over into the first quarter of 1968, when Atlantic finally discontinued monos.

        Interestingly enough, a monumentally rare white label promo with RED PRINT of Aretha Franklin’s :Lady Soul album (Atlantic 8176, released technically in January 1968, but realistically not earlier than March 1968, probably the very last popular title Atlantic released in mono) still carries a “vertical” sidebar, while the stock mono has a horizontal footer.

        In view of the above, I think we can safely conclude that Atlantic’s white promotional releases from roughly 1960 until the end of the mono era (mid-1968) follow a completely different – and rather complex – logic of their own, distinct from the stock pressings, and may or may not overlap with stock labels in terms of graphic design. I think that, given this fact, it would be a good idea to either completely exclude Atlantic’s white promotional releases from your chart, or to compile a separate chart dedicated strictly to Atlantic’s promotional labels. Otherwise, the white Atlantic promos will stick out like a sore thumb.

  2. That’s much appreciated LJC. Your therapy is most beneficial; a gift to vinyl collectors. Very useful guide I’d say indeed – I see plenty of Atlantics at my LRS but I’m never too sure of their ‘provenance’, Next time I’ll be whipping out the iPhone to consult this.

  3. LJC: thanks for the update.
    I allow myself two remarks:
    -in the bottom end “what about the music? You ignore the presence in the early 1200-series of artists like Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Jimmy Giuffre, Teddy Charles, Lennie Tristano, Jack Montrose, Tony Fruscella, Milt Jackson, John Lewis, Conte Candoli, Shorty Rogers, to name a few, which should have been mentioned in fairness to Nesuhi.
    – ref. to # 1234: can one reasonably expect the average EBay seller to be familiar with the intricacies of first, second or third pressings of the Atlantic label (or any other label)? My answer is NO. Very often these sellers are mom & pop garage sales sellers, who are unfamiliar with these détails. The buyer has his own responsibility. And thanks to this fantastic review, buyers can now judge for themselves.
    If sellers are ignorant; and buyers are ignorant, the sale is perfect. If sellers are knowledgeable and the buyer is ignorant, the deal can be perfect (a happy buyer). If the buyer is knowledgeable and the seller not, or the seller is cheating, the buyer acts in accordance with his own criteria, whence the importance of LJC’s work.
    The lesson: buyers have their own responsibility. A seller claiming to sell an original should not be believed prima facies. One should check and be alert. Caveat emptor!

  4. Perhaps we could discuss the dead wax of Atlantic releases? (I was trying to get this conversation going on the Steve Hoffman forum with no luck.)

    I have a stereo copy of Giant Steps with the white fan, and here are the matrix numbers:

    Side 1: AVCO ST-A-59201 (59202 is scribbled out)
    Side 2: AVCO ST-A-59202

    I’m suspicious that this is the same matrix as the bullseye copy. Is there anyone who owns that copy that would be willing to share this info?

    Also, my mono black fan copy of Giant Steps seems a little strange:

    Side 1: 11637-A (weird symbol that looks like an upside-down sailor hat) AT
    Side 2: 11638-A (weird symbol that looks like two arrows stacked on top of each other) AT

    This copy came from Canada and I’m wondering if these weird symbols suggest that it was pressed in Canada…anybody??

    • Atlantic 1311, mono, dg, black label, USA
      side 1: 11637-A and AT surmounting a little dot (.) surmounting number 4
      side 2: 11638-A and AT surmounting a little dot (.)
      all etchings look hand-made, maybe only number 4 looks printed

      • Interesting archived exchange here over Giant Steps on Jazz Collector
        http://jazzcollector.com/jazz-vinyl/giant-steps-black-or-bulls-eye-or-both/
        According to a WB post elsewhere I found AT denotes a lacquer cut at Atlantic studios but the same post also suggests that Atlantic would have been using lots of pressing plants.
        All the same, I suppose the argument would be that 1311 mono first pressing was pressed at Presswell plant with the black label.
        Question is: was it also pressed elsewhere with the bullseye label around the same time?
        My copy, bought 20 odd years ago, is the later Atlantic green and orange reissue – I’ve always thought it sounds pretty good.

