Ambiguity over series / release group / release-level relationships for set of British Argo LPs

Hi folks,

I have a pair of LPs, which were released by British Argo in 1966.

These are ‘A Merry Progress to London’ and ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’, by the Critics Group. These are themed recordings of London songs.

Record one. A Merry Progress to London DA/ZDA 46 (mono/stereo). Release group “A Merry Progress to London” by The Critics Group - MusicBrainz
Record two. Sweet Thames Flow Softly DA/ZDA 47 (mono/stereo). Also Vocalion CDSL 8424, 2006. Release group “Sweet Thames Flow Softly” by The Critics Group - MusicBrainz

(Note that I added Record One just today, and the associated Bandcamp download. I added Record Two some months ago, the CD, even though I now have the LP. It has SPARS code ADD, which doesn’t necessarily imply a new mix, but it could. I suspect it is due to digital editing rather than going after the multitracks (hence technically a new mix) but it’s not specified and I cannot tell a discernible difference between CD and LP. Record Two Sweet Thames Flow Softly from Ewan MacColl Bandcamp is just the CD master / rip.)

Now, they were released separately, never released as a box or a pair, as far as I know, this is corroborated by Discogs. Instead, they are denoted Record One and Record Two, respectively. Argo produced a number of records which could be classed as a series including recordings of Shakespeare that British Decca reissued as a massive CD box set. As far as I know they did not issue many box sets at the time.

It’s clear that these should be linked somehow, but I’m not sure what relationship to select. There is no release-group level relationship, which is fair enough - ‘Sweet Thames Flow Softly’ was reissued by the Vocalion label in 2006 whereas record one was not. So, it would stand to reason that the relationship would be at a release-level.

Alternatively, a release-group relationship may be better. For example, the LP was issued several times, including in mono and stereo variants. It is not a given that there would be a strict correspondence - and if we added the mono LP for both release groups, we would end up implying there was a direct correspondence between LP one and two when in fact the correspondence is between all variants to all variants ie the release group is the key thing that links them.

However, it’s unclear to me which relationship to use, if it exists at all. I suspect that the “next disc” relationship is a hangover from when discs were given their own release as on FreeDB, and it is deprecated accordingly.

I do not think a series is appropriate. A series of two records, but no series is specified on the label, so it would not be clear as to what to call it, except for the subtitle, which is on both “Anthology of London Songs”. Nonetheless, a series could satisfy the above as it can be of releases, or of release groups, so opinions on this would be welcome.

To this extent, my question is, should I re-appropriate it for this end? It is the only suitable release-level relationship and it does the job, and there is apparently no release group-level relationship which is suitable

Alternatively, should I create a ticket with the above to revive the relationship and make use of it for situations such as this?

Apologies for the verbose text above, but it’s worth getting an idea of the background behind this. Thanks in advance.

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This is what I would do (and have done for similar).

A MB series is not literally a “series”, it is a way of linking related Release Groups. The useful thing is it puts a nice clickable link on the page making it easy to realise that they are connected


OK, that makes sense.

But what should I call it? I could call it “An Anthology of London Songs” but that seems a bit… generic. Perhaps “The Critics Group: An Anthology of London Songs” to make clear it’s this set, rather than a generic thing? Or would that be implicit by adding a given relationship?

I agree that the shorter version is too generic and would go with the longer one. Fill the annotation with details of the series so people know why they are linked and don’t add other items to the group.

It is also an excuse to add other details that are common to the albums.

Brilliant, thanks!

In fact, I decided just to use the subtitle on its own, and then wrote a suitable disambiguation.

I added all the relevant relationships possible, so this seems like a good outcome so it shouldn’t be in much danger of other release groups being added to it by mistake.


Is there a short description you could add as an annotation? Something that would explain the series to someone like me who didn’t understand why they are linked.

Excellent work you two, it looks perfect!! :tada:

So, to comment on the second LP in the set, which hasn’t been added yet - I would like to confirm that the LP and CD have the same mix, but I’m not really sure how to do it for sure - the LP and CD do sound very similar to my mind. My LP isn’t in brilliant condition which makes it more difficult.

The reason for my doubts is that the 2006 Vocalion CD issue has the SPARS code “ADD” which seems to imply a digital remix to my mind, but it’s unclear to me if that should be taken at face value.

To complicate this, there are a number of high-profile examples that I know of, where the later issues are known to be remixes (ignoring the mono/stereo issues which I know for sure the recordings should be split up). However, here on Musicbrainz they share recordings - I’m thinking of Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and Straight, No Chaser by Thelonious Monk. For Straight, No Chaser, there’s even a disambiguation for ‘mono’ for the first LP edition but the recordings are shared across many later issues including the remixed 1996 CD and the SACD: Release “Straight, No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk - MusicBrainz

The ADD bit is not about a remix. That just says it was an Analogue to Digital transfer. Originally recorded to Analogue tape, and then mixed from a Digital tape ( SPARS code - Wikipedia )

Almost certain you will still put the CD and LP in the same Release Group. In MusicBrainz eyes it is about the original recording session, not about the tapes it has been transferred through. Also if it has been cleaned up and remastered then it is still seen as the same “Recordings” in MB eyes.

Looking at the content of this release I think you are safe to not worry here. This is not works to the level of your “To complicate this” paragraph. This is a simple CD of folk music that has been reissued on CD. The CD has been mastered from a Digital tape. Nothing unusual there. As they will still have a good quality source tape, then no need for remixes. If someone had remixed it, they would be credited on the CD paperwork.

If I am unsure about two tracks I would play them both at the same time. If I can’t hear anything added, or anything chopped out, then they are the same recordings. With two MP3\FLAC files this is easy as they can be dropped into Audacity and compared. With an LP and a CD listening by ear is the best way.


OK, thanks, that is a good explanation with regards to the code. I’ll compare them again and then add the LP as appropriate.