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Country Blues => Super Electrical Recordings! => Topic started by: uncle bud on December 10, 2004, 05:26:01 PM

Title: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on December 10, 2004, 05:26:01 PM
Just in case some folks don't know, Yazoo is having a holiday sale, 10% off everything ordered through their website.

http://www.yazoobluesmailorder.com/00holidayspecial.htm

"From now through December 20th, we are offering a 10% discount on all orders from the website, calculated after all bonuses and special offers have been applied."

Recent scuttlebutt that some folks here will be aware of is that business is not great and there is a possibility that new projects may stop. Hopefully it doesn't come to that. This would be a tragedy, especially in light of the extraordinary quality of the recent "Best of" series that includes Blind Blake, Willie McTell, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon and more, not to mention some of their specialty collections. They are quite simply the best remasterings out there. Even if you have JSPs, Documents, or others, IMO it is worth picking up these "Best of..." discs given the tremendous job Rich Nevins has done with them. I have bought a number of them recently and have not regretted any purchase despite having all material on them in various other forms. A great label that deserves support.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Alexei McDonald on December 10, 2004, 11:28:09 PM
I've ordered ?50 worth ; even with shipping and duty, it's miles cheaper than buying them locally.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on December 11, 2004, 07:55:33 AM
I've ordered ?50 worth ; even with shipping and duty, it's miles cheaper than buying them locally.

Hi Alexei - that's great. I should have added to my earlier post that I have no connection at all to Yazoo myself, aside from enjoying their products immensely.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on December 12, 2004, 02:55:02 PM
Picked up about $80 or so worth of CDs, and a couple of DVDs!  Love the stuff they put out and would hate to see it stop!
Bg
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Ignatznochops on December 25, 2004, 03:00:33 PM
Has anybody received their orders since the sale started? I put in a big one, no CDs yet. Trying to cut them some slack due to the holidays but am getting a bit impatient.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on December 25, 2004, 11:42:25 PM
Nope!  >:( Still waiting for mine.  Had a devil of a time trying to place the order on their website. Had to send several emails and make one phone call before it got fixed finally. I hope my order comes in the next week.
Bg 
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on December 26, 2004, 09:52:48 AM
There was a story on the news here (Canada) the other night about shipping nightmares in general in the US because of the Xmas load but in particular the storm systems you guys (and gals) have been experiencing, even in Texas (Slack, I'm assuming you haven't been out building snowmen down there). UPS and FedEx et al were not guaranteeing delivery times and USPS was saying essentially it'll get there when it gets there... Not reassuring to folks waiting for their stuff...

I have always found Yazoo and Grossman to be slow on delivery as compared to the big folks like Amazon etc. It always shows up though. My dvds arrived safe and sound after much waiting.

Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Ignatznochops on December 26, 2004, 04:24:33 PM
It's unfortunate that the little guys need to work harder than the big ones in order to keep their customer base, but such is the nature of the "market". There are some independent distribution specialists who seem to do a very good job, CD Baby for instance. Maybe Yazoo should hand distribution over to somebody like CD Baby so that they can hopefully keep doing what they do best, which is keep the kind of music that we all love in circulation. I'd like to help Yazoo out by allowing them to capture maxmum profits by buying direct, but I don't really have time to screw around with trying to get them to fill an order in a reasonable amount of time. 2 e-mails and phone call? You got to be kidding...

If any of you are in contact with the higher ups there you might suggest that they look into some alternatives to the status quo.

Joe
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: GhostRider on December 27, 2004, 02:32:13 PM
Joe:

Your absolutely right about CDbaby, they are independant (the ultimate) but provide top quality shipping service, and rather inexpensive too.

Alex
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: M.Vidrine on December 29, 2004, 09:45:28 AM
Hello All,

   The way I understand it is that Yazoo is a smaller offshoot of Shanachie records (the real money maker). Rich Nevins has been a 78 rpm collector for a long time and keeps Yazoo around because this music is what he is most passionate about. Yazoo & Shanachie are both distributed through a major (independent) distributor called Koch - http://www.kochint.com/, which allows any mom & pop store with an account (as well as industry giants like Amazon) to buy their product at wholesale prices.

CD Baby is a relatively new idea where individual artists, who put out their own music out (not signed to a label), are able to sell their product direct to public. CD Baby will buy (at a wholesale rate), stock and sell any CD that you want them to. As they grow, they may be incorporating some sort of distribution arm where they sell product direct to stores, but as of now they only sell direct to customers. I too think it's a great idea & will probably be listing my bands CD on the site when it is available (in January).

As chops stated, Yazoo's main business is that of a label in creating the re-issue CDs that we buy. There are other independents such as Venerable Music (my company  :D), County Sales & Elderly Instruments whose primary responsibility is customer service & filling orders from many different labels. You may have a better experience dealing with one of these companies.

