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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: jaycee on May 08, 2011, 07:00:57 AM

Title: robert johnson
Post by: jaycee on May 08, 2011, 07:00:57 AM
today would have been robert johnson's 100th birthday. in his honour i have been playing his music today. will be wearing my robert johnson t shirt tonight. and having a few beers in his honour and very shortly i will be watching the dvd the search for robert johnson. its very easy to knock robert johnson especially the myths surrounding him but he made some great music i.m.o. so come on everyone and join in celebrating robert's 100th birthday.  :)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: eric on May 08, 2011, 07:50:55 AM
Indeed.  Happy 100th, Robert.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Gumbo on May 08, 2011, 07:59:31 AM
Beer and guitar. Check.
 8)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: don o on May 08, 2011, 09:45:45 AM
And it looks like the building where he made his Dallas recordings may have a brighter future.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/2011-05-05/music/robert-johnson-s-dallas-recording-studio-gets-pulled-form-purgatory/ (http://www.dallasobserver.com/2011-05-05/music/robert-johnson-s-dallas-recording-studio-gets-pulled-form-purgatory/)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Norfolk Slim on May 08, 2011, 09:58:48 AM
If id thought about it in advance I may have instigated a back porch postathon thread- like we had for patton and mctell previously.  Bit late now though!?
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Stumblin on May 08, 2011, 11:29:37 AM
Beer and guitar. Check.
 8)

Seconded.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: unezrider on May 08, 2011, 11:44:32 AM
hello friend,
i may have never discovered all this music if it weren't for discovering his first & falling in love with it. & to that i say, happy birthday, sir!
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 08, 2011, 06:50:24 PM
Compared three tracks from the 1996 Sony remaster to the same three tracks from the Pristine Classical "remaster".  Didn't feel as though I needed to go any further.  The Pristine Classical is REALLY bad.  They did such a good job with the BLJ.  I wonder what happened.  Anyway, how's the sound on the centennial set?  Is it out yet?  (I don't plan on buying it, but I'm always open to being persuaded.)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Parlor Picker on May 09, 2011, 01:37:46 AM
If you want better sound quality, look for copies of the Columbia/CBS LPs.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: uncle bud on May 09, 2011, 06:48:03 AM
In the last Roots and Rhythm newsletter, Frank Scott was very enthusiastic about the new set: http://rootsandrhythm.com/roots/New_Releases/latest_050511.htm#ROBERT%20JOHNSON

Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: uncle bud on May 10, 2011, 06:38:28 AM
I should add that the set Frank Scott refers to is the 2-CD version for $15.99, in case anyone was thinking it was the $350 job. At the former price, I think I'll be replacing my old set.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 10, 2011, 08:55:52 AM
I should add that the set Frank Scott refers to is the 2-CD version for $15.99, in case anyone was thinking it was the $350 job. At the former price, I think I'll be replacing my old set.

I bought the 2-CD set for about $13 a week ago. The sound is very good -- better than any previous record of RJ's that I've owned.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 11, 2011, 07:50:45 AM
Sony's reissues have been so uneven in the past - especially their endless Bob Dylan issues* and reissues** - and their marketing has been so deceptive at times that they have lost all credibility in my mind.  I would like to believe the new RJ sounds better, but I can't even trust them enough to pay $5 for it.  To top it off, I've heard people in the past rave about various releases (issued by various labels, including Sony) only to discover that the supposedly better release sounds the same or even worse (to me) than what was previously issued.

__________
* most recently, The Witmark Demos
** everything post-dating John Wesley Harding (including the ridiculous Mono Box)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Michael Cardenas on May 11, 2011, 08:50:15 AM
If you want better sound quality, look for copies of the Columbia/CBS LPs.
I can't tell if I have blind nostaligia for that specific vinyl, but I do admire those masters.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: eric on May 11, 2011, 09:19:44 AM
Escaping the Delta by Elijah is a must read for Weenies.  If you strip away all the rubbish that's been written about Robert Johnson, what's left is a great artist.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 11, 2011, 09:50:45 AM
If you want better sound quality, look for copies of the Columbia/CBS LPs.
I can't tell if I have blind nostaligia for that specific vinyl, but I do admire those masters.

