Robert Johnson - The Complete Original Masters - Centennial Edition





Product No.:
ACOL 86066
UPC: 886978606617

Vinyl Box Sets

No. of Discs: 12

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Robert Johnson - 100th Birthday Box Set

10-inch 45-RPM Replicas of Original Vocalion Records Plus Bonus CDs and DVD


Acoustic Sounds Exclusive

This isn't a recommendation; it's a declaration: Miss This One And You'll Be Sorry!

Every once in a great while Acoustic Sounds owner Chad Kassem does his best to flat-out demand that his friends and best customers buy something. Why? Because he's positively certain that it's going to become outrageously collectible and is going to skyrocket in price in very short order. Yeah, Kassem recommends a lot of things. And he only recommends the stuff he believes is going to blow his customers away. But there's a difference between him recommending something and him essentially slapping somebody across the face in a "don't blow it" kind of way. This is one of those times. This recommendation comes not because of the sound quality but because this set is going to be so collectible. You can buy this now at the initial price. Or you can salivate over it later. It's that simple. Please remember, there are only 1,000 numbered copies available.

Recreated in the historical look and feel of the 12 10" 78-RPM discs that originally carried Robert Johnson's music into the world in 1936 and 1937 (only playing at 45 RPM), this Limited Edition collector's set will be individually numbered - again, limited to 1,000. Housed in an actual 78-RPM album book - each "page" being a sleeve holding a single disc - each vinyl disc is outiftted with reproductions of the original record labels. Also included is a unique booklet with a new 1,500-word essay written by Ted Gioia, Texas-based pianist and music historian, and the author of Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music (2008); Work Songs (2006); and The History Of Jazz (1997), telling the story of Robert Johnson, complete historic track annotation and discographic data and photos.

And with this set you get The Robert Johnson Centennial Collection (two CDs); Rarities From The Vaults (a two-CD set that includes Rare Victor Blues, recordings from the Sony/Victor vaults, as well as Also Playing, which is other performers who recorded on the same day); and The Life And Music Of Robert Johnson: Can't You Hear The Wind Howl (DVD).

This is just as cool as it gets. Ten-inch vinyl-disc replicas of Robert Johnson's Vocalion records, now at 45 RPM (instead of the original 78). And all put together in a 10x10-inch hardbound box set. These are without a doubt the most celebrated blues recordings ever. Sure, purists (and we're among them) would argue that there are many other blues recording artists who had as great an impact on the genre's evolution, but nobody can argue that Robert Johnson's output has been the most lasting, the most mythical, the most revered and certainly the most collectible of all blues recordings. Take a look at Ebay to get some idea of what an original - in horrible condition - sells for. This is as close as almost all of us will get to what it would feel like - and sound like - to have a Robert Johnson original in our mitts. And guess what? With the set limited to 1,000 numbered copies, these too are going to be as rare as hen's teeth someday soon.

Something tremendously exciting about this set is the fact that four of the songs were sourced from the original metal parts. Those tracks - "32-20 Blues," "Ramblin' On My Mind," "Little Queen Of Spades" and "Preachin' Blues" - sound incredible in their clarity. Here's a bit more perspective on that topic, taken from the 23-page booklet included with this set:

"...A few Robert Johnson metal masters still existed after the various scrap drives and these formed the basis for the first reissue LP in the early '60s. In 1980 they were sent to a freelance engineer who updated the sound restoration for a soundtrack. They were returned to CBS Records, but went astray before they reached the vault. In 2008 a reorganization of the Sony Archive in New York revealed a box labeled "Surplus LPs" which contained the missing metal masters. They had been mis-labeled and stored in the wrong building for nearly thirty years!

"Unfortunately, for the purposes of this project, most of these newly-found masters consisted of takes never released on 78 rpm. The only parts originally issued on 78 rpm still existing were: '32-20 Blues,' 'Ramblin' On My Mind,' 'Little Queen Of Spades' and 'Preachin' Blues.'