I can console with Yazoo as for slow business this year. March through October was absolutely dismal & I contemplated shutting down several times. November & December have rebounded nicely & I have a sale total higher than the previous seven months combined! Thank goodness those three wise men decided to come bearing gifts!

Malcolm
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: NotRevGDavis on December 29, 2004, 11:19:30 AM
I have never waited longer than 4 days for an order from Yazoo (NJ to SF Bay area) non-holiday. I usually call and do phone orders from Yazoo everyone I've spoken to there has been very helpful and really nice.

Here is my personal comparison to other small company web/phone orders: Stephan Grossman's Guitar workshop, all time record 2 days, no longer than 5 (also from NJ); Arhoolie (close by) 4 days during Christmas; Fat Possum no longer than 5 days; Wolf 7 days, Document 8 days (both from Europe); and my all time longest 73 days, 5 e-mails (promised product, no product, refund) from Amazon.
The good thing about these small labels is that if you call most times you meet the people behind the product. I called Fat Possum a couple of weeks for some help about some unrelated information I needed and they were more than happy to help one of their customers.
I also find that if I keep the cool meter high I get things quicker when there is a problem.
Good luck,
Gary
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on January 03, 2005, 04:06:47 PM
I got my shipment of CDs finally from Yazoo and I must say that I am not at all happy with the sound quality of the CD "Mississippi John Hurt - 1928 Sessions."  I'm assuming that these 13 songs are exactly like the ones from the Okeh recordings of the same year. However, the Yazoo set is very hissy and sounds nothing like the much cleaner and clearer audio samples from the Okeh recordings that I heard on Amazon and iTunes.  I'm not even bothering to get a refund from Yazoo because they never return phone calls and they are very slow at returning emails.  So, I went ahead and bought the Okeh set from another seller. On a happier note, I absolutely love the two Stefan Grossman CDs I bought, "How To Play Blues Guitar" and "Shake That Thing."  The recordings are excellent and it's quite fun to listen to performance versions of the songs I've been learning. Bg
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on January 03, 2005, 06:54:06 PM
I haven't actually heard Yazoo's John Hurt CD, and own the Okeh/Columbia one myself. One thing about Yazoo is they will allow more hiss in the interest of preserving more of the sounds of the original recording (hiss and pops aside) so you can actually hear the music better. The raves about Yazoo apply in particular to their newer releases (The "Best ofs" and the tracks that appear on their various newer compilations like the Times Ain't Like They Used to Be series etc). Still, a lot of the older Yazoos I have (which is most of the CD releases) are better sounding than anything else I've encountered. Columbia often runs the music through their de-hissifying CEDAR noise reduction technology and the result is often crappy, to be honest. Clean does not necessarily equal good. I confess to listening to most of my John Hurt from the postwar recordings so don't have much of an opinion of the original prewar material aside from being relatively satisfied with the Columbia release, compared to some of their other material.

We need Montgomery to chime in here and offer a pointed opinion. ;)

Again, I guess I need to say I have no connection to Yazoo, just like their products overall. :)

Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on January 03, 2005, 09:00:33 PM
Well I don't have any qualms about pre-war purity myself and if I had my choice between "authentic" hiss and pops and a re-mastered version run through noise reduction , I'd take the less noisy version any day. I as mentioned, I already heard audio clips of the Okeh recording online and based my opinion/decision on that. Didn't sound that crappy to me. Bg
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Rivers on January 04, 2005, 08:41:07 PM
Bluesygirl, I have both. I think you have to look at the release dates to understand why the Yazoo is different. The Yazoo CD came out quite a few years before the Okeh Legacy one and was pretty definitive at the time, being the only CD version of the early recordings.

During the interval between the two releases a lot of progress was being made in digital remastering software and tricks. I remember on the old weenie list this discussion came up frequently. I also remember being struck by the good quality of the Okeh release when I received it as an unsolicited birthday gift.

