John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (Atlantic)
New reissue of this jazz classic features improved sound and both mono & stereo mixes together for the first time
John Coltrane’s brief career featured many high points: Giant Steps, from 1960, was like the shot heard ‘round the world, signaling that the saxophonist was blazing a trail all his own. A Love Supreme, from 1965, saw ‘Trane reaching for the heavens, and actually getting there. Sandwiched somewhere in the middle, My Favorite Things did something else impossible, it actually gave the shy musician a bona fide hit, both in the best-selling album, and in a highly-edited version of the title track as a single.
There are several things that set this 60th anniversary edition apart from everything else that came before it. First, this marks the first time that both the common stereo, and the hard-to-find mono mixes, have both been on the same collection together. While stereo quickly became the preferred way of listening to music, this mono mix is superior in just about every way.
Take the title track, “My Favorite Things,” for comparison. There’s a distinct tape dropout at :29 into the song that’s not there on the mono mix. The stereo version of “Everytime We Say Goodbye” seems distorted at times, while the mono is clear. Same with “Summertime” – the bass seems to drop in and out of the stereo version, while the mono stays constant.
While the stereo mix may not be superior to the mono, this version is the best these tracks have ever sounded. Listening to previously released editions, they all have some sort of noise reduction that muffled things. Here, you can definitely hear some tape hiss, but the tracks have much more life to them – they really breathe.
Another selling point for this release is the excellent liner notes, written by Ben Ratliff. Especially telling are the quotes from Coltrane himself on this project, which he admits was his favorite. There’s also some really great photos of ‘Trane too.
Imagine an alternate universe where they actually played Coltrane on hit radio stations. Well, this actually happened because of the success of this album. Atlantic Records released an edited version of “My Favorite Things “(chopped down from 14 minutes to 2:47!) that actually got considerable airplay.
My Favorite Things is the closest John Coltrane ever came to a “hit” record. This latest edition, especially for the inclusion of the superior mono mix, is the one to seek out. —Tony Peters