Impulse started out as part of Am-Par/ABC. It was a sister label to Command and they both were run
and marketed as "upscale" music labels. This meant really nice gatefold covers, mostly very good
pressing at Am-Par's plants on Long Island and up in Gloversville NY. Once MCA bought ABC, quality
went right down the toilet. MCA was not what you'd call a forward-thinking owner. They were sort of
a shady operation aimed at maximum profit from minimum investment. So the first thing they did was
cheap down the vinyl and pressing, then the sleeves. The worst Impulse vinyl are the
cheaply-packaged "Digitally Remastered" reissues that MCA put out in the mid 80s. They sound
terrible, feel cheap and don't have original cover art in some cases.
Prestige, Riverside and Pablo were bought up by Fantasy Records, later called Fantasy Group. To
their credit, the folks at Fantasy kept many titles in print through the 80s and 90s, under the
Original Jazz Classics label. The tradeoff was paper-thin vinyl and early-era digital remastering
(in Fantasy's case, this usually meant copying the analog master tapes to Mitsubishi X80 digital
tapes and cutting records and CDs from those). Some OJC stuff sounds better than other OJC stuff.
George Horn and Joe Tarantino and a third guy whose name I forgot were all good mastering guys.
Their main limitation was primative early digital gear. I have to say that, despite the thin vinyl,
most OJC reissues of Prestige LPs that I have sound better than original Prestige because Prestige
cheaped out on pressing. The titles I'm comparing are mostly late 60s acid-jazz, and to be fair most
American pop/jazz vinyl was cheap and noisy in that timeframe (think late 60s Mercury classical and
In the 70s, everyone thinned out their vinyl because of oil price-shocks. The better American
pressing plants started taking some knowledge from Japanese and European owners or partners, and
surfaces actually got much quieter late in the LP era. Thin vinyl and quiet surfaces is just fine
(ask Philips, DGG, JVC or MoFi). Thin, warped vinyl and noisy surfaces is not good at all (see
Columbia Record Club and RCA Record Club products of that timeframe). The main challenge/problem
with thin vinyl is that it warps easily, so shipping and storage are issues. Overly tight
shrink-wrapping never helped, and this was a constant problem with Fantasy Group products as well as
Atlantic and RCA (for some reason, Columbia didn't seem to wrap as tight, at least with records that
I bought in the late LP era).
The new vinyl reissues tend to be on 150, 180 or 200 gram platters. 180 and 200 are heavier than
most "golden era" platters. There is controversy about 200 gram platters, because they sit so high
that stylus angles can be effected, and they require pressing times and temperatures that may be
non-ideal. Most reissue labels have semi-standardized on 180 grams.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bewley, John" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:27 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Vinyl weight and reissues
> We are currently processing a gift of LPs. In comparing some of the LPs to what we already hold in
> our collection we have noticed how some recordings were reissued in lighter weight vinyl.
> Some examples:
> Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard again. Impulse AS-9124
> Issue with rainbow Impulse label is heavier than the issue with Impulse written in script-type
> Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard Impulse As-10
> Impulse red, black, and white label issue heavier than ABC/Impulse green label issue
> John Coltrane Kulu se mama. Impulse As-9106
> Issue with rainbow Impulse label is heavier than ABC/Impulse green label issue
> John Coltrane's Soultrane. Prestige PRLP 7142 and OJC-021 (distributed by Fantasy)
> PRLP 7142 heavier than OJC-021
> I was aware of more drastic cases with things like the RCA Vintage series but didn't ever have
> side by side comparisons of Impulse and Prestige in hand before.
> Is it always true that the heavier weight issue is the preferred copy given surfaces that are in
> equally good condition? Doesn't seem we're talking any of the stereo-enhanced type of reissue
> We're trying to decide if any of the heavier weight copies should be retained for the collection
> based on their merit as being superior sources, if that is indeed true.
> John Bewley
> Associate Librarian/Archivist
> Music Library
> University at Buffalo
> 716 645 0614