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Mysteries of “Cannonball Adderley Quintet In Chicago”

If you have any comments or views on this article, please leave your messages here.
[English] [Japanese]

About “another” pressing plant (postscript on Nov. 17, 2004)

After I finished writing the first draft of this article, I asked Refugee-san to proofread this column in details. We had discussed in detail on several topics by e-mail, and finally he kindly pointed out the important fact which was new to me. It is about the discs of [M3] [M4] and [S3] [S4], whose label design is slightly different from ordinary Mercury's, and whose matrix info has different scheme.

In his e-mail, Refugee-san concluded the fact like this:

“... handwritten lines like /// and additional alphabet stamps is very similar to those found on Columbia label's discs. So can we surmise that MGC and SRC discs were pressed at Columbia plant by a certain reason? ...”

. . . . Hmmm, it sounds very reasonalbe and persuasive. So in order to reconfirm his reasoning, I picked out Columbia LPs in my collection and looked very closely at their dead waxes, although I had only 20 Columbia LPs or so. Then I also found that, Columbia discs in the middle 1950s thru middle 1960s also had very similar matrix information as [M3] [M4] [S3] [S4] had. Below example is Columbia CL-1516 (mono) / CS-8316 (stereo) “Light And Right! / Neil Hefti Quintet”, firstly released probably in 1960.

The disc CL-1516 (monaural, promo copy) I own has 6-eye, no CBS printed under Columbia, an eye logo before MARCAS REG., no T.M., has DG (deep groove) - which means this copy was probably pressed in 1960. Actually, this copy also has the alphabet stamp as well as handwritten lines like the [S4] disc.


Label and matrix on Columbia CL-1516 (promo)
Side-A: XLP-50519-1B    A I
Side-B: XLP-50520-1B    B IIIIIIIIII
Imprints emphasised in red, inscriptions in light blue, respectively.

1B postfix stands for first lacquer (1) and second mother (B).

On the other hand, my CS-8316 copy (stereo) has 6-eye, CBS printed over the double arrows, no DG (deep groove) - which indicates this copy was probably pressed in 1962. This copy also has the alphabet stamp as well as handwritten lines like the [S4] disc. By the way, the P inscription is said to stand for a pressing plant at Pennsylvania Pitman, NJ..

UPDATE (Dec. 3, 2021): Lawrence Lovell III san kindly let me know that the P inscription indicates Pitman, NJ, not Pennsylvania. Thank you so much for letting me know.


Label and matrix of Columbia CS-8316
Side-A: P XSM-50521-2F    A IIII
Side-B: P XSM-50522-2H    B III

2F postfix stands for second lacquer (2) and 6th mother (F).

. . . . Well, I don't clearly remember but I have seen such matrix . . . . Yes, the CCFR, CBFR and CTFR pressing of Mercury Living Presence LPs! These discs, unlike FR discs (-1960 at RCA Victor Indianapolis plant) nor RFR discs (1961- at Philips Richmond plant), were pressed for Columbia Record Club. These discs were cut moderately by George Piros (of Fine Recording Studio) himself in order that ordinary cheap record players can play them. Yes, the postfix of the matrix inscription C stands for Columbia!


Label and matrix of Mercury SR-90178 “Strauss Family Album”
Side-A SR 90178A CTFR1    P17    B III
Side-B SR 90178B CTFR1    P17    A II

The letters found on the label seems to be narrower like [S4] and [M4] type.

For supplement, I must note that the inscription “SR 90178A CTFR1” and “P17” were by George Piros himself, Mercury Living Presence's engineer (BTW P17 is likely a kind of codename of G. Piros' favourite lathe, but I don't know about it in detail. Others include P13, P15, P126 and some more).

RFR pressings don't have such imprints/inscriptions like “B III” part. But these CCFR, CBFR and CTFR pressings do. Yes, the very same one as seen on Columbia LPs. And these facts strongly suggests that the letter C in MGC and SRC also stands for Columbia.