But based on Yazoo's excellent recent re-re-re-releases I daresay if they did it over again they would achieve a much better master, and I would be out another few bucks shortly thereafter.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Montgomery on January 04, 2005, 08:49:05 PM
The MJH Yazoo is very old and can definitely be improved upon. ?However, I cannot recommend the Columbia set over the Yazoo. ?If you've ever heard any actual 78s, you'll know there's a lot of surface noise, usually far more than appears on the Yazoo CD, even on a mint condition 78 (depending?on the label, but no 78 from the 20s-30s era is devoid of surface noise, pops and clicks, etc). ?If you hear a "remastered" CD of prewar blues that has no surface noise--as is the case with most Columbia CDs (though they've improved a little bit recently)--you can bet their only concern was oblitering all surface noise while giving little care to how it affects the music. ?In my opinion, the Columbia version sounds incredibly flat and a lot of the nuances you can hear on the 78s are plain missing. ?I would never recommend a Columbia prewar blues release, at least in terms of fidelity. ?They have no real concern for the actual music and some of their releases are plain awful. ?If you're going to be listening to a lot of prewar music, it behooves you to become accustomed to the sound of surface noise, which is apparent even on a mint 78. ?With enough listening, your ears will become accustomed to surface noise and you'll be able to drown it out without any work whatsoever. ?I liken it to listening to a 100-piece orchestra and having the ability to pick out one instrument, no matter how buried it is among all the other instruments, and to follow that instrument while being able to more or less ignore the 99 other instruments. ?Eventually you can pick out any number of instruments, listen to any 10, 20, 30, whatever you want, at your own discretion. ?This is a form of ear training I guess, being able to focus on what you want to focus on. ?I think this is an important skill, and listening to scratchy 78s is a good way to learn it. ?I'm not saying you have a bad ear, but there's no question in my mind that there's more "musical information" in the Yazoo transfers than the Columbia ones and the surface noise is a small price to pay. ?That said, it is not among Yazoo's best transfers.

P.S. I know I'm always defending Yazoo, and I want to make clear that I have no connection to Yazoo and rave about them only because I am a fan of their work.? I think they are one of the few reliable prewar CD release companies, and it's a shame that sometimes flashier packaging or "cleaner" transfers by other companies has made Yazoo's business suffer.? They do what they do purely out of love and tend to lose money on their releases, from what I've heard.?
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on January 04, 2005, 10:27:01 PM
I will wait to get the new CD and listen to them both before providing my own assessment of musical nuances, noise or lack thereof.  Bg
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: lebordo on January 04, 2005, 11:17:52 PM
If you're going to be listening to a lot of prewar music, it behooves you to become accustomed to the sound of surface noise, which is apparent even on a mint 78.

Shhhhsh -- don't let that secret out of the bag -- I get too much fun buying 78s that have been rated V+ or V+/E- and priced accordingly, but turn out to be NM or better.? Just got 3today that are as pristine as they day they came out of the press, and a 4th that is E+ to NM-.

That said, at my age I don't mind clean as long as its not overdone.? Maybe it's because cleaning seems to affect the highs more than mid-range and lows.? And at least in my case, what age related hearing loss I have seems to affect the highs most, so I don't see as much difference as someone with perfect hearing.?

But cleaning can definitely be overdone, even to my ears.? Perhaps the best way to find out where the limits of today's technology are is to actually spend time digitally recording 78s and cleaning them up.? Clicks and pops can usually be eliminated with little or no musical loss, although getting the last few out can be quite a challenge sometimes.? Hiss is a little more problematic, although if you are careful you can clean most hiss with minimal musical loss.? I find I have my best luck doing it in several small passes, rather than trying to eliminate all or most hiss in one pass.

Anyway, I think there's plenty of room for those who favor musical integrety, and for those who favor clean and crisp.? Reminds me of a debate I just had with an ebay seller -- is it better to buy Charley Pattons and Tommy Johnsons and other top end (expensive) artists, even if their records are on poorly made Paramounts with more noise than music or?Victors that are so grainy they sound like corn poping; or better to by E+ Lucille Johnsons, Lonnie Johnsons, Tampa Reds and the like that are much more enjoyable listening?? I guess it depends on why you collect.? Trophy hunters will look in one direction.? Collectors another.? And those on fixed budgets who want the records primarily for listening will look in still another direction.? One isn't better or worse -- different folks just need different strokes.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: SFguitar on January 12, 2005, 02:15:47 PM
On a happier note, I absolutely love the two Stefan Grossman CDs I bought, "How To Play Blues Guitar" and "Shake That Thing."? The recordings are excellent and it's quite fun to listen to performance versions of the songs I've been learning. Bg

