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


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Don Richardson--very early country! (1916 and 1921)

From my collection, eight sides by this marvelous violinist/fiddler.  Rather than try to write a blurb myself, let me refer you to some terrific passages about Richardson from Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri, by Howard Wight Marshall: Richardson.

Amen.  It's a crime against country music history that accomplished, "legit" players like Richardson and D'Almaine have been denied the credit due them on account of the usual idiotic obsession with authenticity vs. lack thereof (paging Rolling Stone mag).  That kind of snobbery happens in every area of collecting, it seems, and I'm more than tired of it.  Which won't stop it from happening, of course.  But I'm still tired of it.

Those folks who get off on putting the bulk of popular music into an "other" or "miscellaneous" status are people who take themselves far more seriously than the history they're studying.  As a rule, I look for reasons to include a given recording into a given genre, even if this means denying myself the thrill that comes with declaring artists and their performances unworthy of a proper classification. And there are two darned many categories in the first place, many of them imaginary or redundant.  300 categories of punk, for instance.

Anyway, eight virtuoso fiddle sides, and I'm sure I have another Richardson 78 hiding in my rows, but it refuses to show up.  Thanks to my (you guessed it) 3.5 mil 78 stylus, these sides have an up close and personal sound I've heard anyplace else, including in my own previous files.  Even the piano accompaniments ring out, something they don't do anywhere else.   Condition on these sides in not Excellent-plus, so bear with the hiss.  Pristine Richardson 78s must exist, but none have found their way into my stash....

Click here to hear:  Don Richardson--eight sides

Titles listed above.  All 1916, save for Dance Wid' a Gal and Irish Washerwoman, which are 1921.  Enjoy these awesome performances!


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Shellac attack!! 78s ripped with my new 78 stylus

Today, I turned 59 plus six days, yet I don't feel a day over 59 plus five days.

Today, 78s ripped with my new, 3.5. mil stylus--Note that I said "ripped with," not "by."  I'm sure this splendid new stylus is doing no damage to my shellacs.  And I've always wanted to type "my shellacs."

So, you get eleven chances to hear the great work my Rek-o-Cut 3.5 mil elliptical 78 stylus is doing--eleven 78s: three electrics and eight acoustic(al)s.  The problem children in this playlist include the Original Dixieland Jass Band's 1917 Indiana, Earl Fuller's Cold Turkey, and the Associated Glee Clubs of America's The Bells of St. Mary's.  Each presents its own restoration challenge--Bells of St. Mary's because, without treatment, the (1,000-plus!) voices sound remote and tinny; with the new stylus, I achieved a full sound I didn't think was possible.  (Dig the up and down volume on this--someone was adjusting the input throughout.)  Cold Turkey, because I'm used to hearing it as a blob of faraway sound blanketed in hiss--the 3.5 mil needle gives it a clarity that I love.  (And I just know you'll love it, too.)  And with Indiana, getting the instruments to sing separately, and the lower frequencies to sound out in a clear fashion, is not easy.  I've gotten some nice results with this side using my conventional (2.7 mil) needle, but the whole-groove tracking of my new needle removes any and all sonic mud.

Whole-groove tracking.  I wonder if that gives a Google match?  (Type, type)  Nope.

The ODJB is magnificent, as ever, and the marching band sides (Columbia Band, Conway's) feature very deft handling of ragtime rhythms--these performances don't sound stilted and stodgy, as record-collecting lore would have it.  Precisely-counted figures are just what ragtime needs, anyway.  No one asked me, but that's my take.  And (W.C.) Handy's Orchestra is fabulous on a Maple Leaf Rag rip-off called Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag, and this is by far the cleanest sound I've gotten from this 1917 disc.

We close in style with two fine 1927 polka records.

To the 78s: The Skyscraper 


The Bells of St. Mary's--Associated Glee Clubs of America, 1925.
The Skyscraper--One-Step--Conway's Band, 1916.
Cold Turkey--One-Step (Donaldson)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1917.
Introduce Me (Mel B. Kaufman)--Conway's Band, 1916.
Indiana--Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1917.
Darktown Strutters' Ball--Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1917.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag--Handy's Orchestra, 1917.
Arabian Nights--Intermezzo--Columbia Band, Dir. Charles A. Prince, 1918.
Peter Gink--One-Step--Columbia Band, Dir. Charles A. Prince, 1918
Dawaj Buzi (Give Me a Kiss)--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orch., 1927.
Podlotek--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orch., 1927.