    • I’ve got a later Atlantic group pressing. Matrix reads:

      ST A 59201 F
      ST A 59202 F

      Neither side says Avco.

      I deduce from this — probably entirely wrongly — that mine is probably a sixth pressing from the first stampers.

  5. LJC: disregard my remark about the end of the black pinwheel labels: the horizontal Atlantic appeared probably in a period not covered by your study. I maintain my remark about the 1200-series: not all of them were black.
    What you have meant to say, and ably so, is that the bull’s eye label was not the intermediate label between the black labels and the plum/orange. I was always under that impression, but wrongly so. The question of first pressings is a related one, but secondary. The reality is a landscape full of surprises, without logic, as shown in your matrix.

    For me the outstanding ones are 1305 and 1320. They show that there is no logic, as Bob D. says, they were messing around.

    The role of Nesuhi Ertegun cannot be underestimated: he gave opportunities to such artists as Teddy Charles to make two excellent albums, which, no doubt, were no commercial successes

    To illustrate this:
    On Feb. 13, 1969, Nesuhi Ertegun wrote to me:
    quote:
    Dear Mr….
    Many thanks for your kind letter of November 5th.
    I am very happy to hear of your continuing interest in jazz music. Many of the records you mention have been discontinued. I was able to find copies of four of them, and am sending them to you uder separate cover and at no charge.
    I hope you enjoy listening to these records.

    With best wishes,
    cordially,
    Atlantic Rcording Corporation,
    Nesuhi Ertegun
    unquote
    The albums he sent me were 1229, 1274 both Teddy Charles and 1268 West Coast Wailers (Conte Candoli/Bill Holman). I forgot which was the fourth one.

  6. Atlantic was a hell of a label: they featured, chronologically, the talents of:
    Shorty Rogers
    Lennie Tristano
    Jack Montrose
    Lee Konitz
    MJQ/John Lewis
    Charles Mingus
    Milt Jackson
    Jimmy Giuffre
    Warne Marsh
    John Coltrane
    Ornette Coleman
    Bob Brookmeyer,
    to mention just a few with albums Under their own name.
    European collectors in Atlantic’s heydays were dependent on London (U.K.), Atlantic (France) and Metronome (DK) ‘s decisions to issue Atlantic titles.
    Ornette’s # 1317 was not issued in the U.K., it was in Denmark; in France a selection was issued early 1960’s on a 10″, to test the market. # 1327 was issued in the U.K. on London, but not in Denmark.
    My first copy of “Giant Steps” was on London. Later I bought bull’s eyes versions on Metronome and Atlantic (Fr.), the latter with an alternative cover. With three European originals in my vaults I never felt like paying a fortune for a US black original.

    • P.S.
      when Atlantic took care of business in the U.K. directly, without passing through London, they issued 1317, in 1966, six years after the initial US issue.

  7. Andy. this is a wonderful research, and I wholeheartedly salute your persistence and stamina in assembling this chart (for those of us in the earliest stages of cataract, a slightly larger and more zoom-friendly image would be in order, but don’t let my constant kvetching and whining stand in the way of your laurel wreath: behold the master!, just ignore me, as I am sure most of the cherished readership enthusiastically will)

    (Bob’s post continues here, moved to Purgatory)

    • sorry BUT I do care for any feature on a given record, trademarks included.
      nor me nor anyone around me, but we’re all doctors, has ever thought there was something wrong in my way of considering how a record should be to be acknowledged as original.
      the exact opposite is what most sellers do.
      just this afternoon I was offered BN 1509: Lex, flat edge, ear, RVG etched, framed cover, blank spine. ALL these esoteric and hermetic features got some money out of my pocket and a nice original home.
      was I wrong?

      • Dottore – I’d like to make an appointment your surgery Do you offer Blue Note therapy for collector envy anxiety brought on by looking at jazzcollector.com and LJC.
        I suppose if original means ‘first press’ then Bob has a very good point if we’re talking about records that may have been pressed across different pressing plants with no consistent label policy.
        In the case of labels that pressed smaller amounts at one plant, say Blue Note, there are going to be coincidental features which will support first press status. Blue Train is a case point I believe.
        But Blue Note may have pressed some records, and when they sold well, pressed em again – I’ve always wondered how I would know the difference.
        Hmmmm.. will I be sent to purgatory for my ramblings?

