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Author Topic: McTell on Yazoo  (Read 6230 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2005, 09:23:58 AM »
I'm back in Blind Willie mode lately. I go on McTell binges. My prewar Blind Willie recordings are scattered all over the place on various CDs. I've got the Yazoos (old ones and the new Best of), the Columbia 2-CD set, something else that may be a Wolf disc, can't recall, the LOC on Document. I'm considering picking up the JSP box to consolidate but am really curious about the sound issues as well. The Columbia set suffers from too much noise removal IMO, and the sound of his 12-string becomes washed out. If that is less the case on the JSP set, then I'm in for sure. But I was wondering if anyone had both JSP and Columbia and noticed much difference.

The release of the boxed set from Cohn de Silva has been pushed back to Fall 2006. I hear in part because they are adding stuff (but am not sure what - the actual songs perhaps!).

Offline Stuart

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2005, 01:09:42 PM »
Uncle Bud:

In the FWIW Dept., I only have the JSP set (not the Columbia), and it is out in WA State no less, but as I recall, for the $22 it cost me, I thought that it was well worth it. There are a few old cliches that might apply such as "quantity has a quality all it's own," "the price is right," etc. As has been mentioned, the re-mastering isn't that of the newer Yazoo "Best of" offerings, but there are a lot more of cuts in the JSP box, and IMHO there are moments when the convenience of both availability and accessibility makes it worth having.

Offline dj

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2005, 04:10:25 PM »
Hey, Uncle Bud, you might want to try calling Frank Scott at Roots & Rhythm and asking him.  Roots & Rhythm not only sells this stuff, they listen to it and like it.  And Frank remembers everything.  Frank's been very helpful to me in the past in suggesting which version of an artist's work has better sound, better packaging, etc.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2005, 06:56:13 PM »
Thanks Stuart and dj. I often forget about Roots and Rhythm, usually because I rarely order CDs from US stores given the costs at the border. R&R's website has helpful info on the JSP set (the website is always worth browsing for the excellent descriptions):

BLIND WILLIE MCTELL     JSP JSPCD 7711     The Classic Years 1927-40     ● CD $28.98
4 CDs, 84 tracks, essential
"The true king of the 12 string guitar, with one of the most distinctive voices in blues, Blind Willie's pre-war recordings were recently reissued as a 3 CD set from Catfish [The Definitive Blind Willie McTell, KATCD 229 - now deleted] . The Catfish set is attractively packaged and has generally excellent sound quality, but is not without faults. East St. Louis Blues plays five seconds of another track before reverting to the correct song, the introduction to You Was Born To Die is also rather odd, and Come On Around To My House Mama has a marked echo. The Catfish set is hardly definitive therefore, but does provide a reference point in considering this new JSP reissue. Compared to the Catfish box five tracks, Dirty Mistreater and alternate takes of Love-Makin' Mama/ Death Room Blues/ Broke Down Engine No.2 and  Lord, Send Me An Angel are missing from this set: the loss of Dirty Mistreater is not significant because it is a Curley Weaver performance on which Willie's contribution is minimal, but the omission of the remaining four tracks is disappointing, especially as alternate takes are included for some other titles. The extra disc here is of Willie's 1940 Library of Congress session (otherwise available on Blues Documents BDCD 6001).
The first disc contains some of McTell's best work, including the magnificent blues of the Victor sessions and virtuoso ragtime performances for Columbia. The next two CDs feature superbly executed duets with Ruby Glaze, tasty guitar interplay with Curley Weaver, earnest religious pieces and compelling blues, notably Savannah Mama and the wonderful 1933 version of Broke Down Engine. There are also remakes of earlier songs like Southern Can Mama as Willie switched companies to get recording dates during the Depression. While Drew Kent's booklet notes are a little superficial, the final disc, covering the Library of Congress session, provides a fuller picture of McTell the man. The monologues by Willie on his life and recording career confirm him as an intelligent, sensitive and likeable individual. His songs were not his commercial repertoire, but included folk ballads and gospel performances with powerful slide work which echoed that of his friend Blind Willie Johnson. The highlight though is his final masterpiece, Dying Crapshooter's Blues. Presented in significantly better sound than the Blues Documents CD, this disc will be a major plus point for many collectors. To return to the comparison with the Catfish box, both sets are pretty much crackle and pop free, but on those tracks where differences in sound quality are apparent, particularly the early Victor sides, the Catfish transfers have a cleaner, fuller sound. On the other hand the three tracks with specific faults on the Catfish reissue are properly presented on the JSP set, and consequently sound much more natural. Overall a pretty good effort from JSP, if not quite up to the very high standard they have established with some of their previous releases. (DPR)"

It also has information on a release I wasn't aware of: 
BLIND WILLIE MCTELL     RCA 55157     Statesboro Blues     ● CD $13.98
17 tracks, 50 mins, essential
Blind Willie McTell was certainly among the greatest of the pre-war country bluesmen with his wonderful clear and expressive vocals and stunning 12-string guitar playing - sometimes with slide. If you already have the recent JSP box set you might be wondering if you need this collection of Willie's Victor recordings. Unequivocally yes! Although the sound on the JSP was fine the sound here is substantially improved thanks to the stunning remastereing by John RT Davies and Doug Pomeroy. The music has a clarity and presence that sounds like a cloth was removed from in front of your speakers - it's like hearing these performances for the first time. Since these are among the greatest country blues ever recorded the improvement in sound makes it an essential purchase. In addition to McTell classics like Statesboro Blues/ Mr. McTell Got The Blues (two takes) Mama 'Tain't Long Fo' Day/ Love Changing Blues and others there are also four superb duets with Ruby Glaze including the magnificent Rollin' Mama Blues,D and the sublime Searching The Desert For The Blues which is a McTell vocal with delightful spoken comments by Glaze, plus two accompaniments to Alfoncy and Bethany Harris. 12 page booklet features excellent notes by David Evans. (FS)
BLIND WILLIE MCTELL: Dark Night Blues/ Drive Away Blues/ Lonesome Day Blues/ Love Changing Blues/ Loving Talking Blues/ Mama, 'taint Long Fo' Day/ Mama, Let Me Scoop For You/ Mr. Mctell Got The Blues/ Mr. Mctell Got The Blues (alternate Take)/ Rollin' Mama Blues/ Searching The Desert For The Blues/ Statesboro Blues/ Stole Rider Blues/ Teasing Brown/ This Is Not The Stove To Brown Your Bread/ Three Women Blues/ Writin' Paper Blues

A fair amount of overlap with the "Best of" on Yazoo, but with remastering from John RT Davies, it sounds hard to pass up. I am doomed...

Offline Stuart

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2005, 08:17:41 PM »
A fair amount of overlap with the "Best of" on Yazoo, but with remastering from John RT Davies, it sounds hard to pass up. I am doomed...

Thanks for the additional info, Uncle Bud. With a chronic and incurable case of "Blues Fever," I guess I'm doomed as well. My only advice is to buy everything available and then wait impatiently for new releases! What's the old saying about "the cure being worse than the disease"?? ;)

Offline uncle bud

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2005, 09:13:39 PM »
Further poking around reveals the RCA Statesboro Blues release above is part of the Secret History of Rock & Roll series, which may explain why I had overlooked it...

Offline Great Bear

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Re: McTell on Yazoo
« Reply #21 on: December 13, 2005, 03:00:46 PM »
I'm not sure how many McTell completists are aware that there are a few previously unreleased tracks, including an alternate take of It's My Desire, available on Delmark's The Back Porch Boys (DE-755).


 


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