By the way... my [M4] disc came with Columbia label's inner sleeve. Refugee-san says his [S3]-type disc also came with Columbia sleeve. Did it happen just by accident, or do they have some inevitability?

Talking about the deep groove - such label types as [M3] [M4] [S3] [S4] often lack deep grooves probably because they were pressed at the Columbia's plant, if we assume the above “Columbia pressing” hypothesis. Actually, deep-grooved Columbia discs would disapper in circa 1961-1962.

By taking above (very probable) circumstantial evidences into account, the LP “Quintet In Chicago” and other LPs in similar period

  • whose matrix has MGC or SRC prefix were highly probable that they were pressed at Columbia's plant

Many many thanks to Refugee-san for such an inportant information!

...any conclusion?

This column don't have any clear “conclusions”, but if I summarize the long and boring discussion, I can say that the Mercury LP “Quintet In Chicago”

  • was originally intended for release as EmArcy MG-36161 / (stereo no. unknown) in 1959;
  • but cancelled by unknown reason, then changed to Mercury MG-20449 / SR-60134;
  • furthermore it was NOT released in 1959. it was late 1960 when the LP was finally released;
  • there is only one variation for stereo/mono jacket cover each;
  • there are many label variations, and it's rather hard to determine which was used very first;
  • but if I dare to say, the label design which was very common in the similar era should be original 1st pressing;
  • that is to say, [M1] or [M2] for mono issue MG-20449, and [S1] for stereo issues SR-60134;
  • the earliest copies should have DG (deep-grooves) on the label
  • dead wax of the earliest copies should have MG or SR matrix prefix and MS1 postfix;
  • unfortunately, I have not found MS1 copies of [S1] yet;
  • copies whose matrix' prefix starts with MGC or SRC were probably pressed at the Columbia's plant; (MGT is still unknown)
  • the LP seemed to be discontinued in late 1962 or early 1963.

It may be true, or it may not be - so what is the real story?

Digression, Pt.1: DG or no-DG, pressing plant, etc.

Among all eight copies of “Quintet In Chicago” album I have, most Columbia-pressed copies don't have DG (deep-groove) on the label. By the way, I am also curious ... to when DG itself was constantly used throughout entire Mercury releases?


As far as my current Mercury collection goes, the most recent disc whose label has deep-groove is MG-21129 / SR-61129 “Out Of Crank / Keith”, a good Psyche Pop album recorded in May-July 1967. On the other hand, Mercury's last monaural issue was around MG-21156 / SR-61156 “The Savage Resurrection” (recorded in January 1968? according to the Ruppli's discography) or so. So the period when Mercury stopped releasing mono discs was very close to the period when deep-grooved label disappeared. (BTW the most recent Mercury mono disc I have now is MG-21151, which don't have deep groove on the label) So it is highly probable that the Mercury's primary pressing plant (probably Philips Richmond) finally switched from deep-groove pressings to non-DG pressings, in the very similar period when Mercury stopped mono issues.

Another point of view - Mercury's earliest non-DG discs started to be released in circa 1961. In such early era, non-DG discs always have light-gray label such as [M3], [M4], [S3] or [S4]. They are, according to our past discussions above, were probably pressed at Columbia's plant. Then in 1963 or 1964, when red Mercury label came out, non-DG discs gradually increased its percentage, and in around 1966 almost 50% of entire Mercury discs came with non-DG pressings.

It's very unlikely that DG stampers and non-DG stampers co-existed at a plant in the same period for a long time, so it should be a natural inference that Mercury used more than one plant. In the 1960s, Mercury primarily used Philips Richmond plant, and as seen above, Columbia label's plant sometimes was used in some urgent circumstances. Also it's no strange if Mercury used several other pressing plants in that era, especially when the pressing quantity went so much. But “which pressing plant(s) Mercury used other than Philips Richmond and Columbia's plant?” is still an open question - this is one of my ongoing research topics.