        • There is no evidence that different plants opted for different Atlantic label designs, this is pure and mischevious speculation by BD, unsupported by any evidence, as is usual. The evidence is to the contrary, that designs were consistent between different plants issuing the same title, and that a considerable degree of central control was exercised, otherwise there would be multiple examples of label variations from the same release . If you look at hundreds and hundreds of offerings (Discogs, Ebay, Popsike, fan-sites) doesn’t happen. Chaos Theory requires evidence of chaos.

          • what is exactly known about the various pressing plants? How many were they and where were they situated? Did the various pressing plants each cover the whole catalogue or were specific items pressed by plant A and others by plant B etc.? Is a specific plant recognizeable by a marking in the dead wax?
            Then, of course, the big question is, whether all this is relevant at all.

            • As best I understand it, the economics of national distribution in a country 2,000 miles wide resulted in majors establishing pressing plants for East Coast: NY/NJ, West Coast: LA, and the middle America: Indiana, beyond that, Nashville no doubt and others.

              If there is any difference in the sonic quality of the output of such plants I am not aware of it. Not to say I know there isn’t, but there are so many other variables, particularly the variable of progressive stamper-wear within individual pressing runs, and the common-source master, that I doubt it would be possible to determine whether pressing number 3,000 from Pitman, NJ sounded better the Terre Haute 3,000th. Who would be foolish enough to collect multiple copies of the same record who could test it?( Wait! Beatles collectors, step forward!)

              There are dead-wax marking on Columbia, and I believe Atlantic, that identify which plant pressed, but whether there is any benefit from knowing it, I doubt, in my view it is a fool’s errand. However by observation, when there is an object of intense affection, enthusiasts will collect an infinite amount of detail to closen their bond with their “loved one”. Who is to deny them that pleasure?

              • Andy, at the apex of its production (circa 1969-73) Atlantic was either affiliated with or outright OWNED at least (!) 10 pressing plants nationwide, and some of these plants can be identified by using a 2- or 3-letter suffix following the matrix numbers at the bottom of the label:

                These are:

                • PR = Presswell Records Mfg. Co., Ancora, NJ – they handled most of Atlantic’s LP’s during much of this period
                • LY = Shelley Products, Huntington Station, NY
                • SP = Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA
                • MO = Monarch Record Mfg. Co., Los Angeles, CA
                • PL = Plastic Products, Inc., Memphis, TN (mostly 45’s, alas)
                • RI = PRC Recording Corp., Richmond, IN
                • AR = Allied Record Co., Inc., Los Angeles, CA (after WEA acquired the plant in ’78-’79)

                Now, there are two VERY important things that need to be noted here.

                Firstly, the number of Atlantic’s pressing vendors INCREASED exponentially between the end of the “Bull’s Eye” label (1960) and 1965, particularly between 1963 and 1965, During the critical early phase (1950-1960), the number of the vendors was actually rather limited, probably not more than two or three pressing facilities altogether (Presswell alone handled close to 90% of all Atlantic’s production during this period). The number of Atlantic’s pressing plants gradually increased and probably reached 10 or so in the early-to-mid 1960’s. What is important to note here is that identification of the pressing plant ON THE RECORD LABEL did NOT start until around 1965, which is to say, until the fourth generation of the Atlantic’s label (green and blue stereo with black “fan” logo, purple and plum mono with black ‘plum’ logo). One will NEVER be able to infer the precise pressing plant for an Atlantic pressing based on the vinyl label prior to 1965. Mission impossible.