Bluesygirl -- I'm curious about your copy of "How To Play Blues Guitar."? Is it the one re-issued by Fantasy that is a compilation of the old Kicking Mule LPs?? (E.g., it has such pieces as "Moon Going Down," "If You Haven't Any Hay," "Hard-Time Killing Floor Blues," etc., and features Jo Ann Kelly, Sam Mitchell, Son House, etc., in addition to Stefan?)? The reason I ask is this:? the one I got (the Fantasy re-issue) has perhaps the worst remastering job I have ever encountered, as it has a "jump" in it every five or ten seconds or so, as though it was remastered directly from the LP and the vinyl was so warped that it caused the stylus to "jump" (not quite skip) regularly.? I'm wondering if yours has this same defect.? You can hear it on mine quite plainly, although it is more prominent when listening with headphones.? If it is not on yours, just mine, perhaps I should try finding another copy.? I'd appreciate it if you could let me know, because I love the music on it.? Thanks.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Bluesygirl on January 12, 2005, 06:44:27 PM
Hey SFGuitar:
My copy has the same songs/artists you mention.  It's on the Schanachie label, catalog #98001/2. Release date says 1990. The booklet states that it was digitially remastered by Robert Vosgien at C.M.S. Digital in California.  It sounds wonderful and I highly recommend it. Bg
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Brimhoff on December 29, 2007, 05:38:53 PM
Seems like its been a while since Yazoo has put out a new release (I think the last one was Stuff that Dreams are Made of back in 2006) or updated their website anyone know whats up with the label?
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on December 30, 2007, 10:46:58 AM
Welcome to WeenieCampbell, Brimhoff.

I'd be interested to hear an answer to this as well. I remember reading rumours that Yazoo would not be doing anymore single artist CDs (like the remastered Patton discs) but have not heard anything beyond rumour. Richard Nevins has been doing the remastering for the CDs that come with the Blues Images calendars (another reason to buy these calendars -- quite a few of the songs are significantly improved to my ear, the most recent notable ones for me being the Blind Blake tracks Low Down Jail House Blues and Ain't Gonna Do That No More).
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: waxwing on December 30, 2007, 12:11:26 PM
Why not ask over on the Woodshed? Isn't Stefan pretty involved with Shanatchie, which has owned Yazoo for some time?

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: unezrider on December 30, 2007, 06:44:37 PM
hello friend,
i too, have been wondering about this. (they are my favorite label when it comes to remastering country blues.)
i wrote richard nevins @ the yazoo address about a year ago & never got a reply. not that that should be expected from him, but a couple of years earlier he was nice enough to write me back to answer a question i had. (i've only wrote twice)
in regards to what wax said, i did post a similar question on the woodshed, maybe about a year ago, & no one left a reply, stefan included.
i really hope sales from companies like jsp aren't helping to put a company like yazoo out of business. it would be such a shame. (if thats a fair premises, to begin with)
by the way, i know that they put out a re-remastered disc of the early skip james sides, & that hasn't even been added to their website.
chris
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on December 30, 2007, 11:31:29 PM
They did have a Texas one called Don't Leave Me Here, and Georgia compilation as well, both based on LP versions I believe. They deleted them, along with several other good collections like the two St Louis albums. They're worth seeking out.

Stefan Wirz has a Yazoo LP discography which also notes CD issues (and whether they're in production or not - sadly, many are not). http://www.wirz.de/music/yazoo.htm
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Spatz on January 06, 2008, 05:38:31 AM
 I've got most of the Yazoo label on vinyl, although I'm missing a half dozen or so LPs. It would be good if Yazoo still offered their cataloque on vinyl, same thing with the Document label.

Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Stuart on January 06, 2008, 08:58:19 AM
I've got most of the Yazoo label on vinyl, although I'm missing a half dozen or so LPs. It would be good if Yazoo still offered their catalogue on vinyl, same thing with the Document label.

I also have many Yazoo vinyl LPs. Offering everything in their catalogues on vinyl is perhaps asking a bit much in this day and age, but I'd like to see Yazoo and Document offer custom CD-Rs on a per-order basis of every item in their catalogues as Smithsonian-Folkways say they do. (However, the list of titles on the S-F website does not cover everything in the S-F catalogue.)
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 07, 2008, 03:46:20 PM
I am brand new to the site and I really love it. I posted about the JSP and Proper box sets. I read that the Yazoo cd's have great sound quality, I would appreciate any feedback about Yazoo releases.

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 08, 2008, 11:52:34 AM
are there any Yazoo Box sets??

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: frankie on January 08, 2008, 12:41:40 PM
Just Kentucky Mountain Music (http://www.yazoorecords.com/2200.htm) - 7 CDs and a 32 page booklet.  Lots of essential music if your tastes run to old-time music.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on January 08, 2008, 01:00:35 PM
I am brand new to the site and I really love it. I posted about the JSP and Proper box sets. I read that the Yazoo cd's have great sound quality, I would appreciate any feedback about Yazoo releases.

RJ

Welcome to the site, RJ. The Yazoos generally do have superior sound quality in my experience. Some offer rather short selections, like the Broonzy discs I discussed in the recent Broonzy/Skip James thread. Generally speaking, all the recent "Best of" discs are safe bets - Patton, McTell, Jefferson, Frank Stokes, etc. If you are OK with old-time being mixed in with your country blues, the Times Ain't Like They Used to Be series has some excellent compilations. I don't know how committed you are - personally, I'd just buy any Yazoo I could get my hands on, budget permitting. I think disappointments will be few. Just as an example, I was listening today to the Yazoo disc of Barbecue Bob - Chocolate to the Bone. I like Barbecue Bob a lot, but if you listen to the three volumes on Document there is a certain amount of sameness, as can be the case with prewar blues. The Yazoo disc though has excellent selections from the Bob oeuvre and in better, warmer, clearer sound than the Documents. It's a great CD.

