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Donald Byrd, trumpet; Jackie McLean, alto sax; Walter Davis Jr., piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Pete La Roca, drums; recorded Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, May 2, 1959, released July 1959.
As McLean’s first album for Blue Note, New Soil is a harbinger of Blue Note’s transition from traditional bebop, experimenting with new forms, the New Thing and the Outside, which I think was McLean’s prospectus in signing to Blue Note. Fittingly, one side is all Walter Davis Jr compositions, the other, Jackie’s. With a line up like Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers and Walter Davis Jr, the musical centre is in safe hands, giving Jackie permission to dig in new soil.
My original selection was to be the track Minor Apprehension, but playing it through, an overly long Pete LaRoca drum solo signalled this writer’s veto. Blog owner’s decision is final, if unpopular with some, I know who you are…
Walter Davis Jr – Blue Note tribute: “An often remarkable and inventive bebop and hard bop pianist. A solid soloist, bandleader, and accompanist, he amassed a good body of work while never becoming a high-profile name even within the jazz community“. His own Blue Note title Davis Cup (4018), released in April 1960, not so long after New Soil, makes frequent appearance on my turntable. He is found on some excellent Art Blakey sessions Africaine and Roots and Herbs, with Donald Byrd on his 1959 album Byrd In Hand, and pops up with Jackie again on Let Freedom Ring. He remained other leader’s choice of sideman, the piano field was crowded, and rich in individual stylists, and Davis remained in the shadows, deserving of greater recognition. Well, he gets recognition from me, and gets the selection “Sweetcakes“.
Vinyl: BLP 4013
Mono, RVGs stamp, Plastylite, legacy 47W63rd labels – one side with +INC/® the other without – no dg, 166 gram weight. A later pressing within the Blue Note era. More investigative digging continues in Collector’s Corner, and sharpen your powers of deduction.
Inner sleeve present is type 8, used for releases by Blue Note pre-Liberty between December 1965 and July 1966 (Larry Young col.6 row 4).1966 does not square with the presence of a record with one no ® label, or vinyl weigh of 166 grams. A sleeve added by a previous seller to increase Blue Note “authenticity”.
The stereo edition of 4013 was released a couple of months after the mono, in September 1959. With demand for stereo on the rise, dealers stocking both formats, but incompatible with mono players, 4013 saw a short-lived Blue Note mono and stereo logo design to help differentiate the two formats.
A curiosity, BLP 4013 was one of the first releases to have +INC added to the back cover address, whilst not yet appearing on the label itself, illustrating the different lead-in times for copy approval and printing of labels and back cover slicks.
The Popsike Top Twenty most collectable copies of New Soil peaks at an astonishing $1500, allowing for possibilty of bidder’s remorse and non-payment, or an effective money-laundering operation in action. 484 auctions are recorded, depending on search terms, making the record moderately, though not insanely, rare.
Probing auctions, I found some miss-direction, some less than transparent offerings, and a general lack of understanding of how Blue Note manufacture worked. In short, it seemed an opportunity to shake the tree and see what falls to earth.
Record-Dating Boot Camp
Everyone can consult Fred Cohen’s Guide to Identifying Original Blue Note Pressings to determine the characteristics of the 1st Edition of a Blue Note. What has interested me for some years is how to make sense of all the other every-day encounters in the actual marketplace, a Field Guide to Identifying All The Rest. So we go deep again, with a case study of 4013, see what new we can learn.
4013 was released July 1959, the first of Jackie’s dozen or so albums with Blue Note. The 1st Edition pre-dates Blue Note’s trademark registration and company incorporation by about four months. This provides a clean line of separation between the first edition and later pressings. Or at least, a point of origin for later pressings using up old stock consumables. For reference, the 1st mono edition looks like this:
Deep groove 1959 style – unambiguous deep groove, wide trench, both sides – 47W63rd label, fine text, absent INC/® both sides, RVG master stamp and “P”, without 9M, original cover when the label address was the same as the cover address.
The approximate date of manufacture of a later copy can often be deduced from the presence of certain features, but with New Soil there are several auction headine false flags to be navigated, which apply also to many other titles.
RVG! Plastylite! All copies of New Soil pressed between 1959 and 1966 have the Plastylite “P” and have an RVG master stamp, both mono RVG, and RVG STEREO. These stamps do not distinguish a 1st Edition or an early pressing from a later repressing. They are all RVG, P. Even the subsequent Division of Liberty and Liberty UA issues have RVG metal continuity.
