(Fwd) (fwd) Re: Blind Willie Johnson

Tom Freeland thf4@WATERVALLEY.NET
Mon Sep 30 16:18:52 EDT 1996

Forward of a forward bitching about Columbia's job of re-mastering
78s-- this re: Willie Johnson.  Given your opinions about the R.
Johnson set, I thought you might find it interest.  It is from

Kerry, Sheila, & Mirabelle Blech wrote:
> In article <52kpa5$gh7@news02.comp.pge.com> Todd A. Gracyk wrote:
> >Is the sound quality on the Legacy double CD set superior to that
> >on the two Yazoo CD's?
> >
> >Do the liner notes in the Legacy set augment and/or contradict the
> >"research" described in the second Yazoo CD?
> >
> Todd,
> In my opinion, Richard Nevins' 78 transfers to CD are outstanding
> and eat anything I've heard on Columbia/Sony for lunch. However, I
> have not heard the Yazoo reissues of Blind Willie Johnson so I
> cannot compare them to the Columbia/Legacy set. The C/L set sounds
> fine to my ear, though not outstanding (the sound quality that is,
> the music IS outstanding, of course). My 78 collector friends who
> take great care in  using the proper styli and professional EQ,
> noise reduction, etc. all say that the C/L set pales in comparison
> to the original disks played through the great home system, but
> none have mentioned comparisons with the Yazoo--though to a man (no
> women in this sample) they all admire Nevins' great ear and
> dedication.
> For the above stated reasons too, I cannot compare the Yazoo notes
> with the C/L notes, though I found the C/L notes to be fine and
> informative--primarily consisting of an extensive essay by Sam
> Charters who is one of my favorite writers.
> I too would be curious to hear other opinions on this subject.
> Regards,
> Kerry
>             ******      ********      ********     *****     *****
> Kerry Blech   Sheila Klauschie Blech   Mirabelle Rose Blech
>                           Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
>      "The old tunes are the best tunes" -- Luther Davisksb-i can put .02 cents in about yazoo,endlessly(still in thought re:
a reissue manifesto),but of the sony products,i've been consistantly
disappointed with the sound.this is purely a snob's view,however,and
is not meant to strike terror in any prospective buyer's heart.yazoo
and columbia are just about equal in ease of availability-so if a
slight background amidst a brilliant recreation is too distracting,
new listeners can opt for the quieter transfers on columbia."quieter"
is an assessment that also includes much missing information for some0ne
who is perfectly at home listening to old records as they are/were.the
yazoo mentality(which means also many of the county reissues,BTW)is to
preserve the original integrity of the performance as it was captured
at the rec. session.this is purely a common-sense,and inevitably archival
approach,that does not incorporate the use of fancy dials & buttons,wild
computer antics,or even a love for EQ settings.the final outcome is
dependant upon the ear of the technician,and his overall knowledge and
experience with vintage recording techniques.with massive noise reduction
capabilities at the BIG houses,the natural progression(so far,w/fancy
systems)has been to keep getting rid of noise(at the expense of warmth,
depth,and even some of the musical information itself)BECAUSE YOU CAN.
it's even fun,an addiction to see how far it takes to create a clear or
quiet background.the real focus of an expert transfer is to see how much
music can be BROUGHT FORWARD,and in Yazoo's case,for many years,if this
has meant a slight inconvenience to the ear with the sound of distant
rapids and bacon frying,at least all the music is present,which is not
so on most big-budget labels.again,for most readers this is a meaningless
difference,if you don't care about perfect reproducton.if you DO,however,
with careful remastering techniques you can enjoy the performance as it
was captured,with all its awe,presence,mystery.I won't use audiophile
terms to describe a fruit jar drinkers session,but so much care goes into
a project like that at yazoo(like that and all others!)that in many cases
the end result is that the cd sound- er,gulp...exceeds the quality of the
original shellac.it might take 20 hours of work to get it there,for 3
minutes of fun,but we now have the benefit of the technology finally
catching up with the ability of a real expert at the controls.columbia
has spared no expense at processing signals,A/D converters,etc...but
truth to tell,there are very few who are qualified to preserve and
present an archival quality reissue that can be enjoyed 100 years from
now.it is a shame,for those who care,that sony et al have the benefit
of working from pristine metal parts,or fresh vinyls from the original
stampers,or(rarely though)a clean shellac file copy-and it still sounds
like it's underwater to me.some CEDAR or SONIC experts will claim that
noise can be successfully removed in 1996,and that a shelf of detritus
once removed has a psychological effect that is unnatural to some,but
claimed to be accurate and true by others.sub- or super-harmonics aside,
the small percentage of otm "audiophiles" will always opt for the
closest-to-the-original.for others,there's still a wealth of music to
be enjoyed elsewise,but without the distinct sensation of ethereal
presence-NOT Blind Willie in the room with you,but rather,"You Are
There".        pvc

Tom Freeland
"'I Wanna Be Your Dog' is probably just my mishearing of 'Baby Please
Don't Go.'" -Iggy Pop


More information about the Blues-l mailing list