After I bought the fine re-issue of Oliver Nelson’s classic 1960s jazz album called The Blues And The Abstract Truth I had a moment of so called “buyer’s remorse.” Not that the album was especially expensive…. actually… in the grand scheme of things it was relatively affordable compared to an original pressing on the collector’s market.
So, what was the reason for this sad feeling, you ask?
I did not have any problem with the sound quality on it or the production: in keeping with the majority of Acoustic Sounds and Tone Poet reissues which Universal has been releasing, this one is excellent. The album is well centered and the 180-gram black vinyl is dark and dead quiet (manufactured at Quality Record Pressing). Additionally the laminated cover production is outstanding, reproducing the rare first edition version of the album art which has a decidedly different — and indeed more abstract — design. At the time of this writing, there was one Stereo original of The Blues And The Abstract Truth for sale on Discogs at present going for around $60; there were two Mono editions available, starting at $100.
So getting a really high quality new edition of that earlier version of the album was very appealing and given that all those production checklist items lined up like ducks in a row, there are no problems or issues to report.
End of review, right?
Almost. I really didn’t have much more to add because, like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and Mingus’ Ah Um, The Blues And The Abstract Truth is pretty well known and established as an important and fine jazz recording. Heck, if you haven’t heard it just reading the list of players on it should pique your interest: Bill Evans, Roy Haynes, Eric Dolphy, Paul Chambers, Freddie Hubbard and Oliver Nelson.
So, what is my problem, you ask?
Something was gnawing at me… and I didn’t know what it was… Something which in fact kept me from writing this review for a couple of months. Then yesterday I re-read an article I had just written (!) last week on the topic of record collecting, exploring why some of us are so into this hobby.
Just reading a story separate from when you are writing it can add some mile-high perspective…
So, re-reading my little “thought piece” — called Why Do Record Collectors Quest For Original Pressings? — it dawned on me exactly why I bought this album and why I was subsequently feeling odd about it.
I was questioning my own intention for purchase. You see, I have a perfectly great, and pristine, third or fourth pressing of The Blues And The Abstract Truth from around 1968 (it is on the red-ringed Impulse Records label, which has the much revered run out groove stamp from Rudy Van Gelder’s studio, affirming that it is among the best available versions).
So, again, Mark what was your problem, you ask? (this time understandably a little annoyed)
Well, doctor… ummm, I mean… Dear Readers of Audiophile Review… you see, my purchase of this new version of the album was a total impulse buy – – no pun intended. The rationale ultimately was for me to do a review. But I found there wasn’t much to say. Some of you might argue there still isn’t!
I really didn’t need to buy it. I simply was curious to hear this new version. And, I wanted to own the original cover design for my collection, with that original orange label design from the early 60s.
Given that finding an original copy of The Blues And The Abstract Truth is a next to impossible task at any sort of reasonable price, having this re-issue in hand is arguably the next best thing.
In some ways it might even be better. This is one of those editions where they seem to have nailed it, so the album sounds quite similar to my 1968 edition.
Oliver Nelson for the win!
So am I upset that last year I blew $50 in store credit from some old albums I traded in to get the 1968 copy? Heck no! It is a beautiful copy. In fact I’m glad I have it to be able to compare and contrast with this new reissue. And, now my inner completist collector can rest easily knowing we have both versions to enjoy and appreciate.
So there you have it: I’ve given some of you justification to buy a record even if you don’t really need it!
If one copy of The Blues And The Abstract Truth is good, two copies are better, right?
Maybe. Maybe not. What would you do?