I have debated at times whether to upgrade to some of the newfangled 180-gram reissue pressings of favorite albums. And I’m starting to get a sense of how to go about this in a sensible manner.
Consider the birthday gift I received last night from my friend Gary: a 180 gram reissue of Coltrane Jazz, one of the great LPs from John Coltrane’s run on Atlantic Records. Turns out I already had the album on a mid/late-70s Atlantic pressing (red-green label with the “W” Warner Communications logo on the bottom). So this morning (actually, as I’m writing this) I put on the old pressing. Sounded pretty good, but I immediately noticed that the pressing was quite a bit off center (my pet peeve against LPs of any ilk). I say it sounded “pretty good,” because I was hearing a sort of angularity — dare I say “harshness” — in the music when played on my new turntable that I hadn’t noticed before. Maybe it was due to the off center pressing? Maybe it was due to an old stamper used to press the disc? Maybe it was due to cheaper or recycled vinyl used in the oil-crisis-strapped music industry of the mid and late ’70s into the ’80s? Maybe it was due to a pressing stamper made from a multi-generation slave or safety copy of the master tape that was sent to some alternate pressing plant?
In all likelihood, it is probably due to all the above and maybe other things I am not even aware of.
Regardless, when I put on the 180-gram reissue I immediately heard the lush warm tones of Coltrane’s sax that I am accustomed to, especially from this period. The pressing is dead quiet, allowing you to focus on the music and not surface noise. The reissue gets extra brownie points for reproducing the early swirl label from the early 60s Atlantic Pressings. A much cooler label design, gotta say. Looking at the back cover I noticed a detail I have noticed on one earlier reissue I got recently: like the Curtis Mayfield reissue I reviewed a few weeks ago, this Coltrane album was manufactured by Rhino Records. Bingo!
The folks at Rhino know about reissues and what makes collectors and audiophiles happy. And this is fine example of their work.
So if you are considering upgrading or replacing old pressings with some of the new 180 gram reissues and don’t really need to have a absolute original copy ( near mint copies are hard to find and pricey when you can find them), consider getting the ones manufactured by Rhino. It’s a good bet that the pressing will be everything you expect and more.