SH Spotlight Benny Goodman on RCA-Victor, 1937, recorded in Hollywood, wonderful sounding records. Give a listen

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I loved old Benny Goodman 78s as a kid (right up there with the Beatles, etc.), my dad loved old Benny Goodman 78s, my great uncle bought old Benny Goodman 78s when they were new and I ended up with his entire collection.

    I have my Technics 1200 KAB modded 78 machine hooked up to my Audio Note system and have been spinning shellac for the past few days.

    I have almost all the great Goodman orchestra, trio, quartet Scroll Victors from 1935-38 and two of my favorites are AFRAID TO DREAM and CHANGES, very obscure tracks but what draws me to them time after time is the remarkable sound quality.

    In 1929 the Victor Talking Machine Co. was merged with the Radio Corp. Of America to become RCA-Victor and their records from that period are amazingly modern sounding, full of natural room reverb and quite lifelike. But the Jukebox operators complained that the playback of these records on those awful sounding 'boxes made them sound thin, mean and downright headache inducing.

    So, Victor caved and actually changed their recording policy. Gone was the beautiful, natural reverb and most of the top end as well. From 1935 on, the Victor jazz stuff and the new Swing music was recorded in small rooms with curtains on the wall and top end filters in place. They sound mostly dead but the music is so great we still listen anyway.

    When the Goodman orchestra recorded at RCA, Hollywood in the 1930s that all changed. It was the best of the best, true top end, even if the records still sounded dead. The record co. figured that your home playback room would add the ambience, no need to put it on the record itself. That thinking lasted until 1951 or so when "echo" started to be added to recordings, but I digress.

    These two songs "Afraid To Dream" and "Changes" were recorded in 1937 at Victor, Hollywood on beeswax 78s, live, no tape, just "direct to disk". The new RCA "Ribbon Microphones" were in use and the sound was beautiful, quite an upgrade from other recording venues of the day.

    Give a listen, I have both these records and they sound really better than anything that can be played back on YouTube, but this will give you an idea. I would hire the people who made these transfers, for sure, two good jobs, right from old 78 RPM records. Listen for the "shake" that the entire brass section does at 1:58. For an old jazz guy, this is heaven. 80 years ago!

    King!, IanL, fluxkit and 53 others like this.
  2. hutlock

    hutlock Forever Breathing

    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Wow, really cool stuff there. And you are right, great sounding even on YouTube.
  3. rxcory

    rxcory proud jazz band/marching band parent

    Portland, Oregon
    That's incredible sound quality for 1935 - 1937 on those Goodman sides. Glad that I was raised by my grandparents who shared their big band/jazz music with me from a young age via "oldies" AM radio. Wish I had the finances to have a 78 TT. Thanks to whomever did those YouTube transfers, and thanks for sharing.
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  4. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    Say, that's pretty good!

    Still like Tommy Dorsey & his Clambake Seven a little better than Benny Goodman but I can see why Mr. Goodman was more popular. He's smooth!
    WisFish and rxcory like this.
  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    When I play those back on my big system, I find myself wishing that all of my favorite music could have been recorded with two ribbon microphones, live, direct to disk like those were.
  6. zen

    zen Senior Member

    These sound GREAT. Thanks Steve.
    Mister Charlie likes this.
  7. shnaggletooth

    shnaggletooth Senior Member

    Listening to "Changes". That's a great-sounding 78, for sure.
    caracallac likes this.
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Find an old Dual on eBay for a hundred, get a 78 cart (an old Shure like I use) and a double Y cord and that's it.
  9. Tornado Red

    Tornado Red Forum Resident

    Winnipeg, Canada
    Thanks for posting, sweet stuff. Just threw it from my iPad to Apple TV and played it via my big system. Wonderful fidelity and such open recordings for the times. This music reminds me of a simpler time ;)
    Man at C&A and rxcory like this.
  10. Dflow

    Dflow Listening in the time of Dylan

    Very cool and on a very cold day in the Windy City (wind chill -20). Thanks for sharing and of course for all the insights.
  11. AppleCorp3

    AppleCorp3 Forum Resident

    I'm not making any judgements about anyone's ages here...

    My grandfather was a huge Benny Goodman fan. Loved the guy. Listening to those clips, I can see why liked it. It's pretty smooth.

    He was never happy with any of the CD transfers he bought (this was the 80s and 90s). maybe because he remembered the sound of all his old 78s.
  12. marmil

    marmil It's such a long story...

