How to link properly live recordings from same performances with some differences in durations


The more I look and the more it seems that tracks 1 to 8 from Release “Live at the Café Zanzibar” by Cab Calloway - MusicBrainz are same as 12 to 19 from Release “Live at the New Cafe Zanzibar ’45” by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra featuring Ike Quebec - MusicBrainz (same tracks in same order and already merged 2 as no other recording known)
There are only small variations except first which is 3:16 but match if we add the small intro from track 11 and last (8) (but then adding the track 20 makes still a huge diff)

From my researchs there is live from Zanzibar and broadcasted to radio and no other recording known for this performance

What should be done:

  • Merge them all even the ones with diff in duration
  • Merge only the ones with similar duration and link with relationships the other ones
  • Keep unmerge all (considering edits are different and 2013 compilation may have gone back to original bands of the broadcast)
  • something else?


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The key is the Source Recordings. If they are the same, then you have a reason for the merge.

My short reply is - option 2. Which in your example leaves the classic “messy half linked” puzzle. I’d merge tracks 3 and 6 as assume that is crowd noise, but the others would need listening to as too big a difference to guess. Maybe end up being linked as “edit of” or just left pointing at the same Works as the common link.

My longer waffle of experience follows… :smiley:

I’d merge those of a similar duration, as long as they have shared musical content and recording source. No matter how many years apart the tapes have been picked up.

I get this with concert bootlegs, and this is not much different. I’ve spent a lot of time sorting out Peel Sessions and Pink Floyd concerts.

My rule set I use from the way guidelines have been explained to me:

What stops a merge is:

  • Large length difference (15 seconds in a 3 mins track)
  • Any edits in the audio
  • Any extra speaking from band, show or radio presenter
  • Different edits (i.e. the chat from the band being moved from end of one track to start of the next)
  • Different sources (No merging a mixing desk with a radio recording)

What doesn’t stop a merge:

  • Crackles and dropouts in the audio
  • Cleaned up audio (remastering) (this includes “going back to original tapes”)
  • Applause less then 10 seconds (treated as as “early fade out” as nothing musically lost)
  • Fade-in or fade out

When you have a track that has been split in two, then you have a “compilation of”.

Those intros would lead to having “edit of” versions. Bit like when I get John Peel talking at the front of a Peel Session. I have to keep those separate from the recordings where his voice has been edited out.

Importantly I’d look for the two concerts to have generally the same length tracks as much as possible.

If one person has taken the full tape and chopped up the sections between tracks in a very different way, then it stays separate recordings. But if two different people follow the same general rule of splitting tracks after crowd noise and before a spoken intro - then merge.

If looking at a Mass Merge Script and the tracks all have very different edits, then I don’t merge.

Generally I am working on bootlegs that are known bootlegs of bootlegs. So it can be easier. I would not merge official recordings into a bootleg (Apart from some of those EMI cash-in boxes from EMI who have the cheek to sell bootlegs back to the fans)

Hope some of that waffle \ experience is of use. Many AEs and other Editors have helped refine those above notes to build that guidance I follow. :slightly_smiling_face:


Thanks a lot for the detailed answer, edits done following 2. (Merge + edits link for first and last)
Will keep as favorite to refer back in case of some doubts in future :slight_smile:


I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I am really fussy. :smiley: Those guidelines built up over time. The simple core thought is: “Has this come from the same source tape?” and “Would I notice musically if I swapped these two recordings?

Seems more sensible for the database to link as much as possible.

I find that this way makes it easier to add other Relationships to the Recording like Date, Place, Work, Performers, etc. Much simpler to do it once to one recording that a dozen copies of the same thing.