Seminal "Anthology of American Folk Music" reissued on vinyl!


I love this anthology. My husband got it for me on CD a couple of holidays ago. I listen to it all the time. The vinyl issue looks lovely!

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Uhhhh. . . Dave Von Ronk?

Never seen that spelling of his name before.

Yep, the Anthology defines what “essential” even means. But for this reissue, WHERE DID THE SOUND COME FROM? I think they just “burned” the Smithsonian-Folkways CD to vinyl, which anybody can do. If vinyl fans mean what they say about analog, they should be asking the question: Is this just the CD’s from 1997 plopped on vinyl, or what? How were these made???


Almost all vinyl reissues today come from digital sources. Ironically, since many Ampex master tapes degraded over the years, and since many original masters can’t be found, there are a lot of cds that are mastered from old vinyl sources. To further the irony, the original LPs in this series would have come from 78rpm records, pressed onto 33 1/3 LPs, which arguably is “pure analog”, but somehow I doubt sounds better than modern digital remastering that removes a lot of surface noise.

No, you changed the subject. I’m not asking if the source was digital - I’m asking if the source was the very Compact DIscs I bought from Smithsonian Folkways in 1997. You CAN get the original 78s and remaster them post-1997 technology. You can ALSO start with, say, the Smithsonian’s higer rez digital than what they put on the CDs. I have asked this question about this reissue (and other Harry Smith Anthology vinyl) before – always the same run-around, always a change of subject. Just be honest with me about how the hell it was made. That’s all I ask.

I was just musing on the nature of reissues, which I have some tangential professional experience with. I don’t work for Mississippi or Smithsonian Folkways, so I cannot answer your question.

If I were to guess, I would think Mississippi just used the original 1997 cds. They may have done some additional remastering, but it would still remain in the 44.1 kHz sampling rate.

Where did you see that Smithsonian Folkways offers something higher res than 44.1 kHz cd standard wav audio?

Right, I understand … as I say, non-response is the standard response, and nobody seems to mind. It drives me nuts.

About Smithsonian-Folkways, I’m taking a wild guess that they made bigger files, and downsized them to fit on the CDs. In any case, that was 17 years ago. They (or somebody) could do a much better job now - Mississippi surely did NOT do that job.

Besides a 78 is an antique, and each one is different. (Sit with a collector and ask to hear multiple copies of the same record.) If they started with different 78s, you WOULD be buying something distinctly different.

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Remember, this venture would be more about commerce than archiving or satisfying audiophiles, and it’s unlikely that Mississippi would spend more time or money than necessary to make these pressings as it cuts into the bottom line, and the record business (particularly at this independent level) is not exactly making anybody rich.

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