Refugee-san has a copy of SR-60134 whose label is [S3] type, deep-groove on Side-A, no deep-groove on Side-B. This strongly suggests that Refugee-san's copy was pressed probably in 1962, which means one of the very last pressings of SR-60134. Side-A was pressed with an old stamper (which has deep-groove), and Side-B was pressed with a bit late stamper (which doesn't have deep-groove). As a matter of fact, Columbia LPs prior to 1961 have deep-grooves, while later LPs don't have deep-grooves.

Digression, Pt.2: 45rpm single releases

Few people may know that there was a single cut release from the album “Quintet In Chicago”.


It was Mercury 71712 “Limehouse Blues c/w Stars Fell On Alabama”.

This 45rpm disc, like many other 45rpm in the 1950s thru 1960s, has very rough, powerful and strong sound which can hardly be heard on LP releases. Its cutting level is extremely high, and very bold mid-range is too tough against the bottom frequency range and the high range. Such mastering was probably for AM radio broadcast. It's not Hi-Fi sound, but very impressive and attractive. That's a kind of sound what we cannot enjoy with LPs.

Unfortunately, both sides of this 45rpm contain edited short versions of original performances, but still this 45rpm is very fascinating. It would be very nice to play this disc with a monaural coaxial speaker unit.

Well, there is a simple reason I am talking about the 45rpm here. Since there are so many 45rpm releases in that era (45rpm releases in that era were 10 times or more as many as LP releases), it is probable that the catalogue number for each disc was designated just before actual releasing. So we may be possible to estimate the Mercury 71712's release date by inspecting other 45rpms in the similar period as well as their recorded dates. Here, is a list of Mercury 45rpm releases around 71712, as well as their recorded dates. This data taken from the Ruppli's discography.

It is surprising that even the comprehensive discography book as Ruppli don't have all detailed session dates.

No. Artist Recorded date
71707 Jerry Glenn September 1, 1960
71708 Jerry Raines 1960
71709 Curley Herndon 1960
71710 Don Johnston (aka Bobby Johnston) September 7, 1960
71711 The Clebanoff Strings 1961?
71712 Julian “Cannonball” Adderley February 3, 1959
71713 Wally Wiggins 1960
71714 Boyd White 1960
71715 Bobby Hendricks (aka Belford Hendricks) 1959?
71716 Carmen McRae September 14 & 15, 1960
71717 Orville Couch 1960

. . . . Huh? You say you are interested in the 45rpm 71716 by Carmen McRae?

Well, a topic of Carmen McRae's 45rpms will be one of the canditates for future columns on this site, but anyway let's go back. Let's take a look closely at the Recorded Dates. It's strange that the recorded date of 71711 (The Clebanoff Strings) was “1961?” according to the Ruppli book, but “1961?” is very questionable and uncertain info after all.

If we look at this list with taking such appropriate assumptions like:

  • 45rpm releases, unlike LP releases, were released in numerical order with a few exception
  • a 45rpm release from a full LP issue was probaably released in the very same period as the LP, since the 45rpm worked as an advertisement as well as a promotion of the LP release
  • Usually, single-only 45rpm releases (which was not later included in LP) were released after two months or so since it was recorded

into account, the above list will also be another highly-probable circumstantial evidence to prove that the LP “Quintet In Chicago” was released in the late 1960.


By the way, along with the late 1964 LP reissue Limelight LM-82009 / LS-86009, the single was reissued with the catalogue number of Limelight L-3055 “Limehouse Blues c/w Stars Fell On Alabama”. This 45rpm disc also sounds similar to Limelight LP: like the Limelight has rather “equalized” sound compared with Mercury LPs, L-3055 reproduces modest sound compared with original 45rpm Mercury 71712. However, the L-3055 disc still has a powerful sound as what most 45rpm has to have. Not a bad one.

... go back to the first page of this article ...

Copyright © 2004-2005 MATSUBAYASHI 'Shaolin' Kohji <shaolin@rhythmaning.org>
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