                Secondly, and more importantly, the abbreviations noted above are merely a tip of the iceberg of Atlantic’s pressing vendors. Around 1970, when the Led Zeppelin hysteria hit the fans in earnest and Atlantic could not pump enough copies of Led Zeppelin II and IV, the company was actually struggling to find sufficient number of pressing facilities nationwide with large enough production capacities to handle Atlantic’s market needs (this being one of the main reasons for the company’s merger into Kinney Group, later WEA). As a result, between 1969 and 1971 Atlantic teamed up with practically every single pressing facility in the nation in order to meet the needs of the insatiable Rock and Soul market. In essence, this means that at the peak of Atlantic’s commercial success (circa 1970, give or take a few months), the company was using AT LEAST – AT LEAST! – 20 different pressing plants nationwide, and quite possibly as many as 30. Presswell was still handling the bulk of Atlantic’s production, but by this time Columbia Terre Haute, Monarch Pressing Plant (or simply: Monarch Records) in Los Angeles and PRC in Indiana have taken over a significant chunk of the company’s pressing business. To this day, I continue finding new and unidentified Atlantic pressing plant suffixes. These include DC, DGC, SO, SVP, MG (MGM), CP, CS. CTH (the last three are certifiably Columbia-owned plants) and many, many, many other. Not all of these pressed all the titles. Some of these, such as MGM pressings, can only be found on a handful of Dusty Springfield, Led Zeppelin and Wilson Pickett titles (possibly other). Others were more universal and pressed almost the entire Atlantic catalog.

                Am I doubtful that the matrix stamps in the trail-off vinyl can (easily) identify Atlantic pressing vendor OTHER than those pressed by Columbia. Even on Columbia pressings of Atlantic titles, it would require the Enigma machine to decrypt the exact pressing location. People from Columbia could not give me a clear and unambiguous answer on how to discern the embedded code of their matrix numbers.

                Finally, I must dissent with your assertion that there might be no sonic differences between different pressing facilities . At least one Atlantic’s vendor (Monarch Records, Los Angeles) produced copies of significantly higher sonic and material grade and their acoustics and dynamics are consistently and sometimes significantly superior to the remaining ones, which probably helps explain why the copies of titles by Rock artists produced by this facility are in great demand and highly coveted. An excruciatingly rare copy of Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East made by Monarch can fetch as much as ten times the amount of the copy produced by Presswell.

                IN addition to Monarch’s 2-digit code (MO) at the bottom of Atlantic labels between 1965 and 1975, Monarch pressings had a very distinct round stamp with acronym MR (Monarch Records) within a circle. None of other Atlantic vendors used similar stamps, although once in awhile (very rarely, though) one can find Atlantic pressing with Bell Sound Labs, Sterling Sound or Audiomatrix stamps. The Monarch dead wax stamp looks like this…

                …and can be found on a number of other period releases by OTHER labels as well (Elektra, A&M, Asylum), not only Atlantic’s.

                Finally, one must say that even the Atlantic’s copies produced by the same plant – and even at the same time (!) – can sound differently, Those copies mastered by Bob Ludwig – as surely every Led Zeppelin collector knows by now – tend to sound light years ahead of the “regular” pressings and are considered “true” audiophile pressings with significantly boosted dynamics, acoustic and frequency range, and those mastered by George Piros (and, not quite as commonly, by Lee Hulko), can be almost as coveted.

                Very little of this affects Atlantic’s production during the period captioned in this Article. Most of what I described kicked in around 1965 and ended in the mid-1980s. I am doubtful that Bob Ludwig ever mastered a single Atlantic Jazz title, although I know for fact that George Piros did quite a few.

                • Bob, buddy, that post could have been one-tenth as long if you stuck to the topic at hand, which is classic jazz LPs circa 1955-1965. That being said, it was interesting to learn the story of how Atlantic handled the market demands of the early Zeppelin records. And depending on one’s attention to detail, one may or may not hear much of a difference between pressing plants. I’m guessing I probably could, especially if the master disks were different, but if someone thinks they sound the same, I’m not about to waste my time trying to prove to them that they need to “listen better”…ahem.

        • Andy, you welcome, any record has got his price, you gotta choose and make an offer…
          some time ago I read a discussion about the term “original”.
          in the right corner those (the buyers) who intended the term as ORIGINAL FIRST PRESSING.
          in the left corner those (the sellers) who intended the term as NOT FIRST BUT OLD ENOUGH.
          as, for every market, supply and demand must meet, I am strictly on the right corner’s side.
          selling an original? please let’s have a full descriptions of any features.
          selling a non-original? please be as accurate.
          the seller offers the record but the buyer offers the money.
          the seller has his rights but the buyer has got ’em too.
          if the term original should be intended as first pressing, no one will be pissed off any more.
          a second or third, is a second or third pressing, not an original.
          I’ve seen a lot of original BN on UA label, a lot without ear or without dg (when it was due).
          these aren’t originals, at least for me.
          am I alone?

