Customer Review

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful education, 6 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Heavyweight Champion - The Complete Atlantic Recordings (Audio CD)
As the detail regarding the music contained in this joyous set is more than adequately covered in the existing reviews, I wanted to instead say something about this new pressing.

With the significant price-drop comes a corresponding reduction in the packaging - now housed in a light but sturdy clamshell box, the discs themselves are now found within simple printed card sleeves rather than digipaks. These are of the same type Rhino/Atlantic use in their five disc "Original Album Series" releases - the card used is thin and only just on the right side of flimsy. The "tape" box previously used for the outtakes disc has not been included here. The discs appear to be a straight repressings of the original set with identical print work and with the copyright date of 1995 remaining throughout. There are a few printing errors; page 69 of the booklet appears twice (replacing page 68 which is irritating as it is 68 that carries the tracklisting for most of Disc 7 and this is the only tracklisting not given on the individual disc sleeve!) and the sleeve for Disc 6 numbers the tracks "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8". Not significant but a little careless.

The reduction in price is massive but it is unclear if this is to do with the recordings now being out of copyright in Europe - perfectly legal but unsanctioned editions of these albums (the outtakes disc aside) are in wide circulation. As such, this set has two advantages and one disadvantage. It is, of course, sourced from the original master tapes (the sound is superb throughout) and it is totally comprehensive; every extant and relevant recording in one box. The disadvantage is that the integrity of the original album tracklistings has not been honoured. This means an alternate take with often be heard immediately alongside the originally issued rendition, a move which disrupts the set as a listening experience. The original market for this box was really people who already owned all or most of the original releases and the creation of a chronology allows for a careful study of Coltrane's development during this period. But at this price point, a whole new audience comes in and, with the market beginning to flood, this would have been an ideal time to reposition this set and restore the running orders of the individual albums. Of course, with Amazon, you get a free Autorip so doing this oneself in the digital realm is not a chore. Your mileage may vary and all that...

So, that's the build and the chassis, what's under the bonnet is, of course, an absolute delight. The span from Coltrane's debut as a band leader and his death was a cruelly brief 10 years and here we have the music in which he truly finds his sound, the sound he worked so incredibly hard and practiced so long to establish. He audibly grows, especially as a composer throught this set. As someone who came in to Coltrane through his later, harsher, experimental works, some of this music feels like the sun coming out - there seems to be so much space, so much breathe.

You probably know already if you want/need this but here you have a key stage in Coltrane's career assembled comprehensively, in impeccible sound quality and now very keenly priced.
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octophone
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland

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