Impulse US labels overview

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Impulse labels overview 1961-79

Impulse! transition chronologically, from ABC Paramount ownership in 1960 finally to MCA ownership in 1978/9,  a magnificent legacy of jazz recordings, found on these five principal label designs:

Impulse-over-the-years_MCA-updated

The Early Impulse! Years (1960-73) Am Par, ABC Paramount and ABC Impulse :

ABC Paramount’s record division, owner of the Impulse! label, went through a number of name changes during this period.The Am-Par Record Corporation from 1955, changed in 1962 to ABC-Paramount Records, Inc., and then again in 1967 to ABC Records, Inc.  Hence Impulse! titles issued on the orange/black ring first label can be dated from which of the three company names appears at the bottom of the label. Subsequently the orange/black ring label was replaced  by a new design, the black/red ring label, which  had two iterations before it was finally replaced in 1973 by the all-black/neon logo label. Thus in the period 1960-73 there are five chronological label variations to be found (all dates are approximate)

Orange/black ring label

  • 1960-63: “A PRODUCT OF AM-PAR RECORD CORP.”
  • 1963-66: “A PRODUCT OF ABC-PARAMOUNT RECORDS, INC.”
  • 1967-68: ” ABC RECORDS INC  New York NY 10019″

Black/red ring label:

  • 1968-71: new label design maintains ABC Records, Inc. NY 10019 addresss
  • 1971-73  Address replaced by year of copyright, and adds registered trademark symbol R bottom left and right of the |Impulse!|abc| logo box.

5-faces-of-impulse

Identifying first and subsequent pressings

Throughout the life of Impulse!, many titles went through several pressings. The combination of the label and catalogue number can help determine whether a particular copy of a record is a prized first pressing or a later second or subsequent pressing. Many second or later  pressings still carry the RVG stamp indicating a Van Gelder master source, making them still attractive to the audiophile collector. After 1973 reissues were re-mastered copies without RVG and are considered inferior.

The Am-Par label changed to ABC Paramount at A-33. Titles A33 and below on an orange/black ring label with an Am-Par footer is an original first pressing. If the label is orange/black ring but  ABC Paramount or  ABC Records, or any of the later labels,  it is later pressing. Titles A-34 and above up until around A-164 would be expected to be on the ABC Paramount orange variation (or later orange/black ring  ABC Records label, point of change undetermined),

At around A-165, the Orange/black ring label was replaced by the new black/ red ring label, which was in use up to catalogue numbers around AS-9230, in 1973.

At around  AS-9231, the black/red ring label was replaced all-black/neon Impulse! logo label, which in turn was replaced the following year by the green bullseye label, which lasted up to the sale to MCA Records in 1979.

The same principles apply to identifying all later pressings, bearing in mind the date labels were printed in preparation for manufacture may be slightly out of sync with legal name changes and actual date of manufacture. Around each label change there is some small overlap in catalogue order between old and new labels, and occasionally a first pressing turns up out of the blue with a label two years older than its adjacent catalogue numbers.

The orange/black ring label

Impulse-label-sequence-1800-final

LWAm-Par labels have a semi-gloss finish, ABC Paramount and later have a Matte-finish. There is no special significance in this. Many are mastered by Rudy Van Gelder (RVG or VAN GELDER in deadwax). All Impulse releases in this period bear a faint hand-etched “LW” in the runout, indicating metalwork by the Longwear Plating Company.

Ebay sellers are often familiar with the major label design changes eg Orange/ black rim, black/red rim. Anything on Orange/black rim is likely to be described as “original”, as in the example below. Yes, Impulse A-10 was issued in 1961, but this copy isn’t one of them. It is a later, second pressing, on ABC Paramount label

Not-original-impulse -read the label

I have noted no identifiable differences in sonic quality attributable to these label variations. The mastering and metalwork is presumably the same, and as with all vinyl the sound will show normal variation in quality between first and last off the stamper

Impulse catalogue numbering system

The catalogue numbering system adopted by Impulse is not especially elegant and definitely not computer-friendly. The mono designation A-1 to A-100 is joined by stereo releases as AS – ##, and at 100 everything adopts a “9” prefix, so the numbering sequence continues through 100 to 200 and higher as 9101, 9102, 9103 and so on. In reality it is a three digit counter with a superfluous “9” prefix starting at 100. Use of dots, hyphens and blank space between letters and numbers is inconsistent. Sometimes we have Side 1 and 2, sometimes side A and B. Then the label reference number incorporates A and B, but adds Side 1 and Side 2. A good job the music makes better sense.

For Impulse titles numbered between 1 and (9)164, the first or early pressing should be on Orange/black ring. First/early pressing of titles after (9)164 are expected to be on Black/red ring (up to 1973).  There are some exceptions near the changeover, but if you have a title lower than (9)165 and it is on Black/red ring, it is likely a second or later pressing. Unlike Blue Note, I have yet to find an authoritative source so I am making up my own rule of thumb.

IMPULSE!  LABELS CLOSE UP:  EXAMPLES and ETCHINGS

1. Orange/black ring – Product of Am Par Record Corp (1960-3)

The first Impulse label is the orange/ black ring, with the run-out bearing a hand-inscribed catalogue number and RVG machine stamp. Only the first thirty or so Impulse releases carry the Am Par label, up to A33 Roy Haynes Reaching Fourth, the last Am Par. A couple of titles close below A33  are found only on the second ABC Paramount label ie there is an early overlap in the changeover to the second label.

impulse-ampar-label_1000px_LJC

Collectors often debate the merit of Stereo versus Mono but Impulse! stereo editions are very good and often to be preferred.

1.2 Am Par – promo white label

A11-impulse-Am-Par-promo-label-900px

Though the label doesn’t state Am-Par, the corporate inner sleeve and cover both confirm A11 as the first Impulse series. RVG stamp and a second attempt at mastering – both sides A-1/ B-1, and  LW on both sides (Longwear Plating Co.)

1.3 Am-Par miss-print

Impulse blank label

Sent in by eagle-eyed reader Kieran, one that got away

2. Orange/black ring – Product of ABC Paramount Records, Inc. (1963-6)

Same orange label with black our ring, but the small print at the foot of the label changes to ABC Paramount Records Inc.

Roswell-Rudd-9126A-label-1000

This particular title is not van Gelder mastered, and the matrix stamp is quite out of sync with the usual large open hand inscription found on Impulse pressings.

3. Orange/black ring – Product of ABC Records Inc, NY 10019 –  (1966/7)

Lateef-impulse-orange-corrected--bl-3rd-labe-1000-LJCl

This particular sample has Van Gelder only on one side, while side two is a B-1 remaster by another engineer.

