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Author Topic: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?  (Read 8291 times)

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Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #30 on: April 10, 2011, 03:25:14 PM »
I have compared the following four songs (in various simultaneous A-B comparisons using headphones) . . .
(1) Wartime Blues
(2) Rabbit Foot Blues
(3) Easy Rider Blues
(4) See That My Grave Is Kept Clean (2nd Version)

. . . on the following five collections:
(1) Document
(2) JSP
(3) Yazoo (Best of)
(4) Pristine Classical
(5) P-Vine

Given the number of songs compared, my conclusions about these collections are hardly definitive.  But I note the following for what it's worth:

The volume levels on Document are generally low and uneven from song to song.  I had to EQ it in this regard before I made the comparison.

JSP appears to be a copy of Document with slight noise reduction and concomitant slight decrease in sound quality.  The sound levels on the JSP were appropriately uniform and louder.

The bass on the Yazoo and Pristine Classical was greater than on the JSP and Document, especially on Wartime Blues and See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.  The higher bass made Lemon's voice sound more natural, but made the guitar seem less natural.  I compared my scratchy 78 of Wartime Blues to Document/JSP and Yazoo/Pristine Classical and concluded the Yazoo/Pristine Classical sounded more like the original 78 in this regard.  I don't know why Document has a thinner, more trebly sound (though not all songs had this problem - the Document version of Rabbit Foot Blues sounded the same as the Yazoo version). Increasing the bass on my stereo seemed to bring the Document and JSP more in line with the Yazoo/Pristine Classical, but it's hard to make A-B comparisons where you have to make such back-and-forth adjustments.

Yazoo and Pristine Classical are very similar, but Pristine classical in three out of the four songs seemed to get more noise reduction with no loss in sonic quality.

P-Vine is a mixed bag.  It is not simply a copy of Document.  It bested Document half the time.  It was about the same as Yazoo half the time, but not as good (more noise/harshness and less sonic quality) in the other two instances.

Overall, Yazoo and Pristine Classical sounded the best - a bit better underlying sound with the same or less surface noise, but, as noted, the bass differentials made comparisons tough.  The JSP seems to be the best comprehensive collection because the sound levels are more uniform, and boosting the bass on your stereo makes the JSP sound more like the Yazoo/Pristine Classical.  If the Document CDs were EQed for sound levels, they might be preferable to the JSP (especially for those who don't mind more surface noise as a trade off for better voice and guitar).  The noise reduction on the JSP was not great by any means, though.  (It is not nearly like the Milestone collection where the severe noise reduction really mutes the underlying sound.)  

If anyone has any questions or comments, let me know.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 08:40:45 PM by misterjones »

Offline Jay Bee Rodriguez

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2011, 04:35:46 PM »
I mostly agree with you. misterjones, except the P-Vine's, which I don't have.
I just did my own "Best of Blind Lemon" compilation burn to CD with this, in this order:

- the 20 Pristine tracks (to my ears, the more "comfortable" way to enjoy Lemon's music!)
- 6 tracks from Yazoo's "Best Of" not in Pristine
- 14 tracks from Yazoo's "King Of C.B." Db album not in Pristine's (including gems like "Prison Cell", "One Dime", "Hot Dogs"etc)
- 10 tracks from JSP not in any of the others, like "Penitentary", "long Distance Moan" etc.

Well, not "complete Blind Lemon", but some fifty greatest ones.
Of course, the cover was no other than Yazoo's Double album's, the best one!

I must say, by the way, that after nearly 30 years living with all those blues records, I think am really begin to enjoy the music of this Texan master now...

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2011, 06:58:45 AM »
The bass on the Yazoo and Pristine Classical was greater than on the JSP and Document, especially on Wartime Blues and See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.  The higher bass made Lemon's voice sound more natural, but made the guitar seem less natural.  I compared my scratchy 78 of Wartime Blues to Document/JSP and Yazoo/Pristine Classical and concluded the Yazoo/Pristine Classical sounded more like the original 78 in this regard.  I don't know why Document has a thinner, more trebly sound (though not all songs had this problem - the Document version of Rabbit Foot Blues sounded the same as the Yazoo version).
[emphasis added]

It occurs to me that this must mean the Yazoo/Pristine Classical are more consistently EQed with respect to bass and treble.  This is a logical conclusion that flows from the above, but I haven't tested it directly.  (I doubt I will, since I'm sick of listening to these four songs over and over again to try to identify what can amout to very slight differences.)

