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John Coltrane - Complete Sun Ship Sessions

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Available at Spotify

Sadly not visible on UK Spotify... :(

So now... do I buy an LP set that is worth more than my actual non-functioning deck? So I'd have to fix the deck...or buy a new one...?

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A minor quibble, but the jewel case is a bummer. Couldnt spring for a nice digipack on this premium-price limited edition set? Isn't it a rule that the re-reissue should look nicer than the original reissue?

GIMME GIMME GIMME WAH WAH WAH, I know ...

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I hear you. When Verve started the "Album Collection" box sets the first three were sets of digipaks, and then Hip-O took over and made jewel box versions (with crappier printing) of the final two volumes. But in this case, with the jewel case I can substitute the "Complete" version with the original album version in the fifth volume, and also slip in the disc of the original version, a nice plus.

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OTOH, people used to complain about digipacks when the tray would come unglued and then there was no way to put it back right.

Ain't no living in a perfect world, although my workaround for this set would be a gatefold LP replica-ish cover. That might be more expensive, though?

But really, I'm not thrilled with either jewel box or digipack to be honest. The former just seems...wasteful, the latter not really sturdy.

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You're right, a gatefold the way that Japan Impulse lp facsimile releases were would be the best option. I have Meditations and Ascension in this form and they're beautiful and sturdy.

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I hate digipaks. Would rather have a jewel case for sure, though at this point I've moved all my CDs to CaseLogic books anyway. :)

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In spite of the packaging, I had to stop listening last night because Coltrane's tenor sounded so shrill. It might have been me and I will try again.

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The sound on this album has never been that good — in my opinion, I don't think the engineer knew exactly what to do with Jones' drums as they overpowered the piano. That said, I think this reissue is likely the best we'll hear. Coltrane's horn is especially up-front, which can make it sound shrill (it doesn't to my ears, though), especially in comparison to the recessed piano. Tyner's piano suffers the most on the issued (and now unedited) take of "Sun Ship," which is a shame because his solo is amazing. On Disc II, it seems the engineer made some adjustments, and the piano begins to sound quite nice. One noticeable difference in this transfer is that there's more of a "room" sound, which especially benefits the drums — cymbals in particular seem to resonate with more of a natural sound. Overall, I'd say that this 2-disc edition is a noticeable improvement (sound-wise) over the 1995 digipack edition.

The added studio banter isn't particularly enlightening. There's really not that much (at one point, Jones suggests that one of the tracks be titled "F.U.") that adds to the "iconic" nature of the quartet. Ed Michel, it seems, gets bagged for his 1971 edits, but it's important to remember that he made those edits with Alice's approval. In the case of the original "Sun Ship" track in particular, Michel's edit (omitting a brief drum coda) to my ears was both astute and musical. The way (in the edit) the track abruptly ends with a cymbal crash is how I'll always know that song. The new, unedited version has far less drama (for its ending). Hold on to your 1995 edition if you know this album intimately. I'm very glad to have this new edition — I think it's worth the money — but I'll be programming a CDR version that mimics the original album sequence (also cued up very nicely by Michel).

If you're on the fence, the (complete) alternate versions are worthy. If it were just a collection of false starts and breakdowns (and there are plenty here), then I'd be less inclined to give a thumbs-up overall. Some of the inserts, actually, have some incredible Coltrane playing. You get to hear, very briefly, the tape rolling and then Coltrane jump in for a minute or two. He turns the heat up almost instantly. Amazing, actually.

If you like to "study" studio sessions, and you have a fondness for this particular recording, you won't be disappointed. And, if you like it only casually, I'd say that the sound is improved enough (though not stellar) to consider a purchase at some point. I don't mind the jewel case; it is what it is, and the paper inside will last longer.

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Thanks for the review - I sure will get it later this year.

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what exactly is an "insert", anyway? Confused me since the Miles Jack Johnson box, which is full of them.

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what exactly is an "insert", anyway? Confused me since the Miles Jack Johnson box, which is full of them.

It's a take intentionally consisting of just part of the tune being worked on, for the purpose of splicing into/onto another take to produce a complete tune.

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Thanks for the review. I am pretty sure, I don't need this new edition, although you made a good case for it.

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what exactly is an "insert", anyway? Confused me since the Miles Jack Johnson box, which is full of them.

It's a take intentionally consisting of just part of the tune being worked on, for the purpose of splicing into/onto another take to produce a complete tune.

"Freddie Freeloader" contains an insert as well. "Miles Ahead", "Porgy and Bess" and (I think) "Sketches of Spain" all have numerous inserts.

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Mosaic is now shipping the 3 LP box set...

:D

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I'm surprised by how much I'm liking this. Wasn't that impressed when it first came out. (But I was so much older then....)

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I love the album a lot - but the CD version is good enough, costs about half a kidney less, too.

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I can't take the sound on the CD version of The Complete Sun Ship Sessions. They screwed up the sound of Trane's tenor. Obnoxious and unlistenable imo. I don't know if the sound on the LPs is any improvement, but I can't see spending Mosaic type $ to find out.

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The Mosaic LPs use the same mix by Kevin Reeves, but were mastered by Kevin Gray instead. So if that tenor sound originates in the mixing...

From Mosaic:

Produced for release by Harry Weinger, Richard Seidel and Michael Cuscuna
Remixed from the original three-track masters by Kevin Reeves, Sterling Sound, New York City

Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Sound, North Hills, CA

The CD states: Mixed from the original three-track session reels and mastered in high-resolution audio by Kevin Reeves at Sterling Sound, NY.

The tenor sound is somewhat different, but I personally don't have a problem with the complete version. Even though mastered by Kevin Reeves, it doesn't suffer from the same faults as his Impulse Originals remasters. It's like that series was mastered too loud on purpose.

For my money the best sounding version of the original Sun Ship album is the recent Japanese SHM-CD, UCCI-9204. I've compared it against the 1995 20-bit and Originals CDs.

Edited by erwbol

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Thanks for the info about Mosaic. I have a Japanese Impulse LP dated 1983 and the sound on that is better than the sound on the Complete CDs, though it's not great. RCA didn't come close to what Rudy did with Trane's music. Guess I'll stick with the LP and forget about completeness. :(

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Thanks for the info about Mosaic. I have a Japanese Impulse LP dated 1983 and the sound on that is better than the sound on the Complete CDs, though it's not great. RCA didn't come close to what Rudy did with Trane's music. Guess I'll stick with the LP and forget about completeness. :(

You're lucky probably to have that LP. The original LP is pretty terrible. Subsequent CD versions I have heard are to harsh for my tastes. You can go the streaming services to hear the compete version, if you want to know what material you are missing.

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