As an experiment, yesterday I got out my old copy of the RJ King of the Delta Blues Singers LP that I first bought in the 1980s, and burned copies of the LP tracks to MP3, in order to compare them to the sound quality on the new double CD (not the box). While the sound on the LP tracks is good, the sound on the new CD *is* better. 
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 11, 2011, 11:07:06 AM
But isn't lack of compression or sampling (or whatever the correct terminology is) a major advantage of the pre-digital LPs? 
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Stumblin on May 11, 2011, 11:29:36 AM
Escaping the Delta by Elijah is a must read for Weenies.  If you strip away all the rubbish that's been written about Robert Johnson, what's left is a great artist.
Absolutely.
If you haven't read it, do so stat. Heck, it's probably even available in paperback by now.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 11, 2011, 07:14:18 PM
But isn't lack of compression or sampling (or whatever the correct terminology is) a major advantage of the pre-digital LPs? 

Maybe I have a tin ear, but frankly I don't hear any problem. To me the kind/degree of noise reduction used, along with other mastering niceties like stylus, etc., make much more of a difference.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 11, 2011, 07:16:41 PM
Escaping the Delta by Elijah is a must read for Weenies.  If you strip away all the rubbish that's been written about Robert Johnson, what's left is a great artist.
Absolutely.
If you haven't read it, do so stat. Heck, it's probably even available in paperback by now.

I agree completely. It strips away the bullshit and hype and clarifies what Robert Johnson was really doing with his music. I think it basically renders all other RJ bios unnecessary.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 17, 2011, 06:54:34 AM
Perhaps this all belongs in CD reviews, but . . .

I compared some tracks from disc 1 of the Centennial Edition to those on the King of the Delta Blues Singers CD and the 1996 re-issue.  The Centennial Edition people did an excellent job removing all of the vocal harshness that plagues Johnson's recordings generally while retaining overall sound quality.  It's better than the 1996 re-issue.  No real dispute there.  However, its vocal harshness aside (very hard to put aside in some instances - e.g., Terraplane Blues), King of the Delta Blues Singers still has the best underlying sound.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 17, 2011, 09:54:14 AM
Can anyone here who's bought the whole box set comment on any of the tracks on the 'Rare Victor Blues' CD included in it?

For example, what are the two unissued tracks by Samuel "Fat" Westmoreland like?
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: harry on May 18, 2011, 05:21:56 AM
The tracks by Westmoreland are played on a ukulele. Singing with a high-pitched voice. Personally didn't find the 2 songs particularly memorable. Sound quality is very good wich counts for the entire album. All songs have been remastered. It's pretty cool to hear songs that were recorded the same day Robert recorded (on CD 2). Liner notes by Tony Russell and Ashley Kahn (very brief).

Perhaps this discussion should be over at the "Buyer Beware" topic.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: LD50 on May 18, 2011, 08:37:43 AM
I'd consider buying the 'Rare Victor Blues' CD, if the sound is that much of an improvement, but I wouldn't pay 300 whatever dollars for it. Maybe if we're lucky someday they'll offer the tracks for sale on MP3.

The Westmoreland tracks sound pretty disposable.

The tracks by Westmoreland are played on a ukulele. Singing with a high-pitched voice. Personally didn't find the 2 songs particularly memorable. Sound quality is very good wich counts for the entire album. All songs have been remastered. It's pretty cool to hear songs that were recorded the same day Robert recorded (on CD 2). Liner notes by Tony Russell and Ashley Kahn (very brief).

Perhaps this discussion should be over at the "Buyer Beware" topic.

Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 18, 2011, 08:49:10 AM
The tracks by Westmoreland are played on a ukulele. Singing with a high-pitched voice.

The original Tiny Tim (a well-known part of the early Greenwich Village folk scene before he became just another TV novelty act in the late 60s and early 70s).  Perhaps an influence.  I think I might like this Westmoreland guy.  I'll have to listen to some samples.

Robert Johnson and Tiny Tim in the same thread.  Go figure.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Stumblin on May 18, 2011, 11:18:50 AM
The tracks by Westmoreland are played on a ukulele. Singing with a high-pitched voice.

The original Tiny Tim (a well-known part of the early Greenwich Village folk scene before he became just another TV novelty act in the late 60s and early 70s).  Perhaps an influence.  I think I might like this Westmoreland guy.  I'll have to listen to some samples.

