From the Record Shelves #90

Careless Love

LP CBS Archive Series BPG 62377

First I must make a bit boring comment on sound and transfers of original 78 rpm records.

Once, my girlfriend wanted me to place a bid on an 78 auction because she wanted to have a Bessie Smith Record. We could not afford much so what we got in the end was a very worn out original of “Dying By the Hour” with accompaniment by Tommy Ladnier. But through the terrible noise I noticed that the sound was somehow better than the 1970s LPs and the following CDs produced by CBS. I don’t know what they did, but somehow they lost the presence that is so important in their transfers. Some years later I met a friend and great collector who told me that he and John R. T. Davies planned to release the chronological Bessie’s again, and so they did and with the eight volumes on FROG everything is fine.

But today I put on an early LP from the CBS series The Bessie Smith Story of four volumes, well compiled and with good comments by George Avakian. It’s from the 1960s and the sound is good I think.

Louis Armstrong who was in New York with Fletcher Henderson at the time is accompanying Bessie on cornet together with Charlie Green on trombone and Fred Longshaw on piano. It was recorded on May 5, 1925.

I remember, when, as a teenager, I came back in the room at bedtime after brushing my teeth. My elder sister was listening to a Bessie Smith record. I became so affected by her voice and the rest of the music, so I didn’t know what to do and still today I can get the same feeling. It’s a great gift to the world to make a record like that.