The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This vintage Mono Prestige pressing boasts seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades from top to bottom
- The sound is everything that's good about Rudy Van Gelder's recordings - it's present, spacious, full-bodied, Tubey Magical, dynamic and, most importantly, alive in that way that modern pressings never are
- Finding the best sounding pressings of this exceptional recording was a turning point for us - here was sound we had never experienced for the work, and what a thrill it was
- 4 stars: "'Lush Life' is not only the focal point of this album, it is rightfully considered as one of Coltrane's unqualified masterworks."
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We’ve been searching for years trying to find just what kind of Lush Life pressing -- what era, what label, what stampers, mono or stereo, import or domestic -- had the potential for good sound.
No, scratch that. We should have said excellent sound. Exceptional sound. We’ve played plenty of copies that sounded pretty good, even very good, but exceptional? That pressing had eluded us -- until a few years ago.
It was early 2016, in fact, that we chanced upon the right kind of pressing -- the right era, the right label, the right stampers, the right sound. Not just the right sound, though. Better sound than we ever thought this album could have.
Previously we had written:
"There are great sounding originals, but they are few and far between..."
We no longer believe that to be true. In fact we believe the opposite of that statement to be true. The original we had on hand -- noisy but with reasonably good sound, or so we thought -- was an absolute joke next to our better Hot Stamper pressings. Half the size, half the clarity and presence, half the life and energy, half the immediacy, half the studio space. It was simply not remotely competitive with the copies we now know (or at least believe, all knowledge being provisional) to have the best sound.
Are there better originals than the ones we’ve played? Maybe there are. If you want to spend your day searching for them, more power to you. And if you do find one that impresses you, we are happy to send you one of our Hot Copies to play against it. We are confident that the outcome would be clearly favorable to our pressing. Ten seconds of side one should be enough to convince you that our record is in an entirely different league.
By the way, the mono original we played was by far the worst sound I have ever heard for the album. By far.
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 Lush Life 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 1961
- 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 Lush Life
- 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.
One thing that makes this album a very different experience is that side one was recorded as a trio. Hearing Coltrane in such a stark setting lets you really appreciate all the emotion, detail, and texture of his playing. And a copy like this makes that even more possible! The band fills out to five pieces on side two, but the music is every bit as good.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better 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.
- Like Someone In Love
- I Love You
- Trane's Slo Blues
- Lush Life
- I Hear A Rhapsody
AMG 4 Star Review
Lush Life is among John Coltrane's best endeavors on the Prestige label. One reason can easily be attributed to the interesting personnel and the subsequent lack of a keyboard player for the August 16, 1957 session that yielded the majority of the material. Coltrane (tenor sax) had to essentially lead the compact trio of himself, Earl May (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The intimate setting is perfect for ballads such as the opener "Like Someone in Love." Coltrane doesn't have to supplement the frequent redundancy inherent in pianists, so he has plenty of room to express himself through simple and ornate passages.
Unifying the slippery syncopation and slightly Eastern feel of "I Love You" is the tenor's prevalent capacity for flawless, if not downright inspired on-the-spot "head" arrangements that emerge singular and clear, never sounding preconceived. Even at an accelerated pace, the rhythm section ably prods the backbeat without interfering. A careful comparison will reveal that "Trane's Slo Blues" is actually a fairly evident derivation (or possibly a different take) of "Slowtrane." But don't let the title fool you as the mid-tempo blues is undergirded by a lightheartedness. May provides a platform for Coltrane's even keeled runs before the tenor drops out, allowing both May and then Taylor a chance to shine. The fun cat-and-mouse-like antics continue as Taylor can be heard encouraging the tenor player to raise the stakes and the tempo -- which he does to great effect.
The practically quarter-hour reading of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" is not only the focal point of this album, it is rightfully considered as one of Coltrane's unqualified masterworks. The performance hails from January 10, 1958 as Coltrane sits in with Red Garland (piano), Donald Byrd (trumpet), Paul Chambers (bass), and Louis Hayes (drums). Coltrane handles the tune's delicate complexities with infinite style and finesse. Garland similarly sparkles at the 88s, while Byrd's solo offers a bit of a tonal alternative. It should be noted that the reading here does not include a vocal from Johnny Hartman. That version can be found on the ever imaginatively monikered John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman (1963).