Seattle '70 is a frustrating tape. The main drawback to this recording
is that all circulating copies seem to have originated from a single
microphone transfer from the original reels. In addition, it has been
going around in many versions with lots of little edits in them, many
of which aren't the same on all copies. Niko Bauer had a nice article
on the recording in Jimpress a few issues back; here's a summary of
the best guesses we have about the recording.
The original recording seems to have been made on 4 sides of small reels:
side 1 - 17.56
Message to Love
Lover Man (end cut)
side 3 - 18.36
Star Spangled Banner /
Drum Solo (cut at 2.27)
side 4 - 18.59
Getting My Heart Back Together Again /
Keep on Groovin'
(cut here due to a cassette side break)
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Hey Baby (end cut)
side 2 - 17.25
Freedom (start cut)
You'll notice the ordering of the sides; the above track order is what is
found on copies of the show, but as Niko points out it's much more likely
that the order of the sides was incorrect when the first microphone
transfer was done, and that the 2nd tape side was mistakenly placed at the
end. Comparison of the concert to other concerts during the same period
argues that the correct track order should place Freedom/Red House/Foxy
Lady between Lover Man and Machine Gun. In addition, Jimi sounds like he's
giving his parting remarks before VC(SR), the usual finale to his concerts,
and the Hey Baby coda was used at Atlanta a few weeks earlier. This is the
track ordering used on this disc.
Such confusion in side order could have arisen due to uncertain memory about
whether two sides of reel 1 were filled before going to reel 2, or if both
side 1's were recorded first, followed by both side 2's.
The original transfer appears to have been done via microphone, probably
to a larger single reel. There are many noises that sound clearer and
closer than the concert audio, as well as other noises that you wouldn't
get at a concert, suggesting that this was a mic transfer. The 1st gen
reel copy was afterward line-dubbed to cassette, introducing an additional
cut at the cassette flip about 45 min in. There seem to have been more
than one cassette copy from the 1st gen reel (the mic noises are the same,
so both came from the same 1st gen copy), since there are at least two
versions where the cassette-flip break is not in the same place. Because
of this we were able to use one version to patch the other, therefore
restoring the audio lost at the cassette side break.
In summary, the audio on this disc is no better than 2nd gen.
Unfortunately, a line dub isn't available for the original reels, and my
guess is that the master is lost. Sad, since the quality here surely
suffers greatly from that first speaker dub.
The "master clone" that's been going around was used as the main source for
this disc, with patches for missing bits from a "1st gen" copy. The audio
was pitch-adjusted and the track order was rearranged to reflect the
probable concert order. There are long and short volume fluctuations in
the recording; these have been evened out. Finally, one channel (usually
left, sometimes right) had a lot of scratchy noise in many places. It's
doubtful that this is from the master. This is a mono recording, and is
very close to true mono; very little is lost by using only one channel, so
that's what was done, switching back and forth as necessary to eliminate
the noisy channel.
Unless the lost master surfaces or a new source for the show is found, this
is probably as good as the concert will sound.
ALSO INCLUDED: a small DVD
Download this bootleg here