Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy Fourth!!! 78-rpm Americana from 1901-1927 (with 1944 tossed in)

Happy Fourth!  The charming image above comes from around 1900, when child safety was clearly the first thing on everyone's mind.  In the 1870s, families put on firework displays in their parlor ("Papa, are the curtains supposed to be lighting up?"); by 1900, the ritual had been simplified to handing a firecracker to the nearest toddler and saying, "Go outside and have a blast."  Surviving childhood was made that much harder....

This would have been up earlier, but we had a Fourth of July cat emergency with Gomez, who is experiencing urethral spasms and whose pee was backed up in his bladder (along with much glucose--Gomez might be diabetic).  The nearest emergency vet clinic is one county away, so it was a bit of a drive, though not as much as we expected.  Of course, finding a clinic open on the Fourth was a blessing, and the vet was quite cool--she packed Gomez with meds, and the big guy is doing better.  We were told he would be counting sheep most of the day, but he's fully awake--and looking much less pained.

And, as usual, we have some old, old records to share for this Fourth of July, spanning the years 1901 to 1944.  Seventy-eights, all, and all ripped and burned by me from my shellac collection.

"Harry will play the Maple Leaf Rag, and I might add that he puts plenty of English on it."--J.M. Witten. The contrast between Witten's over-enunciating and Harry Snodgrass' ultra-fast, go-for-broke playing is pretty surreal (second to last title in our playlist, from 1926).  Missed chords, failed jumps, wrong-note passages aside, Snodgrass' playing is amazing.  Simply being able to play the thing at that tempo is impressive, even if a greater number of correct notes would have made it even more so.  It's certainly entertaining.  Was Joplin's ghost sitting in on the session, pleading "Slow down!  Slow down!" to no avail?

My Maple Leaf Rag copy is in G- condition, at best, but MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX was up to the task.  All I did was set the filters and take out about 200 clicks, one at a time.

Happy Fourth!  Wait, I already said that....

To the music:  July Fourth, 2016

The Arkansaw Traveler (Descriptive)--Harry Spencer, talking; prob. Charles D'Almaine, fiddle, 1901.
Original Jigs and Reels--George Stehl, Violin Solo w. Orch., 1910.
Home, Sweet Home (Payne)--George Alexander, Baritone Solo w. Orch., 1906.
Reuben and Cynthia--"Miss Morgan and Mr. Stanley" (from announcement), 1903.
Swanee (Caesar-Gershwin)--Peerless Quartet, 1920.
The Arkansaw Traveler--Len Spencer, Speciality w. Violin, 1908.
Medley of American National Airs--George Schweinfest, piccolo, 1901.
The Banjo (Gottschalk)--Boston Pops Orch., c. Arthur Fiedler, 1944.
Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)--Harry Snodgrass (King of the Ivories), 1926.
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean--Leake County Revelers, 1927.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday night gospel: When the Gates of Glory Open, Be a Daniel, Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan

Some great country gospel from the late 1920s, a 1912 recording of Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Scottish gospel singer William MacEwan, and so much more in today's--er, tonight's--Sunday gospel playlist.

Our opening track--The Deal Family's Be a Daniel, from 1927--is one I'll definitely have to research, because it's not the famous Philip P. Bliss song but another tune and text entirely.  Maybe I have it someplace in my 5,000 hymnals.  (Okay--300.)  A total mystery.  And I love this style of family gospel harmonizing.  Believe it or not, this sort of singing continued into the 1970s, and maybe beyond.

William MacEwan's Will the Circle Be Unbroken (he's "William McEwan" on my American Columbia issues)  appears to be the first-ever recording of this great Charles H. Gabriel gospel number, written in 1907.  A quite popular Scottish gospel singer, MacEwan sang in a style that can only be described as... let's say, the opposite of the Carter Family approach.  William sang with much passion and verve, not to mention enough vibrato for any four vocalists.  I love his over the top approach, though, judging from comments received at earlier MacEwan posts, not everyone may agree.

Onward, Christian Soldiers features a text by Sabine Baring-Gould (1865) and music by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, 1871).  You may have heard this one before, someplace.

As for the Gid Tanner two-fer, Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan and Alabama Jubilee, these two sort of go together, even if Jubilee is hardly known as a religious number.  Jerusalem--a bluegrass standard, but, as far as I know, originally a black spiritual--makes fun of Christian hypocrites (at least in the African-American text), while Jubilee makes fun of black religious (?) gatherings, and in the racist fashion we'd expect from a 1915 hit.  One's the real thing, and the other is a play on the real thing; over time, the two tend to mix in historical memory.  If my copy sounds pretty beat, it's because it is.