"Before tape, recording masters were cut onto wax, and later, by the time Robert Johnson recorded, onto acetate coated aluminum disc, which was electro-plated. The metal was stripped away to form a perfect mirror image of the grooves, i.e., the grooves projected upwards. Then, this negative was again plated to form a positive; this served as the 'mother' and was used to produce one or more negatives or stampers for production runs. When these wore out, more stampers were plated from the mother.

"Glenn Korman, head of Sony Archives, authorized all existing parts to be shipped to sound engineer Harry Coster in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Harry, a 78 rpm expert, possesses a record press which is kept in a barn in the Dutch countryside and he hand-made new polystyrene pressings from the negatives, making new 78 rpm discs; these were then transferred to the digital medium and sonically enhanced." - Producer, Michael Brooks

The other songs were sourced from the very best 78 copies that the Sony team could locate.

Original source material provided by Bruce Bastin Supply. Sound resoration by Harry Coster. Mastering by Vic Anesini.


Sleeve 1: Vocalion 03416 - Kind Hearted Woman Blues (S1) / Terraplane Blues (S1)

Sleeve 2: Oriole 7-04-60 - 32-20 Blues (S2) / Last Fair Deal Gone Down (S3)

Sleeve 3: Conqueror 8871 - Dead Shrimp Blues (S3) / I Believe I'll Dust My Broom (S1)

Sleeve 4: Romeo 7-05-81 - Ramblin' On My Mind (S1) / Cross Road Blues (S3)

Sleeve 5: Romeo 7-07-57 - Come On In My Kitchen (S1) / They're Red Hot (S3)

Sleeve 6: Vocalion 03601 - Sweet Home Chicago (S1) / Walkin' Blues (S3)

Sleeve 7: Vocalion 03623 - From Four Until Late (D4) / Hell Hound On My Trail (D5)

Sleeve 8: Perfect 7-10-65 - Malted Milk (D5) / Milkcow's Calf Blues (D5)

Sleeve 9: Perfect 7-12-67 - Stones In My Passway (D4) / I'm A Steady Rollin' Man (D4)

Sleeve 10: Vocalion 04002 - Stop Breakin' Down Blues (D5) / Honeymoon Blues (D5)

Sleeve 11: Vocalion 04108 - Little Queen Of Spades (D5) / Me And The Devil Blues (D5)

Sleeve 12: Vocalion 04630 - Preachin' Blues (S3) / Love In Vain (D5)

Recording index:

S1 - San Antonio, Texas: Monday, November 23, 1936

S2 - San Antonio, Texas: Thursday, November 26, 1936

S3 - San Antonio, Texas: Friday, November 27, 1936

D4 - Dallas, Texas: Saturday, June 19, 1937

D5 - Dallas, Texas: Sunday, June 20, 1937

Customer Reviews (5.00 Stars) 6 person(s) rated this product.

Awesome set

posted on 02/18/2012
5 Stars
Reviewer: The Magic Stranger
Really well done for the collector.

Top Notch!

posted on 11/06/2011
5 Stars
Reviewer: Tony
A gem of a collection. This box set has me grinning from ear to ear.

If you get the chance, snap this up.

Simply Wonderful

posted on 07/07/2011
5 Stars
Reviewer: AC
I thought the Doxy was great, and then I got this. Quite superior. I think everyone did a stellar job on this project but it would have been nice if they had used some sort of mini mo-fi or Japanese inner sleeve here instead of plain paper. Kind of like putting great wine in a plastic bottle. Otherwise awesome. Who has box #666, I wonder?

Robert Johnson Set

posted on 06/15/2011
5 Stars
Reviewer: Alex Clough
I just recieved this wonderful set today - I originally purchased this set as an investment and keep it sealed, but I could not stand not listening to it. So I ordered a 2nd set today, which I will open and listen to when it arrives. I have (2) other sets - The Doxy (3) lp set and the picture disc, both of which I purchased from you I believe. If only he lived longer - Thanks for doing a great job putting this together! Alex Clough

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