The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101866   Message #2072676
Posted By: Joe Offer
10-Jun-07 - 03:33 AM
Thread Name: master tapes [re:Phoebus/Bulmer !!!?]
Subject: Elektra Records Reissues
All the major labels in the U.S. had folk musicians in the 50's and 60's, but I think Elektra may have had the most significant collection of commercial folk recordings - as opposed to the more traditional music on the Folkways label, which really didn't make much money. This Elektra Discography (click) covers the period when the legendary Jac Holzman ran the label, from 1950 to about mid-1973. The Wikipedia entry on Elektra is worthwhile reading.

The Judy Collins Elektra recordings were reissued by Warner Brothers early on, but most of the folk catalog was left in the vaults. Within the last five years, some of the Elektra albums have been released on the Collectors' Choice label, and some on the Warner Brothers Rhino and Rhino Handmade labels. The Rhino Handmade reissues have been very nice productions, including a 37-cut CD by Jean Ritchie, 28 cuts from Ed McCurdy called When Dalliance Was in Flower and maidens lost their heads, and a nice collection of Yiddish songs by Theodore Bikel - all beautifully packaged and annotated, with quality remastering.

But still, there's lots of Elektra that hasn't been reissued. It's disappointing - but I'm not all that sure it's unfair. Now, I will say that there is no question about the Warner Brothers ownership of these Elektra recordings. Apparently there is a question about the legitimacy of Dave Bulmer's ownership of the recordings he's holding on to - but I don't really understand that issue, and it has been clouded by an inundation of verbiage here at Mudcat.

And Diane is right that many of the early Elektra reissues had terrible mastering - they sounded like they have been mastered onto a cassette deck from an LP, and then put on CD. The more recent ones range from very good (Collectors' Choice) to extraordinary (Rhino Handmade).

Now there's one Elektra recording I'd really love to have - the one by Sandy Paton - but Sandy doesn't like that album and hopes it never again sees the light of day. I begged Sandy, but begging doesn't work with him. Now, if anybody should happen to want to send a bootleg copy my way....


I'm very familiar with Topic, Diane, and very pleased with the Topic reissues I've bought, especially with the 20-CD Voice of the People series, the Watersons box set, and The Acoustic Folk Box. My database says I have 35 Topic recordings, but that's counting Voice of the People as one recording.