The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus*
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- Excellent sound throughout this vintage 60s Stereo Prestige pressing, with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER
- It’s bigger, livelier, tubier, and with more presence and transparency than most of what we played
- A great Rudy Van Gelder recording that hits a whole 'nother level on a copy that was mastered and pressed as well as this one
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
- 4 stars: ". . . Black Pearls indeed captures Coltrane at the height of perfecting the intense volley that would garner the name 'sheets of sound.'"
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 7 times lightly at the start of track 1 on side 1, "Black Pearls." There is another mark that plays 6 times at a moderate level about 1/2 way into the same track.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
A superb copy of this wonderful 1958 Coltrane recording (released in 1964)! We heard one that blew us away a few years back, so we picked up a bunch more and finally had the chance to evaluate them. The music was always enjoyable, but on a copy like this things really get going. Coltrane is joined here by Donald Byrd, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor -- a top lineup, the same crew behind the great Lush Life.
The sound here is wonderfully natural and clear. You get incredible presence, impressive transparency, real size and space between the players. It’s also amazingly rich and full-bodied with lots of energy. Most of the copies we’ve collected didn’t come close, so if you’re looking for some late 50s Coltrane magic, this is the hot ticket right here!
This vintage Prestige pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for --this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Black Pearls Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1958
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We're Listening For On Black Pearls
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight, full-bodied bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Black Pearls
- Lover Come Back To Me
- Sweet Sapphire Blues
AMG 4 Star Review
. . . Black Pearls indeed captures Coltrane at the height of perfecting the intense volley that would garner the name "sheets of sound." Featuring Donald Byrd (trumpet) and the Red Garland Trio -- Garland (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Art Taylor (drums) -- this is the same quintet that had mightily contributed to Lush Life and The Believers, as well as The Last Trane. This session would be their last together.
. . . no holds are barred from Garland or Taylor -- who is arguably at his prime. All told, this performance is well worth the price of admission. At 18-plus minutes, "Sweet Sapphire Blues" (penned by Prestige Records owner Robert Weinstock) is the longest track on Black Pearls. It is in essence a 12-bar blues jam. Coltrane's double- and triple-time solo is primal within this setting. The overemphatic backbeat allows for more group interaction, yielding a full and well-rounded union among the musicians