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When the rooster saw the eggs and they was red, he walked across the road and knocked the peacock dead - Blind Blake, Low Down Lovin Gal

Author Topic: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality  (Read 8241 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #30 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.

Offline rjtwangs

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #31 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

Offline Rivers

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #32 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.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #33 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.

Offline rjtwangs

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #34 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

Offline Rivers

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #35 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.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #36 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.



Offline banjochris

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #37 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

Offline CF

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #38 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.   
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

Offline rjtwangs

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #39 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

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #40 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

Offline rjtwangs

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #41 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

Offline jostber

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #42 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:


« Last Edit: April 24, 2008, 02:42:39 AM by jostber »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #43 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

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Yazoo: Sales, Service, and Sound Quality
« Reply #44 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.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2008, 08:34:32 PM by uncle bud »

 


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