November 24, 2015

Blues and Rhythm Show 205 on 93.3 CFMU (Hamilton, Ontario)

Swear to Tell the Truth for Tuesday, November 24th, (1:00-2:30 pm).

We talk a lot –probably too often–on the show about the availability of the music we play on their air. Like most listeners we depend upon what record companies have made available and not on original 78s and 45s. The big companies, the companies that first made recordings or the companies that absorbed the companies who made the original recordings, have at times put out marvelous reissues. Columbia’s Roots ‘n’ Blues Series and RCA’s When the Sun Goes Down series are recent examples. Specialty began issuing a comprehensive series from its catalogue of R&B and gospel and when the label was purchased by Fantasy the series was actually expanded. Similarly, MCA made available a great deal of material when they acquired the Chess catalogue. Not to say that there was not some fair measure idealism in the activity of the researchers and compilers of these series but the big corporations have been motivated by profit and loss. We can recall when a work colleague showed us some correspondence he’sd had with RCA. He complained that he had purchased RCA Bluebird series albums of Benny Goodman and other swing artists on the understanding that these series would be taken to completion and the news that later volumes in the series had been postponed and possibly cancelled he considered to be a betrayal of the implied contract between the customers and the company. As we recall, RCA made a commitment to carry on with the series but we aren’t sure how well they lived up to the commitment. 

Product Details                                                                                     Product Details

Although the big companies rely more today upon their back catalogues they are not devoting much of their resources to reissues of roots recordings. Companies like Ace/Kent in Britain and Bear Family in Germany have filled part of that void with licensed reissues and they have obtained extraordinary access to some company vaults rescuing unissued originals and alternate takes, orphaned in long unexamined tape and acetate vaults. Ace’s Modern/Kent/RPM series is perhaps the foremost example and Kent has worked with Rick Hall of Fame Studios.  In the U.S., Rhino and Shout have done similar work on a less impressive scale.

Since Folkways issued Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music there have always been unofficial, unlicensed reissues. The early ones relied upon the collections of a tight circle of record collectors. Document’s project to reissue all of pre-war blues and gospel relied upon a pre-digital form of file-sharing and was largely completed, e believe, through the loan of 78s or taped copies. Respected and now revered labels like Yazoo, Blues Classics, Origin and the R&B and gospel labels of Jonas Bernholm were derived from privately owned copies of the old records, 78s and, later, 45s. And new companies deducated to making available later blues, R&B, soul and gospel have steadily pushed back the boundary of unrediscovered music.

With so much material unearthed and repackaged, reissue compilations today are more and more specialized and produced in small batches–as few as a 100 at a time we’ve been told. Whereas the reissues of early blues and gospel came from the catalogues of the few pre-war major labels which had taken over most of their competitors by the end of the thirties, the forties saw the rise of the indie labels, large, small and even smaller.  Reissues we’ve seen in the past year have filled gaps in the larger indie catalogues or taken from an array of small and medium sized label catalogues. 

We don’t have a feature this week but we are drawing from some of the grey-market reissues as well as fr4om a few compilations from larger and well-distributed reissue companies like JSP and Acrobat, both from Britain. We recently got hold of some of the many reissue collections of the past year or so and we’ll be featuring them on the show, starting this week.

Also on the program, a brief mmselection of Allen Toussaint recordings as performer and producer in tribute to the artist who died just two weeks ago.

  Product Details                                                                                V.A. (I HAVEN'T GOT A FRIEND) / オムニバス / I HAVEN'T GOT A FRIEND: '60S BLUES OF LONELINESS AND MISERY (CD-R)


On the Show:

Quintet of the Hot Club of France – James P. Johnson – Madonna Martin – Ollie Shepard – Allen Toussaint – The Rubaiyats – Buddy Guy – Byther Smith – Edna Gallmon Cooke – Johnny Adams – Bobby Long – a.o.

Listen to the program at FM 93.3 in Hamilton or on CFMU online at cfmu.msumcmaster.ca. The program will be available to stream or as a podcast until December 21st.

Contact Us:

To reach us with comments or queries, write us at sweartotellthetruth@gmail.com.

You can also follow the program at sweartotellthetruth@nosignifying on Twitter.

Next week (December 1st)

We may resume our blues hits of the 1950s feature next week. We’ll try to pull that together for the nest show.


Blog at WordPress.com.