Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (and More) About Blue Note 45-RPM Records
You will now be treated to a treatise covering more than you ever wanted to know about Blue Note 45s. So from now on, if you do happen to run across any interesting Blue Note 45s, you can do a search at Jazz Collector for this article and the shared knowledge of the community will be available for as long as I pay the bills to keep the site up and running. Here’s how I came by this newfound knowledge, which I wasn’t seeking, but which I will now share for others who may also not be seeking it. It started, as these things often do, with an e-mail inquiry, as follows:
I recently purchased an interesting Blue Note 7-inch record. It is Horace Silver – The Preacher b/w Doodlin’. The interesting thing about this one is that it is pressed on deep red translucent vinyl. Neither I, nor anyone from my collecting circle have ever seen an “original” Blue Note pressed on colored wax. This copy has the dark blue label with silver print. It has the 43 West 61st Street, New York 23 NY address on both sides of the label. In the trail off it has RVG and 9M hand scribed along with BN-45-1630 A and BN-45-1630 B. Another interesting thing about this one, is the date 8-9-58 lightly scribed in the run off as well. I figured it was worth a shot sending you a message in hopes you have any information on this very interesting pressing. I would be more than happy to send photos. Please let me know how to do so and I will send some right away. I’ve posted several photos, including a few close-ups of the single on my Instagram page. My username is – bluenote1577. Could this be a “one off” pressing by a pressing plant worker??? : ) So curious.
Thank you, Jason C.
I knew nothing of Blue Note 45s and had little interest in doing research. What I did have, though, was the e-mail address of Larry Cohn, who had recently reached out to me and who I’m hoping to finally meet face to face whenever I leave paradise here in The Berkshires and make my way back to Manhattan. So I suggested to Jason C. that he reach out to Larry, which he did, and Larry sent back a series of very detailed responses, which Jason has shared with me and, with Larry’s permission, I am sharing with you. So here is more than you ever wanted to know about Blue Note 45s, courtesy of Blue Note expert and enthusiast Larry Cohn:
Though not really all that intentionally, I accumulated a number of colored vinyl Blue Notes in my collecting over the years, treasured by me not for their value or even rarity but rather their aesthetics. Bob Porter lectured me about this once, long ago, since he auctioned off a few over the years and I do believe his story that the LPs like this were bootleg product produced illicitly in-house at the Plastylite facility in North Plainfield -after hours.
However, the 45s are a completely different kettle of fish. This is something I know about because I have several copies of my hero Joe Henderson’s “Mamacita” single in red vinyl. The red vinyl for a 45rpm disk was merely a review copy and more standard procedure. So you have a desirable review copy of the hit The Preacher. There wouldn’t be many in existence, but so what—there aren’t too many of so many Blue Note titles and oddities in existence—that’s not the point. I have all sorts of Blue Note errors that are unique, and they turn me on but would definitely be considered crappy and defective by anyone else!! (Yes, I’ve discovered that back in the day whenever I showed them.) Best example, and I can’t remember which ones anymore, but it had a couple of LPs on which the wrong stampers were used to press them, so Side A was from one artist’s record and Side B from another artist’s entirely different record. That’s a defect, but fun.
Also, you should note that the P (what people called the ear) is never present on a 45, simply because P – Plastylite did not press the singles, not the 45s or the 78s, only the LPs, including most of the 10-inchers (but not the oldest 10-inchers which predate Plastylite’s contract). The 9M remains a mystery—it is meaningless in history since it doesn’t provide any information at all about identifying pressings (I think the 9M was from the Master or Re-Master, not the individual stamper)—for cataloging individual stampers I rely on the position and shape of the P as the fingerprint. The pressing date appears on some singles from the Master for reasons known only to Rudy Van Gelder—again it is interesting but insignificant, if memory serves you’ll find it on all 1630 singles. From memory I’m certain the original pressing of 1630 is with Lexington labels on both sides—I’ll have to check at home but I suspect I have all sorts of copies of this popular single, with 63rd labels, maybe even a Liberty label as well. It dates back to 1955, before Blue Note moved to 63rd and then to 61st.
