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ARSCLIST  January 2004

ARSCLIST January 2004

Subject:

Re: A "modest proposal" based on the Elvis master tapes

From:

Michael Shoshani <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Michael Shoshani <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Jan 2004 02:03:42 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines)

Matthew Barton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>It's doubtful--very doubtful--that this really is a Sun master tape.
>There's a detailed article in today's NY Times, and one in yesterday's
>Washington Post, about the murky provenance of this reel. For what it's
>worth, the picture that accompanies the NY Times articles shows a man
>holding up a 1/4" tape.

Admittedly, record companies have been rather spotty about
preservation of ANY archival material, and I am sure that RCA was any
exception.  But for their major cash cow one would think that they
would have taken special precautions. 

At any rate, the Elvis "Legendary Performer" LPs that came out in the
1970s had photographic reproductions of the Scotch tape boxes that RCA
purchased from Sam Phillips.  As best I recall these boxes had
rudimentary track information on them and most likely would have been
originals.  Even if they were dupes (had Sam Phillips kept the
original session tapes and given high-quality dubs to RCA instead,
would anyone have been the wiser? Both RCA/BMG and the Shelby
Singleton Corporation seemed to have had their own individual copies
of the session tape for the famed "Million Dollar Quartet"), they
still give some indication that Elvis Presley's Sun output would have
been recorded on a Scotch formulation.  

If someone were to find a 50 year old reel of the appropriate Scotch
stock, clean up and calibrate a good-quality early 1950s vintage Ampex
or Magnecord machine, and make a high quality 1/4" dub of the "Sun
Sessions" album that BMG issued in the mid-late 1980s, would it be
good enough to fool experts? Especially if one were to, say, stick it
in an attic for a decade and a half?

(I don't recall either BMG or the Presley Estate making any noises
about these tape snippets being fraudulent, though.   I would doubt
that the Presley Estate has anyone with the technical knowledge to
determine whether such a recording would be genuine, and given that
BMG seems to be downsizing its archivists I wonder if anyone is left
there that would know where any of its first-generation archive
material from that era is stored.  I'd bet money that Bernadette Moore
could have authenticated or disproved this one in under a minute. :) )

Michael Shoshani
Chicago IL

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