Robert Johnson and Tiny Tim in the same thread.  Go figure.
I like a bit of ukulele myself, too. Good luck finding the samples, let me know when you do.
Ta.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: RobBob on May 19, 2011, 01:17:37 PM
I listened to the first CD of the centennial set and it is very clean and clear.  But I have heard several reissues lately, like the Riley Puckett that Chris King did the mastering on, that were mind blowing good.  This set is good as well, you get a feel for the music and force of its reach and a feel for what it might have been like to sit and listen to this man.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on May 19, 2011, 01:50:46 PM
You certainly cannot go wrong with this set, and if one set were all I could have it would be the Centennial Edition.  The masterful re-mastering, I think, lies in the total removal of the distortion sometimes present when Johnson's voice becomes louder and/or higher.  But to clean that up, I guess they had to take a (very) small portion of the quality of the underlying guitar and voice away.  To get the full effect of Johnson's guitar and vocal inflections, one should have The King of the Delta Blues Singers handy for at least an occasional listen.  That's my plan, at least.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Big River on June 17, 2011, 11:34:45 AM
While the mastering on the new Centennial Collection is excellent in many ways (this is our first chance to hear many of the alternate takes in good sound) does anyone agree with me that perhaps they did too much filtering on this? When they talk about "cleaning up" a recording they are removing certain frequencies and you can end up with thin, lifeless sound. The lower midrange and bottom end seems to be missing in action on this set. Still, worth getting. A lot of clarity to the sound. Excellent notes with a lot of information about missing metal masters and alternate takes that were melted down in WW2 (kinda makes you sick)!
 Personally, I think the excellent Columbia "King of the Delta Blues Singers" CD issued in 1998 (and Volume 2) has a much fuller sound with great fidelity that hits you right in the gut. If you have not heard it, you must. Anything is better than the awful sounding 1990 Complete Robert Johnson box set. The original Columbia LP's had much, much better sound than the 1990 set and still sound great on a high quality system.
Also, this is probably your last chance to pick up the super pricey $349 deluxe edition. Only a few of the 1000 copies remain. This is a classy production with very cool 10" reproductions of his 78's (vinyl, not shellac, playable at 45 RPM). Nice vintage style slip cover, large format booklet (different, with more information on the mastering and original 78's), bonus CD and DVD. I got a copy and don't regret it as it is once in a lifetime chance to have. Yes, you can hear the moaning already from the people that won't even shell out $15 for the Centennial Collection. Well, enjoy your 1990 box set...maybe you are waiting for the upcoming 150 year, RJ anniversary edition in 2061? Just kidding.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: Big River on June 17, 2011, 05:59:39 PM
Just after posting the above response I ran across this You Tube video about The Deluxe Robert Johnson Centennial Collection. Some of you may find this interesting. Also, there are 12 discs in this set, not the 10 that I stated in the previous post.

http://youtu.be/cJSMHvQyEOw
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: jostber on June 20, 2011, 09:38:04 AM
There is a quite nice article by Terry Heath on Johnson in the last Frog Blues & Jazz Annual No.2: "The Truth About Robert Johnson".

Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: CF on June 20, 2011, 10:15:23 AM
Just after posting the above response I ran across this You Tube video about The Deluxe Robert Johnson Centennial Collection. Some of you may find this interesting. Also, there are 12 discs in this set, not the 10 that I stated in the previous post.

http://youtu.be/cJSMHvQyEOw

Looks like a nice set but I really wish there was a pre-war blues scholar panel or something :) that monitored the information going out to the general public via these kind of sets or whatever way the info is being disseminated. Like maybe a stamp of approval on such 'defining' releases. I see the box's booklet includes all these 'might be Robert Johnson' photos. Why? Apparently if I decide that a pic of someone is a historical figure, & my credentials are that I'm the check-out clerk at the local grocery store, then that is enough. Also, does anyone actually believe that Honeyboy Edwards was with Johnson the night he was killed?! Really? 
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: harry on June 21, 2011, 03:59:56 AM
I read somewhere that when Lomax found Honeyboy Edwards he was claiming to be Big Joe Williams.
I got the set and the 'might be Robert Johnson' photos were a mistake to include on the project in my opinion.
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on January 10, 2012, 09:42:22 AM
I will be attending the January 19th program on the Robert Johnson remasters noted in the following link.  It should be interesting . . . to me, at least, since I'm not too well versed in such technical matters.

http://www.arsc-audio.org/chapters/ARSCNY_FLYERxii11_FINAL.doc (http://www.arsc-audio.org/chapters/ARSCNY_FLYERxii11_FINAL.doc)
Title: Re: robert johnson
Post by: misterjones on January 20, 2012, 07:31:12 AM
Very interesting lecture by Seth Winner, who remastered the recent Robert Johnson CDs.  (He did not work on the vinyl, which was finalized before he got involved.)  He played samples of the pre-remastering transfers he received.  These were in large part new transfers from a variety of sources (and not just the original transfers used to make the LPs and earlier 1990s sets).  Boy, would I love to have a set of those! 

I'll post some other things I learned in some other relevant threads.
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