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Re: [ARSCLIST] New LoC Recording Registry

Mike, you are so right about all the spoken-word recordings you list!

How about Edward R. Murrow's "I Can Hear It Now," which sold an awful lot of then-new LPs plus 12" 78 albums and was an early example of using the new (in the U.S.) medium of tape to edit together many different sound sources.

Also what about comedy albums? "The First Family" won a Grammy, charted for weeks and has the whole interesting story of Vaughn Meder's ill-fated career. George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, and so many other popular, commercially successful and socially relevant recordings.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thursday, June 11, 2009 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] New LoC Recording Registry

From: Vincent Pelote <pelote@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Doesn't it make sense then that a music as culturally,
historically and aesthetically important as jazz (often
called "America's classical music") should be heavily
represented in a National Recording Registry?

Actually I see the list as coming in bunches. Some eras have a lot of jazz to the exclusion of other genre of recordings, while other eras are heavy in spoken word, or rock, or classical to the exclusion of jazz. The registry is a work-in-progress, and the annual lists need to be looked at in context of the full list, and that full list sometimes gets out of balance as some genres play catch up. I wonder if there has been a chart made of the genres and their timelines to make comparisons of imbalance. That might make a good project, but it is something that should have already been in place for the committee to use in their considerations. If it is, it would be good to make public. If not, it could be something to submit to some of the people we know on the committee.

The other problem I wonder about are the annotations on each recording.
There should be a lengthy file on each recording, but I find no way of
viewing these on-line.  Are these files available at LC?  Or do they
even exist???  Some of these recordings are things that I have done
detailed research on, such as the Defense Test Day, the Hindenburg
disaster, Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto, Richard Hale/Kousy Peter
and the Wolf, FDR Declaration of War, and a number of others.  Does the
FDR file explain the various ways the different networks broadcast the
House debate that followed, and do they include these different
recordings?  The House debate portions are MORE IMPORTANT than FDR's
speech is, and my recordings are the most complete available and I
donated dube to both NARA and LC.  The description of the Rach 2
mentions that two movements had been released in an acoustical version,
but doesn't mention that the entire concerto had been recorded
acoustically and that the missing last side of the 1st mvt has been
found.  Do they have the info I discovered about the forged ledger sheet
which changed the approved takes to reflect the alternate takes they
started using in the early war years?  Do they have all the issued
alternate takes?  Do they also have the unissued alternate takes I know
are still in the vaults?  Likewise with the Peter and the Wolf, do they
have the issued and unissued alternate takes?  Do they know that the
piece was recorded straight thru on one take and then they went back and
recorded a couple of re-takes of each side later in the session?  Have
they put together the take-ones in a separate sequence to re-create that
unique recording session?  Or have they never even looked at the session

While there is a mechanism in place to put in nominations, I see no
mechanism to update, supplement and correct the information of the
recordings already in the registry.  The public info doesn't even give
any discographical info, or even any finding aid info, although the
annual lists give the identification of the photographs and their
finding numbers in the listings but not the recordings themselves.

Why is it that other countries (France, Denmark, Japan, etc.)
revere jazz more than the land where it was created?
Vincent Pelote

If you look at the TV ratings you can understand that the American
people in general are dunderheads.  The Europeans in general revere
*ALL* culture more than the American people.  The European interest in
Jazz is of long standing, back to the 1930s and even earlier (as Rainer
Lotz's ARSC presentation showed) but the damn fool U.S. copyright law,
coupled with the damn fools who run the U.S. record companies have made
it almost impossible for any general interest in jazz to now develop in
the American people.

You know what I found out yesterday?  A college chum of mine is
president of the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers.  He wanted to put
recordings of some compositions written by members of the group on their
web page when they did recent tributes to these composers.  They
received a notice from ASCAP of enormous fees due.  They had a signed
agreement from the composer of the music allowing them to use it but
ASCAP told them that the composer was not allowed to go around his ASCAP
agreement.  When a BMI composer was next to be honored, my friend told
him to go to BMI himself, and BMI told him the same thing that ASCAP had
told the assoc in the earlier case.  I suggested that the public
performance licensing agencies did not have EXCLUSIVE rights, that the
Commercial advertising rights are reserved to the creators, and that
they could claim these are commercial advertising usages, but their
lawyers said that ASCAP and BMI might sue anyway even though they know
they will lose, and that it would still cost plenty.

So the organizations that are supposed to promote the use of their
members' compositions and provide them income are BLOCKING usages that
are even authorized by the composers themselves.  That is similar to the
actions of the record companies that are not maintaining recordings in
print so that the composers and performers can continue to receive
royalties.  The copyright law is reducing, rather than increasing, the
income of the majority of composers and performers.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

Tom Fine wrote:
The Command records, specifically "Persuasive Percussion,"
"Provacative Percussion," "Big Band Bossa Nova," and "Stereo/35mm" all
charted, in fact Persuasive was at the top of the Billboard stereo
album charts for weeks and weeks. I know for a fact that "Persuasive"
and "Provacative" together sold over 1 million records, and the
briefly-available CD reissues sell for dozens of dollars used. These
were immensely popular records in their time, and were very important
to the industry as far as getting stereo established with the
listening public, the Regular Joes.