4. Capitol Record Club editions

Impulse-Capitol-record-club-good

Photo: Discogs

A Product of ABC Paramount Records Inc, Manufactured by Capitol Records Inc USA.   Not “genuine” Impulse but some Impulses releases were licensed to and manufactured by Capitol Records for their mail order Capitol Record Club, starting in 1958. These are remastered and pressed at Capitol’s own plant in Scranton PA, not van Gelder, and are distinguished by a Capitol catalogue number SMAS-9xxxx  (Hat tip: Dave)

5. Black/red ring – Product of ABC Records Inc. New York NY 10019 (1967-71)

Around AS-9164 (Archie Shepp, Magic of Ju Ju) the Orange/blank ring label is replaced by a new design – the second label design for Impulse, now black label with thin red outer ring, with large logo box, footer reads A Product of ABC Records, Inc. New York, N.Y. 10019 . Made in USA. There are a few exceptions in the catalogue sequence where Black/red ring pops up in the middle of the final run of Orange/black ring titles, a not unusual event illustrating number allocation and printing out of sync. There are no immediate audio-issues with the change of label design: purely a design change, with business as usual in the pressing plants.

Impulse late 60s label 1000px

Musically, the late Sixties Impulse catalogue heads for Outer Space. Spirituality is in the ascendant, with titles from later John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, and of course Sun Ra at the helm of the Starship Impulse. The likes of Gabor Szabo, John Klemmer and Ahmad Jamal feature on the more earthly titles.

ABC Records first introduce the double ® registered trademark – one either side of the logo boxes.

Impulse-abc-double-R_-IMG_1010

Audio Verdict:  very good, equivalent to BN Liberty Stereo pressing; great sound, identical cover and liner notes. May be an original press of a later title, or a reissue of an earlier title. Above AS-84 is a second/later pressing of a title whose first release would have been on the classic Orange/black ring  label.

6.Black/red ring –  ABC Records Inc  with date (1971-3)

Gonsalves-cleo-s1-label

Introduced for new titles around AS-9219. Still Black with red ring, but NY address replaced by copyright assertion “(p) Year ABC Records Inc”. (Also seen P 1971 and 1973) The vinyl is noticeably thinner. Above example is a second issue taken from the original Van Gelder stereo master. The registered trademark (circled R) now appears at foot of Impulse! logo and abc records logo.

Audio Verdict: mixed, some mediocre, compare poorly to Orange/black ring and the earlier Black/red ring NY address issues. Equivalent to a UA Blue Note blue label/black note OK if you can’t otherwise find the record, but not great.

SPARTON CANADA LABEL

Is Canada different from “America”?  Obviously in licensing terms. Based in London, Ontario, Sparton  manufactured and distributed Columbia Records in Canada from 1939 to 1954. It had distribution arrangements with other American record companies, most notably ABC Records.The record company closed in 1969.

sparton label

7. Black/ Neon Logo – abc records –  1973-4

Used for new issues from around AS-9230 and for reissue of earlier titles. ABC records trademark “R”

Very poor thin flat audio, avoid for reissues, but for new titles you may have no choice. Notable titles available only in black/neon include several first reissues around 1974 of Sun Ra titles originally on Saturn mid/late ’50s, with new artwork.

8. Impulse Green Bullseye US 1974-9

Impulse-green-px1000

(Photo courtesy of Joe L)

Green bullseye new and reissue label of 1974 and after, commonly found in US record shops. The vinyl is wafer thin, and sounds thinner, even the label is shoddily made and printed. Note the corporate vanity moves up a notch, now it’s “ABC Impulse” TM

Audio Verdict: atrocious, avoid, avoid, avoid. Sound worse than CD

9.MCA – Impulse – Sky with Rainbow

MCA-Impulse-1980-600-Discogs

From here on it is down hill all the way.

MCA – “abc records” reissue –  stacked note logo on yellow/rainbow sunburst

unknown date – modern label – now MCA Corporation, California address.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

UPDATE September 10, 2013 (hat tip Freddie)

WB info posted on Hoffman regarding US pressing plants associated with Impulse

Up to the very end of 1972, ABC/Dunhill had an array of pressing plants they used; from early 1973 onwards, virtually all LP’s and 45’s issued by the labels were pressed exclusively by Columbia at their Pitman, NJ, Terre Haute, IN and Santa Maria, CA plants. A few of the others I could glean:
– Discmakers, Philadelphia, PA – Plastic Products, Memphis, TN – Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA In addition, from 1969-71, there was an East Coast plant I currently know not of, which used label copy typeset by Progressive Label Co. of Brooklyn, NY. As one can guess, pressing quality was hit-and-miss up to the point where ABC/Dunhill decided to go with Columbia exclusively.
Most of their LP’s and 45’s from 1970 to mid-’73 were mastered at The Mastering Lab in Hollywood, with one exception being Giorgio’s “Son of My Father” cut at Annex Studios. Then from 1973 to the end, ABC did the majority of their mastering in-house.

 From a 1970 Billboard article on ABC/Dunhill’s 15th anniversary, I was able to get the skinny on which plants handled the label at the time. Columbia and Monarch were the obvious ones; others were: – Clarion Record Mfg. Co., Philadelphia (apparently used the same label copy type as Diskmakers) – Sun Plastics Co. and Dynamic LP Stereo Record Pressing Co., Inc., East Newark, NJ – Plastic Products Co., Inc., Memphis, TN – Specialty Records Corp., Olyphant, PA

All these plants also handled the label as of 1960, with Sun and Dynamic LP Stereo having been associated with what started out as Am-Par Record Co. from its earliest days in 1955. (In 1960 there were three other plants handling ABC-Paramount – Shelley Products, Ltd., Huntington Station, NY; Sonic Recording Products, Hauppauge, NY [later moved to Holbrook]; and Allied Record Co., Los Angeles. Also in 1965, ABC-Paramount opened their own plant, True Sound Mfg. Corp. in Hauppauge, whose existence was gleaned as late as 1969 but was not listed in the 1970 15th anniversary piece in Billboard.) The last pressings from all plants but Columbia’s were in late 1972 – though Goldisc (formerly Sonic) pressed some ABC LP’s in the 1977-78 period, as did Specialty (on many LP copies of Steely Dan’s Aja) – this may have been in the period when Columbia’s Pitman, NJ plant was on strike.

I have absolutely no knowledge regarding US pressing plants or their relationship with audio quality. I reproduce above the encyclopaedic knowledge of WB of New York, with deepest respect.

I don’t know any way of choosing an Impulse pressing according to which plant pressed it, eg  would I prefer the Pitman over the Terra Haute pressing of Ballads? And where do I get one? , so the information adds to our knowledge but is difficult to put to use. The Hoffman thread however provides much evidence as to why ABC Impulse deteriorated over the years. That at least confirms advice to avoid later Impulse reissues.

next: |   Complete title label reference set – Mono

Complete title label reference set – Stereo

Impulse UK and Europe labels

 Impulse album index

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99 thoughts on “Impulse US labels overview

  1. Ok here’s maybe an anomaly? I got an am par label copy of A-22 Curtis fuller cabin in the sky. However the back sleeve says abc paramount. I figured it was an og disk in a later sleeve. But now looking online I can’t seem to find a single A22 sleeve w am par on the back. Even with many examples of the title w am par label, still sleeves say abc. And today I even saw on eBay a wlp- still w abc paramount sleeve! Could this one have been released out of order during the transition and no Ampar sleeve exists for it? Sorry if this is a dead horse but I’m a little late to the party 😉

    • I haven’t tried to study the back covers as the quality of photography online is too poor. The hypothesis of later release comes up short I’m afraid. Billboard August 18, 1962 issue lists jazz releases A-16, A17, A18, A19 A22 and A23 – looks like they all came out together. The more likely explanation is that the cover reflects the date of manufacture, and the label is from Am-Par old stock being used up. That explanation fits, if not that, who knows.

