Robert Johnson CDs?

Just what the name says.
User avatar
MK
Posts: 946
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 4:24 pm
Location: North America

Postby MK » Sun Sep 18, 2005 10:28 pm

I got a hold of King of the Delta Blues Singers, Volumes 1 & 2 and compared them to the jewel-case, remastered issue of the Complete Recordings.

Just so there's no confusion, I'm looking at the cover of KOTDBS Volume 1 and it's got the painting of RJ, a bird's eye view of him playing his guitar. I can only see the top of his head, the ground is brown, he's sitting in a white chair and he's got a sharp shadow creeping away, going southeast.

The Complete Recordings set I have is the remastered version, the one in the fat jewel case with the SBM Super Bit Mapping logo on the back. It was supposedly issued in 1996.

The credits for all discs in my possession:

The Complete Recordings
Original mono recordings remastered using SBM Super Bit Mapping.
Digital restoration, engineering and remastering by David Mitson, Sony Music Studios, Los Angeles, CA (1996)

King of the Delta Blues Singers (aka Volume 1) - CD copyright 1998
Original source material provided by Stephen C. LaVere, Richard Nevins (track 14), and Alan Jabbour, Library of Congress Archive of Folk Song (track 17)
[NOTE: Be careful reading the credits in the liner notes. They also list those printed in the original Lp, which lists the source material as being taken from metal masters at Columbia's Bridgeport factory and other collectors like John Hammond, etc.; this was true for the Lp, but not for the CD.]
Disc to Digital Transfers: Steven Lasker, Michael Donaldson (track 17)
CEDAR Restoration: Steven Lasker, Venice, CA
Sonic Advice: John R.T. Davies (I have no idea what 'sonic advice' represents)
Digital Masters by Robert Vosgien, CMS Digital, Pasadena, CA

King of the Delta Blues Singers Volume 2 CD copyright 2004
Mastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio at Sony Music Studios, New York
(that's all they give, very simple credits, no source info, etc.)

-----------------------

So what's the verdict? Do these CD's of KOTDBS Vol. 1 & 2 sound better than the remastered version of Complete Recordings?

YES. Not even close, if you don't believe me, compare "Sweet Home Chicago" with the one from KOTDBS Vol. 2. That's right, the Complete Recordings CD is HEAVILY processed with CEDAR, NoNoise, whatever denoising device/program they used.

Kind of SUCKS if, like me, you thought Complete Recordings was going to be the only Robert Johnson you need (yeah, I know they had that newly discovered alternate on KOTDBS Vol. 1, but it's still one inferior alternate take.)

Complete Recordings DOES have ten alternate takes you can't get anywhere else...and it has extensive liner notes, far more than the other discs combined...

Me, Sony and RJ's estate got my $$$ when I bought their Complete Recordings set, which I'm gonna keep. I'm gonna burn myself a new 'complete' set from all of these discs, master takes on disc one, alternates on disc two.
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Neither slave nor tyrant." - Basque motto

User avatar
lukpac
Top Dog and Sellout
Posts: 4585
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Postby lukpac » Mon Sep 19, 2005 8:02 am

Yeah...I've seen cries for a new "complete" set with totally updated sources ala the two KOTDBS discs and with the master takes on one disc and alternates on the second disc.

I'm curious exactly what was done with CEDAR on the new discs, if it was just declicking or noise removal as well. I also wonder what sources Stephen C. LaVere provided.
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

User avatar
MK
Posts: 946
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2003 4:24 pm
Location: North America

Postby MK » Mon Sep 19, 2005 11:21 am

On the complete set, they stripped away most of the surface noise. On the KOTDBS, it seems like they leave the surface noise alone - it sounds like CEDAR was used only to "declick" the music.
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Dwight D. Eisenhower



"Neither slave nor tyrant." - Basque motto

User avatar
lukpac
Top Dog and Sellout
Posts: 4585
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Postby lukpac » Mon Sep 19, 2005 11:47 am

I was wondering if perhaps they did strip away some of the noise, but just not all of it...

Also, one of the songs (don't have the discs in front of me at the moment) *does* seem to have a lot less surface noise - it seemed like maybe they did more to that track.

Besides the NR, the EQ is a lot different. The original box had *all* of the top slashed, which masked a lot of the noise. Don't know about the remastered box.
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

User avatar
lukpac
Top Dog and Sellout
Posts: 4585
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re:

Postby lukpac » Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:57 pm

MK wrote:YES. Not even close, if you don't believe me, compare "Sweet Home Chicago" with the one from KOTDBS Vol. 2. That's right, the Complete Recordings CD is HEAVILY processed with CEDAR, NoNoise, whatever denoising device/program they used.

Kind of SUCKS if, like me, you thought Complete Recordings was going to be the only Robert Johnson you need (yeah, I know they had that newly discovered alternate on KOTDBS Vol. 1, but it's still one inferior alternate take.)

Complete Recordings DOES have ten alternate takes you can't get anywhere else...and it has extensive liner notes, far more than the other discs combined...


Picked up The Centennial Collection today, which is also titled "The Complete Recordings", and is in some places noted as being a reissue of that set. Regardless of all of that, I'd say this is better than any previous CD, although to be fair, I haven't heard the '96 box or King of the Delta Blues, and have only heard a few clips from the Mastersound KOTDBS. Anyway, most of the transfers are the best they've ever been (with a few exceptions), and the mastering is great. No detectible NR and arguably better EQ than the two KOTDBS discs. On top of that, the alternates are at the end of each disc, rather than right after the master takes.

Comparing, it does seem as if some NR was used on the KOTDBS CDs, at least on a few songs. Also, while the mastering is better on this set, the alternate take of Cross Road Blues does seem to have a better transfer on KOTDBS.

Anyway, I got it for $16 at a local store. Really no reason not to get it. At the point the old box is only useful for the booklet, namely the lyrics and master information.
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

User avatar
lukpac
Top Dog and Sellout
Posts: 4585
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re: Robert Johnson CDs?

Postby lukpac » Tue May 10, 2011 12:34 am

Ok...document detailing all of the various takes and releases, with clips for every track:

Notes on the Robert Johnson recordings on CD
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

User avatar
lukpac
Top Dog and Sellout
Posts: 4585
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2003 11:51 pm
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re: Robert Johnson CDs?

Postby lukpac » Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:51 pm

Anyone? I'd argue Centennial is pretty damn definitive. My only real complaints are a few tracks like the alt Cross Road Blues where there's a burst of surface noise every revolution for a while. Not sure what the story is there; previous issues didn't have that, and I believe in that case a metal part (master?) exists that could have been used to press a new copy.

Also, I updated my page with the MasterSound KOTDBS and '96 Complete Recordings CDs. Lots of other notes and additions there as well.
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD