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Where the Color 1950s Chet Video's come from...

PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:22 pm
by marioc
We've all seen the color video's of Chet Atkins performing Sandman and Dark Eyes, but it's kind of hard to understand where they came from, even though it's the Grand Ole Opry. There was a TV show on ABC shown from late 1954 to 1956. It was a Grand Ole Opry TV show but it was not produced by WSM or Opry. It was produced by Al Gannaway and so he (now the family) own the rights to the episodes. It was originally aired on ABC as "Stars of the Grand Ole Opry" and after the first year WSM had them change the name to "The Country Show" because they were not producing the show (and that even caused certain artist like Roy Acuff to not appear on the show) It has been released in the 90's on Multiple VHS box sets: Memories, Tribute and even a box set released by Willie Nelson. All of these have been compilations of episodes that aired on ABC. VHS being a terrible format has of course made the DVD releases very desirable. There are 3 DVD compilations of these shows released as "Chet Atkins and Webb Pierce","Ernest Tubb and Marty Robbins", and "Ray Price and Jim Reeves". These are very good DVD's with lots of hits, but they are not episodes of the "Country Show". There is now a new released box set by Country's Family Reunion call the Golden Years Collection. This is a company that is partnered with RFDTV and does mainly DVD releases. Golden Years is a very expensive 10 DVD set (Retail is 150 Dollars) and it claims to be the episodes of the "Country Show" and the only release available on DVD. But that is false of course because of the DVD compilations that already exist. So that brings up the question if this set is a repeat of the DVD released songs that already exist, or a re-release of the VHS series. I spent the money and bought the new Golden Years and I am very happy and sad about the release. The first 7 DVD's are fantastic. They are full episodes of the show as aired on ABC and even though DVD format is dated and Blu-Ray would have been a better format for this considering how important these artist truly are, Blu Ray would hold up better over time. The video and audio quality is what you would expect from a 1950s television production but the company decided to use single layer DVD that hold only half the data of a standard dual layer and using dual layer would have made the collection only 5 discs, and the quality of the transfer is a little pixilated. Now they claim it's the only DVD release and that is obviously not true, but do they have the same songs as the previously released DVD's? Here is the problem Discs 8, 9 and 10 are from a different source that the rest. Disks 8-9-10 are a compilation re-release of the "Country Show" and it actually has a edited-in band that is playing over the songs in the show and they play over Chet Atkins at times. Disk 9 is from a low quality compilation with a narrator that explains the Opry and it is very inconsistent and makes no sense in this collection. My guess is the first 3 well known compilations on DVD have the rights to the songs and they cannot repeat the video's so they used a later day compilation video to include the same songs, but in a very low quality, altered state. So this is no replacement for the "Chet Atkins/Webb Pierce" compilation series because these have legendary songs and great video quality. But the box set is a good way to see the "Country Shows" as it was seen on TV in the 50's. It's a very unique TV show because even though TV was in back in white at the time, the producer had the good sense to put color film in the camera (makes you wonder why everyone didn't do that, especially I Love Lucy) so they are a real treasure for the preservation of the art and even the dance routines. So what we have is a legendary Grand Ole Opry video series, that is not owned by the Opry and has releases issues, due to the fact that they series was cut up and sold. In a perfect world the owner of the masters should release the "Country Show" in a complete series on Blu-Ray with the episodes unaltered and original to the 50's broadcast. So the new Golden Years set is great for the first 7 DVD's and then after that I would replace the last 3 with the old DVD releases. Even though I have owned this series on VHS and I am disappointed that such a great TV show has been sliced up and handed out like bologna. But I am very grateful for the priceless Chet video's that came out, and the DVD sets are great. Both DVD sets are definitely a must have. (*Disclaimer. These are simply my opinions and I apologize for any incorrect facts) :D

Re: Where the Color 1950s Chet Video's come from...

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:51 am
by Norm
They were made by Al Gannaway specifically for commercial distribution. They were not clips from a TV show. They were shot over a two year period (1955/57)

They were used as "selected short subjects" in theaters and in such settings as the commerce of the day allowed. I don't think they were ever offered as a single show back in the day but I don't know. It was a Grand Ol Opry setting but they were careful to note they were not affiliated with the Opry for copyright reasons.

That's the short version of where they came from. I wish someone would have taken the time to remix the things and get the soundtracks syched with the video but sometimes such things are considered unimportant where money is to be made

From my Paul Yandell book:

Someone (Al Gannaway) issued a DVD of some color films of Chet playing in what looked like a Grand Ol’ Opry setting. Those videos were done about 1955. (Actually 1955-1957) I remember being on the Opry with the Louvins at the time. I did some of those films with the Louvin Brothers. Chet would be on an early show then maybe a 10 pm show. I was there when he was playing that solid top 6120 and the black 6120 seen on the “Dark Eyes” video.

Those films were kind of like what it was like at the Ryman on Saturday night. They used one or two cameras. When those films were made they were originally shown at movie theaters in between a double feature. Later, when TV came along, they cut the films up to make different shows.

__Paul Yandell CGP

Re: Where the Color 1950s Chet Video's come from...

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:19 pm
by marioc
Ah, Paul Yandell interview's are the best. Thanks :D

Re: Where the Color 1950s Chet Video's come from...

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 11:23 pm
by marioc
Here is a country show clip with Paul Yandell on the right w/ Louvin Brothers.

Re: Where the Color 1950s Chet Video's come from...

PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:00 am
by Eddie Estes
Whoever owns the negatives needs to have them transferred to high definition and re synch the audio.
Being they were shot on film and not video they would look stunning!