Re. boxed sets, as frankie mentioned just the oldtime 7-CD set. There is also a 2-CD compilation called The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, which like the "Times Ain't..." series mixes blues and old-time.

You can click on the tag "Yazoo Records" at the bottom left of this thread to see some more threads that discuss Yazoo.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 08, 2008, 05:50:35 PM
Thanks Andrew, I am pretty much committed. I gather, from what I've read that the JSP and Proper box sets are hit or miss. I have the Blind Blake box on order from Bluebeat Music. How do you feel about the sound quality of these box sets or are they really just copies of other releases. I guess that for the price they are great, but I am more concerned with the sound quality. Anything you might add would be especially helpful.

I'm glad I found this site!!!

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Rivers on January 08, 2008, 06:34:57 PM
Fact is RJ you can't predict sound quality by label. Some Yazoos sound great, others less so. Same with Documents and JSP. There is no hard and fast rule unfortunately. But if you want to get the goss on specific releases you'll no doubt get a meaningful response. For example, a better question might be along the lines of "which is better, the Document xxxxxxx complete recordings or the JSP?" The answer could be "They both totally suck! But that's all we got right now, and Document has a deal on at the moment".

I blame Paramount.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on January 08, 2008, 07:56:02 PM
And if you are looking for specific recommendations, I'll reiterate what I said in the Broonzy thread, which is the Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings is a very worthwhile investment. Not all the recommendations in there are spot on. I disagree with more than a few myself. But there is a huge amount of helpful information. However, I think it can be said as a general rule, though not necessarily hard and fast, ;) that the Yazoo releases generally feature better sound quality. Some, like the John Hurt disc discussed early in this thread, may not be up to their later standards. And there are other flaws, like a lack of discographical information. But most times I've compared Yazoo tracks to tracks from a JSP set they are either better or equal, and usually better. Maybe there are some exceptions. The Best of discs are no-brainers in my opinion. The attraction of the JSP sets is value. Lots of music, not much money. I love them for that. JSP's compilation sets like The Paramount Masters and the recent A Richer Tradition (which I haven't heard) are also attractive for their interesting track selections, some of them fairly obscure and therefore fun discoveries.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 08, 2008, 08:09:38 PM
Rivers and Andrew thanks a lot! As I mentioned I have already ordered the Blind Blake from Bluebeat Music, after that I guess I'll go for the Blind Lemon and Blind Boy Fuller,any recommendations regarding those??

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Rivers on January 08, 2008, 08:40:38 PM
Sound quality on the recent Yazoo Lemon is the best I've heard, you can catch things you can't hear on the others. But it's only one CD, and you need the whole set, either on Document or JSP (I don't know which is better, Doc or JSP). I got the Yazoo and then the JSP on impulse, glad I did.

If Yazoo ever put out the Lemon complete, remastered to the same standard as the recent single CD, it would be the one to have. I have so many Lemon CDs now it's ridiculous, can't resist some obscure knock-off label, always wonder if someone has overcome Paramount's original quality control issues. Unlikely I agree but they do all sound slightly different.

You'll find the JSP Blind Blake hard work but I dunno if the Documents are any better not having compared them.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on January 09, 2008, 11:33:01 AM
You'll find the JSP Blind Blake hard work but I dunno if the Documents are any better not having compared them.

I got the JSP set despite having the Documents, because I am a Blake nut and wanted the alternate takes that are included on the JSP set, and because a couple of my Documents had started skipping in a couple spots. I don't know that I would say it's hard work listening to either set (it's Blind Blake after all!), but the fact is, like so many old blues 78s, a good chunk of the source 78s on both JSP and Document are in pretty bad shape, some dramatically bad. That's to be expected across 4 or 5 CDs worth of material of a guy who recorded for Paramount. Despite the many hopes for the magic remastering bullet, generally when there's a really dramatic change in the quality of a given song on a new CD release, it's because they found a better copy of a 78. Case in point, the Blind Blake material on the CD that comes with the latest Blues Images calendar, Low Down Jail House and Ain't Gonna Do That No More. These are dramatically better than what we've had before. Rich Nevins (of Yazoo) remasters these Blues Images CDs and he does a careful and knowledgeable job. But the Blake tracks come from a better 78 than was previously circulating on Document or JSP. They're still fairly whupped but nowhere near as bad. (All of the Blues Images calendars are worth getting for the CDs alone, which include newly discovered material, newly remastered material, and better copies of songs.)

