Collecting vinyl is nothing new. It’s been around as long as vinyl itself. The format is 90 years old this year, although, it has certainly seen many changes since RCA Victor introduced the first vinyl long-playing record in 1930, pressed on a 12″ diameter flexible plastic disc, with playback at 33⅓ RPM.
If you were lucky enough to have purchased a vinyl record when it was first released, you’d be owning what is referred to as an original pressing (OG). So, if you happened to be a collector of jazz music (as I am) and stopped by your local record store in December 1960 (I wasn’t born yet), you may very well have picked up a copy of Tina Brooks “True Blue” (one of my favourite Blue Note releases).
Well, here we are in 2020, nearing 60 years since the release of that hard bop classic. If you’d like to own an OG pressing, either you might be lucky enough to have a family member pass theirs down to you, or, you’ll be searching the reseller market and visiting websites like Discogs where you can purchase a VG+ (Very Good Plus) copy today for a mere $7,663.04 (a function of scarcity, demand, and condition). Interestingly, it is the most expensive Blue Note vinyl listing on Discogs today.
Fortunately, with renewed interest in vinyl over the past decade-plus, companies have emerged focused on releasing audiophile pressings of jazz, classical, rock, among other genres. In fact, one of the earliest to the remaster/reissue industry was Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (abbreviated MFSL or MOFI), founded in 1977. They were quick to catch on to consumer’s interest in owning audiophile versions of their favourite albums. While these audiophile pressings are premium priced, they sell for a fraction of what some OG pressings will fetch today.
So, which to choose, OG or audiophile reissue? That’s really a personal choice.
Going the OG path requires patience, and depending on which titles you’re looking to collect, likely a much greater financial investment, particularly if you desire top condition. However, the catalog of OG titles is much larger and diverse than what is available solely through audiophile reissues. And, there is certainly a nostalgia factor and pride of ownership of having an original pressing in your collection.
Alternatively, going the reissue route, particularly of audiophile releases from labels such as Analogue Productions, Impex, MOFI, Music Matters Jazz, ORG Music or Speakers Corner, provides for superior remastering given the significant advances of technology compared to when the recordings were first made and released; exceptionally high-quality pressings using thick, virgin vinyl, often spanning two LPs requiring 45 RPM playback; and, luxurious gatefold sleeves featuring fully-restored artwork, additional photos, and thick card stock. Not to mention that they are brand new, so their condition is Mint.
So, which path did I choose? I’ve opted to build my collection, certainly for jazz and some select rock/pop releases, exclusively with audiophile reissues. And, while I’d love to own an OG BLP 4041 (Tina Brooks “True Blue”), I’m thrilled to have a Music Matters Jazz reissue* in my collection.
Which is your preference, OG or audiophile reissue?
Ultimately, it’s really all about the music. So, whatever you have in your collection, enjoy them. Happy spinning!
*As mentioned earlier, “True Blue” is one of my favourite Blue Note releases, and I’ve indulged and own the 33⅓ and 45 RPM versions, on both standard black and blue vinyl.