          • I am afraid this discussion is besides the point. As a buyer I decide whether the item I am bidding on is an original or not and I will fix the price accordingly. If i have not got enough details supplied by the seller, I ask them, in order to decide whether i want the record or not. If he does not reply to specific questions, I abstain.
            Never ever a seller is to decide for me whether an item is an original or not. He may advertise his record as he likes, I don’t care. I decide, nobody else.

          • If a seller wants to use a word to convey the fact that they copy they have is not a “modern” reissue, I think that would is “vintage” and certainly not “original”. In all fairness though, in many instances, what we think is an original pressing i.e. a first edition is a best educated guess. For example, the majority of the collecting community seems to accept that NY23 copies of Blue Train are “true” originals (perhaps dogmatically by way of Cohen’s book, for which following anything dogmatically I don’t believe in). But for me personally, there’s no evidence disproving the possibility that the W63 no R copies aren’t from the same run.

            Not that we could ever really know this, but should a record that was pressed just a few months after the first pressing be considered an original? My guess is many collectors would say ‘no’, to which I would passionately reply “WHO CARES?!” lol. I personally am more interested in a vintage copy of an album. As long it seems to me that it was pressed in a relatively short amount of time after the first release, I can feel sure that the tape was fresh for the cutting of the master (even though the “cool factor” is still there for me in this case, I will admit that first pressings are certainly more exciting to behold. 🙂 ).

            In sum, I challenge any first pressing fundamentalists to take their obsession to the level of trying to determine what the first COPY pressed was for a particular title. 😉

            • vintage is the right word BUT very, very difficult to find, maybe impossible in the correct sense (Herbie Nichols on UA is not vintage for me, it’s a later issue).
              re Morgan’s Sidewinder, wonderful copy, where’s deep groove?
              there are two versions of 4157, one with dg, the other without.
              as we all know, there are two theories about dg on Blue Note after 4058.
              nor Cohen/Cohn nor Songer have clearly established or demonstrated which is the right one. For this particular number Fred and Larry consider dg as first issue, Allan the opposite.
              who’s right? the only thing to do, in order to be sure to owe THE original, is to get them all.
              re Trane’s Blue Train, I’ve got two copies, one 47W63 both sides and one NY 23 on one side. As Trane is #1 for me, I keep them both, but the title of original goes to the second one, at least until a double NY 23 will surface. never in my knowledge, till now, but who knows?
              I understand that: music first, edition after.
              my personal way of enjoying a record at maximum level is to search for the first pressing in the best conditions possible.
              ok it’s a lot of money and a hard task but, until I’ll lose interest, passion and fun I’ll keep on searching for something that can keep my life happier.

              • (Sorry to go off-topic, everyone)

                I had a feeling you were referring to the lack of a deep groove on the Morgan album. 😉

                Regarding post-4059 deep grooves, there is no evidence that suggests to me that one theory or the other is indisputably true. The theory that deep groove dies probably preceded non-deep groove dies simply because the technology was older doesn’t hold much weight with me though–in fact, to stop there in one’s reasoning seems to suggest a somewhat underdeveloped understanding of the issue. It’s as if someone were to conclude that a copy of The Sidewinder was original simply because it had deep grooves. This might make sense for an album that was originally released before 1961 when deep grooves were standard, but what the heck does that imply about an album released three years after deep grooves started to be phased out? (To be fair, Cohen did a great job of remaining neutral in his book, explaining that he documented the existence of deep groove pressings in his book merely because of conventional “wisdom”.)

                Additionally, while I have seen one instance where a review copy post-4059 was deep groove, in all the other instances they are non-deep groove. Anyway, while I think Songer is on to something, I don’t think he has an indisputable theory, and my stance therefore is who the hell knows lol. And for eBay listings, I think it’s fair to call both deep groove and non-deep groove copies of post-4059 titles with “P’s” originals.

