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


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