It’s the time of year for saving money!
What is there to say about John Coltrane’s landmark epic 1965 release A Love Supreme that hasn’t already been said?
Seriously. Even I have done a fair amount of exploration on the various versions of this album out there. You can click here and here for my past reviews and shoot-outs between different versions.
So lets just dive in and explore the new Acoustic Sounds branded release of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme by Universal Music Group via its Impulse Records imprint.
The eight mile high review: if you don’t have a clean original of A Love Supreme then this edition is a no brainer to pick up. The vinyl– manufactured at Quality Record Pressing (QRP) — is thick, black, dark, dead quiet and well centered. The period-accurate labels more or less mirror the look and feel of the original first pressings from back in the day — orange and black. Even the cardboard used in making the album cover feels the right weight and the artwork is laminated just like the original. The only quirk I noticed is that while they got the unique white-spine design right, the type face is different from the original. Not a big deal but it is worth pointing out.
The sound is really close to my early pressing (mid 60s with the orange / black label) with a nice sense of air and soundstage. The vinyl disappears from your speaker’s view, leaving you to just bask in the music.
Splitting audiophile hairs here, I hear a teensy bit more sibilance at one point but it may not be a bad thing. It became noticeable at the point when the voices start to chant the album’s title toward the end of the first movement, “Acknowledgement.” — the word “supreme” sounds a wee tiny bit more like “sssupreme.” On my original pressing, this seems a bit more subdued.
Perhaps it was an issue on the original tape and perhaps it was reigned in — again, a wee tiny bit — during the original disc mastering process with some on-the-fly forensic compression and EQ at that moment. Just guessing here. Or more simply, this might be indicative of the more open disc mastering, with less compression applied so perhaps we are hearing more of the master tape.
It is very close. And in some ways the new version of A Love Supreme is better as it feels somewhat more open and airy. The cymbals ring very true here with a nice sense of natural decay.
That said, when I played my Pure Audio Blu-ray Disc version of A Love Supreme (the best version of this I’ve found in digital form thus far) I heard the sibilance but again it seemed pulled back… a wee tiny bit.
All that said, for the price, this new vinyl edition is a literal no-brainer to pick up. You’ll get a classic recording in its original playback format. Save for finding a pristine original, for the twenty odd dollars you’ll pay for this edition you can’t really go wrong. The good news is there are finally some very nice ways to enjoy this Jazz classic.
Does this mean I am getting rid of my original pressing A Love Supreme? Heck no! And I’m not getting rid of my Pure Audio version either as it is the best I’ve heard in that realm so far. So, yeah, I’ll have three versions of the same album in my collection.
This all reminds me once again… I still need to get a Mono copy of this album…
Someday I’ll have four versions…