Robert Johnson: The Complete Original Masters - Centennial Edition Box Set

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by marc roberty, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. Nice review and I agree with the points raised re the over pricing of many box sets.
    The whole issue of making some items like this in once only limited editions at very high prices seems some what self defeating given the music industries continual cries about declining sales of physical product.
    If US buyers think the price is high consider those of us off shore who have to content with exchange rates, huge freight costs and possible duty payments.
  2. jimiclones

    jimiclones Forum Resident

    I just found this thread, and after seeing those fake 78's, well I could hardly get my wallet out fast enough. Along with the 78 size book, it's just too cool.

    I see Robert Johnson is considered way overrated, compared to Charlie Patton, Son House and Skip James. Well, to each his own, you know. I find the other three very hard to listen to. Charlie Patton sounds like a bullfrog singing underwater, Son House is usually wasted on booze and so out of tune its painful, and Skip James sounds like he's singing on helium.

    Of course these are generalizations, and I have not heard Son House and Skip James' original 78's. but you get the idea.
    sandmountainslim1 likes this.
  3. What a crap review, one line on the actual sound quality and a whole pile of bitching about the price.
  4. signothetimes53

    signothetimes53 Forum Resident

    Burlington VT USA
    Somebody is a blues newbie....

  5. Jvalvano

    Jvalvano Forum Resident

    I think the lack of commentary on the sound quality is because there really isn't anything more to say. If you have heard these recordings my guess is that the 45's don't really make that much difference over what you might have already heard. I think that's the point Jeff Dorgay was making. But I could be completely off the mark.

    Before I even read the Toneaudio review my feeling about this set was the same as Jeff's. At first I was really excited then when I got to think about I felt the only thing I'm really paying for here is the packaging. The sonic quality of the LP's probably isn't going to be any different than what I have heard of the Robert Johnson recordings already. As much as I love vinyl, and spend gobs of money on it, for me personally I felt I wouldn't be any more inclined to spin RJ on these 45's than listen to the recordings I already have.

    To each his own and for those who buy this set. Enjoy ! It is a beauty to look at. :righton:
  6. They've got some samples up at Amazon, finally we'll have his whole catalog sounding as good as the 2004 King Of The Delta Blues Singers Vol II CD!

    The clarity on "Terraplane Blues" is so much better than anything that came before it!
  7. Greg1954

    Greg1954 New Member

    I'm not surprised. Price issues aside, I just don't need all the other stuff. I'm going to get the CD set.
  8. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    There are 3 or 4 different versions of a lot of the Robert Johnson stuff on CD, and there are significant differences between the different versions. Despite these being 70+ year old 78s, sources, transfers and mastering can make a big difference.
  9. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Marlboro , ma. usa
    I agree as well .... This kinda says it all ..

  10. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa Play that fast thing one more time

    Dayton Ohio
    If the set were around $100 I would buy it. That being said, I am happy with what I have. If the 2 CD set turns out to be a major improvment on these tracks, I will buy it.
  11. Izozeles

    Izozeles Pushing my limits

    I agree. Nobody is forcing customers to buy this box. If there´s people that want to pay serious bucks for this reissue, well it´s their problem. This review is read more like a customer rights association than an article from an audiophile mag.
    I would have love to read more on the SQ. He says there is an improvement over the 1990 box. I doesn´t explain why.
  12. Davidmk5

    Davidmk5 Forum Resident

    Marlboro , ma. usa
    If it were even $199 i'd probably bite , but the $350 mark is just too much for me , it is a cool item & i'd love to have one , but out of my Price range ...
  13. Got the 2 CD set today, looks like they rearranged the tracklist for the Aussie release, all of the alternates are at the end of each disc. Great looking package! I'll post some SQ opinions soon!
  14. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member

    Baton Rouge, LA
    No disrespect intended to Tone Audio but, yeah, that wasn't the most informative review.

    As Ben said upthread this set is of interest because we finally get the 8 alternate takes that have been consigned to the awful Complete Recordings sets in the same quality as the 2004 single disc KOTDB reissues. Until now the alternate takes were only available digitally with titanic amounts of NR. For the first time we have the alternate takes with acceptable mastering, something the review should've took pains to point out.
  15. All I can say is... WOW.

    I've never heard these recordings sound so good.

    EQ is very natural, nothing like the wacky boosted bass on the "King of the Delta Blues" remasters.

    None of the NR artifacts that made the older releases sound like mp3s.

    The awful over-modulated distortion on the vocals is gone from a lot of the tracks.

    These recordings don't even sound like they're from 1937 anymore.

    Just buy this set. It's incredible.
    lukpac likes this.
  16. Also, the liner notes are fantastic.
  17. Okay, after a good comparison between all the tracks, I've come to this conclusion:

    - 1990 Complete Recordings: F, bad sources, bad "all mids" EQ, massive heavy-handed NR

    Nothing of worth on this one.

    - 1996 Complete Recordings: B, good sources, natural (but rolled off) EQ, less NR but still obtrusive

    Probably the nicest overall set before the Centennial Collection

    - 1998/2004 King Of The Delta Blues Singers (& vol II): C, good sources, completely wonky EQ, lots of high end distortion, compression applied.

    I never understood the praise for these, they may have had the least NR but they had the worst EQ (too much bass which only adds rumble, creating a sucked out mids sound) and distortion problems.

    - 2011 Centennial Collection: A, best sources, completely natural EQ, NR only used for clicks/pops

    Johnson's voice finally sounds like a real person, the guitar sounds like a guitar. Finally these recordings have proper clarity, even through the surface noise. Very uniform collection of sources too. I doubt they could improve on this set.
    lukpac likes this.
  18. GroovinGarrett

    GroovinGarrett Mrs. Stately's Garden

    Atlanta, GA
    Many thanks for the information! For $14.88 I'll give the Centennial 2-CD set a try.
  19. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Care to post clips? For the most part I've thought the KOTDBS CDs were pretty good. There was recently another thread with some clips, and I generally thought those CDs sounded best, although nobody provided clips from the '96 box.
  20. bubba-ho-tep

    bubba-ho-tep Forum Resident

    Allmusic shows that the alternates are separate from the main takes on this set. Can anybody confirm this?
  21. bw

    bw Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH, US
    Who wrote them?
  22. Pseudonym

    Pseudonym Forum Resident

    Detroit, MI
    I absolutely agree. It's extremely rare, but I think this is a case where you can basically chuck out the 1990 set since everything here sounds miles better, and I'm not even a bug-eyed audiophile.
  23. bw

    bw Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH, US
    Has anyone compared it to the Mastersound gold cd?
  24. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    I picked it up over lunch...

    I haven't yet done a direct comparison with previous CDs, but there were several places in disc 1 where I thought "wow, that sounds really lifelike". Again, without doing a direct comparison, the transfers sound *similar* to those on the 2 KOTDBS CDs - no clicks or pops, but plenty of record "hiss". From the notes:

    Also, as far as the track order goes - disc 1 is San Antonio, disc 2 is Dallas. Both discs contain the masters, in order of master number, followed by the outtakes, also in order of master number.
  25. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    Briefly comparing Cross Road Blues (alt) to the version on KOTDBS v1. My initial thoughts are that the EQ *is* better on the new set. However, somewhat frustratingly, at the start of the song there's some groove noise not present on the earlier CD. It seems to get better as the song progresses, but it's too bad they couldn't have found a better copy to transfer from, possibly the one used for the last CD.

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