Hi Not Daniel,
I can understand you being under financial pressure and have up till this point been quite priviledged as custodian of some probably otherwise non-existent music, but you have illustrated some of the reasons why I think a coordinated process of aquisition and archival with someone like Mr Sulpy or Mark Lewishon needs to be put into action.
This guy's catalog needs to be put in order. Transfers need to be done in modern formats, in archival formats, in DSD. If you hold the only master of the What of Whom, then that needs to be kept in a climate controlled enviroment. I don't want to sound harsh, because if it wasn't for you, we obviously would not have this whole record that was otherwise unknown, but if you are short of a few bucks, I doubt you have the facilities to correctly store or transfer that cassette. The same goes for the unreleased material. But what really bothers me about the unreleased material is this. The chances are , if you auction of that tape, the material will not disappear into somebody's vault. It will appear on a bootleg. And Daniel Johnston won't make any money on that. Nobody with pay the royalties, he won't get the performance rights and the material will not get the attention it deserves.
The most frustrating thing about this situation is you go through life and bump into these lost works of genius, films like Greed and Metropolis, tv shows by the likes of Peter Cook who begged for the masters of his tv programmes before the BBC recorded over them with archives of regional weather broadcasts, Steptoe and Son, Hancock's Half Hour, lost and damaged albums by the likes of Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Brian Wilson... you bump into a catalog where the same mistakes seem to be being made and you realise, you can't do anything about it!
But above that, I don't know what sort of income Daniel gets from his work, and I know he does very well in the art sphere, and I can see his brother Dick has grasped that it is important to give the existing canon presence in the high street shops with the best ofs, which is a masterstroke, but I think every single part of Daniel's catalog needs to be protected and preserved. For example, if unreleased songs on the album you are holding have not gone through the rather backward process of copyright protection which is required in the US, someone could buy that record and quite legally release their own recordings of the songs and claim they composed them!
I would recommend getting out and doing a bit of moonlighting to pay your debts and handing back the tapes to Daniel. If you must sell them let me know the price you are looking for...
I suspect from what I am hearing the decisions about which tapes to be use have been either arbitary or amateur at best..
Well, I can assure you that "The What of Whom" comes from the best source, since I happen to OWN the best (and ONLY) source tape. It was unknown to the public until I made mine available for copying (hence the existence of the Stress cassette), and to this day, it appears that no other source for the majority of the songs on it has ever turned up.
Unfortunately, medical/financial considerations are forcing me to sell the tape (along with a tape of mostly-unreleased material from 1983) within the next week or two. Most likely it will go to the person who's been buying up other choice Johnston memorabilia from me of late; he seems to be the type who will continue to make it available for copying if Daniel were to request it. (For the record, I emailed DualTone and offered them access to the tape after they put out the Songs of Pain/More Songs of Pain CD, but they never responded.)
However, if it ends up on Ebay, I really can't guarantee that it won't disappear into some big spender's private treasure vault forever... Offers, anyone? It's time to band together to "Save the What (of whom)!
- Not Daniel
BTW: When Homestead Records issued the vinyl LP of "Hi, How Are You" in 1989 or whenever, they hired famed producer Spot (Husker Du, Black Flag) to helm the engineering/mastering/spit-&-polish chores. Not only that - they actually had someone come in and redraw the "frog" for the cover! (If you closely compare the LP and the cassette, you can find several minute differences between the images.)