Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Mother of the Blues
Genres: Country, Blues, Folk, Jazz, Pop
Outstanding & Historical with (unavoidable) flaws on the sou
bobtec | Redlands, CA | 07/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gertrude "Ma" Rainey was the Mother of the Blues. She was simply the best at what she did. These recordings are not just another blues compilation, they are a complete historical document. The value more than outweighs the flaws.
1. The album has ALL of her songs (alternate takes added). This is a first time that I've ever seen a COMPLETE set.
2. The price is right. For 5 discs, you pay around 5 or 6 dollars a disc.
3. The Restoration and Remastering is the best that is currently available.
1. Ma Rainey worked for Paramount Records (man how I wish she would have worked for Victor or Columbia). Paramount had great blues (Charlie Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Skip James, etc.), but they had very sub-standard recording techniques, and cheap compounds in their shellac (remember, Paramount was owned by a furniture company). To top it off, they scrapped all the original pressings when they went out of business. Also, Ma Rainey was probably one of the most popular artists of her time (Ida Cox, Clara Smith, and Bessie (no relation to Clara) Smith being equally as popular). So the bottom line is, JSP had to obtain the best copies available of the recordings. Also, they had to determine how much noise reduction to use without ruining the ambiance of the music (as an amateur recording engineer, I know that this process is not easy, and a lot of the deciding is by judgment call). Considering that JSP had very little (if anything) to work with, I can honestly say that this set is currently the best sounding complete set on the current market. However, you will get (original source) noise that goes from very little (eggs starting to fry in a skillet) to a lot (beginning of Mt. St. Hellen eruption). There are plenty of notes that state this (mainly covered on disc E insert). What I did was develop Paramount ears (these are ears that discard the excessive noise of a Paramount record - I developed this while listening to the Charlie Patton set). If you can't develop this technique, I'd suggest sticking with the Bessie Smith sets (but you'll miss a lot of good music), or going with the numerous greatest hits compilations of Ma Rainey (Shout Factory, Yazoo, and Millenium are all very good, but you'll still get noise).
2. This is a personal gripe, but I wish they would put the alternates on a second disc. This gripe does not justify a star reduction. Actually, with the proper programing, you can by pass the alternates.
3. As with all JSP releases, not much on notes (although the notes that are there are thorough, and show that there was a lot of study done), but at the price you pay (approx. 4 - 6 dollars / disc), you could buy a book (there is a bibliography on the right page of the disc E insert - or you could buy the book 'Railroadin' Some' by 'Mississippi' Max Haymes (author of the notes). Addendum: When I wrote this note, I meant to say it as a comparison to (let's say) Proper's Boxed sets, and NOT a slam to the authors notes. If he took offense to the remark, I humbly, and sincerely apologize (we need more writers of the blues now more than ever). Please accept my apologies.
The disc is a MUST HAVE for Blues Pioneer fans, and the best currently available, and at this price, Paramount ears should be developed."
Pretty bad sound quality
Paulybrooklyn | 04/12/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am by no means an audiophile, but I don't think JSP did a good job remastering these recordings.
Why do I say this? Well, I had an EXTREMELY lo-fi version of some Ma Rainey stuff that was lying around for a while. What do I mean by lo-fi? I recorded a tape from a worn-out library lp about 20 years ago on a cheap stereo set, and then converted it into MP3 with my on-it's-last-legs computer last year. I think that's pretty lo-fi...
Anyway, the thing I like most on Ma Rainey's records is Tampa Red's kazoo playing (I know, I'm a nut), so I was hoping to be able to give them a good listen with this new-fangled box set. To my disappointment I could barely hear the kazoo!! I wondered if my memory had exaggerated how great those tracks were. Then I made a direct comparison with my funky home-made version, and mine was much, much clearer. Not just the kazoo-- the vocals and all the other instruments too."
A reply from the notes author to Mother Of The Blues
Mr. M. Haymes | Lancaster, UK | 01/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I take great exception to the comments made by the reviewer when stating that as with all JSP issues 'there is not much on notes'. Oviously these comprehensive writings were not read by the said reviewer. You would have to read the definitive book on Ma Rainey by Sandra Lieb (referred to in the notes) to get more details about this great blues singer. It is a lowdown dirty shame that the reviewer did not think the wealth of detail on this singer and her blues-the result of some 45 years listening and researching- has been completely wasted on him. Ah! Well, that's the Blues!
'Mississippi' Max Haymes (author of 'Railroadin' Some' by Music Mentor Books in 2006)"