      • That makes the most sense you’re right. But the wlp w the abc sleeve seems weird. I guess most likely explanation is that someone upragaded their sleeve at some point but unkowingly used the wrong one? History’s mysteries! Thanks for your reply….
        -Dave

  2. Hi, I am new to your site and find it extremely useful and authoritative. I have a question about quality of impulse smas record club editions pressed by Capitol. Anyone has thoughts about this? Thanks Dwight

    • It’s a slow day. I have never listened to a Capitol Record Club edition, but the idea of taking a copy tape and re-mastering it for a (cheapskate) record club edition does not lead me to expect a good result. Delighted to be proved wrong, but you pay your money and make your choice.

  3. A few deep-dive Impulse related topics I’d like to hash out with the help of some of you who are as obsessed as me…

    Is there an authoritative list of Impulse white label promo releases? I’ve seen all of CAT #’s 1 through 9165 except 9141, 9148, 9156, 9161 and 9162 so I feel pretty good about this time frame but after that it gets really wonky. 9169 and 9187 exist as WLPs but if I’m not mistaken there’s nothing else between 9166 and 9216. 9217 through 9239 all seem to exist as WLPs, as well as 9241, 9242 and 9245. CAT #’s 9261 through 9322 all seem to exist as WLPs except maybe CATs 9266, 9267, 9272, 9274, 9279, 9283, 9303, 9311, 9312, 9317, 9318, 9319 and 9321, all of which I’ve never seen as WLPs. And I’ve never seen a WLP of CAT 9324 or higher. I’m specifically talking white or alternate labels here as some of these releases have promotional issues but maintain their original stereo labels. Anyone seen anything which conflicts with this list or know of a resource which would have them all? It’s definitely possible that a few of these exist that I simply haven’t ever seen.
    Has anyone ever seen any stereo white label promo releases from before Impulse switched exclusively to stereo pressings (around CAT 9166)? I own both mono and stereo WLP copies of CAT # 9117 (Lateef’s A Flat G Flat and C) and was very surprised to learn that a stereo WLP pressing of this existed and that promo copies of the title were issued in two different formats instead of all-stereo or all-mono. Anyone know of any other stereo WLPs below CAT # 9166?
    Is there an authoritative source for information about the early alternate cover promotional releases? This is in reference to the promo releases in white jackets with the inner gatefold content from the corresponding regular release printed front and back on the non-gatefold white jacket. I’ve tracked down the alternate cover releases for CAT #’s 2 through 8. I’ve never seen CAT # 1 with an alternate cover but it wouldn’t shock me to learn this exists as it seems odd to start doing this with your second release. Also, it seems WLPs exist for CAT # 8 in both the alternate jacket and the regular jacket. I’m also not aware of any CAT # higher than 8 having these alternate jackets.
    I can verify the existence of orange label mono pressings of the following CAT #s which are not pictured in the label guide in orange: 9137, 9144, 9145, 9146, 9149, 9150, 9155, 9157 & 9158. Despite the confirmed existence of orange label stereo counterparts I cannot verify the existence of orange label mono pressings of the following CAT #s: 9133, 9139, 9140, 9147, 9151, 9152, 9153, 9159, 9163 & 9164. If anyone has any evidence of orange label mono pressings of any of these 10 releases I would definitely like to see them.
    Is there an authoritative source for specific release date information for each Impulse title? I think this could straighten out a lot of my confusion in general. I assume, for example, that CAT #’s 9141, 9148, 9154, 9156, 9160, 9161 and 9162 were all released after CAT #’s 9163 and 9164 based on these having later labels but specific release dates of all titles would help really narrow down to exactly when the major changes occurred. Right now all I have in my spreadsheet is release year which is not specific enough for the most part.

    Thanks in advance!

    • something says to me YOU are the authoritative source ’bout these questions. when LJC launched the Impulsegate, this label looked much easier than others. I’ve cried more here than anywhere else.
      to be continued…

  4. Such a full discussion anyway, but I wanted to add that there are Am-par impulse labels with only half black border tops, full orange bottoms. I got a load of US impulses (& Blue notes) in one lot from California in the late 90’s, in a fantastic collection sent by a benevolent uncle to a lad running a record shop in Ireland, where we lived. I walked in as he was undoing the cardboard boxes and bought 99% of them straight away. They were all sorts of vintages of labels. Best thing about them was they all played fine. The 90s limited edition reissues are awful sounding, like straight from Cd, I prefer the 70s analogue ones compared to those (originals & HMV’s sounding best to me, not going for the modern audiophile ones).

  5. sorry if the following question has an answer already, can’t find it now.
    LABEL, ORANGE, GLOSSY or MATT.
    I found two different issues of A-50, Coltrane live at Birdland, both without suffix A/B
    one is glossy, the other looks matt.
    from my reserches glossy label can be found 1-90 and matt from 94, 91-93 uncertain.
    the question is: is it possible that for the same original issue both labels have been used?
    thx

  6. I have 2 copies of AS-2 Ray Charles Genius + soul = Jazz Both are AmPar Stereo pressings. However, 1 has VanGelder in the deadwax and the other has Bell Sound. Interesting.

  7. I picked up a John Coltrane A50 mono on the yellow sparton label a few years back for a mere $5. It was in great condition and has the van gelder stamp. it seems to have the sound quality as the US orange and black issues.

      • I have several “side-by-side” Sparton and US Impulse editions in my collection and I find no sonic difference between the burgundy-coloured (mono) and black-coloured (stereo) Sparton pressings and their US counterparts. (I can’t speak to the yellow label editions, which came later.) My understanding is the Sparton plant in London Ontario was sent RVG-mastered US stampers to press the Canadian issues.

  8. Hello Impulse Aficionados … ‘Looking to confirm an Impulse anomaly: Is it correct to say that Paul Gonsalves’s, “Cleopatra – Feelin’ Jazzy” (Impulse! A-41), was an anomaly because the original mono US pressing was: 1) Not a gatefold, 2) Had no catalogue number in the Impulse logo on the front cover, and 3) Had an all-orange spine, no black lower half. Thanks for any info you might be able to share on this.

    • I should add that everything about the label seems to be completely orthodox for an original pressing.

  9. Dear LJC,

    So much great information here, just made collecting that much more fun! I have a copy of as-9134 orange label/black ring, abc records inc, lw but no van gelder stamp. This is also how discogs identifies the first pressing, but isn’t it mastered by rvg? There is also an accompanying sheet with information in japanese, but nothing indicates elsewhere that it was pressed there. Was it intended for export?