Offline minuszero

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2011, 04:50:22 PM »
I want to make my first BLJ purchase.
I have the 4CD JSP Box in digital format, and the two Yazoo comps. - The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson and King of the Country Blues
I also have a 13-track (remastered) Charly comp. which has better sound than everything else

I am looking to purchase Black Swan's 'Blind Lemon Jefferson' or Pristine's 'That Black Snake Moan'.  Which is the better of the two?

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2011, 06:15:29 AM »
Can't compare the two as I am still not interested in Pristine much based on existing samples, but I recently picked up the Black Swan release that Great Bear tipped us off to awhile back, and I can say that it is an excellent choice for those seeking better transfers. I think the key is that it seems they've used actual 78s, not simply played around with equalization.

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2011, 07:27:59 AM »
I think the sound on Pristine is as good as anything else out there, and I am unable to detect what others assert is improper and/or artificial-sounding remastering.  The idea that Black Swan has used some new 78s and started the process from the ground up - a proposition I cannot find discussed elsewhere on the internet - is interesting.  I may have to stick a crowbar in my wallet again and see for myself.

UPDATE - I'll have a copy of the Black Swan in about a week, so I probably can provide my view shortly thereafter.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 02:23:26 PM by misterjones »

Offline minuszero

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2011, 09:27:17 PM »
Good and helpful info., thank you uncle bud and misterjones.

Glad I held off on making the Pristine purchase, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the Black Swan release mister jones.

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2011, 07:11:57 PM »
Can't compare the two as I am still not interested in Pristine much based on existing samples, but I recently picked up the Black Swan release that Great Bear tipped us off to awhile back, and I can say that it is an excellent choice for those seeking better transfers. I think the key is that it seems they've used actual 78s, not simply played around with equalization.

I will second that assessment.  There is a bit more surface noise on the Black Swan, but the sound quality on the Black Swan is consistently better than Yazoo's "Best Of" disc (though not by a lot).  It's essentially the standard 78 transfer trade off - surface noise vs underlying sound quality.  Though the track listing is not the same, from a sonic standpoint I'd keep the Black Swan if I could have only one disc.

I think Pristine Classical remains the best choice for those who prefer a bit more noise reduction.  As I noted before, Pristine Classical is extremely close (and often identical) to Yazoo with respect to the underlying sound quality but manages to eliminate a bit more surface noise.
 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2011, 07:14:47 PM by misterjones »

Offline minuszero

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #38 on: May 12, 2011, 06:29:07 PM »
Can't compare the two as I am still not interested in Pristine much based on existing samples, but I recently picked up the Black Swan release that Great Bear tipped us off to awhile back, and I can say that it is an excellent choice for those seeking better transfers. I think the key is that it seems they've used actual 78s, not simply played around with equalization.

I will second that assessment.  There is a bit more surface noise on the Black Swan, but the sound quality on the Black Swan is consistently better than Yazoo's "Best Of" disc (though not by a lot).  It's essentially the standard 78 transfer trade off - surface noise vs underlying sound quality.  Though the track listing is not the same, from a sonic standpoint I'd keep the Black Swan if I could have only one disc.

I think Pristine Classical remains the best choice for those who prefer a bit more noise reduction.  As I noted before, Pristine Classical is extremely close (and often identical) to Yazoo with respect to the underlying sound quality but manages to eliminate a bit more surface noise.
 

This comes as good news... I became impatient and ordered the Black Swan disc two days ago.  Anticipating it's arrival even more so now, thanks for the feedback.

