Back To Reality: Coltrane Time

I plan on deleting the previous post this weekend, so if you want to comment on it speak now or forever hold your peace. Meanwhile, back to the real world, starting with one of the all time classics: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Impulse A-77. This is an original mono pressing that looks to be in perhaps M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. It sold for $435. I own both a mono and stereo pressing of A Love Supreme and I’ve never actually sat down and compared the two. Typically, I prefer mono pressings. For those of you out there who care about these things, which version do you find preferable?

Here’s a copy of Coltrane’s first album as a leader: Coltrane/Prestige 7105. This was an original New York yellow label pressing that looked to be in VG+ condition for the record and the cover. It sold for $540.

Well, I guess it’s Coltrane day here at Jazz Collector: John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic 1311. This was an original black label pressing listed in VG+ condition for the record and M- for the cover. It sold for $435. I am so happy, after all these years, to have an original black label pressing. Now that I have it, I listen to it all the time. I find it quite inspiring. The other day I listened to Giant Steps and Sonny Rollins Worktime back to back. IMHO, these were the albums that announced to the world that these two musicians were geniuses and truly special. That they came at different stages of their careers, and after bouts with drugs, I find particularly interesting. I will probably do a longer post at some point when I have more time, but in the interim feel free to comment.



  • I’ve always felt that Coltrane in a quartet setting is better suited to mono than stereo. My copy of Giant Steps is a stereo blue/green bullseye and Coltrane is off the left but my copy of Coltrane (Impulse A-21) is a mono first pressing and he’s front and centre on that which makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

    Having said that, don’t I recall there being something about a humming sound on the mono release of A Love Supreme? So that might make the stereo preferable in this instance. If anybody has both to compare, I’d love to hear their assessment.

  • Not a bad price for Giant Steps (assuming the vinyl really is VG+). I find it interesting that Fred Cohen’s book it says that if you have to compromise on the quality of an album it’s better to buy a record that the cover is in nicer condition than the vinyl as it’s harder to find covers in good condition (or something along that line). I suppose that could make a record more “collectible,” but I’ve always preferred a higher grade on my vinyl.

  • I thought the hum was on the stereo pressing and the mono didn’t have it.

    Would love to have a clean early pressing — used to have a very abused copy but it’s long gone from the collection.

  • GST – I agree with you. I’d much rather have a clean LP than a clean cover. You don’t listen to the cover! For example, my W. 63rd (2nd pressing) copy of Blue Train is VG++, but the cover is merely G. So what?! It sounds amazing, and cost me almost nothing because of the cover. I’ll take that any day over a NM cover with a beat record that I can’t listen to.

  • Al – please play-compare the mono and stereo originals of ALS. Would love to hear your point of view. I only have a Capitol Record Club Bell Sound pressing, which is fine. Clean, no hum, plays pretty well, not expensive. Always looking for an upgrade, and would like to know which pressing to hunt!

  • I would love to add the Prestige 7105 to my collection. There are a couple in my price range <150 but of course they are NJ Bergenfield do not sure if it is worth it.

  • Clifford, you may be right and I might have got it the wrong way round.

  • Gregory the Fish

    i have owned both an original stereo and an original promo mono, which was paid for by selling the stereo, and i have enjoyed both and noticed no hum on either.

    martin, i agree about coltrane in mono. a must.

  • You haven’t lived ’til you’ve heard Ascension in mono.
    Though a bar I frequented back in the day down Chicago way had an ep of Ascension on the jukebox. That indeed produced very interesting moments.

  • that jukebox Ascension is rare — definitely a curio. Agreed, Ascension in mono is a good time. It is one I have in both mono and stereo (different takes, of course).

  • I have both mono and stereo ALS first pressings in mint conditions, I bought them from Roberto Castelli more than 20 years ago. I just listened the records to give you my impressions about the differences. I listened the mono copy first, with a mono cartridge: in my opinion the mono copy sounds magnificent, the instruments have more depth, rythm section is more prominent, and Coltrane seems “nearer” to the listener. But the main difference for me is that the music seems to have a strange dark beauty, and I cannot find this quality in the stereo pressing. Then, I changed to the stereo copy, obviously with a stereo cartridge and the same gear. From the first notes, I appreciated the typical stereo spatiality and a more brilliant tone, but music seems lighter, it lacks a bit of punch. The instruments are well individually separated, the tone seems correct. Definitely my personal choice is for the mono copy.
    In the past years I bought some Impulse! white label promo, between them was ALS, but I had to give it alongside other records to a friend for a beautiful copy of Jazz in silhouette: I did not remember any difference with the stock mono copy. It is another story, but instead the sonic difference between The black saint and the sinner promo mono and stock mono are great, with promo winning on all aspects

  • Stefano I was not aware of any difference in the Mingus promo and the stock mono. Can you give more details? Different mix or just nicer pressing?

