collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

I'm old enough to know you can't close your mind to new ideas - John Goodenough, a 94-year-old professor at the University of Texas at Austin

Author Topic: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset  (Read 3268 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline TenBrook

  • Member
  • Posts: 240
    • darkhollar.tumblr.com
Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« on: August 03, 2020, 09:38:00 AM »
Hi all,
Just heard the news about a new Dust to Digital release (available for pre-order now) and thought I'd share.
Here's the gist of the release from their site:
"68 years later, The Harry Smith B-Sides offers both a resonant listening experience and the closing of a collector’s circle. Sequenced in the identical order that Smith created, this new box set offers the flip-side of each 78-rpm record that he selected for the original Anthology of American Folk Music."

Here's a video preview:


Here's the listing on their site with more info:
https://dust-digital.com/shop/harry-smith-b-sides

And here's the track list:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5cf690218bf95d0001caa502/t/5f27649eb416162a136d2039/1596417182246/DTD-51-Tracklist.pdf
« Last Edit: August 03, 2020, 09:39:03 AM by TenBrook »

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2891
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2020, 05:15:37 PM »
Thanks for the heads up, Lew. I see it contains, “Moonshiner's Dance Part Two,” by Frank Cloutier and the Victoria Cafe Orchestra --something I've been waiting half a century for.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 12233
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2020, 05:34:35 PM »
Yes, thanks for posting that, Lew. What a great concept!  And to my tastes, the program doesn't suffer by comparison to the original Anthology of American Folk Music's program. I guess I can see why they omitted the tracks with racist language, but it seems like you need to acknowledge the bad along with the good in a country's history. Hiding from that past doesn't make it any less true.

Offline Suzy T

  • Member
  • Posts: 160
  • Howdy!
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2020, 07:56:54 PM »
These Harry Smith B side compilations have been floating around for awhile, but not in commercial form.  I see they omitted the songs that have racist lyrics.  While I understand why they did this -- nobody wants to hear the N word --  it's too bad in a way.  One of those songs is the Henhouse Blues by the Bentley Boys -- for me, it resonates quite a bit with our modern times.  It tells the story of a dream:  a black man dreams he is running for president, but is woken up with the news that "you am beat and a WOMAN am President". The gist of it is, what could be even worse than a black president?  A woman President!  And here it is more than 90 years later and we've actually had a Black president, but not a woman yet.  I wish that would happen in my lifetime.  Anyway it sounds like a wonderful set.

Offline DerZauberer

  • Member
  • Posts: 43
  • I woke up this morning... (well I hope I did)
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2020, 07:55:12 AM »
I see they omitted the songs that have racist lyrics.  While I understand why they did this -- nobody wants to hear the N word --  it's too bad in a way. 
I think this is a missed opportunity. We're talking historical documents here, these pieces should be seen in their relevant context, they are the way they are should form part of the story - with carefully written liner notes of course, to highlight the reasons why and how to see take them today.

Apart from that, I love the idea. The Harry Smith anthology, weird as it is as a compilation, is still a good introduction to anyone more seriously interested in early roots/folk/blues/country, even today. For a brief "check this out maybe it's for you" I have now converted to the American Epic "The Soundtrack" collection, because it breezes through genres in a dozen-or-so songs.

But... given the quality of the material, and hoping for "newly remastered" great sound, I will dutifully pre-order this one.
"The blues is not a plaything like some people think they are." - Son House

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2891
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2020, 10:17:17 AM »
I see they omitted the songs that have racist lyrics.  While I understand why they did this -- nobody wants to hear the N word --  it's too bad in a way.
I think this is a missed opportunity. We're talking historical documents here, these pieces should be seen in their relevant context, they are the way they are should form part of the story - with carefully written liner notes of course, to highlight the reasons why and how to see take them today.

I agree. Omitting the songs does not omit the racist context in which they were composed, sung, recorded, played on the Victrola or broadcast over the air, etc. It also omits the question, "Why was this considered acceptable?"