    Steve - I have always been a fan of 78s, whether early Jazz or Blues, R&B and R&B vocal groups, but I don't think I've heard anything that early is such good condition before. They sound great - thanks for posting. Do you think that part of the reason that they sound so good is the high speed at which they run? That's always been a theory of mine and I'm curious to know whether you agree.
    eran levy likes this.
  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    No, not really. I mean, it didn't hurt but basically it's vacuum tubes, minimal miking, live performances from people sitting close together (like Phil Spector's studio sessions) that make those records sound so good. Could be done today just like that and sound great at 33 1/3..

    Of course you'd have to bring back Benny, Gene Krupa, Harry James, etc. back from the dead as well. No one plays like those dudes anymore.
    WMTC, Man at C&A, caracallac and 4 others like this.
  14. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    RCA Hollywood . . . I presume their studios there in those days were at 1016 North Sycamore Avenue, on the same grounds as their pressing plant which would appear to have gone online around this time . . .
  15. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    RCA Victor located on Vine between NBC Studios and the Brown Derby in 1949.jpg
  16. AFOS

    AFOS Forum Resident

    That reminds me of an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Ray buys Frank CD versions of his old vinyl albums and he wasn't impressed - despite Ray telling him the sound was crystal clear. Or something like that...
  17. bktouchstone

    bktouchstone Forum Resident

    Eastern Washington
    In my teens (in the 70s) I bought some Benny Goodman records and peers thought I was crazy, but to this day nothing puts me in as good a mood as "Avalon." I don't recall my records sounding this good, though, so this was great to hear.
    bozburn likes this.
  18. Dhreview16

    Dhreview16 Forum Resident

    London UK
    I'm sure there are more knowledgeable jazz guys than me, but Bennie Goodman Live at Carnegie Hall in 1938 would be one of my essentials for starting a jazz collection.

    +1 for old Dual turntables. The 505 and 506 were classics of their time too. 80s ? For many they were the first step up over here after (or instead of) a Garrard. Some great working ones probably still out there, as our host says.
    caracallac likes this.
  19. Walter H

    Walter H Santa's Helper

    New Hampshire, USA
    Yes, the 1938 Carnegie Hall concert is essential. For a version that's complete (which the Columbia LP sets were not) and good-sounding (which the current Sony CD set sure the hell ain't) we can hope for something better, now that the original lacquers are in Seth Winner's collection.
    kelhard and Dhreview16 like this.
  20. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

    Great pic!

    As far as the music goes, I could listen to this stuff all day and not tire of it. Right in my wheelhouse, and with excellent sound, to boot, as if it were recorded by, you know....professionals at at the top of their game, showing taste and restraint and resourcefulness. Thanks!
    WMTC and McLover like this.
  21. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    You're welcome. It's hard to imagine now, but in 1937, the Benny Goodman Orchestra was the hottest thing in the music world. Those Jimmy Mundy/Fletcher Henderson arrangements (Benny wisely hired the best black bandleaders to write his charts) really made the band different from all other swing bands.

    When I was in college the Swing Era stuff was already 40 years old but that didn't stop me from playing it every chance I could. Thanks to my love of Goodman I actually went back in time before him to the start of the jazz era and got into Bennie Moton, Jelly Roll Morton, Henderson, Louis Hot 5 & 7, Ellington's Jungle Band, etc. All of that stuff was still out there at 78 swap meets for a buck or two each, original 78 pressings! The good old daze.
  22. SteveS1

    SteveS1 Forum Resident

    Weald, England, UK
    My late father bought me up on the 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert among a host of Goodman, James, Shaw, Basie, Dorsey LPs. His passion for swing knew no bounds. He lived in East Anglia, close to where US Aircrew were flying B-24 Liberators and B-17 Fortresses from local airfields. Those guys were surprised that so many English kids were interested and contributed much to their enthusiasm.
  23. Alan G.

    Alan G. Forum Resident

    NW Montana
    Amazingly clean and orchestrally/vocally balanced recordings. Thanks for that!

    One of my favorite Goodman tunes is Bugle Call Rag with great drumming by Gene Krupa. Goodman was in on the later Metronome All-Stars version in the '40s, this time with Buddy Rich drumming.

    Love this stuff!
  24. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    I don't know how I stumbled on the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall album. I think when I was working at KPFK after school someone was playing it in the music library.

    The actual concert release on Columbia sounded way worse than when Columbia released an LP called "The Great Benny Goodman" or something like that, probably in the late 1950s. It had a bunch of Carnegie stuff on there and maybe a radio aircheck or two. My point being that "Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)" on THAT album sounded so much better than the Columbia two LP set version I couldn't believe it. Made me scratch my head but it also made me realize that how an album is mastered is very important.
  25. action pact

    action pact Music Omnivore

    Good luck finding a working Dual for $100 on eBay...
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