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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:44 pm
by Ian A.
Nigel w wrote:When , for example, the Robert Johnson sides were remastered, did they change the ''texture'' and the ''atmosphere'' of the recordings ?!


Of course they did. They lifted a veil and and added sonic depth to them that hadn't been present on the Columbia vinyl LP in the early 60s, which is where the modern audience first began to hear them. Even more so when they remastered earlier bluesers like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton: having grown up with tinny vinyl copies where the surface noise on the poorly pressed LPs soon multiplied the surface noise on the original 78s, it was an absolute revelation when Yazoo (i.i.r.c.) put them on CD. Blind Lemon had bass strings shock! I was very happy to live without all that extra texture and atmosphere. The absolute classic for me was Garfield Akers' Cottonfield Blues which I learned the guitar part for - completely wrong of course (it's on Matchbox Days) - off the Origin vinyl version, and it only became apparent on the remastered CD version that it had two guitars on it, not one playing a complex rhythm as I'd originally thought!

Whether the CD remastered "texture" and "atmosphere" would sound "right" to somebody who used to listen to them on a 78 via a wind-up gramophone is another matter. The CD re-issues aren't made for them, though, are they? Surely the point of these Beatles re-issues will be that they may sound "better" to an audience more used to contemporary sound quality. Personally, I don't need to ever hear them again - there's no great nostalgia involved, I heard them far too much over the years already, and life's too short: there's so much other music I haven't had a chance to listen to at all. Seems obvious to me - if your old records sound "better", just keep playing them, nobody's forcing you to listen to the new ones.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:13 pm
by Adam Blake
Ian A. wrote: Seems obvious to me - if your old records sound "better", just keep playing them, nobody's forcing you to listen to the new ones.


Quite.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:55 pm
by Nigel w
Nigel w wrote:
When , for example, the Robert Johnson sides were remastered, did they change the ''texture'' and the ''atmosphere'' of the recordings ?!

Ian A replied:
Of course they did. They lifted a veil


It's just semantics, Ian. You simply have a different definition of what constitutes atmosphere and texture, because I don't disagree with most of the rest of what you say.

In my dictionary, the Robert Johnson remasters enhanced rather than altered the original texture and atmosphere he created in the studio more than 70 years ago. They emphasised the unchanging, intrinsic values of Johnson's art, as described memorably by Bob Dylan in Chronicles in that wonderful passage in which he talks so vividly about how he was blown away on first hearing the recordings circa 61/62. All the knob twiddlers have altered is the veneer so we hear the original atmosphere of pre-war Delta blues with greater clarity.

By the way, World Music Network are about to release a Johnson package on which the recordings sound better than Ive ever heard them sound on any previous CD reissue. Top knob-twiddling. But thankfully, preserving the original atmosphere of 1936-37...

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 9:44 pm
by davidt
One strange thing about remastering struck me when I listened to the remastered King of the Delta Blues Singers CD. In Terraplane Blues from about 1:33 onwards there's a lot of distortion on the loud bits, that was not present on my old vinyl copy (purchased back in 1968 I think).
Is this a remastering disaster or has the source deteriorated in the meanwhile with all these attempts to extract the best possible transfer?

I've got a similar problem with Junker Blues on Champion Jack Duprees's New Orleans Barrelhouse boogie reissue on Columbia Legacy. About 44 seconds into one of Jack's most famous tunes there's a nasty hissing sound for 10 seconds.

Or do I need new equipment :-)

David