Friday, March 13, 2015

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things (Audiophile Vinyl Reissue) - #189

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things (Audiophile Vinyl Reissue)

"My Favorite Things" is one of the best known albums with John Coltrane as the leader. I'd name another of his LPs for the top spot, but this one certainly isn't far off. I assume, everyone who is even a tiny bit interested in Mr. Coltrane's work, owns a copy of this release already, be it on Vinyl or on CD (or Tape and Reel to Reel). Every decent household owns one issue at least.

This here is a double LP (just the regular tracklisting, no bonus tracks) at 45RPM, with one track per side. It's a bit like playing 7"s, you're constantly on the move, changing sides. It does take away from the listening pleasure, but ... this is an audiophile pressing from an 1960/1961 album, that's worth the cash. At around EUR 70.00 not a cheapo, but money well spent. Just let me point out, pressed by Pallas Germany and mastered by Bernie Grundman from original analog tapes. I bet, there's not a single digital step in between. This should have you salivating right now.

I admit, buying such a top of the line product is not just about music, it's the whole package. And by package I don't mean fancy packaging with gimmicks galore. It's quality I want in such a case. So, what do you get? The full album, obviously, and it focuses on music and music alone. The gatefold cover is excellent, but there's no extra service points to be awarded.

The 2 LPs (or rather 12" platters) are pressed on 180g Vinyl (not that it matters much, wether 140g or 200g, this is all the same in terms of quality). 180g and 200g is a marketing tool with no real additional value. Nice to have, but that's about it. Both 12"s are flat as can be and the centre hole is not off to any side. You might laugh now, but the sad truth is, this happens quite often and I do understand folks who won't put up with subquality releases anymore.

These 1960 recordings (as mentioned above, released one year later) stem from different sessions and were not really audiophile material in the first place. It's this early 60's recording technique, which doesn't really let the music breathe. There's always a bit of a fog on the soundscape. Not that one is really concerned about it, but it can be heard. Certainly not 21st century HiFi. Where did Bernie Grundman head with this remaster? I don't really know, there's still a layer of grease and grime on the music (so to speak) and you do realise, that it's been recorded more than 50 years ago. The master and the cut has certainly been made to bring out the best in Vinyl and this is the real reason of existence for this LP.

The 12"s are quiet and there's no background noise to be heard and no clicks and pops either. Side 1 "My Favorite Things" (13:41), side 3 "Summertime" (11:31) and side 4 "But Not For Me" (9:35) leave you perfectly happy. Crisp bass, well defined piano and drums and a leader with a saxophone that let's it shine through, why John Coltrane is even today a name you have to check, when talking about Jazz in the latter half of the 20th century.

That's side one, three and four taken care of. Initially I thought there's something wrong with side 2. "Everytime We Say Goodbye" (5:39) seemed to have been plagued by distortion. Either a bad pressing or dust being dragged along by the needle. Of course, that was bullshit, since I had cleaned the needle, made sure there wasn't a speck of dust on the platter and yet, the piano and the bass both suffered. The piano and the bass sounded like they were badly tuned and the strings much to loose, resulting in a "dirty" overall reception to the ears. I mean, you'd have to be tonedeaf not to hear this. The drums fell out a bit as well, interference being the word of the day. The saxophone seemed o.k., more or less. Looked like I had bought a 25 % bad copy (which is deadly for an audiophile record).

I didn't think it was my set up (Ortofon OM 20, Technics SL-1210M3D, Denon PMA-1500R and Infinity RSM), especially since the equipment played 3 sides without a fault. However, I did remember that I have an old test record where my cartridge/tonearm combination barely made it through. Considering that this is the shortest track, I assume Bernie Grundman had the least worries cutting this side at extreme physical levels. I believe, my equipment was just shown its limits. So, you better make sure your HiFi is up to scratch when you decide to buy this legendary LP in this edition. Well worth every Euro.