Destroying the masters

Is it really true that, as commenter EM suggests, many of the old Benson masters were destroyed when it was acquired by Provident? Destroyed? Can anybody confirm this?

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  1. CVH wrote:

    I have been asking that question for years and I’ve never been able to get a straight answer from anyone. One of the problems is no one is there from the 70’s (or earlier or later) who would have a clue. Or care. Provident has re-released some standard catalog comps from records that were released in the 70’s but no clue as to whether they came off the original masters. Probably not.

    Maybe they’re all in Bob MacKenzie’s widow’s attic. Someone should ask Ben Speer. Doug Oldham bought all his masters from the company at some point; not sure about anyone else. He might know. It’s not just their asset value (although some might argue that’s negligible at this point) but the historical value of many of them (ok, not the Kenny Parker Trio).

    Could be time to open up a can of whoop ass.

  2. Nina wrote:

    Hey CVH!
    I happen to like the Kenny Parker Trio. “Ten Thousand Years” is one of my favorite SG songs. While I have no idea if Provident/Zondervan/Zomba/BMG/Universal destroyed masters, I do know they must have had original masters for Greater Vision to do the “Quartets” recording. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did lose or destroy them. The left hand never knows what the right is doing in most of those “bigger” companies. There is a guy named Cory Ridenour (forgive the spelling) at Provident who controls leasing. Maybe he could shed some light on our discussion. P.S. I love Peggy Parker!

  3. Charles Brady wrote:

    Most of those old 2″ masters have probably rotted by now because SG couldn’t afford/didn’t see the value in climate controlled rooms to perserve them. This is old tape we are talking about and not only that but at a couple hundred bucks a reel most just recorded over the top of them so when they mentioned destoyed that probably meant (recorded over.) I’ve seen attempts that range from baking in an low heat oven to you name it. Fact is that old tape may have sounded good years ago but after going from damp studios to hot attics not much survives unless you are a universal or a sony. Maybe Mickey from over at Crossroads will tell you if any of the old Crossroads masters where in his basement when his house got flooded? I never ask him but it wouldn’t surprise me. And demand for projects in the dozens just doesn’t command a lot of extra protection if you know what I mean….

  4. Mickey Gamble wrote:

    RE: Comment #3 - Charles Brady

    Pardon me if I sound offended. I am.

    1. Unless you have survived a flood and have been through the “rebuilding your life” process that goes with it, it would be unwise to throw dirty water at someone who has. It is not a subject to be used as innuendo.
    2. The suggestion that I would be so ignorant as to keep valuable masters in my basement in a flood prone area is offensive.
    3. The idea that SG record companies are such hicks that they are too stupid, greedy, or poor to properly preserve masters is also, offensive.
    4. Crossroads HAS kept its masters (going back into the 1980’s) in a climate controlled environment. 2″ masters. Half and quarter inch mix and soundtrack masters. Which means little since ALL tape based masters deteriorate even in the best controlled environment. That’s why Crossroads transferred masters to all the various new forms of media that appeared over the years–currently, to CD’s. That while STILL keeping all the old tapes in their climate controlled environment.

    Related to the more specific subject of this (Avery’s) post, I can say this. Recent attempts on the part of Crossroads to license, for digital distribution, old masters from one of the above-mentioned companies, was met with a request for a six-figure “advance payment” for EACH requested master. It would seem that company either has no intention to lease those masters OR… EM is correct.

  5. Harry Peters wrote:

    Don’t get old Harry Peters started on the Kenny Parker Trio. “We’re Not Home Yet Children,” was written by Jean Bradford (Shorty Bradford’s widow). Who would steal from a widow?