My goofy colored LPs (which I consider bootlegs as stated above) include an Art Blakey album with green vinyl, 1507; a red vinyl of Jimmy Smith’s hit 4078. Porter once auctioned off a Stanley Turrentine with white vinyl but I didn’t win it or ever see it – I think it was 4162.
I don’t know where you live, but I would be glad to show you some examples of the anomalies that make Blue Note collecting so much fun, and in particular the interesting history of the Singles, which I have always loved—I bet I have the most comprehensive collection of BN singles (almost but not quite complete per Cuscuna), not to boast but merely because I loved accumulating them and always felt they were neglected -e.g., the Japanese in their ’80s acquisitive streak ignored them completely just as they did the trad Blue Notes of George Lewis and Sidney Bechet.
I checked last night at home, and for H Silver 1630 I have 3 Lexington copies and 1 63rd St. copy, none from 61st so I will add the existence of 61st (and its red vinyl variation) to my list of 1630 possibles. I also checked for red vinyl U.S. 45s (not counting Japanese, which obviously don’t matter—they issued Blue Note red vinyl 45s in Japan in the ’90s the way rock musicians get fancy colored vinyl releases for the fun of it).
I only own 3 red vinyl Blue Note singles, so they are rare—clearly not unique by definition, but rare. I have two copies of Mamacita by Kenny Dorham (actually Joe Henderson but his co-equal partner KD is credited as the album’s leader, carrying over to the extracted single) and one red copy of Horace’s classic Song for My Father. These of course have newer labels than your Preacher, a familiar blue & white label. But they are in the same overall time frame as your record: Blue Note moved to 61st St. in 1961, so your record dates roughly from the 1961 to 1963 period, as a reissue of Horace’s old The Preacher, while my red copies would date approximately 1964/65 when the corresponding Trompeta Toccata and Song for My Father LPs were issued, and before the singles would have been reissued with Liberty white & blue labels around 1966. My conclusion (with no evidence of course, just implications helped by your discovery) is that Blue Note issued some red vinyl promo copies in the early 1960s. The scientific test of this theory would be to find some more red vinyl of popular songs of that time frame—a little late for Jimmy Smith, Three Sounds or even Art Blakey (whose hits were earlier), but most likely candidate would have to be Lee Morgan’s The Sidewinder single, the biggest hit of that time, or Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man or Blind Man, Blind Man, or perhaps Donald Byrd’s Cristo Redentor, more of an album (FM airplay) hit than an AM hit.
The other line of reasoning would be possibly red jukebox singles. I discount this, because Blue Note did issue and prepare exclusively for jukebox singles in the late ’60s, both 45rpm and 33-1/3rpm singles, but that was largely a Liberty sort of innovation, based on the time period (late ’60s). All Blue Note singles were ultimately targeted for jukeboxes (or as freebies to be sent to disk jockeys for air play), so issuing colored vinyl for this purpose would have been a waste of time and money. I favor the disk- jockey-attention-getting red vinyl theory.
One footnote: I corresponded with Francis Wolff in the ’60s (sometimes just complaints, but genuinely interested in what they were up to, and he would personally answer correspondence), and they would send me new catalogs from time to time. The catalogs would have many pages listing available singles—they would cut out older ones frequently, just selling ongoing popular titles. I never ordered a Blue Note single from them and never bought a Blue Note single at a record store (I only bought rock singles in those days, many of which would later prove rare like Jimi Hendrix ones). Since Blue Note as a label went under (the real Blue Note) I became fascinated “posthumously” decades later with the singles and have over a thousand now in my collection.
Keep up the good work, and definitely keep looking for the singles (at record shows) and collecting them—very few people have discovered them so far. You are right to focus on the silver & blue label singles, as these are the most desirable. One reason is that somewhere in the early ’60s they started editing the singles down drastically from the LP versions, while the blue & silver era usually has only one or maybe two solos omitted for time consideration. The 6 minutes per side on some of them is really impressive.
