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  • Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings
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Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, January 28, 1997
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$89.96
$56.24 $4.24
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Louis Armstrong: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings + The Complete Town Hall Concert 1947
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Louis Armstrong recorded for RCA Victor for two relatively brief periods in his long career, in the early days of his big band (1932 to '33) and in the period when he broke up the orchestra and returned to a New Orleans-style smaller ensemble (1946 to '47). This four-CD set is evenly divided between the two periods. The early big bands--first drummer Chick Webb's and then the trumpeter's own--provide a comfortable setting for Armstrong, who simply reigned supreme among jazz soloists of the period, with peerless invention and a stunning flexibility. He was defining the jazz singer's art as well, his subtle phrasing transforming even casual songs as convincingly as his flamboyant horn. Purists have often mourned Armstrong's shift to large groups, but these are fine bands, driven along by potent drummers like Webb and Big Sid Carlett and manned by distinguished players like saxophonists Louis Jordan and Budd Johnson and pianist Teddy Wilson. The later recordings find Armstrong leading superb groups, with old associates like trombonist Kid Ory, clarinetist Barney Bigard, and drummer Zutty Singleton and classic repertoire like Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Rockin' Chair." The Town Hall recordings from 1947, with Armstrong trading vocals and solos with trombonist Jack Teagarden, are among Louis's greatest work. The set also includes meetings with other musical icons. Armstrong provides bluesy trumpet accompaniment to country singer Jimmie Rodgers on a rendition of "Blue Yodel No. 9" and meets Duke Ellington on record for the first time on "Long, Long Journey." --Stuart Broomer


Disc: 1
1. That's My Home
2. Hobo, You Can't Ride This Train
3. I Hate To Leave You Now
4. You'll Wish You'd Never Been Born
5. Medley Of Armstrong Hits-Part 1: I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You/When It's Sleepy...
See all 18 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Honey, Dont You Love Me Anymore?
2. Mississippi Basin
3. Laughin' Louie
4. Tomorrow Night
5. Dusky Stevedore
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Long, Long Journey
2. Snafu
3. Linger In My Arms A Little Longer
4. Whatta Ya Gonna Do
5. No Variety Blues
See all 19 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. It Takes Time
2. You Don't Learn That In School
3. Ain't Misbehavin'
4. Rockin' Chair
5. Back O' Town Blues
See all 18 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 28, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000003G75
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,877 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By J. Douglas Benson on December 17, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is fantastic Satchmo; the man is my hero and I love his early stuff. A complete collection like this is a wonderful thing to own... well, except that as a musician I find it hard to listen to the first two discs. Here's why:

In the 1990s many of the major label engineers who first began working with digital noise reduction (Cedar, Sonic Solutions) focused solely on the noise reduction. They strove to get rid of the scratch and hiss, sometimes with good results, sometimes with disappointing results, as the noise reduction also reduced the sensitive high frequencies of the music itself. Luckily in this case, the tonal characteristics of the music have been preserved nicely. The problems lie elsewhere.

Problem 1: all the records seem to have been transferred at the "standard" speed of 78.26 r.p.m. Victor actually used several other speeds as well, and many or most of these early Armstrongs are running too fast or too slow.

Problem 2: most of the records on the first two discs are off center to various degrees, and the pitch wobbles, making the whole band sound out of tune. This is something that needs to be tackled when the original transfers are made (and it's easy to do) but for some reason these guys didn't do it. Maybe they were working with early tape transfers or previous reissues instead of original discs.

Anyway, put these two things together, and the result (to me) is an almost unlistenable collection of fantastic recordings.

Bummer!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mucho Music on May 25, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Considering the many and myriad ways RCA (now BMG-Sony) has parsed and packaged this material in bits and pieces, it is a relief to be able to get it all in one set. You won't hear it in better sound than this, and the material is essential for a comprehensive Armstrong collection. The first two discs are from the early thirties (my favorites), and the last two are recordings from 1946-47. The generous liner notes are by Armstrong authority Dan Morgenstern. If there is a complaint, it would be the relatively minor one of the graphic artist having chosen the large but hard-to-read (Broadway?)typeface for the song titles. And nowhere is there a consolidated list of song titles on the back of the case or anywhere else. No matter. This is great stuff, and not to be missed.
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Format: Audio CD
This 1997 set is identical in content to the 2008 reissue. Making the assumption that the technical advances in the intervening years resulted in better remastering in 2008, I see no reason to go for the earlier box unless it comes down to a matter of price. For me, though, the audio on these four CDs is better than adequate. The pitch and speed problems cited by J. Douglas Benson aren’t intrusive, as far as I’m concerned; Benson’s ears are better than mine.

But whereas everyone on Amazon who has reviewed THE COMPLETE RCA VICTOR RECORDINGS has had high praise for the music, I find a lot of it to be substandard Armstrong. This I attribute to the daunting schedule of concert performances and the demands of celebrity Armstrong faced in 1932-33. He sounds tired here, some of his playing has a coarseness it didn’t have earlier or later, and many of his vocals seem desultory and rushed, as if he hadn’t learned the songs before he came into the studio. This is particularly disappointing with two Arlen-Koehler standards, still in their infancy when Armstrong recorded them: ‘I’ve Got the World on a String’ and 'I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues’. But much of the material is second- and third-rate Tin Pan Alley stuff that wasn’t good then and is even worse now. Novelties abound, such as ‘I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You’, and Louis’s 'sequel' to it, ‘You’ll Wish You’d Never Been Born’. And when a good composer is represented, it’s hardly his best work: Victor Young’s ‘Sweet Sue, Just You’ is a mediocrity and Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Snowball’ an atrocity. Then there’s something called ‘Laughin’ Louie’, a 'comedy' record of sorts that must be heard to be disbelieved. Armstrong was unable at this stage in his career to transmute trash to treasure.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When RCA Records and BMG released this symbolic 4-CD set, we came to realize
that we would get the priveliged opportunity to hear three full-length sessions from
The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1933-48), and with great thanks to RCA as
well as BMG, this entire set has plenty of timeless music to enjoy. However, during
that time before 1947, do you realize that record companies would sell a recorded
session in 78 sets? The answer seems to be a historic yes, and what I like to add
in this review are three honourable reviews to the three recorded sessions each--
starting with this one, where a review for each of them will be included.

Young Louis Armstrong. (1933)
"A Towering Music Achievement Done With Jubilation!
Making the switch to RCA Victor Records after his stay with Columbia Records,
Louis Armstrong would again impressed listeners and the critics with this landmark
ambitious recorded session (or 78 set) that also became a fascinating in-the-studio
experience for him and the celebrated jazz master. Recorded between December
of 1932 and 1933 and released in it’s 78 set format in 1933—and released in it’s 2-
LP format in the late-1970’s, Young Louis Armstrong showcases a large ensemble
jamboree that is heralded by first class arranging, high-swinging vitality, Satchmo’s
versatile trumpet- vocal solos performed with class and defining skill, excellent pep
and occasional dashes of honour and jubilation mixed together that made this epic
recorded session a complete success.
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