47W63rd labels ! All copies of BLP 4013 , both mono and stereo, are on 47W63rd labels, from 1st Ed. up until the 1967 Liberty reissue. There was never an issue on the NY USA label. In order to press additional copies over the six years since release, a large overstock of 47W63rd labels both from the first edition print run (no INC/®), and the post registration label print run (+INC/®) were available.
Deep Groove! True, DG is characteristic of the original mid-1959 pressing run, but also found on many later Blue Note pressings. The presence of deep groove both sides does not make a pressing “older”. Deep groove dies remained in use at Plastylite, albeit in diminishing numbers, until 1966. Not-DG can be older/earlier than deep groove copies.
Vinyl Inspector Academy Certification Exam
If you have read this far, congratulations, you have graduated from Vinyl Detective Boot Camp. With a solid grounding in dating principals, and understanding of false flags, now put your Paypal money where your mouth is. Test your skills of deduction in some auction cold case reviews
EXHIBIT 1 VG-minus $130 Exhibit 1 pressing is deep groove on both sides, and has 47W63rd labels, but with +INC/® on both sides. The earliest these labels could have been printed is at least six months after the 1st Edition was released, possibly later, any time up until late 1961. They can not be 1st Edition.
The presence of +INC/® on both sides should make it a later pressing than copies with one no INC/® label and no deep groove because of the way inventory canibalisation worked.
What we understand of the use of old stock Blue Note labels is that, after the incorporation of Blue Note, when new labels were printed (which could be any time) , stock of any old labels left over from previous pressings would be run down by pairing them with a new label. The new label asserted incorporation – Blue Note Records Inc. – and the protection of the Blue Note name as a registered trademark (®). The legal status of Blue Note was protected, and the old label was not wasted. Side 1 and side 2 track listing, artist, and composer credits were exactly the same in each case.
At some point, the stock of no INC/® labels will have been been exhausted and any further copies of 4013 pressed ought to be found with matching 47W63rd +INC/® label on both sides.
Unfortunately the copy above copy had no inner sleeve present.
EXHIBIT 2. VG++ $202
Now this is interesting. The exact opposite of Exhibit 1, this copy is absent INC/® both sides ie. the label is from original label print run of mid-1959. But it is not not deep groove, so pressed after May 1961, possibly after August 1961, when non-dg dies came into widespread use.It has all the signs of a pressing perhaps two years after the first edition.
Interesting because it raises the question of exactly when the +INC/® label for this title was printed. Not immediately after incorporation (end 1959): in no hurry, they had overstocks of the original label print run. The +INC/® label for New Soil may not have been printed until as late as mid 1961, still within the tenure of the 47W63rd address.. The absence of registration mark ® is not the sign of “original” provenance many assume, me included, until now.
The cover is the later address, 43W61st, which first appeared in the closing months of 1959, but remained in use for the following six years.. Economics meant it was inexpensive to over-order labels, keep surplus for future use, but not jackets.The later cover address is no help in dating manufacture, but eliminates this copy from having a cover from the batch of the 1st Edition.
The inner sleeve is type 5, Dec-63 to April-64 – almost certainly a miss-direction, added for “authenticity”
EXHIBIT 3 VG++ $899
Here is a tempting offer, aside from the asking price, $899. “No copyright mark” (on the one side pictured, true). The seller does not include a picture of side 2, and therefore no-one knows what is there except the seller.
There are numerous copies, including my own, which have no INC/® side 1, but side 2 with +INC/®. Blue Notes with mixed labels are not uncommon,and there is no excuse for not picturing both sides, unless of course you have something to hide. The addition of an inner picture sleeve, peeking out (which therefore can’t be dated) shouts miss-direction. Picture inner sleeves first started in use in 1961.The back cover photo is too blurred to read the Blue Note address. The offer is a contrivance of miss-direction.
EXHIBIT 4. VG+ $350Inner sleeves are the only clues we have for the years 1961-6, and not necessarily reliable. However fortune smiled when an Ebay search turned up a copy matching my own labels, no INC/® side 1, +INC/® side 2, later cover address, and with a plausible inner sleeve present – type 3, May – November 1962. That would fit most all of the facts, confirmed by vinyl weight at 166 grams, pointing to early ’60s rather than mid-later ’60s.
If you have a a match or any variations of New Soil not mentioned here, especially any inner sleeve, feel free to complete the picture.