    • My two cents:

      It’s up to each of us to examine the evidence and draw our own conclusions. Certainly, information on record labels compiled half a century after their initial release is not certain. LJC, I think you have done a wonderful job of giving your best effort to tackle these mysterious and often confusing topics.

      I think the utility of label guides is beside the point, but I personally like to have a sense of when my copy of an album was most likely pressed. There are practical reasons for it but it’s also just fun to think about, to play detective and try to unearth the mystery of each record. And if it’s possible to feel pretty certain about it being an original press, well, maybe it’s hard to explain, but I think we all get a rush from that. The first pressing phenomenon is really fascinating…I guess it’s the same with the first edition of books. For some reason, the first release of something is just special. But I think it goes without saying that there is value in what LJC is doing.

      I think if we proceed with the understanding that nothing is certain and that we are merely taking our best guess, we can do no harm.

      • agree, as absolute Truth is impossible to achieve (yet), we, the serious buyers, like to spend our serious money on the most serious first pressing. can anyone out there can say the same for most sellers? except for serious money requested?
        any effort to get near the Truth is welcome and this site is becoming/has already become to be Heaven for buyers BUT Hell for a lot of sellers.

  8. Thanks for this: love the label, love the music. Now I know for sure my Stereo ‘Free Jazz’ is indeed a first press!

  9. Two possible extensions to your excellent study:
    the beginning of Atlantic’s 12″ series carried over from their 10″ series a yellowish label with black letters. I have had trad albums, i.a. 1208 Sidney Bechet, with yellow labels and ALS as pre-fix. It is commonly believed that 12″ Atlantic starts with # 1212. This is incorrect. But the yellow pre-1212 albums were deleted in 1956/57.
    At the end of the plum/orange labels, black pinwheel period, “Atlantic” was printed horizontally under the pinwheel, not vertically.

  10. FYI… 1200 series had three labels, Gold / Black, Black / Silver and, for stereo releases, Green / Black. I have examples of each. I also have examples the Black mono and Green stereo labels into the 1300 series.

    • BSNPUBS: “1333 New “white fan” label design starts about here.”

      I don’t like their approach to the “evidence”, and I don’t feel need of a track listing of every title. There is no (photographic) evidence of their assertion, you just have to take their word for it. I prefer to draw my own conclusions based on my own research.

      I think bothsidesnow rely on appeal to authority, not to say they don’t mean well, but evidence is King in an Internet-world ,and evidence can be shared visually.

      • Their approach to evidence is similar to yours: compiling the data wherever one can find them and then parsing the information for any historical clues and patterns. In many cases, they rely on outside contributors, and those typically (but not always) know what they are talking about. I contributed to their Keen/Famous discography page. Granted, some of their information can be a little flawed; I found multiple errors in their Buddah page, and there are probably others, but this should not be attributed to premeditated malice..

        In any event, there is no law that would ban the bloggers from contacting each other and exchanging their data and/or information. I never thought this would or should be a zero-sum game.

        • In almost all listed titles just catalogue number, title, and typed track-listing, no pictures or words regarding the first label, no comments, no mention of essential detail. “Similarity in approach” around zero whatsoever, Bob.

  11. An original copy of Ornette Coleman’s This is Our Music would be a dream find for me – one of my very favourite records. Many classics on Atlantic IMO including every single one of the Ornette records and most of the Coltrane records. Then there’s Mingus, and the Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk record – a high point for everyone who plays on it. In signing these musicians they were really quite adventurous.
    It’s not the most important label in jazz terms alone but its pioneering of soul and R&B was not simply a teenage market – there’s some great and interesting music in there too (Otis Redding, Dr John, Aretha) and makes it one of the most important labels of all time.

    • Andy C, A couple of years back completely unexpectedly I bought just that – a first stereo press of THIS IS OUR MUSIC. I think I paid twelve quid for it. The seller subsequently said to me in an email, I don’t know why I sold that Ornette original so cheaply – I think it was because I had had it for ages and no one seemed at all interested in it…

      Now I can check and make sure it’s a first pressing.

      Not that it bothers me all that much, if I’m quite honest – it is still a lovely period piece even if it isn’t quite a first.

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