    /Regards, Simon

  10. Dear LJC
    I just got my hands on a Coltrane – Ballads, A 32 (mono), orange & black, ABC – Paramount, VanGelder, LW, weight 189 gr. It also has (what I haven’t seen before) a deep groove about 1 cm from the centre. Can you shed some light on this?
    Best Thomas

    • Sounds like it could be a Capitol pressing, they did the record club versions of Impulse albums. Does the label profile look like this?

  11. Hello LJC and everyone else,

    Kieran here again. Just received a copy of max roach percussion bitter sweet. Stereo.

    It says am-par. But also says Publisher Melotone music –BMI. Directly above am-par.

    From looking around online it seems that other supposedly original copies have this as well.

    The others weird thing is that it is A-S-8 instead of AS-8.

    Any insight? The only thing I read about Melotone music was in your post about Gigi Gryce.

    Thanks. Kieran.

    • Hi, if you check the label reference set for Impulse Stereo you will spot A-S-7 and A-S-8 as anomalies in the format of the first fourteen titles which are all hyphenated A-##-S.

      The AS-## format begins at AS-15 and thereafter. The later format on a lower catalogue number indicates an later print-run of labels, probably a later pressing, though its hard to be sure. Some of these anomalies may be simply typesetting choices and there is no special significance in them.

      The reference to Melotone Music is filing as music publishing collective with the royalties collection association. Max Roach was very militant about composers rights – something less assertive artists allowed record companies to assign to their own subsidiary and benefit. Coltrane stuff is always Jowcol Music – BMI, Roach is initially Melotone, then Milma Music.

      Bob Thiele reportedly made considerable money from claiming composing rights to a Louis Armstrong big seller, I read somewhere (Wonderful World?).

  12. Another question.

    Does anyone here have any experience with the Canadian Spartan pressings? Since I live in Canada most of the impulse records are find are the Spartan ones. Was wondering what people thought?

    Kieran

  13. Hello LJC,

    First of all thank you for the awesome blog. I use your site regularly as a reference. Especially for blue note and impulse.

    Today I found, and bought a record that has left me slightly confused. I thought maybe you could help. I found a copy of John Coltrane “live” at the village vanguard. Impulse Mono A-10. Based on my knowledge, which comes mostly from reading your site, the copy I found looks like an original. A product of Am-Par. RVG in the deadwax, LW. Glossy cover, thick vinyl. The only weird thing is that on the label for side one is blank. It just has the a product of Am-Par and Printed in the USA at the bottom, and the 33 1/3 RPM LP in white on the orange label. Also the record is still in an original AM-Par sleeve.

    Side 2 is normal. Help me out here. Have you ever seen this before? Could it still be an original ?

    I bought it because it wasn’t too expensive at all and was in good shape. Didn’t quite know what to make of it.

    Thank you in advance for shedding any light on this matter if you can.

    Kieran

    • That was just a label that slipped through without getting printed, nothing to be alarmed about. Fairly common error to find on many different labels.

      • Unlike those penny black postage stamp anomalies worth a fortune, errors in record manufacturing processes – or failures in quality control checks – generally lead to price markdowns, and big smile from the astute collector. They happen frequently, as Aaron has noted. Songs in the wrong order, miss-spellings, miss-aligned print, labels from wrong record, got a few records for a song marked down due to wrong label. Can I hear the label?

        The one problem that doesn’t seem to attract any price recognition is those mainly Prestige/New Jazz titles pressed on recycled vinyl. Every one goes blank, denies any understanding of the issue, feigns surprise, or turns to a friend and rolls eyes.

  14. so Impulse looked to be a simple label?
    I’ve checked out all mine and found only one split address label: 9140 stereo Om, orange matte label.
    one side “a product of Abc Paramount records Inc”, the other “a product of Abc records Inc. New York, N.Y. 10019”.
    I’ve never found a 9140 mono orange copy, only white promo.
    all Impulse white promos I’ve seen do NOT have any writing at the bottom of the label.
    should be of interest to know exactly when the orange label faded, with exceptions I’ve read in this interesting post. Andrew, would you like to sum up all these info?
    my last orange, mono, is 9155, Ayler in Greenwich Village BUT 9154, Shepp the magic of Ju-Ju doesn’t seem to exist in orange nor in mono (white mono?).

  15. Besides the pressing history which has been expounded on, one factor in the “deterioration” of impulse! audio quality after 1973 was a change in lacquer mastering protocols. That year, ABC Records set up their own mastering department, with sound quality hit-and-miss (you think the sound of Impulse LP’s is bad? Listen to some of the “Goldies 45” reissues of different labels from 1973-74 which make even the worst Impulse jobs sound almost worthy of Van Gelder-style quality by comparison).

    The green “tree-ring” label was a Columbia Terre Haute pressing; the choice of label fonts gives this away (they generally used Franklin Gothic for cat. # and side designation at this point, vs. Pitman, NJ using Spartan Bold Condensed). The black “neon” label reissue is odd in that while Columbia pressed it (presumably in Santa Maria, CA), they used the old label typesetting from Queens Litho’s Kaltman Press division – which typeset the bulk of Impulse LP labels from its 1961 founding up to 1967.

    And whatever Van Gelder didn’t master, was cut at Bell Sound Studios in New York (as in photo #2) – the stamped matrix number indicates that Sol Kessler was the mastering engineer.

    And while the Capitol issue was pressed in Scranton, I presume the lacquer mastering would have actually been from New York (if there was a ‘W’ and/or ‘X’ within the lacquer numbers of the respective sides; if ‘A’ or ‘B’, then the lacquer mastering origin would have come from ‘the Tower’ in Hollywood).

  16. Hi there,

    Thanks for a great read and discussion: this is really useful for browsing sought-after Impulse gems.

    One thing that I do not see covered here is the issue of so-called “monaural” pressings. A good example can be found in this listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/JOHN-COLTRANE-Rare-Sealed-EXPRESSION-Album-In-MONAURAL-IMPULSE-A-9120-/110774202227?pt=Music_on_Vinyl&hash=item19caa82f73. Some records have that monaural text in the corner, and some don’t. Could anyone please explain the difference between these pressings and the ones that do not have this text (on the cover and on spine)?

    Thanks!

    Asko

    • This copy has been under my interest in the last 2 months, except for the price. All my Impulse mono, and I’ve got a lot, have the small text. No one has this large ?print/sticker? in front. True that this is a sealed copy. An hypothesis is that it’s a sticker glued on shrink hiding the usual small monaural text in the lower left corner (as seen on back cover). Another one is that’s the only, to my knowledge, example of variation for a record rushed out after Trane’s death and in a period in which mono was going to be given up. Impulse published mono until between 9155 (mono) and 9165 (stereo only).
      Incidentally of the first 18 Coltrane’s Impulse, mine are all mono except THIS ONE.

      • rewind: a fast research proved my ignorance. Impulse A-9120, Expression.
        STEREO: upper left corner a grey/greenish band 16×5 cm with STEREO text on the right side; lower left corner a smaller band, same color, 16×1 cm, no text.
        MONO: upper left corner small band, same color, no text; lower left corner, large band, same color with MONAURAL on the right side.
        apologize, but I had doubts in evaluate the record suggested by Asko. The color looked white.

        • Thanks! What really puzzles me is that I’ve seen, for example, two mono versions of Chico Hamilton’s Dealer lp; one has that Monaural text, but the other doesn’t: it’s even on the spine!

  17. i’ve noticed recently that some of the early impulse presses seem to actually have a legitimate deep groove, just like early blue notes (as opposed to a normal recessed groove that may or may not be particularly low; i’ve personally noticed no real pattern in my collection). so far, i own two (A-1 and A-3) and i have seen it on A-4, which i decided not to buy due to a horrible cover. all of the copies having this deep groove are stereo Am-Par labels, and my mono A-2 does not have it, so perhaps it only occurs on early stereo copies. all this is preliminary, but interesting. just thought i’d add to the details.

    • I’ve seen some early orange/black label Impulse records with the deep groove on eBay but never in person. Are the ones you have Van Gelder cuts, Bell Sound or Capitol Record Club versions?

      • none are capitol versions. i don’t collect those. also, i was mistaken above. my copy of a-1 is mono, yet it has the deep groove. depending on who mastered them, they are appropriately van gelder or bell sound.

  18. I would like to add that of the ten Impulse records I have with the ABC-Paramount label only one has a matte finish, the other nine are all semi-gloss like the earlier AM-PAR label.

  19. Moved from the “Contact LJC” page to the Guide to the Impulse label, which is more pertinent to the discussion thread:

    Gregory the Fish on November 17, 2013 at 19:58 said: Edit

    Hi LJC. Your fabulous Impulse label article says that the Red/Black label began in 67/68 but I have seen copies of Pharaoh Sanders’ “Karma” and “Jewels of Thought,” both 1969 albums, with the orange/black label. Any info on that? Thanks!

    Reply ↓

    LondonJazzCollectoron November 17, 2013 at 23:36 said: Edit

    More research required – at which catalogue numbers exactly did the black/red rim become the only label for first releases, taking over the oranger Black rim?? I certainly don’t have enough originals , so I think its up to us to do some more research.

    Reply ↓

    Gregory The Fishon November 18, 2013 at 14:34 said: Edit

    What do you think of the theory that they were using up extra stock of the orange labels at this point, and so red/black and orange/black are from the same pressings? My red/black copy of “Karma” has the same placement and style of the matrix numbers and etchings in the groove as my buddy’s orange/black copy.

    Thoughts?

    Reply ↓

    LondonJazzCollectoron November 18, 2013 at 19:25 said: Edit

    Couple of observations from browsing Discogs Impulse submissions.

    There is a notable absence of mixed up Impulse labels. I have seen just the one early Am Par one side ABC Paramount the other, but generally it looks like ABC didn’t seem to care about saving every last penny by using up old stock labels, nothing like the ducking and diving that went on with Blue Note and Prestige. When things change, they change, at least as far as print labels are concerned.

    Somewhere around AS-9164, the orange label is dead and everything moves onto black/red rim. Then around AS-9233, black/red rim is dead and everything moves onto black/neon logo. I’m used to looking at chaos at independent labels – this looks very corporate and regimented. More like Columbia – very controlled.

    No-one seems able to phograph trail-off etchings, so we are on our own. I don’t have anywhere near enough samples to draw conclusions about who pressed Impulse Orange or Black. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had their preferred pressing plant/s and steady business relationships over time. Label changes are probably just legalese or corporate design changes dictated from on high in the Marketing Department. The print qualities of labels are consistent, and little evidence of variation. Similarly there are hardly more than two variations of die-marks in the label area.

    My guess is that your theory is plausible – the same factory or group of factories would most likely have pressed these records across the label transitions from Orange to Black. Later on, after 1973 however, it’s a whole different story, but that is an industry-wide phenomenon.

    Anyone knows better, I’m guessing, happy to yield, I’m not proud.

    • This one is actually fairly simple: The records Gregory is referencing are Capitol Record Club issues. I bet if he checks the catalog number on the label the number will be 5 digits instead of 4 (reference label variation number 4 in LJC’s original post).

      Every Impulse release distributed by CRC had the orange/black labels even if they came out long after the orange/black label era ended on the original releases. I don’t think anyone considers the CRC releases 1st pressings (on the earlier ones the album covers are not glossy like their OG counterparts).

      Regardless, if the catalog number on the label of your Impulse album has a 5 digit number beginning with a 9 then you have a Capitol Record Club pressing.

      For some records these are actually really really desirable (Beatles, anything Phil Spector produced, etc) but for Impulse they’re generally valued at a fraction of the regular releases. I’m not really qualified to comment on any sound quality differences but considering they’re not stamped off by RVG I think we can make some assumptions. Also those Beatles records have different catalog numbers than the aforementioned 5-digit numbers beginning with 9.

      When talking about the specific LPs Gregory references I’m not sure there would be much of a difference between those and the OG in terms of release dates. That is, I think they stopped doing separate CRC releases around the time those records would’ve been released.

      • Paul – don’t know how I missed this until just now. Thanks for your idea! I checked again, just to be sure.

        None of my Impulses – upwards of 70 from across the spectrum now that I’m trying to collect the catalog as originals, are CRC issues, except for one Yusef Lateef that I knew was too good to be true when someone “threw it in” for a few dollars. Your insight is good, but it is not the solution for me. Near as I can tell, between roughly (9)160 and roughly (9)190 there are some releases that can be found with identical matrix info in both red ring and orange labels. And my red ring “Karma” sounds just as good and weighs similarly to my other similar-era Impulses so I am happy.

        An acquaintance I made at a record show was proudly selling “complete” Impulse catalog chunks (A1-A20 etc) and nearly every one of them was CRC. He was pretty upset when it was pointed out to him.

        • upon review, paul is completely correct. i don’t know what sort of weird grass i must have been smoking. thanks paul, if you’re still out there!

  20. Over the past year or two I’ve attempted to accumulate the first US pressings of the first 200 or so Impulse releases so I may be of some help with the various questions here. I’ve got about 30 left to go… I’ve approached the project from the following (perhaps flawed) standpoint: We know the order in which Impulse changed their label designs so if an older label exists it is the first pressing. Not saying this is a perfect approach, but it seems the most logical until more information is available about the nuances of their production.

    In order to do this project I’ve also obsessively combed through eBay auctions during this time, so I’ve picked up a lot of information which goes beyond just my personal collection.