I do not have the new Yazoo Best of Blind Blake, though will no doubt pick it up one day. I have the old Yazoo, Ragtime Guitar's Foremost Fingerpicker, which is very good. I find the sound to be warmer and more natural. The difference between the JSP and Documents is that on the JSP there is some minor noise reduction in places, and they have EQ'd things, to my ear boosting a combo of the lower and midrange frequencies (I'm guessing) to bring out the guitar and vocals a bit more over the surface noise. The result is not always good, IMO, and the Documents sound a bit more natural to me, the JSP a little aggressive with the EQ. I haven't gone over them with a fine-toothed comb or anything, so there could well be tracks that sound better on JSP as a result of the noise reduction and EQ. The difference are relatively subtle in the end (and many people assert that JSP just takes Documents and EQ's them, which seems quite possible in this case).

I'm no audiophile, but that's my take on things.


Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: banjochris on January 09, 2008, 12:28:48 PM
I do not have the new Yazoo Best of Blind Blake, though will no doubt pick it up one day. I have the old Yazoo, Ragtime Guitar's Foremost Fingerpicker, which is very good.

Although the sound is pretty good on that Best of, the first one's a much better album just for the selection of tunes. The best of has lots of the fast ragtime pieces and not so many of the other tunes, plus none of his accompaniments, so it gets a little samey-sounding. (And I love Blind Blake, so it's not a bias against him.)
Chris
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: CF on January 09, 2008, 12:36:51 PM
Buy JSP & Yazoo. I have the Blake JSP & a Best of Blake on Yazoo & there's room for both. The Yazoos are just so great sounding & if you're a guitar player the liner notes are revelatory. JSP has a 'completist' agenda & Yazoo is a quality product.   
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 09, 2008, 12:48:51 PM
Thanks Cheapfeet! I guess there are not a lot of alternatives. Have you ever purchased from Bluebeat Music? Do you or anybody out there have any recommendations as to who has the best prices and inventory online?? Thanks...

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on January 09, 2008, 01:14:54 PM
I've never dealt with Bluebeat before, though their prices look good. Others to check include www.RootsandRhythm.com, www.VenerableMusic.com, and www.Elderly.com. 
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: rjtwangs on January 09, 2008, 01:26:04 PM
Thanks Andrew! I have an order in with Bluebeat and I'm waiting for it. I'd never heard of Venerable Music, but I am about to check it out. I really do appreciate all of the help that you folks are providing.

RJ
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: jostber on April 24, 2008, 02:41:12 AM
Here is a list of Yazoo releases sorted by year:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_st?rs=229816&page=1&rh=n%3A229816%2Cp_33%3Ayazoo&sort=-releasedate

It seems like the Los Jardineros release from 2006 is the most recent:

(https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yazoorecords.com%2Fcdimages%2F7018.jpg&hash=0544081a995a79affd47db3c074dadd2ac60334e)
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: Johnm on September 14, 2008, 05:56:03 PM
Hi all,
I was wondering if any of you had purchased the fairly recent Yazoo reissue, "The Best of Frank Stokes", and if so, whether you felt it was enough of a sound improvement of the JSP Memphis Blues set to justify its purchase.  I'd be glad to hear what folks think who have heard both sets.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: uncle bud on September 14, 2008, 08:32:32 PM
Hi all,
I was wondering if any of you had purchased the fairly recent Yazoo reissue, "The Best of Frank Stokes", and if so, whether you felt it was enough of a sound improvement of the JSP Memphis Blues set to justify its purchase.  I'd be glad to hear what folks think who have heard both sets.
All best,
Johnm

Hi John - I have both sets, and I think it's worth it, but I'm a bit of a Stokes nut. There's a fair amount of speed correction, and the overall sound is clearer, more depth for sure compared to the JSP set, though if you have some of the Stokes tracks on other Yazoo releases, you may notice they are similar (e.g., Memphis Rounders sounds very similar or the same as the version on the Creator of the Memphis Blues disc). I A/B'd a bunch of the tracks and the new Yazoo is significantly better than the JSP, in my opinion. That said, it's worth quoting Rich Nevins' explanation of the remastering process for this disc in the notes:

