DCC Archive Billie Holliday Sony Box Query

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Cousin It, Jan 11, 2002.

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  1. Cousin It

    Cousin It Senior Member Thread Starter

    Sydney, Australia
    Anyone out there give me some feedback regarding sound quality,is it good/garbage is it just commercial disc dubs or metalparts.I know the packaging looks great but the proof is in the tasting (or listening in this case)and I'm curious to see what people out there think of it.
  2. guy incognito

    guy incognito Senior Member

    I saw a review of the set in one of the audiophile magazines (The Absolute Sound, I think). The reviewer said that the sound quality was he best he/she had yet encountered for those recordings, and the best that was likely to turn up due to the inherent limitations of the source materials.
  3. Sckott

    Sckott Hand Tighten Only.

    South Plymouth, Ma
    A lot of Holiday shellac transcriptions and metal parts actually sound very good, but DO definately show their age. The good thing about the box is, collectors turned up with better-known sources of a lot of her sides.

    IMHO, Holiday's best work is exemplified on most any Verve LP (or CD, if you want, follow the Billy Holiday Story one by one) and Columbia's "Lady In Satin".

    I told a friend that a lot of the shellac sides for Holiday were amazing, but he brought the CD back, saying the quality "was awful". Oh, well.. He's learning.

    "Solitude" (10") "Lady In Satin", and the short "Songs For Distingue' Lovers" are my faves. Really gets into your skin.
  4. Cousin It

    Cousin It Senior Member Thread Starter

    Sydney, Australia
    Thanks for that Sckott!!
    Just curious as there have been some pretty loud grumbling over sound quality on certain recent Sony reissues.The Hot 5 and Hot 7's set in particular has come in for criticism over sound and packaging hassles.I've read quite a few people recommending the JSP H5/7 set mastered by John R T Davies as superior sonically.I've also read his work on Django is superior.

    For those interested here is an interview with JRTD

    Also from the same site,a gig review of Duke Ellington in The Hague,Netherlands 1939.
  5. lennonfan

    lennonfan New Member

    baltimore maryland
    I'd have to agree with audiophiles who have stated that the Sony box is the best presentation yet for Billie's early material. IMO, if you're not seriously die hard about BH, get the 2 cd best-of compilation that Sony has just released. I think this captures the best of the early sides, tho it doesn't address material made for the Commodore label (absolutely essential) and I know you'll find the Decca material (1944-1950) to be overall better quality. I also agree about Lady In Satin being a quintessential album....I've had it over 30 years and love it just as much now as then. I tend to be not too fond of the Verve material, except for the Songs For D.L. album which is also excellent quality. As far as the earliest of her material, my favourite tracks are: Miss Brown To You, What A Little Moonlight Can Do, Swing Brother Swing (short version), All Of Me, Gloomy Sunday, Mean To Me and I Cried For You....but back to the original question, I think they did a great job of making the tracks sound fuller, where they were thin on all the earlier releases....they also did a good job of eliminating a lot of the surface noise on the 78s.
  6. Matt

    Matt New Member


    The new Sony box set is sonically a HUGE improvement over the older issues, and some of the alternate takes are quite amazing, particularly the longer one for All of Me. Judging by the sound, the source may not have been quite as good as the one used for the master take, but it's a superior performance that was only rejected because it was too long for a 78 rpm.

    As for the criticisms about Sony releases of the Hot 5 and 7 material, etc., I wouldn't say their bad at all, but I can see one can be very disappointed. There's a bad trend of releasing these historic jazz collections in little envelopes (either loose or bound) that either do a poor job of holding the CD or are too tight, requiring one to smudge and possibly scratch the disc with their fingers to remove them. That's how it is with the Armstrong set, the Holiday set, and even WEA's recent Bird set and RCA's Ellington box. I guess the envelopes cut down on a costs, but the LEAST they can do is avoid making them too tight and use a resealable flap to hold the disc within.

    As for sound, the Armstrong and Holiday sets all sound a hundred times better than previous Columbia CD issues, but the work Davies did for this music (he did some Holiday on a few Teddy Wilson HEP CD's) a decade ago still beats them out. In comparison, the Columbia CD's sound a bit cold, a bit too sharp around the edges.

    There's only one thing I would complain about Davies's work on the JSP Armstrong set, and that is "Cornet Chop Suey." He pitched it in Eb, but it should be F. I asked him why he chose Eb over F, and he said he based his decision on what he thought was the most plausible fingering as well as some other materials he had, but since then, it's been confirmed that he was wrong. (Of course, he did point out that Phil Schaap must have had doubts, too, since the track appears twice at both pitches, despite Schaap's insistence that F is correct in the liner notes.)

    Unless you can listen to the original 78's on a good set-up, the Holiday box set should be a fine purchase. Personally, I prefer the ensemble playing on the Columbia's, but I agree with Scott; she sung best in her later years.
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