Welcome back to this special retrospective music-posting feature. The gimmick is simple — each week, you post a list (ranked or unranked) of your favourite 25 (or however many) albums of a given year (or, occasionally decade). We are now moving backwards through the early days of the LP era. The video below, originally posted by Eexalien in the Weekly Music Thread provides valuable context about the early days of the LP.
- Following the Edison cylinder, the first agreed upon recording format was the 78 rpm record which became the standard around 1910. These records were made of a very fragile material called shellac (a resin secreted by the lac bug). A 10″ 78 rpm record held about 3 minutes per side and a 12″ one between 4 and 5 minutes but the 10″ was the more popular format
- The concept of the music album originated when 78 rpm records were issued in multi-disc packages similar to books. In terms of packaging, these aren’t dissimilar from what we now think of as box sets but in terms of length, most could easily fit on a single 12 inch or even 10 inch LP hence the persistence of the album misnomer in the LP era (the fact that LP was Columbia’s proprietary term contributed greatly to this phenomenon as well).
- By the 1930s, the industry was well aware of the limitations of the 78 rpm record and wanted to use microgroove technology (224 to 300 grooves per inch rather than the previous 90) to replace it. The first 33 1/3 rpm records were issued by RCA Victor in 1931 . Their records held 15 minutes per side but the records were too fragile to support multiple playbacks and the format was abandoned by 1933. WWII got in the way of further developments.
- In 1948, Columbia records launched a superior version of the 33 1/3 rpm record which they dubbed the LP (for long player). In a display or remarkable foresight, they actually began mastering records for the new format as early as 1939 giving them access to a considerable back catalogue right at launch. The 12 inch version of LP is essentially the 45 minute album as we know it now but the 12 inch was initially mostly reserved for classical music. Nearly everything else was issued on 10 inch LPs because of the popularity of 10 inch record players with backwards compatibility with 10 inch 78 rpm records. The 10 inch LP was only phased out around the mid-fifties.
- RCA responded to Columbia’s 33 1/3 rpm format by launching the competing 45rpm format on 7 inch records, a format which they had started developing before the war. The only problem was the 45 rpm record had been initially designed as a less ambitious improvement over the 78 rpm record than their own abandoned 33 1/3 format not as a direct competitor to Columbia’s LP. It had the very glaring limitation of being quite short. This meant that RCA was trying to compete with single disc releases by issuing multi disc sets not dissimilar to those previously issued on 78 rpm. These sets proved to be unpopular and as we now know, the 7 inch 45 rpm format nonetheless found it’s calling as the preferred format for single song releases while the term album became synonymous with the 12 inch 33 1/3 rpm record.
My personal list is alphabetical Asterisks (*) indicate post publication edits or additions.
Cannonball Adderley: Somethin’ Else
Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Thelonious Monk : Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers: Theory of Art
Count Basie: The Atomic Mr. Basie
Sonny Clark: Sonny’s Crib
Ornette Coleman: Something Else!!!
John Coltrane: Blue Train
John Coltrane: John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio
John Coltrane: Soultrane
John Coltrane, Tommy Flanagan, Kenny Burrell, Idries Sulieman: The Cats
Miles Davis: Ascenseur pour l’échafaud
Miles Davis: Milestones
Ray Draper: The Ray Draper Quintet Featuring John Coltrane
Kenny Drew: Pal Joey
Duke Ellington: Cosmic Suite
Duke Ellington: Ellington Indigos
Red Garland: All Mornin’ Long
Benny Golson: The Other Side of Benny Golson
Wilbur Harden: Jazz Way Out
Wilbur Harden: Tanganyika Strut
Bill Holman: In a Jazz Orbit
Steve Lacy: Soprano Sax
Abbey Lincoln: It’s Magic
Julie London: London by Night
Anita O’ Day: Sings The Winners
Prestige All Stars: Wheelin’ & Dealin’
Max Roach: Deeds not Words
Sonny Rollins: Freedom Suite
Frank Sinatra: Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely
Georg Solti: Das Rheingold (Wagner)
Cecil Taylor: Hard Driving Jazz (a.k.a. Stereo Drive a.ka. John Coltrane: Coltrane Time)
Clark Terry: In Orbit