"Of all the releases we've ever done at Yazoo, this Frank Stokes project has been by far the most difficult to remaster and this has, unfortunately, led to the presence of much more background noise than we'd like. This noise, which sounds like bacon frying, is caused by grainy surfaces with thousands of extremely small protrusions. Usually this problem can be dealt with by searching around amongst collectors for better copies which are more free of grain - for some inexplicable reason, however, ALL the Frank Stokes records we accessed from ALL collections had this same deadly problem, even discs in perfect condition otherwise. We have somewhat subdued this noise without destroying the quality of the music as well. Another problem specific to most of these Stokes recordings also presented difficulties in attaining the usual high standards of sound we strive for. The majority of these selections were recorded in a large auditorium in Memphis and the guitars, not being mike close enough, have a dull reverb quality, totally lacking in punch or body. We have improved on that original shortcoming to some degree, but the grain problem necessitated stopping short of going further as that would have made the CD unbearably noisy. Adding to the sound problems, six of the tracks used here were issued by a company more adept at making rocking chairs than records - indeed some of their releases sound like they may have been pressed from ground up rocking chairs! Happily there was one major problem that we were able to successfully overcome. Stokes sings with extreme fluctuations of volume - he shouts one of two words then almost whispers the next one or two. We were able to balance out these peaks and valleys to present his great vocals in all the quality they deserve. Wish we could have done as much to improve the wonderful guitar playing, but there just wasn't enough sound integrity on the original guitar signal to enhance much. For those of you bothered by the background noise still present, try the following: slightly reduce both your treble and bass and increase the volume - this will reduce the noise somewhat, but will also lessen the music's dynamics a bit."

Hope that helps, but I'd pick it up.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: jpeters609 on September 15, 2008, 06:56:37 AM
I haven't heard the JSP set, but I have the Yazoo CD and can tell you this: though it sounds very fine, I prefer (and find myself listening a lot more to) a CD called "Memphis Blues Singers, Vol. 1" on the Frog (UK) label. This may be out of print, but it has 12 Stokes songs which benefit greatly from John R.T. Davies' masterful re-mastering. The guitar simply has better presence on the Frog CD (a problem which Richard Nevins acknowledges in his Yazoo liner notes). You get more songs with the Yazoo set, but the Frog CD also gives you 4 of Tommy Johnson's Victor recordings, 2 of Ishman Bracey's, and all 4 of Rosie Mae Moore's. (If you want the rest of Tommy's and Ishman's Victor sides, simply look for Volume 2 -- which also has several Robert Wilkins and Furry Lewis recordings. Can't beat that -- especially when it was John R.T. doing the re-mastering. He was by far the best, in my book, though you certainly can't sneeze at Nevins.)
-Jeff
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: J. Baxter on September 16, 2008, 08:55:09 AM
Does anyone know if they're coming out with anything new at some point?
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: jostber on September 17, 2008, 12:05:45 PM
Hi all,
I was wondering if any of you had purchased the fairly recent Yazoo reissue, "The Best of Frank Stokes", and if so, whether you felt it was enough of a sound improvement of the JSP Memphis Blues set to justify its purchase.  I'd be glad to hear what folks think who have heard both sets.
All best,
Johnm

Hi John - I have both sets, and I think it's worth it, but I'm a bit of a Stokes nut. There's a fair amount of speed correction, and the overall sound is clearer, more depth for sure compared to the JSP set, though if you have some of the Stokes tracks on other Yazoo releases, you may notice they are similar (e.g., Memphis Rounders sounds very similar or the same as the version on the Creator of the Memphis Blues disc). I A/B'd a bunch of the tracks and the new Yazoo is significantly better than the JSP, in my opinion. That said, it's worth quoting Rich Nevins' explanation of the remastering process for this disc in the notes:

"Of all the releases we've ever done at Yazoo, this Frank Stokes project has been by far the most difficult to remaster and this has, unfortunately, led to the presence of much more background noise than we'd like. This noise, which sounds like bacon frying, is caused by grainy surfaces with thousands of extremely small protrusions. Usually this problem can be dealt with by searching around amongst collectors for better copies which are more free of grain - for some inexplicable reason, however, ALL the Frank Stokes records we accessed from ALL collections had this same deadly problem, even discs in perfect condition otherwise. We have somewhat subdued this noise without destroying the quality of the music as well. Another problem specific to most of these Stokes recordings also presented difficulties in attaining the usual high standards of sound we strive for. The majority of these selections were recorded in a large auditorium in Memphis and the guitars, not being mike close enough, have a dull reverb quality, totally lacking in punch or body. We have improved on that original shortcoming to some degree, but the grain problem necessitated stopping short of going further as that would have made the CD unbearably noisy. Adding to the sound problems, six of the tracks used here were issued by a company more adept at making rocking chairs than records - indeed some of their releases sound like they may have been pressed from ground up rocking chairs! Happily there was one major problem that we were able to successfully overcome. Stokes sings with extreme fluctuations of volume - he shouts one of two words then almost whispers the next one or two. We were able to balance out these peaks and valleys to present his great vocals in all the quality they deserve. Wish we could have done as much to improve the wonderful guitar playing, but there just wasn't enough sound integrity on the original guitar signal to enhance much. For those of you bothered by the background noise still present, try the following: slightly reduce both your treble and bass and increase the volume - this will reduce the noise somewhat, but will also lessen the music's dynamics a bit."

