Inspired by the original LP release on Goldband Records in 1979, and an expanded CD reissue in 1991, Swampland Jewels is set for release on September 22. A cult classic with an iconic cover, the 19-track compilation of classic Cajun, zydeco, rock ‘n roll and R&B music from East Texas and Southwest Louisiana was remixed and remastered from the original studio masters.
The title is the first full-length release from Yep Roc Records partnership with the Southern Folklife Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Produced by Steven Weiss, Curator at the Southern Folklife Collection, and remastered by Brent Lambert at The Kitchen Mastering in Carrboro, NC, the compilation features 12 tracks from the original LP and CD releases, seven newly discovered tracks, and includes liner notes by Weiss on the history of Goldband Records and founder Eddie Shuler.
After comparing the two-track album master of the original ‘70s release to the album master, Weiss decided to rebuild the compilation from the high-resolution transfers of the un-overdubbed original session tapes. The release retains as much of the raw element as possible while keeping the dynamic range of recordings, which were recorded live, straight-to-tape, without overdubs.
“I researched the Goldband collection to find the original single or session masters for all the songs,” says Weiss. “It was a thrill hearing the raw recordings with studio talk, count-ins and unissued takes that captured the way Eddie worked and the immediacy of studio recordings in the 1950s and ‘60s. The original tapes also captured a strong sense of place.”
While hopeful to recreate the original LP track list, Weiss was unable to find acceptable masters for some of the tracks that would match the sound quality of the new transfers. In place of those tracks, he chose newly discovered songs that matched the scope and feel of what he felt was Eddie Shuler’s original intent. Much like the early ‘90s CD reissue, this re-imagined reissue of Swampland Jewels features an expanded track list.
One of the most vital and important documentarians of endemic southern music in the 20th century, Goldband Records was located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and produced recordings of some of the South’s most important and distinctive musical styles and sounds, including Cajun, zydeco, blues, rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and swamp pop. For years, fans, collectors and scholars have lamented the use of later overdubs Eddie Shuler employed on the original LP release in order to update the original ‘50s and ‘60s recordings for the late-‘70s marketplace.
In the mid-90s, the Southern Folklife Collection acquired the archives of Goldband Records, which included sound recordings covering the label’s 50-year history. Moldy and in need of extensive cleaning before they could be digitized for preservation and access, the Goldband tapes required thousands of hours of repair. Through a series of grants from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, all recordings were cleaned and digitized, preserving the content and making the recordings accessible for research and release.
Digitized by the Southern Folklife Collection staff engineers Brian Paulson and John Loy using modern open reel tape decks optimized with custom playback heads for archival work, the audio was captured at a high-resolution bit depth/sample rate of 24bit/96kHz. The end result of this work revealed content of never-before-heard tapes in high quality and many hours of unreleased takes.
Get your copy of Swampland Jewels HERE!