Wednesday, September 23, 2015

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

The new Blues Images calendar and CD for 2016 is here, after much pre-publication hype of an amazing new method of sound remastering for 78 rpm recordings. Does the CD live up to the brouhaha? On first listen, I would say, “Yes, indeedy.” Now, I don’t have an expensive entertainment system, I don’t even really have a cheap one. My main venue for “quality” listening nowadays is my iPod playing 256 kbps sound files over my car’s factory installed stereo system. On first listen the songs on offer sound amazingly good for late 20s–early 30s rare 78s. The standout track for me is Charlie Kyle’s 1928 “Walking Blues.” His twelve-string guitar sounds like a twelve-string and there are subtleties in his playing (volume, tone) and singing that I don’t know that I would necessarily have missed had I been listening to a Document reissue, but they sure are striking here. Same goes for Blind Willie Johnson’s “When the War Was On” and Curley Weaver’s duet with Ruth Willis on “Some Cold Rainy Day.” Then there is Charlie McCoy’s mandolin playing on a version of “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie.” The sound on this recently discovered record and its flip “Country Guy Blues” is phenomenal. A Blind Blake record that isn’t as much surface noise as music? Try “Wabash Rag.” There is surface noise on all the tracks, but in most cases, it is below the surface, i.e., the music is front and center, and for the most part sounds great. Even the recently discovered Jaydee Short “lost” Paramount, worn though it is, still sounds good, surface noise and all. I must say I haven’t A-B’d the majority of the tracks here with other reissues/remasterings but I can say if you like prewar country blues, and enjoy nicely done reproductions of associated old record ads and rare photographs of the artists featured on the CD, you will probably want this year’s calendar for your collection. For more information, please click over to bluesimages.com and tell ’em Frank sent you.


Papa Charlie McCoy • Boogie Woogie • 1932



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