And here's a lengthy Wikipedia entry on Phillips Lord, whose 78s sound like those of a radio personality, most likely because he was one.  In some ways, he was the Garrison Keillor of his day.  "Fake home-spun" we could call his genre.  I could, anyway.  And I have a theory that family radio dramas evolved from stage presentations, because, after all, radio in its early days incorporated all types of contemporary entertainment forms (just as TV did in the late 1940s).

 And I know nothing about the Bush Brothers, except that they made interesting gospel sides.

Click here to hear: When the Gates of Glory Open


Be a Daniel--The Deal Family, 1927.
Working and Singing--The Deal Family, 1927.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Habershon-Gabriel)--William MacEwan, 1912.
Onward, Christian Soldiers (Baring-Gould-Sullivan)--Victor Mixed Chorus, with Orch., 1928.
Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan--Gid Tanner & His Skillet-Lickers, w. Riley Puckett, 1926.
Alabama Jubilee (Cobb-Yellen)--Same, 1926.
Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's--Gathering with the Lord Today--Phillips Lord and Co, 1929.
Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's--Jesus Is My Neighbor--Same, 1929.
On the Glory Road--Bush Brothers, 1928.
When the Gates of Glory Open--Same, 1928.

Ripped from 78s in my collection with MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Way-late Memorial Day 78s: "Unknown Soldier's Grave" (1925) and "The Trumpeter" (1929).

Well, actually, the 78s aren't late--I'm late in posting them.  My apologies to any 78s I might have offended.

Yes, we're coming up on July 4th (at least, the local TV stations are already booming about the local event called Red, White, and Ka-Boom!!--I mean, Boom!!), but it's never too late to honor Memorial Day, and here are two Twenties sides that do so beautifully.  They are Vernon Dalhart's 1925 recording of Unknown Soldier's Grave, and Raymond Newell and Ion Swinley's elaborate 1929 rendition (with sound effects and actors) of the 1904 anti-war art song, The Trumpeter (J. Francis Barron--J. Airlie Dix).

John McCormack did a wonderful Trumpeter recording, too, but I don't have a rip ready.  Reason: it's hiding out of sight someplace in my 12" 78 rows.

Both were ripped with (you guessed it) my new 3.5 mil 78 stylus, and The Trumpet, in particular, benefits from the improved tracking.


Memorial Day 2016.

(The sections of The Trumpeter are as follows:

a) Reveille
b) The Battle
c) The Roll Call
d) Epilogue)


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Prince of Wails"--Yet more 78s from the 78 era!

78s from the 78 era--yes, sir.  They're the best kind, in my view.  The 78-est.  Today's playlist starts in 1901 and ends in 1924.  We've got dance music, a circus gallop, a quartet side, a xylophone solo with orchestra, two rags, and some industrial-pop death-metal music-hall alt-rock.

Just kidding about the rags....

These were ripped with my new Rek-o-Kut 3.5 mil 78 stylus, which from this point on I will abbreviate as ROK3.5.  Or maybe not.  Every 78 in this list benefited greatly from the ROK3.5's wider tracking, especially the 1901 Goodbye, Dolly Gray and the 1917 Hello, My Dearie, neither of which I'm used to hearing in clear fidelity.  Mind you, not all of my 78s benefit from more accurate tracking--needle-damaged discs can actually sound worse--but more often than not, the ROK3.5 yields superior results.  This is not an ad for the ROK3.5, but feel free to check it out and order it for yourself.  Especially if you have 78s.

Desert Dreams starts off our playlist, because the disc is in super condition, and, consequently, the sound is marvelous.  Just to let you hear what a near-perfect 78 sounds like, as opposed to, well, some of the others.  The two Prince's Band rags are great, jaunty fun, and serve as proof that ragtime can sound terrific when done by military-style orchestras.  Prince of Wails is a classic novelty instrumental, and this 1924 performance by Ralph Williams and His Rainbo Orch. is may all-time favorite.

Skipping down to Circus Clowns, here we have an ingenious and superbly performed circus "screamer" that I haven't been able to find a shred of data about.  (Maybe if the title were less generic....)  Anyway, I'm used to hearing this one buried under layers of audio "snow," and what a delight to hear it tracked accurately.  (Have I mentioned my new ROK3.5?)  If anyone knows anything at all about John Fischer or his band or this composition, please don't hold back.

