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Old Man Sargent, sitting at the desk, the damned old fool won't give us no rest. He'd take nickels off a dead man's eyes to buy a Coca-Cola and an Eskimo pie - Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

Author Topic: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special  (Read 494 times)

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Offline jrgreen73

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Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« on: March 10, 2018, 07:48:48 AM »
I don't have the liner notes to JSP's excellent "Selected Sides 1934-1948" so I don't know the recording date for CD 2 track 3, which is Midnight Special. It sounds like it could be an alternate take of the original 1934 version but, hey, what do I know?

Here is a link to a sound file of the track in question:

http colon front slash front slash www70 dot zippyshare dot com frontslash v  frontslash SMtbuzew frontslash file dot html

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 08:41:39 AM by jrgreen73 »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 09:16:49 AM »
This might provide some clues, or maybe not.

Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943 4th (1997) edition has these Midnight Special recordings listed for Huddie.
I've listed them in chronological order, with the Location, Date, Matrix#, Partial (well out of date by now) list of records it's been on, and page number in B&GR:

1. Angola Prison LA // probably 1 July 1934 // 124-A-1 // LC, Elektra EKL301/2, Document DLP603, Rounder 1044 // page 517
2. Wilton CN // Feb 1935 // 133-A // LC, Document DLP604 // page 522
3. NYC // 15 June 1940 // 051298-1 // Victor 27266 // page 526
4. NYC // probably late 1943 // no matrix # (probably originated from Moses Asch) // Everest FS104, Collectables COL5196 //  page 532

B&GR shows no unpublished/alternate takes.

Offline jrgreen73

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 11:00:47 AM »
Turns out it's 133-A from February 1935.

Thanks for your help.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2018, 11:28:58 AM »
Happy to help, and welcome to weeniecampbell

Offline Booker Matches

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2018, 05:55:24 AM »
Long time lurker here, this query has forced my hand to join up & join in.

My interest in Leadbelly stems from "Keep Your Hands Off Her" which was on a 99cent  Blues compilation, most probably from Sam the Record Man in Toronto, & hearing Michael Cooney with his thundering Stella in 1969 at the University of Waterloo.

The version of Midnight Special in question is from Feb 14 1935, first digital appearance is on Document The Remaining Library Of Congress Recordings Volume 2 1935.

This track highlights my current obsession that much of the LOC material we have from both Document & Rounder runs at the wrong speed & that contrary to the impression that Leadbelly's tuning was all over the place his tuning was very precise & consistant throughout his career.

I  contend that he tuned 5 frets down from standard from his first recording up to 1939 when he went to jail on Rikers. When he got out he tuned 3 frets down, then 4 frets for a while before settling on 5 frets for the remainder of his life & that the supposed variations in tuning stem from incorrect initial recording & duplication speeds.

I believe this version of Midnight Special runs a full tone fast.

I'm not sure how to progress this theory, via a new thread or continuation of the old LOC thread as this theory also applies to the ARC/Columbia recordings of 1935 plus others that I have looked at.

I've also found an uncatalogued/miscatalogued version of Good Morning Blues. It's the B side of Atlantic 917, from June 1946, not Aug 1943 as listed - unissued on CD so far. But that's another story.


Offline Rivers

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2018, 07:09:05 PM »
Welcome Booker, glad you delurked.

The characteristics of the instrument itself certainly would provide clues. I don't know if you play or not, but would guess you probably do.

There are several discussions of 12 string tunings on the forum, most have been tagged "12 string guitar". Here are the current threads germane to the topic, just dive in and see what you can find: https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?option=com_smf&action=tags;tagid=259

There are also threads on records running faster than the way they were recorded in real time, mostly related to Robert Johnson I seem to think, you'd have to explore the tags to find them. It's a contentious topic with strong opinions on both sides, I have no opinion either way.

Like I said, just dive in, and don't hesitate to post on topics that haven't seen much action recently. No topic is ever closed. Well, actually, some are, but not when there is still good discussion and knowledge to be had.

Offline Booker Matches

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2018, 04:35:29 AM »
Thanks for the links, Rivers, I have quite a bit of research to do here.

Yes, I play 12-string & have done so since about 1968. I've had to retire my D12-20 (2 neck re-sets & needing a third) & currently use a Leadbelly Stella replica made by Peter Daffy of Southern Victoria, Australia.

We have another easily obtainable source for some of the LOC recordings & that is the 3-record Electra set. These tracks are all duplicated on the Document & Rounder CDs but many of them run at different speeds to the CD versions & it was this observation that started me on my research & theory.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2018, 08:45:37 AM »
Hi Booker. Welcome to Weenie Campbell. Here's a link to a thread re: recording speeds:

https://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=11117.0

While the Martin 12s from the 60s and 70s are fine instruments, they're not really Country Blues boxes, nor were they meant to be, so I'm glad to hear that you have found a 12 that suits your playing.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Recording Date of a particular version of Midnight Special
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2018, 08:48:08 AM »
That's interesting Booker. Maybe someone here will chime in with more forensics. Release dates and producers of the respective later albums might be good to know. Also a list of the tracks that vary, and their respective pitch differences.

Clearly someone made some production decisions somewhere along the line, for better or for worse, seems like for worse. Should be common knowledge but it's news to me.

 


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