I don't know about 1000 Strings, but I think Esquavel sold quite well,
too. After the massive success of Command, all the major labels tried
doing percussion and "stereo spectacular" records. Some sold quite
well, many were expensive flops, some are better remembered today than
they were accepted by the public when released.

Also not on the list but deserving to be there are the only two
classical Gold Records from the 1950's -- the Mercury mono "1812
Overture" (Dorati/Minneapolis) and Van Cliburn's "victory lap"
recording after he won the Moscow competition, on RCA. I believe in
those days, Gold meant half a million or more in sales dollars, not
500,000 units.

I hesitate to suggest this, but ... if you're making a registry that's
truly representative of Americans' recording and listening tastes,
then you need to include something disco from the mid-70's. I'd
suggest that the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever," which I think
went mulit-platinum, would cover that.

I'm not sure how the nominating process works, but this list is very
jazz heavy. Just to be clear, I love jazz and have a huge collection
of jazz albums and listen to jazz more frequently than any other type
of music, but, it was never what paid the bills for the music
business, at least not from the dawn of LPs forward. It was a freak
occurance for a jazz album to be a mainstream hit, and those albums do
belong on the list, stuff like "Kind of Blue," and "The Girl from
Ipanema." I don't have a beef with deep-catalog jazz on the list, I
just wish other stuff that had a much wider influence on the listening
public were on the list.

Oh, one other thing that belongs on the list if you're including
important audio documents. Mickey Kapp made a 6-LP deluxe set for
Time-Life called "To The Moon" that summed up the space program
through the first moon landing and included extensive NASA and other
audio. It was more general and more all-encompassing than any other
space-related recording and apparently sold many copies based on how
many used and well-worn copies show up on eBay and in record shops
I've visited.

It was nice to see O. Winston Link's train recordings listed, but what
about Emory Cook's, which were ground-breaking? I think Link's are
much cooler, but Cook was there first.

Mike, definitely agree about Sound in the Round, although I'm not sure
how many copies of this sold to a mass audience. I know it came out on
stereo LP (I have a mint copy), but I think it got its big bang in the
early 2T tape days, so that was a niche if highly enthusiastic audience.

BTW, I'm not convinced the folks who write copy for this list are even
clear that stereo happened before 1958!

Ya know, the thought also occurred to me that Latin music is
under-represented, big-time! Anything from the Rhumba, Samba, Cha-Cha
records of the 1940s to Machito to Latin funk to more modern
pop-oriented Latin music like Ricky Martin (multi-platinum stuff,
should not be ignored even if it's not a typical collector's taste).
Aaron Levinson might chime in here, he's the true Latin expert on this

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Michael Biel" <mbiel@xxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 10:02 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] New LoC Recording Registry

From: Tom Fine <tflists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Also, no early stereo pop stuff, which sold millions and millions of

Tom, you would have LOVED the presentation Dennis Rooney gave at ARSC last week about 1959: the first full year of the stereo disc. It was so evocative of my experiences in hi-fi that year I hit 13 and bought my first component system (as partially just discussed in the prior posting about getting my first tape recorder.) I was so glad my daughter was sitting there next to me to hear it, especially since we had gone thru the catalogs of 58 and 59 last year for a project she was doing. Of course now I have to go thru the pre-recorded tape catalogs of those years to figure out the prior question, but those catalogs are several hundred miles away right now.

I assume that you mean things like the Command Persuasive/Provacative
Percussion series, the Somerset 101 Strings series, Bob Schory,
Esquavel, and Sounds Your Eyes Can Follow on RCA, etc. but there are a
fair amount of early stereo stuff from the 58-61 years like (1958) Dance
Mania. Tito Puente; Winds in Hi-Fi. Eastman Wind Ensemble with Frederick
Fennell; "Poeme Electronique." Edgard Varese; (1959)Time Out. The Dave
Brubeck Quartet; Mingus Ah-Um. Charles Mingus; Giant Steps. John
Coltrane; Kind of Blue. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley,
Bill Evans, and others; "What'd I Say," parts 1 and 2. Ray Charles;
(1960) Drums of Passion. Michael Babatunde Olatunji; and (1961) Judy at
Carnegie Hall. Judy Garland.

We should nominate Sound in the Round, Music for Non-Thinkers, Music for
Bang Barooom and Harp, Delirium in Hi-Fi, Bob and Ray on A Platter,
Cartoons In Stereo, etc etc. I've been meaning to do these and a bunch
of other things but I never get around to it. You can put nominations
in year-round. They did The Churkendoose this year (one of my
favorites), and I've got a bunch of other kids records that also need to
be nominated. I resolve to do it, and all you other complainers, get
off your duffs (or stay on your duffs in front of the computer) and
nominate what you favor.

Mike Biel mbiel@xxxxxxxxx

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