  6. Irishlad wrote:

    SOT. Went to the debut concert of ‘N Harmony last night,and i’ll keep this brief. They were ok….and i mean just ok. I doubt if Gold City or Eh&ss will have much to worry about competition wise. As far as Eye candy goes the girls(young and ‘ahem those of a certain age)will no doubt be well pleased with this latest model. Right, ok down to the music,the first set,about a half dozen songs,i’ll mention two.’ I just started living’ and ‘It is well’. Of the first song one would immediately think Danny F,the setting being Ireland i thought more like well, Banshee,however Rick’s stage personna made up for the screeching. ‘It is well’ was taken by the baritone,again my old gripe,a lead singing baritone but 6/10 for sheer effort. I know i’m rushing this,but on to the 2nd set. This was the time for all their old stuff to get aired,and,by far the best part of their part of the night. Shane still has it big time and their bass Will, dutch sounding surname i could’nt be bothered spelling is way up there with the best and by the best in context of ‘N Harmony/age group i’m talking Chris West,Aaron McCune. All in all 3 out of 5 if you need a rating.

  7. PhilB wrote:


    I was also there at the concert last night and agree with most of what you said.

    I think the group has a great deal of potential, and their talent line up is very good.

    I was skeptical about their tenor, but by the end of the evening i was enjoying the sound.

    The old stuff was by far the highlight, Shane really has the voice and stage charisma to pull it off so well.

    Apologies for being OT!

  8. CVH wrote:

    Hey Nina!

    I love some of Kenny Parker’s songs too. I was just trying to draw a comparison between a master for, say, “Performance” by the Oaks or some of the old Imperials HeartWarming masters vs. other groups Benson put out that didn’t sell as big. No harm intended!

    I think Charles and Mickey both make valid points. With the changes in music trends through the 80s and 90s, I’m not sure how much value a Benson or Word would put into properly storing and digitizing their masters, especially the two inch stuff. Quarter inch mixes maybe but I don’t know if they’d see the value in the multitracks vs. the cost of perservation. And if a company is demanding a high upfront just for licensing, something’s going on.

    What surprises me the most is that no one seems to be able to get a straight answer on this. Isn’t there someone in the business who really knows the status of all these masters?

  9. Aaron Swain wrote:

    #6: Thanks for the report. I’ll be reviewing their new project in a couple of weeks.

  10. Charles Brady wrote:


    I am so sorry that I offened you. You are one of the best guys I know and I would not have knowingly done that in a million years to you. That was not at all my intent so I publicly offer my apology to you.

    After re-reading my response I can see where you would be offened but it wasn’t even close to being my intent. I started on one train of thought ( remembering the old days of low budget studio work which has never been an issue with Crossroads ) and then moved into the thought process of the only record executive I knew that had been through a flood or a fire that may have had old masters stored in their home. There should have been a transition but there wasn’t and I see that now.

    So again I’m sorry that I didn’t write/read/wait 96 hours/modify/post…

  11. Kyle wrote:

    I just bought a new CD put out by New Haven/Provident, part of the Gospel Legacy Series, on the Oaks, called “The Gospel Sessions. Those sound about as clear as they could for being 35+ year old masters (”The Flowers Kissed The Shoes” sounds WONDERFUL). I DID notice, however, that one of the songs, “I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me,” had what sounded like record pops at the end of the song. These pops were also identically present on a two-CD set that Provident put out on the Oaks back in 1998, so I assume it’s the same master copy.

    Everything else I hear from those old Oaks masters sound great….then again, they’re always released by Provident. When I bought the “Jubilee” compilation that Daywind put out a few years back, the master for “Jesus Is Coming Soon” sounded like an old cassette, so maybe it’s just the leasing that’s a pain in the rear.

    I DO know that Gold City owns a lot of their Benson masters outright. Their contract at the time stated that Gold City finance and record the albums, and Benson would lease them for distribution for a set amount of time.

  12. Radioguy wrote:

    I remember that Brock Speer once stated on The Gospel Greats that their former record company had lost one of their masters. Unfortunately I can’t remember if they were on Homeland or RiverSong at the time.