I'm not suggesting that the collection be used as a "teaching moment," just that attempts to sanitize the historical record do not change history--what really happened and why--as others have pointed out.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2020, 05:52:41 PM by Stuart »

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2834
  • Howdy!
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2020, 01:09:23 PM »
Quote
I agree. Omitting the songs does not omit the racist context in which they were composed, sung, recorded, played on the Victrola or broadcast over the air, etc. It also omits the question, "Why was this considered acceptable?"

I'm not suggesting that the collection be used as a "teaching moment," just that attempts to sanitize the historical record does not change history--what really happened and why--as others have pointed out.

I think Archeophone Records does a good job of handling this issue.  In the notes to their recent set on minstrel show music, At The Minstrel Show, there's the following:

"Archeophone Records hopes to prompt study and conversation about early recorded sound and its social and cultural significance.  This sometimes means that our reissues must not shy away from presenting disturbing though historically important material.  Archeophone believes that if we neglect the offensive parts of our history, we will fail to learn from it." 

Offline TenBrook

  • Member
  • Posts: 240
    • darkhollar.tumblr.com
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2020, 07:00:48 AM »
Here's a recent New Yorker article from Amanda Petrusich on Harry Smith with more details on the 'The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset' project:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/10/05/harry-smiths-musical-catalogue-of-human-experience

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2891
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2020, 09:19:45 AM »
Thank you, Lew. It's an interesting article.

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2891
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2020, 09:15:57 AM »
"How to Handle the Hate in America’s Musical Heritage" - NY Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/14/arts/music/anthology-of-american-folk-music.html

Offline dj

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 2834
  • Howdy!
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2020, 05:37:35 PM »
Thanks for the article link, Stuart.  I had been firmly in the "those sides should be there" camp, but the thought of someone innocently blaring them over the speakers at a farmers' market has made me rethink that stance.

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2891
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2020, 08:18:24 AM »
Hi dj: I read a fair share of the comments to the article and many people came down on the side of historical accuracy/completeness. And many people supported Lance's decision. One way around the problem is to leave the objectionable sides off the CDs, but provide a link and access code with the box set to the D2D website where they would be available for people to listen to them if they so choose. But as the author pointed out, the offensive songs are already available online. After giving it more thought, that's probably what I'd do. It's a commercial product and the fact that it can be played publicly has to be taken into account.

I think it's one of those areas where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Offline Johnm

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 12233
    • johnmillerguitar.com
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2020, 11:46:09 AM »
Hi dj and Stuart,
I was originally in the "include the racist tracks" camp, as a way of admitting the unsavory aspects of our shared history, but after reading the article, I realize the extent to which being brave about including the offensive tracks is not particularly brave at all, when you won't have to deal with potential harmful or damaging consequences (or even actionable ones) yourself. Being brave in proxy, when you're at no risk yourself, is not exactly courageous.
All best,
John

Offline CF

  • Member
  • Posts: 898
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #13 on: October 19, 2020, 01:14:02 PM »
Perhaps not mentioning at all that some of the songs on the set have period language would have made a non issue out of this altogether. Most people who would buy a Harry Smith box set have already heard these type of songs and are well educated about the nature of period 78s of Americana music.
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline banjochris

  • Member
  • Posts: 2321
Re: Dust to Digital: The Harry Smith B-Sides Boxset
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2020, 01:40:07 PM »
As I understand it, the tracks are discussed in the liner notes, so the music and the issues it raises aren't being swept under the rug. I understand the decision to leave them off of the CDs for the reasons they give, especially given that because of the Harry Smith connection, this may have wider distribution and listening that your average old-time CD.

My only complaint really is that they should include a download link because they no doubt went to the trouble of getting decent copies of these tracks and remastering them. Copies online are not necessarily benefiting from any kind of clean-up, etc. (And we know they had already pressed CDs with these tracks, so it's not like they skipped them from the beginning.)
Chris

Tags: Harry Smith 
 


anything
SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2022, SimplePortal