    A few notes:
    The spines sometimes change with the pressings. Sometimes it’s subtle (A-1 through about A-84 are almost always 50% orange & 50% black, after that they get really erratic) and other times they actually change color… different shades of orange or even going from white to orange (I believe Mingus x5 did this). The spines also change with the genre… the orange portion of the spines are turquoise on the folk LPs they did (A-24, A-25). Other genre-benders are still Orange (John Lee Hooker comes to mind). Then there are the Coltrane specials. A Love Supreme has a white spine on all of the first several pressings which I would guess is fairly well known, but I’ve also got a copy of Impressions (ABC-Paramount) with a white top spine AND a copy with the usual orange top spine (also ABC-Paramount). My copy of Lateef’s Golden Flute has the white top spine, too.
    Perhaps my biggest obsession is trying to understand the label anomalies. IE the issues where they clearly broke the trend of label designs. The easiest example is A-9148, Cosmic Music. This release is so different all around that I can only assume it was released much later than A-9147 and A-9149 (which seems plausible when you know the history of Cosmic Music, but why leave the Cat # open for that release?). Cosmic Music is the first release, at least in Cat # order, to have a completely solid spine. It’s also the first release in that order to not have an Orange/Black label release.
    On the other hand, A-9164 (Plummer’s Cosmic Brotherhood) is the final orange/black release. The transition from A-9116ish to A-9165 has probably been the most difficult for me to pinpoint. Sometimes the first pressings are ABC-Paramount releases, sometimes ABC Records Inc releases (orange/black) and sometimes ABC Records Inc (red/black). Prior to that we can pretty cleanly state “AM-PAR labels for A-1 through A-33 are first pressings” and “ABC-Paramount lables for A-34 through A-9116 are first pressings” but for the next several releases it gets messy. Why wouldn’t there be an orange/black pressing of Shirley Scott’s Girl Talk? There are several like this…
    There have been other oddities, too. Until recently I did not think an ABC-Paramount issue of “Kulu Se Mama” existed… everything on Popsike or eBay said “ABC Records Inc.” I just disproved this by purchasing one, but why would such a heavy majority of the copies of that record have the “ABC Records Inc” label? It always looked like there would be an ABC-Paramount version, given where it was in the cat # sequence, but still…
    Then there are the more obvious cover variations… most people know about “The Blues And The Abstract Truth,” but there is a different cover for Shepp’s “Fire Music” and promo-only covers for “Percussion Bitter Sweet” and “Art Blakey!!!!” These promo-only variations appear to be the gatefold contents of the regular versions of each printed on the outside of a non-gatefold album cover. And I’ve only ever seen one of each show up on eBay (haven’t checked PopSike – didn’t buy the ones on eBay)… and there could, in theory, be others like this.
    Anyways, the general benefit of my collection is that it allows for analysis within the context of (most of) the rest of the Impulse catalog. I’d be glad to help if anyone needs anything within these parameters. Also, building much of the collection via eBay gives one a sense of which are truly rare or have a demand in substantial excess of the supply – a post I could make which would be at least the length of this one, haha. Lastly, I keep everything documented in a Google Drive spreadsheet which I’d be glad to share with anyone who uses that… I haven’t added any info yet for trail-off wax, spines or text variations on the back or inside covers, but I may eventually. PS. I post a lot of these on my Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/paulrehm

    • Congratulations, Paul – nominated for LJC’s “OCD Award of the Week”! Seriously, impressive. I know Impulse collectors like to group their Impulse’s together in their filing system, just to watch those spines “sync”

      I can see why its attractive. If you would like to show off those spines a picture would be welcome – you have a collection worthy of a place.
      I do Google Docs – interested to see what you have compiled, may be we can put a link of some sort here. My email is on the “About” page.
      LJC

    • Not sure if anyone here posted already but I sometimes wonder if there is one specific release that was the last laminated gatefold cover? I think i read it in the label history but cannot seem to find the info anymore. Should be around release 9200 or so…Thanks. Andreas

      • i know archie sheep’s “for losers” doesn’t have the laminated cover, but plenty after that do, and some even have orange and black spines (karma and jewels of thought come to mind). a good question, to be sure.

        • I’m close to completing A-1 through A-9200 and my quick glance indicated Coltrane’s Selflessness (A-9161) is the first one to have a first pressing whose cover was not glossy/laminated. That said, this appears to be more of a fluke. Everything else through A-9185 is glossy/laminated. A-9186 (I’d Rather Suck My Thumb) is where they really start looking matte. There are a few here and there with higher cat numbers and laminated covers but most from 9186 and up are matte. Let me know if I can help check anything more specific!

  21. (WordPress comment “nesting” beyond a half dozen replies gets unreadable so I have reposted Freddies comment on top)
    Submitted on 2013/09/12 at 15:32 | In reply to Joe L..

    Great, thanks for the info! FWIW, my copy of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady has ABC-Paramount on the label.

    LJC – does your Ellington-Coltrane have a matte or semi-glossy label? That might tell us something, although my evidence is circumstantial to say the least.

    I draw on the fact that on the one hand, all of my Am-Par pressings have a semi-glossy label, and on the other, that some earlyish orange-and-black releases with matte labels that I have are of the more popular kind (e.g. Coltrane, Shirley Scott). I suspect that these might be reissues (at least up to Ascension, A-95).

    (I might add that I have a copy of Shirley Scott – Great Scott!!, A-67, with matte labels, and a slightly later LP, Archie Shepp – Four for Trane, A-71, with semi-glossy labels.)

    • The real LJC this time says

      I don’t have access to my records for a week, Freddie, so I can’t confirm matte or semi-gloss. To own up, I haven’t ever taken note of any finish differences, so I have learned something. More homework required.
      LJC

      • Took a quick look and can confirm that all Am Par labels (that I have, anyway) are glossy, and while most ABC Paramounts are matte (including all later releases), some earlier ABC Paramount labels are glossy.

        Also, I am curious to discover when Impulse moved from the standard black-white-black three stripe back cover to the one-color-with-description backs (sometime around A-50, perhaps? Complete guess there).

        Anyway, as you say LJC – homework to do.

      • OK, for what it’s worth, here is what I can establish from my own (meager) Impulse collection, and some auction research:

        First, the black-white-black stripe back cover design is irrelevant to the date of printing. They were used up through, and including, A-43. Thereafter, starting with A-44, the back covers were a single color with the record info on the left. However, once a striped, always a striped, as any record numbered A-43 or prior always had a striped back design (at least prior to MCA pressings). So that is not a clue to the pressing run.

        Second – however, it is interesting to note that although the design remained constant, the label designation did not. Therefore, a first Am-Par pressing of, say, A-21, would state, at the bottom on the white stripe on the back, “A Product of Am-Par Corp.” However, my later 1968 black and red label stereo reissue has the same jacket design, but states “A Product of ABC-Paramount Records.”

        Third, the other place where the label designation is stated – the right top inside cover of the gatefold – started to change well before the label or the back cover. So, for example, while my copy of A-2 has Am-Par on the semi-glossy label, Am-Par on the back cover, and Am-Par on the inner right cover, my WLP copy of A-10 has a semi-glossy label, Am-Par on the back cover, but ABC Paramount on the inner jacket. I don’t know if that makes it a “second pressing” or was simply a sign of the changing designation (the inner paste-on perhaps being printed elsewhere than the jacket itself or the label).

        Fourth, as noted previously, A-33 appears to have been the last LP to feature an Am-Par label.

