Jackie McLean: Bluesnik (1961) Blue Note (updated)

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

Selection: Bluesnik (McLean)

.  .  .

Artists

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.

Music

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.

Serrated Edge!

Collector’s Corner

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.

Pressing History

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

Discogs omits original inner sleeve – type 2 -Hank Mobley Roll Call – c4, r5 , used with releases between December 1961 and April 1962. This would be correct, if present.

Inner sleeves found among among a couple of hundred auctions: five correct inner sleeves found, type 2, no significant others.

UPDATE (May 19, 2020)

1-B.  as 1A above but deep groove Side 2 only

4067-DG-side-2-only-jackie-mclean-bluesnik-blue-note-4067-47w63-ear-rvg-dg-9m-1st-ed-m_31929745

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 .

3. 1st Ed. Stereo NY USA labels, P,  RVGs, no dg.

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

Blue Note Beachcomber Crate-Watch

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?

Promos

Radio station promos with call signs, familiar Review Copy label stamp and some unfamiliar stamps.

And final find of interest, “thank you, Jackie M, or Jackie, or something” dated May 1962, which sounds about right for the stereo release, which it is. . .

221B Baker Street, hangs up deerstalker and cape, tamps down Meerschaum pipe, sinks into armchair, reflects on need for new adventures.

Can you add anything to the Bluesnik story? Do you have an edition not mentioned here? Floor is yours.

LJC

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Jackie McLean: Bluesnik (1961) Blue Note (updated)

  1. I find these double dg NYCs to be very tough to find. For the most desirable ones (4146,4157,4106, etc) I have found it’s pretty consistently costing me $1k a pop for NM/NM mono copies.

  2. My copy may be a 1st pressing, depending on interpretation of data.

    Mono, 47/63 Inc “r”, RVG, Ear, laminated cover

    9M both sides / DG s2 NON DG s1.

    VG- condition overall; will have to look for an upgrade.

    Does anyone know the groove width used by BN for MONO pressings in this era ? Had they converted to 0.7mil across the board, or did they still cut at 1mil for mono ?

    Thanks

  3. Hi guys! Intersting as usual…… If I remember Larrys comments right the dies were used until they broke and then just changed to another die. They could break in the middle of a run and possibly a DG die could have been changed to a non DG die whenever in the run for either side 1 or 2. Or am I remembering it wrong? If that is true you could have started the run with 2 DG dies and then suddenly Side 1 die broke down and changed to a anon DG die and you’d have Side 1 as Non DG and still side 2 as DG. Or vice versa. There is ofcourse the possibility that the run starts of with non DG dies and they were replaced after a while with DG dies. They were probably just tools lying around.

  4. Hey LJC,

    what a coincidence! I bought a mono 47w63rd DG s1 only copy the other day in (hopefully, I have yet to receive it) EX condition and was curious what you had written about it, only to find out (in shock!) that there was no entry at all on LJC! (!!!) By the way, I also bought mine from Germany, but that’s probably not something to write home about, since I am, er, live in Germany. 😀

    Anyway, great post and nice pictures – and congratulations to your detective work.

    I have a question about the true first mono pressing: Discogs and/or Cohen describes it as being a double sided DG. But most of the pressings I could find on the net were DG side 1 only (just as mine). I stumbled on your Kenny Drew “Undercurrent” article yesterday and you elaborated that pressing dies at Plastilyte had changed at around BN 4055-4060, meaning that first pressings couldn’t be identified (solely) by the presence or absence of DG, since some would have none or just one or even two; in some instances the presence of a DG could even indicate a second pressing if true first pressings were confirmed to have none. I think even Fred Cohen came to realise that DG doesn’t necessarily mean “first pressing” starting at around BN 4055-4059.

    Taking this into consideration, “Bluesnik” at BN 4067 and not too far away from the shift to plain New York labels (at around BN 4080/81), would have to be one of those pressings that have a completely random amount of DGs, or am I confusing something here? The only true essentials would have to be the 47w63rd address, the P, the laminated cover (later pressings, though still with the “ear”, aren’t laminated) and the inner sleeve, correct?

    I’m not a Blue Note true first pressing fundamentalist (though I am for smaller labels), as Lion and Wolff were quick with second pressings and the differences between first and second pressing are, most of the time, negligible and not affecting the vintage and coolness factor, as most important “Ingredients” stayed the same (RVG metal, P, covers etc.). It’d be interesting to know though, if the very first pressing has to be with DG on both sides to get qualified as such. I’m happy either way, as I paid only a fraction of the current market value seen on Popsike.

    If you need pictures of the DG side 1 label version, I’d be happy to send them to you in a few days!

    Best,
    Milan

    • Hey Milan,
      I have the same question you do. A mono 47W63rd +INC R ear 9M both sides, but DG on only side 2. It has a laminated cover and type 2 inner sleeve (Roll Call r5, c4). I wonder where it fits in the release chronology.

    • When going through the archive of Bluesnik auctions, there were some examples of W63rd with deep groove side 2 only. Some auction photos are useless or incomplete – one side only – or miss-described. I dismissed them initially because of Fred’s classification. However, on closer examination, I found a decent photo of the label pair of deep groove side 2 only, and yes, it is entirely possible that the “First Edition” was composed of more than just DGx2. I have updated the text with a picture and discussion which supports the contention. No-one can be absolutely certain, but it is possible, and it can’t be ruled out.

      UPDATE TEXT:

      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 DGx2 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 at Plastylite. The “first pressing run” –  4,000 copies is my guesstimate – would have to have been uninterrupted, on only one press, over four or five days continuously,  to rule out a possible change in dies during the run. If there was a change of press in use, change of stampers, interruption or breakdown, the first manufactured quantity  could have two or possibly more different groove patterns.

      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.

      • Thanks LJC,

        that (especially the release date) explains a lot. I also went through a couple of pages of ebay auctions on Popsike and my results were: 8x DG s1 only 3x DG s2 only, 12x DG on both sides, 6x non DG with all other essentials and the rest (20 or so) was inconclusive, with pictures of the label missing and/or insufficient description (just “DG”, which doesn’t say a lot regarding this album, as the single sided DGs were all advertised as such). So it seems both versions are equally common.

        It also seems the final price isn’t related to the number DGs; the highest price goes to a Preview copy (DG both sides); another copy in the 500 € range is a single sided DG pressing. All other copies which were at the average price level (between $300 and 400) are pretty much equally divided between DG both sides and s1/s2 only with a few non-DGs in between.

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