Albert Ayler – Bells (White Vinyl)
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Reissue on 180-gram opaque white vinyl. Originally released in 1965. The transitional “Bells” was just under 20 minutes, released originally as one side of a clear vinyl LP with the other side empty of music. It was recorded at a May 1, 1965, Town Hall concert of ESP artists, displaying Albert Ayler’s new group, which added Albert’s brother Donald and Charles Tyler. The denser sound of “Bells” shows Ayler moving towards the bigger sonic statement made on Spirits Rejoice (ESPDISK 1020CD/LP), his September 23, 1965, Judson Hall session. By the way, “Bells” as heard here is not, in fact, a single composition; rather, it is a medley moving from “Holy Ghost” to an unnamed theme and then into “Bells” proper. ESP-Disk’ founder Bernard Stollman was so excited by “Bells” that it was released without delaying to record additional music to fill the other side of the LP. Both Donald Ayler and Charles Tyler were making their recorded debuts; Tyler would go on to record for ESP as a leader (Charles Tyler Ensemble (ESPDISK 1029CD, 1966), and Eastern Man Alone (ESPDISK 1059CD, 1967)). One vinyl pressing of Spiritual Unity (ESPDISK 1002CD/LP) in the ’60s substituted a different track for “Spirits.” Mr. Stollman had no memory of how this had happened, but it was subsequently corrected and became a rarity known only to rabid collectors and ESP fanatics. The one that is on all the CDs (except for one Japanese release with both) and all the rest of the vinyl editions is the same tune as what is titled “Saints” on Witches & Devils (aka Spirits, recorded on February 24, 1964). The anomalous substitution, which does sound somewhat similar, is the same tune known as “Vibrations” on the album Vibrations (aka Ghosts) and as “[tune Q]2” in Revenant’s Holy Ghost boxed set. Martin Davidson (owner of Emanem, another indie label responsible for many groundbreaking jazz releases) suggested that ESP-Disk’ include this mysterious rarity on its 50th-anniversary CD edition of Spiritual Unity (ESPDISK 1002CD), and supplied the sound file. ESP kept the vinyl edition of Spiritual Unity as originally intended. How to get “Vibrations” out on vinyl, then? Well, Bells has long had plenty of open space on its B-side. . . .
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