        Fifth, as noted by Freddie, Am-Par labels were semi-glossy.

        Sixth, while most ABC Paramount pressings after A-34 sported matte labels, they were not immediately brought in. For example, the labels on my copy of A-40, while ABC Paramount, are semi-glossy. Further, I have a WLP of A-89 (which, based on its provenance, was definitely printed first off the press) which has semi-glossy labels. Further, some ABC Paramount orange and black labels of Am-Par era pressings are often semi-glossy (my two copies of A-32, for example).

        Not sure what all of this means, given the fuzziness of the transitions between the label name and printing styles, and the fact that for orange-and-black Am-Par and ABC Paramount pressings, the same stampers were used and the sound was top-notch, so the audio quality is identical and superb.

        LJC, curious what your Impulse pressings can tell us.

        • I’ve now had the opportunity to take a closer look at my US Orange/Black Ring Impulses.

          The thing I had overlooked was that every one of them – whether Am Par, ABC Paramount or ABC Records – bears the sometimes faint “LW” etching, which I now have learned to be the indication of metalwork from Longwear Plating Company

          http://www.discogs.com/label/Longwear%20Plating?sort=format%2Casc
          metalwork and dtamper production.

          The labels are all matt except for one original Am Par, a promo and one ABC Paramount, which are semi-gloss .Label printing and the use of semi-gloss or matt doesn’t follow any meaningful pattern except I guess early AmPar are all semi-gloss. Label printing looks farmed out, as was pressing.

          I discovered all but one of my early Impulse catalogue recordings – A-33 and below – are all second pressings with ABC Paramount.on the label, contrasting with Am Par to be found on the first pressing runs

          A-33 remains the turning point. Any number below 33 with ABC Paramount on the label is a second pressing, Am Par is a first. Somewhere later, ABC Paramount was replaced by ABC Records, but I don’t have enough samples to tell when.

          Lighten up guys, they mostly all sound great.

  22. Thank you for your blog, it is simply excellent. I have a stereo copy of John Coltrane “Crescent” , with the Van Gelder stamp, the label is back with red ring, but there is no mention of year nore address at 6 o’clock. The record is extremely light: 119g and the cover has a sticker “stereo” paste over “mono”. Have you seen such a label before and what year would you think it is?

    • Hi. A66 would have appeared first on Orange/black ring.
      Is yours a match to this black/red ring?
      http://www.popsike.com/JOHN-COLTRANE-Crescent-ABC-Impulse-Lp/220758160486.html
      Seller claims 1968 ABC Impulse second pressing, which would tie in with what I know. Does it have the Registered trademark (R in a circle) at the bottom left and right of the logo box? I have seen with and without – the without being older. The vinyl weight at 119gm is very light but I have one ABC Impulse at 117gm, so it might still fall within the range for second pressings.

      • Good morning and thank you for your reply!!!! Yes it has the trademark and yes it perfectly matches the popsike picture you mentionned!!!! Thank you !!! I also have a 1980 Japan press by Victor and it is really close in quality to this Van Gelder stamped 2nd press actually. All the best and thank you for kindness again!

  23. Dear LJC,

    I have a mono copy of John Coltrane’s “Ballads” (1963) that has all the markings of an original (Van Gelder stamp, orange and black label, ABC-Paramount print) but the vinyl only weighs 130 grams. I’m thinking this record was pressed after 1963 but they still used the same labels and master laquer…any thoughts?

    • I have nine US Impulses, and these are the weights by type of label
      Grams
      133 Orange /Black ring VAN GELDER
      133 Orange/Black ring VAN GELDER
      140 Orange/Black ring
      145 Orange/Black ring RVG
      152 Orange/Black ring
      152 Black/ Red ring
      158 Black/ Red Ring
      161 Orange/Black ring
      177 White Promo

      Though a weight of 130 gm is “low” it is close to the bottom of the range and VAN GELDER. What interest me is the later black label red ring (mid/late Sixties) are heavier than some of the earlier ABC Paramount Orange/black ring pressings. Not done this analysis before.

      Looks to me your Ballads could well be an early copy despite the weight.

      • Very interesting that both your Van Gelders are lightweight like mine, what’s the original release year for those?

        Also, do you have “A Love Supreme”? I don’t, but I’ve read the online discussions about the differences between the “Bell Sound” mastering and the Van Gelder. Just wondering if the Love Supreme Van Gelder originals are lightweight too hmmm…

        • My Love Supreme is a UK press on HMV label pressed by EMI Hayes, so its got no pedigree. My only Am Par Impulse (very low number A catalogue) is 161gm. The later ABC Impulses are mostly the lighter weights. No notion as to who pressed anything but there is a strong case for “low birthweight” still being genuine original not later pressings.

          • Yeah, my mono Coltrane Ballads is light, too, but has all the hallmarks of a 1st issue. Really made me wonder when I was first considering buying it.

            Thanks so much for the info! I’m learning so much through your blog LJC..

            • I have Coltrane Ballads in mono and stereo, both are light-ish (140 grams or so). But nice vinyl, not skimpy. I have an Am-Par WLP, a white and black ABC Records WPL some Am-Par orange and blacks, and many ABC Records orange and blacks, and none are particularly heavy.

            • Following up (apologies, however, as I do not have a scale, so these are merely good guesstimates; the scale is on the to do list):

              Coltrane Ballads – A-32 mono – orange and black, ABC-Paramount, Inc., VAN GELDER in the matrix – 130-140 grams.

              Coltrane Ballads – AS-32 stereo – orange and black, ABC-Paramount, Inc., STEREO VAN GELDER in the matrix – slightly, but noticeably, heavier. Maybe 145-155 grams, if that?

              I consider both of these to be first pressings, as they have all the hallmarks of a 1963 Impulse.

              Also (and oddly) my stereo jacket is slightly, but noticeably, heavier, sturdier and has deeper colors. The mono jacket is very nice and typical Impulse, but the stereo jacket is really great. Unsure what to make of that, if anything.

              For further reference:

              Ray Charles, Genius+Soul=Jazz – A-2 mono – orange and black, Am-Par, RVG in the matrix – 145-155 grams.

              Art Blakey!!! Jazz Messengers!!! – A-7 mono – orange and black, Am-Par, RVG – 145-155 grams.

              Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard – A-10 mono – white and black promo, no markings on label, but jacket indicates ABC-Paramount, RVG in the matrix – 140 grams. Sturdy and nice, but not heavy.

              An informal survey of other earlier pressings – both Am-Par and ABC-Paramount – do not indicate any heavier than the heaviest listed above. So I would guess that your mono Ballads is original, regardless of the somewhat lighter weight.

              • I haven’t got anything to contribute regarding the weight differences between earlier and later pressings, unfortunately. But as I understand, there are earlier and later orange and black label pressings (Ballads is one example) that are identical in all other respects bar the finish of the label. Earlier ones are semi-glossy, later ones matte.

                The glossy first pressings apparently go up to at least Ascension (AS-95). I think I saw some discussion about this on jazzcollector.

