Spine-tingling: the Impulse! spine

Courtesy of GregorytheFish, a panoramic view of the Impulse spines in a row. You can see why some collectors like to file their collections by label and catalogue number, and not artist alphabetically (as I do). The longitudinal view of the label makes historical and musical sense

The first 100 titles:


The second 100 titles:



You have to admire the dogged determination to “own the label”.

Fewer copies here in the second 100 where as mono is dropped and stereo format dominates . Notice close up below where the “IMPULSE!” name switches to lower case “impulse!”. Somewhere along the way someone decided lower case was more cool, informal, more understated than shouty capitals. Seriously, detail, deep dive, I love it. You don’t make this connection unless you create “small-multiple” views.


GregoryTheFish for stepping up to the plate, delivering the pictures. So much of the Internet is just words. Words are often  hopeless, taking paragraphs to describe things you can detect visually in a split second.

Update May 8, 2016:

Another Impulse completist, found on Flickr, posting up their almost complete spine collection. No guarantee of original status as vinyl labels may not be linked with spine info. Also mono and stereo editions are mixed together to make up the complete series. Also,  there are a few turkeys in there, musically, collectors beware.

Impulse Spine A1-37.JPGImpulse Spine A38-76-.JPGImpulse Spine A77-9110-.JPGImpulse Spine A9111-152-.JPGImpulse Spine A9153-9206-.JPG


10 thoughts on “Spine-tingling: the Impulse! spine

  1. LJC, I have only 40 more titles to go of the nearly 350+ strong catalog, and i only have to acquire 7 more with the orange spine. most are ones i have only seen as reissues or with absurd prices, but i will get there! and when I do, we will update this, including the spines after the orange one!


    • marc: i happen to know some interesting things, from reading ashley kahn’s book, from observation, and from experience. by the way, yes, it drives me crazy too.

      The only actual white spine proper is on #77, A Love Supreme. This was a conscious choice on the part of the label, and turned out to be a wise one in retrospect as ALS was definitely the label’s crowning achievement, and this adds to the mystique.

      The only other deliberate color variations were early on: #24 and #25 were “folk” albums, for whatever reason, and Impulse happily decided not to follow through with that idea, but the plan seems to have been to color their folk releases differently (blue/green spines). Oddly, though mine are both white promo label copies, the commercial label was still orange, as seen in LJC’s guide. Go figure.

      Other than that, #161, Trane’s “Selflessness” and a few others before the last orange spine (192, Buddy Montgomery) were released after the orange spine was retired, and hence had plainer spines. The other odd spines you are seeing are actually the proper orange, but a good handful didn’t play nice with the light through the sleeves I keep them in, and a good more still are in fine condition but the spines were subjected to intense light over the years by previous owners, dulling their color down. I didn’t realize this was a thing until I was at a trusty local record shop and saw a YELLOW LABEL on a copy of A Love Supreme that was used to display the vinyl inner sleeves. I asked the owner, and he flipped it over to show the clearly proper orange reverse side, and explained that it had been under the store’s light for decades. Not to worry, the record itself was trashed. Not a waste. In any case, this could certainly happen through laminate, and is what I surmise happened to my handful of “off-color” spines.

      Whew. what a mouthful. sorry to ramble. but there you go. what also drives me nuts is the brazen nature with which the gatefolds were occasionally folded. Hard to read, and ruins the neat visual effect.


  2. awwww shucks i’m happy to help. i noticed the switch in capitalization purely because of how i file them. i’m getting there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s