Talking tape: comparing John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme on ‘Ultra Tape’ from Analogue Productions with the mono vinyl version

A while back I did a review of Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me on tape and, instead of penning the usual rambling blog, I rambled away ‘live’ on video instead. It was fun to do and people seemed to like it, so I thought I’d have another go for one of my latest purchases – another of Analogue Productions’ Ultra Tapes: John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.

You can find out more about what makes an ‘Ultra Tape’ on this video from Analogue Productions themselves: Analogue Productions’ Ultra Tape reel-to-reel reissues duplication process explained

What’s in the box?

Actually I made two video clips, one first one below is ‘the unboxing’ of my delivery of several Ultra Tapes from Analogue Productions, with a bit of chat about the albums and what comes with them insert-wise. I made a video of this for two reasons (in case you’re wondering!) – first because I was excited to receive the tapes and wanted to share the moment with some folks who aren’t nearby, and second because the last time I did an unboxing video – which I’d only really planned to share with a couple of friends and colleagues – for some reason it turned out to be crazy popular on YouTube (go figure!). So here we go again, let’s see what happens… the four albums being unwrapped here are: two from John Coltrane, A Love Supreme and Ballads (two superb classics); Oscar Peterson Trio’s We Get Requests (which I’ve had for years on vinyl, it’s a magnificent album); and Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth (which I saw in the Acoustic Sounds catalogue and didn’t know, so I checked it out on Tidal and it blew me away).

A Love Supreme: vinyl versus Ultra Tape

I’ve had a copy of this album on vinyl for some years, and it’s not just any old vinyl – it’s an original first-press UK vinyl mono release, and it’s in excellent condition. According to Discogs it’s valued at around £500!

The album was recorded on 9th December 1964 by ABC Paramount Records, USA and it’s a truly beautiful thing. In the album notes, Coltrane describes it as a ‘thank you to God’. There’s a wonderful article about the album over at “In many ways, the album mirrors Coltrane’s spiritual quest that grew out of his personal troubles, including a long struggle with drug and alcohol addiction,” it explains, with some fascinating perspectives from various commentators on Coltrane’s journeys through addiction and religion and their relationship to his music.

So I begin by listening to the album again in full. Wow! And then I switch to the tape. Woah! No matter how many times I have the experience of listening to a much-loved albums on tape, I’ll never cease to be blown away every time. It’s just staggering how much ‘more music’ there is on tape. Anyway, here are my thoughts on video, along with a run through of the album’s four sections and – spolier alert – how the tape takes the listener in closer, with the experience of feeling even more passionately and intimately involved in the music’s personal and spiritual journey.

The tape is available for purchase, priced at $500, from Acoustic Sounds here:

If you’re outside North America and you’re in the market for more than one album from Acoustic Sounds, it’s worth grouping your purchases together so you can save a bit on shipping (or at least that’s my excuse for having ordered multiple titles!).

What I’m not allowed to share on YouTube obviously, for copyright reasons, is the actual playing of the tape. So here are a few stills instead, of the tape playing on my beloved Studer, along with some of the fabulous inserts from Analogue Productions.