A Lexington Avenue Trio

I was watching some early Blue Notes on eBay, including the very first 12-inch LP in the 1500 series: Miles Davis, Volume 1, Blue Note 1501. This was an original Lexington Avenue pressing with the deep grooves, flat edge, frame cover and all of the other indicators of a first pressing. The record and cover were both in M- condition. Quite a gem, it seems. The final price was $622.89. I haven’t updated the Jazz Collector Price Guide in quite a while, but I do remember seeing a copy of this record sell for more than $1,000 at one time, but that seemed to be the exception rather than the rule. Popsike shows two copies selling for more than $1,000. I would assume that most collectors would treasure these albums, but for some reason there’s something that feels “less original” about the albums whose content was original released on 78 or 1-inch LP. They also don’t sound as well as the later 12-inch records produced for the vinyl format, do they?

Here’s an example of an early Blue Note recorded for the 12-inch LP format: Art Blakey, The Jazz Messengers at the Cafe Bohemia, Volume 2, Blue Note 1508. This was also an original Lexington Avenue pressing from the same seller. It was also listed in M- condition for both the record and the cover. The final price was $584.90.

Here’s a Blue Note from a bit later, but still in the Lexington Avenue era: Hank Mobley with Donald Byrd and Lee Morgan, Blue Note 1540. This was an original pressing. The cover was rated “good” and the record was graded M-. My guess is that the cover was actually better than good — probably VG+. It seemed that the seller used the word “good” as a descriptor. In my parlance when something is rated “good” it’s actually closer to “poor” than than VG+ or even VG. Good really isn’t so good, if you get my drift.

11 comments

  • The Mobley 1540’s a bit vexing in context. The cover does indeed look way above G but the same seller has a bunch of auctions for records he grades NM/NM where the covers obviously have too much wear to be better than VG+, which makes his grading capabilities questionable …

  • The seller’s feedback rating is poor. I’d avoid.

  • Al, I am of the mindset that a first pressing exists for any series within a given format. So, there can be a first pressing of a 78, and a first pressing of a 12″. Both are correct. I guess I consider the RPM as the discriminating factor (so if a 12″ 45 RPM set was pressed later than the 12″ 33-1/3 RPM, I would consider it a repressing). Any takers?

  • Mac – There are some Blue Note sessions that have questionable pedigrees that I’ve wondered about also… Like Horace Parlan’s Happy Frame of Mind from 1963 that had a Plastylite test pressings but the session wasn’t released until 1968 as part of a Booker Ervin Two-Fer. Would that be considered a first pressing then?

  • This discussion raises for me the notion of the value of a “first” press or “first” edition. My understanding has been that the implicit value of such is that the sound quality is better than later pressings of any glory or ilk. If the “first press” of a record does not possess a strong quality of sound… who cares the pressing’s rank? If a “first press” sounds like a Pickwick “Best of”… I can only hope that collectors bite their thumbs at it. (Of course, there are likely “first press” collectors for “first press” collecting’s sake.) I value all of your thoughts.

  • Abrasive_Beautiful

    Daryl, I think it would depend on each individual collector’s motivations for collecting in the first place. There are so many reasons. I bet there’s someone out there who collects original Blue Notes exclusively for the cover art

  • yeah, there are audiophile collectors and hot stamper weirdos who clearly do not care or are quite disinterested with original pressings — it’s all about the Maxell syndrome.

    I’d say that “first 12″ pressing” works well for titles originally on 78 or ten inch or whatever.

  • Woody – I don’t include test pressings as first pressings, as they are not commercial releases. It’s a prototype of sorts, and may or may not reflect the final commercial release … IMO. 🙂

  • Lots of good 70’s jazz listed by Vinyl House UK for anyone interested.

  • Some nice Strata East titles there GST – very rare you see those for sale from UK sellers. Shame it’s Vinyl House, puts them out of my price range!

  • Mac – I agree with you on the test pressing vs. commercial releases but there are a handful of Blue Notes that I’ve had a hard time putting in a category. They all have the “P” and Van Gelder Stamp but never went into production at that time. All of those sessions were released much later but not from Van Gelder’s masters as far as I know. Would the commercial releases be considered repressings then?

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