  13. CVH wrote:

    Re: #11, Kyle: I’ve heard the same pops and surface noise on some reissues so they were obviously lifted from pressed vinyl, not the original 1/4″ masters. The fact that these deficiencies make it through onto a CD only reinforces to me the notion that any of the companies that are putting these reissues out don’t care enough to spend a few hours in the studio with Audition or ProTools to clean them up, if only for the artistic integrity let alone the quality of the re-released product. Pretty sad but not unexpected.

  14. Kyle wrote:

    It’s all about the $$$….

  15. Kyle wrote:

    More examples….when Homeland released “Cathedral Classics” back in the late 90’s, they were OBVIOUSLY from something other than masters. In particular, “Prestigious” and “Especially For You” sound like they were dubbed from an old cassette. I have a Benson-issue of “Prestigious,” and there was a significant difference in sound.

    On the other hand, when Provident re-released “Symphony of Praise,” the CD remaster was amazing in quality.

  16. CVH wrote:

    Personally I think a lot of the underlying reasons for these types of issues is the fundamental difference in mindset between most Christian (southern gospel) labels and most secular labels. There are always exceptions to every rule and surely new product is almost always produced and manufactured to high specs.

    But the difference in back-catalog product between Christian labels and secular ones is appalling. Lost masters at a secular label? Almost never. Cobbled-together compilation albums from various sources, not compressed or EQ’d or mastered for consistency? It wouldn’t happen on a secular label. But in Christian music (mostly southern gospel) it seems to be a game…how bad a piece of crap can we put out and still get 10 or 12 bucks for? And Aunt Blabby and Uncle Alf are right there with their fistful of dollars. Of course, until southern gospel music fans demand better they won’t get it. But I’m not holding my breath for that day to come.

  17. dortie wrote:

    Irishlad and Phil B-
    As I understand it the tenor Brent(not Rick) was as sick as a dog on the night of their debut concert. I’m sure that he did have rough time with some of the songs. I would also like to say that I was in attendance at the First/Debut concert of SSQ in Nashville. I must admit that when I first heard them they were pretty much just OK as well, it took a few concerts for things to gell and by the next time I heard them there was a drastic improvement. So let’s give this new group a chance to develope and see where they go.

  18. Jeff wrote:

    The Nelons collection from 98 has “God Bless The Usa” and is very statically. That sounded more from the tape then the originial masters.

  19. Irishlad wrote:

    Hi Dortie,i’m sorry for getting Brents name wrong,even when i was typing it in i thought maybe i had it wrong ,sorry. Ok,getting down to it Shane has a very high range which makes it hard for the tenor.But as far as i could tell Brent would be far more comfortable singing lead,it really was soul destroying listenting to an obviously gifted guy ripping his throat out. So no,i wasn’t being overly harsh on the man.

  20. Irishlad wrote:

    CVH, it’s your old mate Irishlad checking in on you,keeping well i trust. Here’s something for you;a few years back i was totally in awe to get my hands on JD and the Stamps live at Murray State. It was a double cd, the cd’s seemed to be of good quality but the cover looked a bit iffey. I know i can’t show it to you but i was just wondering about the status/authenticity of the said product?

  21. Industry Insider wrote:

    Hey Irishlad, It was said before that Brent was not feeling well. I think that you should give the guys a little bit of a break! He is a very talented tenor singer, and in the past I have heard him hit as high as a D# will no problems. Remember too, this was their first concert ever! Also, What is the problem with a baritone that can sing a good lead? Are you suggesting that a baritine has to have no range? Look at guys like Doug Anderson, Mark Trammell, Danny Riley…… I mean what exactly is your point. I personally LOVE Chris Whitakers voice, and think that he did an outstanding job singing baritone with Crystal River before joining N’Harmony. He will more than likely do the same with this group.

  22. quartet-man wrote:

    Lad, I got one from Ed Enoch and the Stamps at a concert in the early nineties. I also recently got a second copy from the Stamps site. Shirley is still selling them.

