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Author Topic: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...  (Read 6794 times)

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Offline iwbiek

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #60 on: April 04, 2015, 03:51:18 PM »
Hi Frankie,
Not academically balanced at all---musically maybe. Might even be some stuff you'd like better. Or as well, at least.
If you can dig out John Henry Faulk's LoC recordings of A-A singers, or Bruce Jackson's prison recordings (on deposit @ Univ. of Texas, I believe and issued by Rounder a few decades ago), give a listen.
Stunning.
best,
bruce
Any of this stuff on CD?  The Lomaxes were so dominant in recording for the LOC, I've often wondered if other sources were available.

Offline frankie

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #61 on: April 04, 2015, 07:04:57 PM »
Any of this stuff on CD?

Bruce Jackson's recording are. Look for "Wake Up Dead Man." The recordings are not without interest. The book Jackson wrote by the same title is actually far more interesting than the music itself. You might also want to note that the fact that Lomax made far, far better and earlier recordings did not prevent Jackson from making his own.

If you can dig out John Henry Faulk's LoC recordings of A-A singers, or Bruce Jackson's prison recordings (on deposit @ Univ. of Texas, I believe and issued by Rounder a few decades ago), give a listen.

I'll seek out John Henry Faulk's recordings - I may have heard them without specifically knowing it (the curse of digital media). I've heard two collections of Jackson's recordings: "Wake Up Dead Man" and "Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons." Both good recordings, but very far from the harrowing power and beauty captured in "Negro Prison Songs." Beyond the fact that all three were made in prisons, in my opinion, there is simply no comparison whatsoever. None.

Say what you will about his perceived agenda or abrasive personality. NO ONE is immune from those criticisms. The Lomaxes, to our everlasting benefit, had a musician's ear for music, and the results speak for themselves in that regard. As much as I respect Jackson's love for the music and his determination in recording and documenting it, Lomax's recordings are simply better.

All the best - frankie

Offline Bed Bug Bill

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #62 on: May 02, 2015, 01:18:46 PM »
Call me old fashioned .....but when I listen to the Mctell LOC Recordings,I tend to listen to Blind Willie.The interviewer or album design,is of no concern to me.I am aware that John Lomax turned on the recording machine,and glad he did.But I'm there,purely for the music.I am in no position to judge whether he should ,or could of recorded anything else.... because ..I am enjoying what he did record.
I thank the Lord,that he recorded Smith Casey...one of my favorites for nearly 40 years...and everyone else,I've heard,whether I play them or not.
I know very little about the Lomax clan,I have read that Alan was hard work,didn't compromise and generally rubbed people up the wrong way.I have read that the F.B.I. had it in for him,because he was a socialist and talked to black people,showing he had both a heart and a conscience.Two reasons to respect him and way,way ahead of his time,then and now.
But all of this,is of no concern.They recorded stunning music, time and time again,surely that's enough for anyone,regardless of what they had for breakfast.
The LOC Recordings were recorded over a few days ,while Willie was still at his prime.This,along with the conversation ,gives us a unique insight.He's at the top of his game,and playing material he is familiar with.
To my ears....he's going to play what HE wants to play,regardless of anyone.Maybe,it's because Lomax was ,who he was,that we got this incredible performance.Perhaps,nobody else ,could of got Willie to play like this,at this time...whatever.
The albums of the earlier material ,although great listening, usually span a wide time frame.To put things in context and to see how he,or any other player ,develops,it's more revealing to listen to them chronologically.This record is all in one hit.
I think this album ,gets us closer to Willie,than the others.
I also think Murderers Home, is up there ,with Broke Down Engine ,Stomp Down and all.....Just saying.

Offline harry

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #63 on: October 05, 2015, 05:26:41 AM »
Found out that the JSP Set failed to include several alternate takes which are available on the Catfish set.

A three-disc, 74-track box set of Blind Willie McTell's prewar 78s, this collection from Britain's Catfish Records clearly replaces the Sony/Legacy double disc (also called The Definitive Blind Willie McTell) that was released in 1994. The Catfish set offers better sound, and where the Sony anthology collects sides from the Vocalion, Okeh, and Columbia labels, Catfish offers all of those and adds tracks from Victor and Decca as well, giving a more complete look at McTell's output between 1927 and 1935, including some selections in which he is a session player rather than the featured artist. The Sony compilation does have the better liner notes, mostly due to David Evans' long essay on McTell, while Catfish opts for more photos. These prewar tracks are also available in three separate single-disc releases from Document, but with even poorer sound than the Sony set. Catfish does botch the transfer of "East St. Louis Blues" here, inserting several seconds of another song at the beginning before the actual track snaps in, but in general, they have done a wonderful job of mastering this material, and until something better comes along, the Catfish box is the one to get. All Music To The Blues review by Steve Leggett


Offline funkapus

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #64 on: October 14, 2015, 07:56:45 PM »

In the discussions here of the "complete"/"comprehensive" Blind Willie McTell sets out there, I've only seen one post in this thread that mentions the set from Snapper in the UK, _King of the Georgia Blues_.  This set is more complete than the Catfish, JSP, or Document sets (including some songs he did with Curley Weaver that I think are not available on *any* other CD).  It's also priced much cheaper as well.  I haven't done sound quality comparisons, but it doesn't sound bad to me.  So it would be by far the best choice . . .

. . .except for the fact that whoever they've contracted out to make their discs is apparently working with very poor quality master discs.  The tracks are *riddled* with glitches that are clearly in the digital domain, occasional tracking issues, etc.  The reason I think this is a problem with their disc master is that when I first encountered these problems, I complained to the vendor, and they sent me a second copy of the set for free, and that copy had exactly the same issues at exactly the same locations in exactly the same tracks.

Snapper's Blind Lemon Jefferson set paints exactly the same picture:  cheap price, a more comprehensive/complete set of tracks than any other set available, at least adequate sound quality, but messed up digital issues.

I really wish they would get this sorted out; but I swapped email with them a year or two ago and there don't seem to be plans to fix their problems.

Offline harry

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Re: Trying to decide which Willie McTell CDs to buy...
« Reply #65 on: October 15, 2015, 09:23:42 AM »
This set is more complete than the Catfish, JSP, or Document sets (including some songs he did with Curley Weaver that I think are not available on *any* other CD). 

Which songs you mean?

The Curley Weaver songs (with McTell on 2nd guitar) are on Document Records (Curley Weaver  ‎? The Complete Recorded Works 1933 - 1935)

Trick Ain't Walking No More
Oh Lawdy Mama
Two Faced Woman
Early Morning Blues
Fried Pie Blues



 


 


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