Last night I looked at my copies of H Silver 45-1630 and came up with some more information that will be useful to you. My Lex and my 63rd copies came from the same original master (indicated by identical etching of the key ID data in runoff vinyl – cat. #, RVG and also the 9M. But the 63rd was from new stampers—it has the new date etched that you have on your 61st (likely same new stampers still in use), plus a lightly etched letter “E” in the runoff added. The original Lexington copies do not have the 1958 date etched for the simple reason that 45-1630 was only the second 45rpm disk issued in BN history (earliest was Blakey 45-1626) and those were pressed in either 1954 or 1955. Those early 45s were issued alongside 78rpm disks, so catalog numbers 1626 and 1630 without the 45-prefix refer to the same music issued on a 10-inch 78rpm record. Dual issues like this are analogous to the later issue of mono and stereo versions of the same LP title. Another interesting sidelight is that BN quickly discontinued new 78rpm releases: 45-1626 and 45-1630 are the only singles that also exist on 78rpm (the intervening numbers 1627 through 1629 were issued only as 78s, and after 1630 there were no more new 78s).
This indicates that The Preacher was a popular single that Blue Note kept in circulation for years, and that not only did it need new stampers but new pressings continued until they had run out of old labels with 1630 printed on them (run out of Lex and 63rd labels) so they had to print new labels on the 61st St. background to meet later demand for additional pressings, of which yours is one. Of course yours is special because they put red vinyl in for its pressing. It is definitely rare—and it is impossible to prove that it is “unique” for the simple reason that whatever the pressing quantity was (likely a low number perhaps under 100 as a wild guess) who knows how many were retained for nearly 60 years? When I buy singles I think they are mainly from some unsold stock somebody like a store held on to, or many (poor condition unfortunately) are singles from jukeboxes. This is quite different than the LPs which jazz collectors always collected—people weren’t collecting the 45 singles (jazz fans were right for obvious reasons to prefer the new LP format dating from 1950); singles collectors from that era were 78rpm collectors who had already started their collections (and listening) during the 78rpm only era. My conclusion is that it is easier to find a Blue Note 78, far easier in many cases, than a Blue Note 45 nowadays.
As a postscript, I asked Jason to follow up with Larry to ask his permission to publish all of this and, when he replied, he volunteered a batch more information, as follows:
Yes, that’s fine. Also, he should check with Bob Porter who because of his working long ago as producer at Prestige Records is much closer than any of us to the actual production process. Many labels used white label promos and even colored vinyl as promotional venues for their records, but Blue Note never ever officially announced or revealed any such policy so what I have to say on the subject is conjecture. But just as the officially stamped “Audition Copy”, “For Promotion” and “Review Copy” Blue Notes are plentiful (maybe rare for a given title but plentiful in terms of overall existence still) I think the observation of Red vinyl singles for popular Blue Note singles during a period where airplay was a big deal for jazz (that’s why Sidewinder is significant and will prove my point to me if found, since it received massive airplay as did Cristo Redentor and of course Song for My Father) makes my theory a strong candidate that these red vinyl singles were mailed out free to jazz deejays to get their attention and then get the desirable airplay. It makes perfect sense, but of course that doesn’t make it true! I just prefer this theory 100% to bootleg theories; I hate bootlegs, and as an aside, during his lifetime I was more or less the unofficial Joe Henderson bootleg watchdog, writing to him personally whenever I found evidence of a bootleg on the market, and even corresponding with Orrin Keepnews his producer to tell him of subtle but horrendous bootlegging of Milestone sessions (there was a CD on the market, maybe still in second hand marketplace, that took a Joe H Milestone session, stole tracks, added fake audience noise and applause, and sold them as a (pretend) European live recording! Joe appreciated my efforts and we talked at length about this and the problem when I interviewed him in NYC in 1993.
That’s it. Any questions?