[Dixielandjazz] Bessie Smith and "distortion"

Robert Smith robert.smith at mitransport.no
Mon Jan 10 11:36:52 PST 2005

Hello Mike and Anton

Sorry, I don't have the May 6th, 1925 takes of "Yellow Dog Blues" only the May 5th take (presumably the second take).
I've listened to both tunes using the maximum volume my ears could take through hi-fi earphones, and I still can't hear any gurgling or distortion (other than the inherent distortion of early equipment) on CBS LP 66264. The "inherent distortion" is a tinny sound on loud notes, but this is common to all early electric recordings using Western Electric equipment.
The recording was done in an improvised "acoustic tent" in the Columbia studio using a carbon microphone. Carbon microphones were very shock-sensitive so I find it hard to believe that the recording engineers (who were also in the tent) would allow Bessie to stand too close. In fact, given the power of Bessie's voice, she would probably have been standing quite a way away.

It wouldn't surprise me to hear that digitalization is the real culprit, as I can hear "gurgles" on some of the CD's that I have.



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