  23. Irishlad wrote:

    #21.My point is exactly the same as before. Tenors should not be singing the baritone part, it’s a waste. A proper baritone gives a quartet a fuller sound. Think Legacy 5, the Palmetto state with Tony Peace,The Kingsmen with EF, the Statesmen with DO,the Blackwoods with RW,and i could go on and on. Those guys were true baritones . I remember several years ago the PSQ came over without Tony Peace,if i remember correctly Jamie Caldwell(an other lead) stood in,and, the overall sound was woeful.Jeff P was too strong and it threw the balance completely off. In fact, Jeff told me later they were sorry they came over.

  24. Industry Insider wrote:

    Irishlad…….What group were you listening to? From the clips on their myspace page, the baritone has a huge voice! JMO

  25. CVH wrote:

    RE: #20 Irishlad - hey, I gave you a shout on the other thread before I saw you’d commented to me here. Yeah, what I’ve found has been more time consuming but always yields predictable results is looking for the original vinyl (preferably shrink wrapped) on eBay or other collector sites, then doing a digital transfer. With all the crap that goes on with sketchy CDs or CD-Rs put out by God knows who, I don’t usually take chances. I can’t always find what I want but at least if I can get the original album (and what a buzz I still get from cracking the shrink wrap and smelling that beautiful black vinyl) I know I’ve got the real thing.

  26. TommyMcKenzie wrote:

    #23 Irishlad,

    Just to set the record straight. I have worked with Chris Whitaker in the Crystal River Days. A lead he may be, but he is not a tenor. He is a great singer who has the ability to carry either lead or baritone in the way it should be done. He is a great guy and a great singer. I can’t wait to hear these guys when they have a few concerts under their belts.

  27. Irishlad wrote:

    #26 I’m running the risk of sounding like splitting hairs here,but i’ll make a final comment. In the good old bad old days the four parts of a quartet were 1st tenor=tenor.2nd tenor=lead.1st bass=baritone.2nd bass=bass. That is the reason i refer to leads as tenors, it’s just a generic term.

  28. quartet-man wrote:

    Laddy, if using those terms second tenor or tenor II is a better way to say it for the lead. :-)

  29. Aaron Swain wrote:

    “He is a great singer who has the ability to carry either lead or baritone in the way it should be done.”

    My thoughts exactly. Hearing the stuff from N’Harmony’s new project, I found it kind of hard to tell the difference between Chris Whitaker and Shane Dunlap. Irishlad saying that Chris is featured on “It Is Well” helps out a bit though.

  30. 1 old fan wrote:

    irishlad — #27 — You’re right. The part we call baritone in today’s s/g is primarily carried by what used to have been considered a 2nd tenor, and most lead singers have to be 1st tenor (as does the “tenor”).

  31. Irishlad wrote:

    #25CVH. Know something,i was just glad to get my hands on it, i wasn’t overly concerned about the quality,alough it turned out to be fine(apart from the cover).I first got the proper Album of JD&the Stamps Live in Nasville when i was about 14( circa 1974) and i was totally blown away by Richard S. Hence my awe at getting said tape,also it was great.However,i think JD,apart from being very very funny was, very very….hic A classic nontheless.

  32. CVH wrote:

    Irishlad - yeah, Sterban’s always impressed me too. I first knew him back in the early 70s in a band out of Buffalo called The Keystones. That’s where Garland and Bonsall and David Will (Imps) came from. They kicked him out because they wanted to go as a power trio minus the bass part. Funny how their paths crossed a few years later.

    Yeah, I doubt anyone is southern gospel had more conquest stories and dirty jokes than J.D.

