Impulse Part IV The end of monaural format The years between 1966 and 1968 saw the ending of the mono ( “monaural”) format for home listening of Impulse, ushering in the brave new world of stereo once and for all. The orange/black label ABC Paramount label changes to ABC Records Inc. The music is wild. Archie Shepp at his most dangerous, Coltrane’s final years, Albert Ayler, Emil Richards and the Microtonal Blues Band (alumni of the maverick musical instrument creator Harry Partch) and Impulse blues guitar discovery, Mel Brown. Some of the covers discovered in this catalogue review are quite remarkable like this comic tongue-in-cheek take on urban black attitudes, by Clifford Coulter. You don’t get to see these things when you are looking for what you already know.
With Impulse! the vinyl record label is the only evidence of First Pressing status.
The objective of the guide is to identify, for each record in the Impulse catalogue, what label the 1st release should have. Because records were not released in catalogue number order, some not for several years after recording, there are some releases found which appear “out of sequence” with their catalogue neighbours. This is most common at points of transition, and certain Coltrane releases.
The assumption of a simple chronological run of a certain type of label leads to miss-steps, hence the label archeology proceeds record by record to identify the oldest label found to exist. The gold standard is to find earliest variety of orange/black label: proof of original status. If only a later label variety is found, there is a suspicion that the title was released at a later date and legitimately bears 1st pressing status. It remains a possibility that an earlier label does exist but has not yet come to light. A good example is Coltrane Ballads, for which is known to exist on the first orange black Am Par label, but is overwhelmingly found on the second orange/black, ABC Paramount label. Whether this matters is a moot point, but “original” means first, if it means anything at all.
The gold standard for Impulse! is the label of normal commercial release. The Impulse promo, destined for radio stations, is usually though not always mono during this time, with a white label with minimal corporate information. However, it is useful in that it confirms he format of record catalogue number on first release (e.g. with or without suffix-A/-B), offers a mono listening opportunity, and in some cases, possibly the only mono edition, as there is a suspicion that the commercial release may have been only stereo. At AS-9166 and upwards, Impulse white label promo’s become stereo, and no sort of mono edition is found for promo or commercial release.
The Label Guide
A-9101 to A-9125 (Updated Nov 25, 2014, three replacements, now complete)
Promos become the main source of mono releases, with the tell-tale MONAURAL description on the cover. Preference is given here to orange/black if found, however for many releases the only mono found is the promo, suggesting the commercial release had already become de facto, stereo. A-9151 to A-9165
The final curtain falls for mono, relegated increasingly to only promo for radio stations, which also helped limit their miss-use for resale. The disposal of radio station archives is often mentioned as the source of many of these copies.
Stereo copies of these titles are found in abundance on the internet, but mono remains elusive, and decent pictures of the actual record even rarer still. Possibly mono commercial releases do not exist for some of these titles. More than a few times records described as mono were in fact stereo. Release schedules, notably Coltrane works, were dictated by other issues and are often out of catalogue sequence in label provenance.
Impulse producer Bob Thiele is pictured on the cover of one of his own records on A-9159)
A-9165 Albert Ayler Love Cry looks the final title in mono (promo at least) though there are at least three lower catalogue number titles that are found only in stereo. All generalisations are dangerous, including this one.
From here on, A-9166, Impulse appears to be stereo all the way. However if you have mono for any later titles, raise a flag, better still, provide a picture. Similarly if you have a better picture than these I was able to find in a short space of time, or one missing, send and I will update. No doubt there are some mistakes too, corrections welcomed.
UPDATE Dottorjazz has created a handy synopsis of what we know about Impulse. I’ll post it here, for now, and a permanent place for it longer term in the Guide to Labels. The fearless label hunter has also turned up some of the missing labels, thank you Dottore. (WordPress has jumbled up the formatting a bit, hopefully I have corrected it right)
ORANGE LABEL: MONO
A-1 to A-33: a product of AM PAR record comp (A-29 first ABC?, not found on AM PAR)
A-34 to A-100: a product of ABC Paramount records INC
A-1 to A-80 (except A-79-A), A-99, A-100 : NO suffix -A
A-79-A, from A-81-A on: suffix -A (A-9101?): third in a series without suffix-A, may exist without suffix-A
A-9101-? to A-9132-A, A-9135-A, A-9136-A, A-9143-A: a product of ABC Paramount records INC (except A-9120-A: a product of ABC records INC New York, N.Y. 10019-made in USA)
WHITE PROMO, orange label not yet found, if exists: no credits, no address A-9126-A, A-9133-A, A-9137-A, A-9140-A, A-9144-A, A-9147-A, A-9149-A, A-9150-A, A-9151-A, A-9152-A, A-9153-A, A-9154-A, A-9155-A, A-9157-A, A-9158-A, A-9159-A, A-9163-A A-9138-A,
A-9142-A: a product of ABC records INC New York, N.Y. 10019 – made in USA)
A-9139-A, A-9165-A: later ABC white promo
A-9165-A: LAST IMPULSE MONO? only in later white promo A-9141-A, A-9145-A, A-9146-A, A-9148-A, A-9156-A, A-9160-A, A-9164-A: ??, not found A-9156, A-9161, A-9162,
A-9166: STEREO ONLY
GLOSSY LABEL A-1 to A-90 A-85: my copy is glossy on side 2 only MATT LABEL from A-94 A-91, A-92, A-93: uncertain
ORANGE LABEL: STEREO
A-1-S to A-14-S: a product of AM PAR record comp
AS-15 to AS-33: a product of AM PAR record comp (AS-27 and AS-29 first ABC?, not yet found on AM PAR)
AS-34 to AS-76, AS-80 and AS-99: a product of ABC Paramount records INC
SUFFIX-A / -B: AS-77-A to AS-9133-A, A-9135-A, A-9136-A, AS-9144-A and AS-9151-A: a product of ABC Paramount records INC (except AS-9120-A)
AS-9120-A, AS-9134-A, A-9137-A to AS-9164-A: a product of ABC records INC New York, N.Y. 10019-made in USA
9141, 9148, 9154, 9156, 9160, 9161, 9162 (BLACK/RED)
AS-9164: LAST ORANGE BLACK SPINE:up to 9158, IMPULSE in capital letters from 9159, impulse in lower case
BLACK/RED LABEL: STEREO AS-9141-A, AS-9148-A, AS-9154-A, AS.9156-A, AS-9160-A, AS-9161-A, AS-9162-A, AS-9165-A to AS-9200-A: a product of ABC records INC New York, N.Y. 10019-made in USA
AS-9187-A: no address, ® in logo box ® in logo box:
AS-9187-A, AS-9193-A, AS-9198-A, AS-9199-A, AS-9200-A
LAMINATED COVER up to 9178 NON LAMINATED COVER from 9183
Dottorjazz, November 2014