I bought the 1901 Goodbye, Dolly Gray maybe 25 years ago at an outdoor flea market, where it was marked at 8 bucks or so, but which the dealer offered to me for about an eighth of that.  I didn't even have to haggle, which I don't care to do--the moment she saw I was interested, she gave me the reduced price.  No doubt, the side had sat through some earlier shows unclaimed.  At the time, I was blown away to hear what was, unmistakably, "barbershop."  (And which still is.)  Nowadays, I expect to hear barbershop from these old quartet sides, but back then the connection was a new one.

The dealer had employed what I call the sell-it-cheap-to-the-first-person-who-shows-an-interest sales technique.  It happens at flea markets, especially if the person is moving stock owned (and over-priced) by a previous dealer.

To the fabulous 78s....

Click here to hear: Prince of Wails


Desert Dreams--Green Brothers' Novelty Band, 1920.
Black Diamond Rag (Henry Lodge)--Prince's Band, 1912.
Another Rag--A Raggy Rag (Theodore Morse)--Prince's Band, 1913.
Prince of Wails (Elmer Schoebel)--Ralph Williams and His Rainbo Orch., 1924.
Get Lucky--Chicago Stomp or Shimmy (Roy Bargy)--Same.
Hello, My Dearie (One-Step)--Prince's Band, 1917.
Ching Chong (One-Step) (Roberts-Strickland)--Same.
Rolling in His Little Rolling Chair--Medley (One-Step)--Conway's Band, 1917.
La Veeda--Green Brothers' Novelty Band, 1920.
Circus Clowns--Gallop--John Fischer's Band, 1918.
Goodbye, Dolly Gray--Columbia Quartette (Columbia A730), 1901.
Mr. Black Man--Cake Walk (Arthur Pryor)--Ed King, Xylophone Solo


Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday morning shellac! (1908-1927)

We'll pretend it's Sunday morning--or I will, anyway.  Otherwise, I'd have to title this "Monday a.m. shellac."

Lots of great stuff here, and most of these sides are seeing the light of blog for the first time (my blog, anyway).  And they've all been ripped using my 3.5 mil needle, so they sound great.  Most of them, anyway.  Some were hopeless from the start, like the poorly recorded Vaughan Quartet sides (on the Vaughan label, by the way), the Homer Rodeheaver and Charles Gabriel duet, and....  Hmm.

Well, actually, everything else sounds quite good, old-78-wise.  A note about the Rodeheaver/Gabriel side: Gabriel was the hugely popular gospel songwriter who wrote the music and/or words for Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Higher Ground, and tons more.  The three Gabriel songs in this zip are (The) Glory Song, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, and Where the Gates Swing Outward Never--the last one featuring Gabriel himself.  Unfortunately, the sound quality isn't much, and neither is Gabriel's singing.  He was in his 60s at the time (1922), so maybe his voice hadn't aged well.  But it's cool to hear the man himself.

Philip Phillips' Home of the Soul (1865) was a huge hit in its day and beyond.  I don't know when it fell out of fashion--maybe the 1920s?--but it enjoyed something like a 50-year run as a standard.  Our performance, by the Whitney Brothers, is gorgeous, and the falsetto (semi-falsetto?) lead is amazing and fascinating.  And we get to hear them again on The Light of the World Is Jesus.

You can't go wrong with this Sunday playlist.  If you do, I'll disavow any knowledge of your actions.

Click here to hear: Sunday Morning Shellac, 6-5-16


Glory Song (Oh, That Will Be Glory for Me) (Chas. H. Gabriel)--Criterion Quartet, 1908
His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Gabriel)--Harry K. Shields, Tenor, poss. 1924
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (Gabriel)--Charles H. Gabriel and Homer Rodeheaver, 1922
Home of the Soul (Phillips)--Whitney Brothers Quartet, 1909
White Than Snow (Fischer)--Dixie Jubilee Singers, 1925
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning (Bliss)--Dixie Jubilee Singers, 1925
Throw Out the Life-Line--Harry Macdonough and Hayden Quartet, 1911
Love (Callaway)--The Vaughan Quartet, 1927
 I Am Praying for You (Cluff-Sankey)--(Frank C.) Stanley and (Henry) Burr, 1909
When You Get It Right (Sebren)--Vaughan Quartet, 1927
He Leadeth Me (Bradbury)--Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler--soprano and tenor duet, 1910
The Light of the World Is Jesus--Whitney Brothers Quartet, 1909