Hope that helps, but I'd pick it up.

I'm a Stokes nut too.  :)
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: oddenda on October 03, 2008, 01:12:11 AM
Hi. y'all -

The whole re-issue thing is fraught with difficulties, both sonic and otherwise. Remember that this stuff was recorded for an audience other than W.E. fanatics. Remember that there is the artificial performance constraint of the 3 min. 78 and that more "in context" performances often went on for a LONG time!. Remember that a performance often included speech and audience interaction "in context" - it was A&R men who made the performers focus solely on sung/played music (according to the late Kenny Goldstein, recounting conversations he had with Gary Davis). Remember that the original issues were TWO sides at a time and not large quantities of the same person as on LP or CD - some great performers do not hold up well under those circumstances! Remember that we are on the outside looking in! End of sermon.

From my standpoint, I appreciate hearing the stuff in as good sound as possible... cannot ask for more than that.

yrs,
    Peter B.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: waxwing on October 03, 2008, 09:26:17 AM
Sounds right Pete, except I'm wondering what you are implying about not hearing more than a song or two at one time by an artist. Does this mean at a fish fry or sitting around a brothel, first Peetie Wheatstraw would play a song or two, which might last a half hour, then, say Clifford Gibson would play a couple, then maybe Lemon for a short set followed by King Solomon Hill and then Blake. Sounds like a great night, but I was under the assumption, from quoted participants, that just one artist would be playing for quite an extended time, like "all night". Sure, perhaps he might be backed by another musician or two that might take a few vocals during his breaks, but it would be his night, as he was the top dog and what the A.A.s wanted. There even seems to be evidence that many artist played for W.E parties in the same context. Or are you just referring to the record listening context?

I think I'm hearing what you are saying about performance context in terms of vocals. It's not hard to imagine Peetie (just as an example) playing piano for dancing for hours without ever opening his mouth except maybe to shout out exhortations to the dancers, and, only now and then, when the dance floor empties out a bit, he may launch into a vocal arrangement. Makes perfect sense, even to a W.E. like me.

I guess that's why iPod shuffle was born.

All for now.
John C.
Title: Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
Post by: oddenda on October 04, 2008, 05:47:47 AM
John -

          Of course I meant that a RECORD listening experience being two songs, max (save for the Monty Python 3-sided LP!). Not sure how you got to your question from what I wrote, but I am not implying such an all-star review (would be great, though, wouldn't it) as you suggest - does remind me of the AFBF tours a bit!?! My points being that the 78 or 45 is an artificial, mechanical construct/constraint and a format not necessarily followed in "real" "live" performances within the community of which the individual musician (or musicians) was a part. Songs there are often repeated by popular demand on a night (Snap Hill in Newton Co., GA mentioned "Atlanta Favorite Rag" as being so popular that it was repeated, often at great length at house parties) many times. In another time and place, I remember back in the day hearing "Stoop Down Baby" in each and every bar in Chicago from the juke box on "high rotation"... and I still went out and bought the single! 

          The possibility of more than one or two performers is not impossible - my "Detroit After Hours - Vol. 1" album showed that by being a representative sampling of who was there and what went down... limited in time on the final product (would that I had had the length of a CD back then! Would have crammed more performances in) only by by the LP length. I just taped what went on and folks had no pre-knowledge of my going to be there, so whoever showed up, showed up and essentially the same routine would have taken place had I not been on site. It is true that often songs would be around three minutes outside of the studio, either by accident or due to the impact of the recorded performance length on folks. People came and went, sang along, drank, flirted... all to the sounds of generally fine piano players. But one person was common at a house party or fish fry, but string bands were also around; the brothel would want quiet music, and Jelly Roll Morton made mention of that fact in N.O. - pianist or string quartet would do the trick (no pun intended).

          As for Black performers playing for White audiences, musicians played what their audience wanted; I'm convinced that if you went up to Blind Willie McTell on Ponce de Leon St. in Atlanta, gave him fifty cents and asked for "The Beer Barrel Polka", he'd probably play it... and damn well, too! I remember a time when Sam Chatmon played at Wolf Trap and left to his own devices slid into a delightfully salacious song, only to come to an abrupt halt and go immediately into "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain"!!! I'm sure someone official in the wings waved him to a stop. W.E. do know how to f**k it up, sometimes, don't we! Our context is NOT the same, no matter how much we try and get out freckles to migrate and procreate so that we are a darker hue.

          May the farce be with you.

yrs,
     Peter B.
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