  • Nicer pressing, I gave away the stock mono record after I casually listened to the white label. There are huge sonic differences, music is louder, brighter, it seems to erupt from the speakers. I invited a friend of mine who have a mono copy, and he said wow as I put on the record. Don’t ask me the reason but it seems a louder mix. A jazz lover said me that he had the same experience with a mono promo Blues and abstract truth. Please, if someone has some information…

  • Does anyone know when Blue Note started sealing their records? This is a 100% a 2nd press that is sealed right?

  • Abrasive_Beautiful

    Scott—A few friends and I came to the Conclusion that that Jutta LP is almost certainly a 70’s UA mono issue

  • I have read that Impulse! releases were always recorded in stereo and the mono releases are fold downs – i.e. you can hear the mono mix by pressing the mono button on your receiver. Is this incorrect internet info? Has anybody compared stereo copies with mono button engaged to a mono copy?

  • Scott/A-B: I think this may be an original which was shop-sealed later, as was often done by retailers.
    In the original Blue Note period, before they lost independence, none were ever factory-sealed. A sealed Lex may be a nice surprise, but one does not know what is inside, I mean label and quality wise. The proof is in the eating of the pudding.

  • Scott—The seller says in his description “With certainty, I can say this will be the 1970’s USA issue”. He just sold a different Hipp, 1515, with a Lexington framed cover and didn’t add this to his description so he knows it’s a later press. If you look at the edges of the sealed lp there is no indication of the frame on the front or back. When Blue Note was sold to Liberty they did several pressing runs to use up original covers, back slicks, and labels. They didn’t try to reproduce the process first used to make the Lexington covers. Years ago I bought a Lee Morgan City Lights and the Cooker that both had the original laminated covers and original 63rd st labels but there was no deep groove or “P”. However there was a RVG stamp and sound amazing.

  • Gregory The Fish

    scott: the seller knows enough to mention lexington, so he would know enough to price it at 10x that if he thought it was indeed an actual lexington.

    reminds me of a certain recently deleted post.

  • The stereo A Love Supreme has the mild buzzing sound throughout, it’s definitely there but not nearly as noticeable as the internet would have you believe. The mono is free from this and is my preferred choice as Coltrane is front and center vs off to the side on the stereo. I suspect that The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady stock copy that sounded inferior to the WLP was a Bell Sound or Capitol Record Club pressing vs the original Van Gelder cut.

  • I once had a copy of “Blues and the Abstract Truth” where one side had “Van Gelder” in the runout and the other side had “Bell Sound.” The Bell Sound side was actually noticeably more veiled sounding to my ears. I just thought that was pretty interesting though to find an album with “Van Gelder” only in the deadwax on one side.

  • Aaron, I cannot remember if it was a Bell Sound pressing, but I am sure it was not a Capitol Record Club pressing. Anyway, the person who listened to the Black Saint wlp has a Van Gelder both sides mono pressing. I am asking you all if you have any idea about Blues & Abstract wlp mono, it is one of my favorite jazz records. Thanks

  • Its pretty shameful that I do not have this on mono since it is my favorite jazz album. Also I know Bahia was cut together by his label of whatever was left from various sessions (I believe even A Love Supreme) but that is a really underrated album, Gave the stereo version a spin today and it sound wonderful.

  • Have both stereo and mono originals and ALS and my stereo copy has no “buzzing” All Impulse monos are fold downs. I prefer my stereo of ALS when i choose to play it. Its more alive too me.

  • I have followed your site for several years, and I am continuously impressed by the content provided by you and fellow collectors. I have a question for you, that may also become a suitable topic for a blog post. I post in this thread because the blog and thread content include opinions regarding differences between mono and stereo pressings. My question is, when did Bluenote, (and Plastilyte and Liberty), Prestige, Impulse, Riverside etc convert mono pressings from 1mil groove width to .7mil groove width ? I ask because I have participated in a discussion on another blog site regarding this issue and which stylus to use for optimal mono playback. Thank you.

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