                Of course, this could just be a question of different pressing plants or printers using different paper stock and ink for the labels! ABC seems to have used quite a few different plants for their product (see W.B.’s post in this thread: http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/pressing-plants-for-abc-records-1970-end.244273/).

        • Also to this point re: “A Love Supreme” there is apparently an issue with a hum throughout the stereo mix (my bad since I must’ve glossed over that comment on the EBay description, a rookie mistake!). Not sure if this is just confined to later pressings – mine is an ABC Records (no “R”) pressing. Any insights are greatly appreciated! Also I haven’t taken delivery yet so am hoping this dreaded hum won’t overwhelm the music but who knows…

  24. Hi. Love the site, I have found it so useful over the last few months. However there is one area on the Impulse section you do not cover the capitol record club pressings.
    I have bought a few over the last month or so (actually from the dealer you use for the perfect eBay listing) notably out of the cool by Gil Evans and kulu se mama and live at birdland by Trane. I don’t have the van gelder mastered originals to compare them to but they sound great to me, good 60’s pressings on good vinyl at a much lower cost than the ‘original’ pressings.
    Do you have any thoughts on these pressings how have you found they compare?

    • Hi Dave, this is an interesting surprise – I’ve never heard of this club imprint before. Checking back I see I have only four records on Capitol and they are all straight UK Capitol releases.

      A quick search turns up a lot online, and aside from the Beatles, Beach Boys and Duane Eddy, I see they released a number of jazz titles, which seem to be distinguished only by a Capitol catalogue number – covers and labels look exactly like the original artwork. And yes they are cheap, though most copies on eBay seem located in the US so after $20-30 postage to UK, not quite so cheap.

      Pressings were apparently by Capitol’s own Scranton PA plant, so yes, they should sound very respectable, depending on how they were mastered – from copy tape by their own engineers I assume. I can’t compare as I don’t have any but I will certainly keep an eye out for this imprint in future.

      Thanks for adding to the knowledge

  25. Thanks for the wealth of information on your site!

    I just picked up a nice copy of Coltrane’s Ballads Mono A-32. It seemed a great price for $27 US, so I assumed I was missing something or it played poorly, but after cleaning it up, it plays NM- or VG+ with a VG gatefold cover(if not better) in my estimation (not being well versed in record grading).

    So I looked up your info on labels and mine has the Am-Par orange and black on one side and the ABC-Paramount orange and black on the other. I assume this could be in the transition period between 1961-62? It also has the full Van Gelder stamp, as opposed to RVG in the dead wax. Also has original inner sleeve and ad insert.

    I think I did well. Does this all seem right?

    Thanks again for your great blog!

    /jay

    • Hi Jay,
      The presence of AmPar on one side is puzzling. Goldmine give the release date of A32 as 1963. Catalogue number A32 is after the label changed from AmPar to ABC Records. Its worth checking but I can’t think of an explanation, should be ABC Records both sides, however anything is possible.

      The VAN GELDER stamp replaced RVG in around 1961 I think it would be normal on first press around 1962-3 Check that you have a faint “LW” initials in the run out as well. Appears on quite a few Impulse of this time.

      I think you did well with the price.

      • Thanks for the response. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

        It definitely has ABC-Paramount on side 1 and Am-Par on side 2, and it does have the faint “LW” initials in the run out on both sides, as well.

        Seems odd that it has opposing labels. Maybe pressed right on notice of the transition?

        I imagine the label sticker person stopping work upon being told of the switch and being handed a new stack of labels before proceeding, with this lp on deck and already labeled on side 2. 😉

        If anyone else has any theories or has seen this, I would love to hear your input.

        • I became interested in this question, and found that Am-Par was used until at least A-33, McCoy Tyner, Reaching Fourth: http://www.ebay.com/itm/McCoy-Tyner-Trio-Reaching-Fourth-Impulse-A-33-/321150750306 (see label photo).

          So it appears that Am-Par labels were used until 1963 – thus, the Ballads label on Jay’s copy of A-32 makes some sense.

          I don’t think it makes any difference at all sound-wise, and it’s not a “collectability” issue either, as collectors seem OK with Impulse orange-and-black, regardless of Am-Par or ABC. But it’s worth noting.

          • I have McCoy Tyner A33 Reaching Fourth and I confess I haven’t checked the label as to whether its Am Par or ABC Paramount. That ebay auction is Am Par. But your point is right – the Am Par must have been in use up to 1963, which is later than I had reckoned. I am fairly sure the changeover was around A33.I’ll update my monograph

            • It’s later than I had thought too. For some reason, A-25 was stuck in my mind as the last Am-Par. Again, it doesn’t really matter audio-wise, just interesting to know. All of my ABC-Paramount labels sound amazing, so I don’t care at all.

              • Agreed – sound-wise it’s all good, regardless of the fine print!

                But still, it would be nice to know which of the earlier Impulse releases sold well enough to get repressed later on with an orange-and-black label (before the switch to the later, red-and-black design). And, do these orange-and-black reissues have a label that is identical to the first pressing (including the company name)?

                I know I have seen a copy of Ballads with a matte label, which is atypical for an Am-Par release, but I can’t remember what the fine print said. Ballads, A Love Supreme, and maybe some of the other Coltrane releases probably sold well enough to warrant a repress pre-1967. I’d love to hear some input on this!

                • Good ideas for further investigation, May call for help from people who have more copies of US Impulse pressings than I have, so differences can be established and conclusions drawn by pooling information and label photos. I’ll make a start but it will have to keep until I have access to my records again.

                  First up I have found by looking more closely at my own posts, my A30 Ellington Coltrane is an ABC Paramount label, whilst its been suggested A33 was the Am Par – ABC changeover. Is it a second pressing? Does anyone have A30 as an Am Par? This could get interesting.

  26. All Impulse! albums were recorded in 2-track, i.e. two-channel stereo, and were mixed to mono by combining the two tracks into one channel.

    Some people like the mono “mixes,” but you can achieve the exact same mix by playing the stereo LP and flicking the “stereo/mono” switch on your amplifier. There are no “dedicated” mono mixes.

    IIRC there original stereo LPs are slightly scarcer although not necessarily more sought after, possibly because collectors don’t understand they do not contain exclusive mixes (unlike, for example, Coltrane’s Atlantic LPs, which DO have dedicated mono mixes).

  27. Hey LJC,
    How do the 1967-1968 impulse ABC orange/black labeled pressings sound?
    I don’t think I can find/afford a first pressing but would love to get a nice copy of Coltrane ballads.
    Let me know, thanks mate. And again, awesome website you’ve shared with us here 🙂
    Sam

    • I have a near mint copy of Curtis Fuller – Soul Trombone on that label which sounds really nice. Maybe not as powerful as my early 60s Impuses but sounds real nice – especially considering its got the 1972 copyright year! I have a few others on that label but they are albums that came out in the late 60s/early 70s. If you can find one that’s in nice shape and its the right price, I say go for it!

    • There is no sonic difference between the different orange/black pressings in my experience, nor is there any between these and the later Black-with-red-ring label.

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