UPDATED May 19, First Edition variation?
Continuing with the theme of Blue, and Blue Note, after Blue Hour, welcome Bluesnik, and my very odd Liberty mono edition
. . .
Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Jackie McLean, alto sax; Kenny Drew, piano; Doug Watkins, bass; Pete La Roca, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 8, 1961, released over a year later, February 1962.
Bluesnik is a late stop along Mclean’s journey to Outer Central, mining established bop and blues styles for what they could offer, before venturing outside. You get a sense of Jackie pushing the boundaries of established forms. Hubbard’s rich golden tones offset Jackies’s acid-sharp alto, plaintive, playing his heart out, while Kenny Drew is at the height of his powers, rhythmically strong. Pete LaRoca drives with enthusiasm, Doug Watkins assuredly sure-footed bass.
This album leaves me in a quandry. Move forward to Jackie’s new mission towards the outside, or back into his bop legacy. I can’t really decide, it’s a bit of a crossroards title, neither one nor the other. Better not to analyse it and just enjoy the ride.
Vinyl: BLP 4067 unusual Liberty mono reissue, from 1966-7
Legacy labels – NY USA / original W63rd+® ; 9M s2, RVG stamp, no P, serrated edge – probably Keel 3rd party pressing; vinyl 147gm. jacket 120gm. inner sleeve missing.
It looks like Liberty printed fresh Division of Liberty labels for the Stereo edition, but used remaining legacy labels for a mono edition, and made no effort to issue a Division of Liberty label mono.
Side 1 Matrix is 4067A-1, indicating Van Gelder’s second attempt at mastering this side, such a perfectionist.
Purchased from a German seller through Ebay, in 2010, I still have the auction detail printed off. Such a long time ago. All the auction hustle – 47W63rd! RVG! had me captivated then, older and wiser now. The essentials are right – original RVG metal mono master, everything else is superficial
A suprisingly expensive original in collectable condition, allowing for the vagaries of auction results not always the whole story. Top of the crop – a promo, auction just a few weeks ago, after LJC feature on promos. Coincidence, of course.
Normally one just goes to Discogs and Hey Presto! there are all the verified releases in chronological order. I thought to apply the deep-level LJC research, just on Bluesnik, to discover the detail that is sometimes missing. Sometimes I came up with a slightly different story.
1-A. Original as per Cohen! W63rd +INC/® labels, P, deep groove both sides
UPDATE (May 19, 2020)
1-B. as 1A above but deep groove Side 2 only
The first edition of Bluesnik was likely manufactured in January 1962. It is entirely possible this DGs2 only is part of the “1st Edition”, just as much as the DGx2. Consider the following:
With the exception of 4059 (released May 1961) there is a straight run of 2xDG on all Blue Note releases up until August 1961. Thereafter, the groove is found randomly, on both sides, neither side, Side 1 only, and Side 2 only. We know the old DG and new no-DG dies were functionally interchangeable, and their selection by the press operator mounting the stampers was unimportant, hence the random pattern.
We know from Larry The Plastylite Guy there were around eight presses in use at Plastylite, and selection of the type of die to mount stampers in a press was unimportant to the operator. If a presses stamped one record every minute, say 500 a day, the “first pressing run” – 4,000 copies is my guesstimate based on the Lee Morgan in the Stockroom photos – would have to have been uninterrupted, on only one press, over eight working days continuously, to rule out a possible change of dies during the run. If there was more than one press in use, a change of press in use, change of stampers, interruption or breakdown, and dies did break, the manufactured quantity of 4,000 copies for release could have two or possibly more different groove patterns. It is just one of the variables within the 1st Edition, and it still requires all the other variables to be correct.
Fred Cohen admits the possibility of variation during the period in which both types of die were in use. Where all other indications are correct, the first edition could comprise copies with a different die-combination.
Where sentiment is strong, and money is at stake, there is a strong desire for certainty, even where there is none. Uncertainty is sometimes the only certainty there is. As the jazz market expanded from a specialist niche in the mid ’50s, think Mobley 1568 800 copies, to chart-busting hits in the mid sixties, the quantities pressed increased, and larger numbers of pressings increases the likelihood of variation in the manufacturing fingerprint. What was certain to begin with, over time, must encompass greater variation.
2. Hybrid NY USA and 63rd+INC/® labels, RVGs, P, not deep groove (probably circa 1962) no picture sleeve found. No entry in Discogs. I didn’t find any microgroove long playing mono labels with NY USA both sides, though logically they should exist .
1st stereo edition, released April 1962, at which time NY USA label was standard. Fine text is early. 4. LIBERTY mono (my copy) – legacy NY USA / 63rd labels, RVGs, not dg, no P, serrated edge probably third party pressing by Keel Mfg, 1966-7. No Discogs entry.
5. LIBERTY stereo – Division of Liberty labels, no P, RVGs, no dg. Discogs rarely if ever distinguishes east and west coast pressings, important where West Coast reissues were absent Van Gelder metal.
Liberty stereo edition, left, east coast (Keystone labels probably All-Disc NJ) and right, west coast (Bert-Co labels, probably Research Craft LA.) Fortunately both pressed with RVG STEREO mastered metal. Copies found with the 27 Years picture sleeve which was used by Liberty in the second half 1966 and early 1967
Ideas for a new section: collector items, promo copies, autographs, anything of interest found on the journey through the auction history.
First, a red flag, Discogs entry for stereo edition claims “original first issue with W63 Street address on label” Provides no label pictures for verification, and the jacket has a stereo sticker that is new to me.
Not the conventional rectangular STEREO sticker Blue Note initially applied to mono covers. The jacket is plainly for a stereo edition and absence of pictures smells fishy. Bluesnik was first released in stereo in April 1962 (per Cohen), four months after the mono. Rudy had been beavering away on the backlog of first stereo editions since May 1959, at the rate of one or two titles a month, until he finally caught up in July 1962. The NY USA label had been the standard Blue Note label for at least six months before Bluesnik’s stereo release. The original stereo release is found only on NY USA labels. Implausible claim W63rd label, unlikely in the absence of photographic evidence. Why do people do this?
Radio station promos with call signs, familiar Review Copy label stamp and some unfamiliar stamps.
Can you add anything to the Bluesnik story? Do you have an edition not mentioned here? Floor is yours.