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2011, 09:23:27 AM »
Just to tie up a couple more loose ends:

(1) I listened to several tracks on Complete Blues' "Texas Blues".  I assumed it would sound like a clone of Document Records recordings (given the bonus tracks), but it in fact sounded identical to the JSP's BLJ tracks.

(2) The BLJ tracks from the Blues Images CDs sound the same as the Yazoo tracks (though "Black Snake Moan No.2" sounded the same as the version on JSP). The Blues Images track that was on the Black Swan CD (forget which one it was) sounded better on the Black Swan, which seems to be besting the competition across the board.

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #40 on: January 20, 2012, 08:55:09 AM »
I want to make my first BLJ purchase.
I have the 4CD JSP Box in digital format, and the two Yazoo comps. - The Best of Blind Lemon Jefferson and King of the Country Blues
I also have a 13-track (remastered) Charly comp. which has better sound than everything else

I am looking to purchase Black Swan's 'Blind Lemon Jefferson' or Pristine's 'That Black Snake Moan'.  Which is the better of the two?

Just noticed this by accident.  The "13-track (remastered) Charly comp" sounds like it might be the mysterious CD I've been inquiring about in another thread.

Minuszero:  If you are still around, could you provide some details about this CD?  (Check out my "Blind Lemon Jefferson CD" thread below.)  Does it have these tracks?

  1    Broke and Hungry
  2    Bad Luck Blues
  3    Matchbox Blues
  4    Easy Rider Blues
  5    Rambler Blues
  6    One Dime Blues
  7    Mean Jumper Blues
  8    Hangmans Blues
  9    Oil Well Blues
10    Tin Cup Blues
11    Big Night Blues
12    Southern Woman Blues
13    That Crawlin' Baby Blues
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 08:56:37 AM by misterjones »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2012, 07:50:11 AM »
Can't compare the two as I am still not interested in Pristine much based on existing samples, but I recently picked up the Black Swan release that Great Bear tipped us off to awhile back, and I can say that it is an excellent choice for those seeking better transfers. I think the key is that it seems they've used actual 78s, not simply played around with equalization.

All of a sudden I'm not liking the Pristine Audio as much as I previously did.  Perhaps one has the tendency to like something better after he or she has paid for it.  (I noticed that many - I think oddly - really liked the Bob Dylan Mono Box after shelling out $100 or so for it.  I borrowed a set and concluded the remastered Stereo versions were much better.  Wanting to like something might help a bit.)  The Pristine Audio remains a good noise-reduced set, but I find myself even prefering the Classic Sides versions now.  Go figure.

I note that the sound engineers at the Robert Johnson symposium - prompted by my inquiry, no less - uniformly expressed their dislike of Andrew Rose's work . . . and they did not seem so fond of him either.  Perhaps that's messing with my mind a bit, as well.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 07:54:16 AM by misterjones »

Offline Rivers

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2012, 04:52:04 PM »
Perhaps one has the tendency to like something better after he or she has paid for it.

That is a profoundly true statement, especially in the cases where you can't easily return it. We intuitively know it when reading gear reviews. Sometimes it really is good though, I'll put my Guild and NRP in that category.

Re. Black Swan reissues, and if it's the same outfit, I have a Charlie Patton double CD from them which I like a lot. I've heard lyrics on it I couldn't get from other issues.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2012, 04:54:05 PM by Rivers »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2012, 10:50:08 AM »
Worth seeking out. 

I've noticed some large disparities among Patton CD transfers.  I recently finished my Catfish vs Universal comparison.  Many tracks sounded the same, but many others on the Universal set were amazingly better.  With Blind Lemon Jefferson, on the other hand, differences from one set to the other are relatively minor.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2012, 10:51:18 AM by misterjones »

Offline misterjones

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Re: Which is the best source for Blind Lemon Jefferson?
« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2012, 08:14:38 AM »
I also have renewed interest in the Document CDs (for the tracks not on Yazoo and Black Swan).  They seem to be a straight trade off of surface noise vs underlying music vis-a-vis the JSP set.  JSP is a very good noise-reduced set, but it does squeeze Lemon's music a bit.

 


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