  33. Irishlad wrote:

    #31 CVH. I sound confusing. I first got ‘The Stamps Live in Nashville’ ft RS on vinyl circa 1976,the recording was made around ‘74. After that i heard about JD&TheStamps live at Murray State, and was obvisously intent on getting it, which, subsequently i did achieve a few years back at NQC. Sadly Richard S had left the Stamps at this stage,and it was maybe just before Larry Strickland, btw,how did he sound,because i don’t have him down from those days,however,i know he was/is with the PSQ.

  34. CVH wrote:

    Irishlad - Sterban at the time was the best singer in the group the Keystones. He had the rich smoothness of Armond Morales but the ability to cut through; he had great control and wasn’t just one of those ‘cup the mic and vomit’ basses like a lot of the well-known bass singers of that era. Definitely a cut above.

  35. CVH wrote:

    Irishlad - forgot to mention, “Live in Nashville” came out in ‘71; I’ve got a copy of it still in shrinkwrap; I believe “Murray State” came out in ‘74 or ‘75. It definitely was the class live quartet album of that era, especially being a double disc which wasn’t as common at the time.

  36. Irishlad wrote:

    #35 CHV, you seemed to have your dates down to pat,although i thought’Live in Nashville was a wee bit later,maybe’72 just after they joined Elvis. Looking at the album cover, and i mean the original,there are some interesting faces there like Tony’tarzan’Brown and Kenny Hicks,maybe Duke Dumas too,wonder where those guys are now?Getting back to the Keystones, was that the Northern quartet Danny Gaither and Jim(’ what a day that will be’)Hill sang with?.Did you hear them live? Also,was Ed Hill with them before the Prophets? Sorry for so many questions,just being inquisitive

  37. Irishlad wrote:

    #34 Haha CVH,probaby more noches on his bedpost than Warren Beattie.

  38. Irishlad wrote:

    #37 I meant notches.That’s what i get for speaking ill of the

  39. CVH wrote:

    Irishlad…he’s dead? JK

    Danny was never with the Keystones; they were based in Buffalo NY and one of the few northern quartets; they started regional and got bigger by the early 70’s when they got tied in with Duane Allen and by the mid 70’s began working with the Oaks. Yeah, I saw them live many times and they had a ton of energy; Garland Craft (who has never received as much praise as he deserves) played keys for them. They were a great show. Recorded on a small indie label out of NJ called Majestic Records for awhile then went with Superior (Duane Allen’s imprint) when they began to work with the Oaks. Not sure about Hill but I don’t think he was ever a part of their early years either.

    On the dates, they actually put out two albums with Benson (HeartWarming) in ‘71; the “Live in Nashville” project (which had a cool cover shot that was the precursor for the Oaks “Light” and “Street Gospel” by Bill Grine and Bob McConnell) and a quick studio record called “Top of the Stamps”. That one had them all sitting out in a grassy field. Not sure about ‘72, would have to look it up. Last I knew, Tony Brown was big in A&R in country, don’t know about all the others.

  40. Irishlad wrote:

    CVH…thanks for the info,it’s good to get the perspective from someone who experienced a group 1st hand.The northern group i was thinking about was the Golden Keys quartet from Porstmouth Ohio. Jim Hill stayed for years until he joined the Stamps and Danny G until circa. ‘66.

  41. CVH wrote:

    Irishlad - right, and I believe that’s the quartet you’re thinking of that Danny was a part of for a few years.

  42. quartet-man wrote:

    #32, the Keystones did not kick Richard out. He left to joined the Stamps (why wouldn’t he?)Joe Bonsall tried out several basses, never found one that suited him, so decided to hire a band instead. Not only was (and still is) Joe good friends with Richard, but he loves his voice too.

  43. CVH wrote:


    The buzz going around at the time was that the Keys wanted to go with a more contemporary sound and they didn’t think they could do that with a four-part sound. Hard to believe it was 35 years ago. No matter what happened, it worked out pretty well for all of them.

  44. Bones wrote:

    The Keystones were copycats of the Oaks. I don’t think the Benson masters have been destroyed, just moved to a different warehose. I have some Calvery masters at my house.

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