"Shellac for April" is not a very imaginative title, but after a while, "More 78s" just doesn't do it. I could try "Fewer 78s," though that wouldn't make sense. But at least I wouldn't be making the "fewer"/"less" error that even professional journalists commit nowadays. And what, exactly, am I talking about? Frankly, I have no idea. Yet, I have the courage to admit it. You have to give me that.
So, shellac. AND you get some repeats from my last shellac-athon, because I have made significantly better rips of them. I even did a perfect rip of Reuben and Cynthia, but I've already done a follow-up Reuben and Cynthia post, and a re-follow-up is out of the question. Suffice it to say that the vocals are now almost perfectly clear, and it took a simple trick to make them so. The trick, for pre-electric recordings, is to assume a bass turnover frequency of 300 Hz, and to ignore the fact that, technically, acousticals had no bass turnover freq. However, what is technically true is not always really true. I had a long (and I mean long) phone discussion with a top audio guy, and it was all free advice, and I still can't believe I didn't dream it. Anyway, he noted that the bass turnover for acousticals (or acoustics) is roughly the same as it was for early electrics--250-300 Hz. Why? He feels this was so that acousticals and early electrics would both play fine on the gramophones of the day--the dealers didn't want people coming in and complaining that their older 78s no longer sounded good. A very logical theory.
So, my restorations start with a flat response curve, to which I add the 300 Hz turnover, and this allows me to maximize the low end (with parametric EQ'ing) after I've exported my file(s) to MAGIX. I fix up my files between two programs--VinylStudio is mainly for declikcing and setting the response curve, and MAGIX is where I do my EQing and the rest of my noise filtering. Maximizing the bottom end inevitably means having to unmuffle the midrange and highs.
The happy result is a great deal more punch to the sound on pre-electrics. And so I'm revisiting a few 78s from the last batch--John McCormack's 1920 Wonderful World of Romance, on which John's wonderful voice rings out even more clearly than before, the 1916 Irving Berlin gem Alice in Wonderland (major improvement in the vocals), the Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra's 1919 The Red Lantern (one of my favorite dance band sides ever), and a take-no-prisoners Hot Time in the Old Town. The old town is even hotter this time. And I wasn't going to type that, because it's so lame, but... too late.
Other titles have shown up at the blog before, but I think repeats make sense in music-blogging, since I can't expect everyone to have grabbed everything I ever put out--often, when I "resurrect" a post, it'll be new to many listeners/followers. And what's the best noun, there? "Followers" sounds cult-ish. As if I'm the leader of a movement. That would be weird, to suddenly discover that was the case.
Our first track is of special interest, because it's a ragtime piece written by none other than Don Richardson, whose amazing 1916 and 1921 country fiddle sides I recently re-featured here. This time around, I discovered that I don't own all of Don's 1921 sides, which was news to me. The online 78 discography is spread across two parts for 1921 Columbia 78s--my only excuse. Anyway, Don was an expert ragtime composer, as well as a bandleader and an amazing fiddler. Of course, these are all strikes against Don as far as the "authenticity" crowd is concerned. I've given my kind thoughts about the idiocy of "authenticity" before, so I won't repeat myself. I'm forever pointing out that "authentic" is the most relative thing in the universe, and... darn. I said I wasn't going to repeat myself, and I did.
What can we say about Oh! Sing-A-Loo? Lots of things, I guess--such as, "There's actually a song by that title?" or "How many of these pseudo-'Oriental' songs did these writers churn out? There must have been an industry." And I almost suspect there was. Or at least an "Oriental number" wing to every music publishing house. Anyway, I love "Oriental" novelties, so Sing-A-Loo works for me, even if I'm a little uncomfortable putting up an Asian-stereotype song at this particular point in the news cycle, with anti-Asian thuggery. But this is a blog about the past, not 2021. It just happens to exist in that year.
And now I have to fill in the rest of the space created by the insertion of the sheet music image. But I see from the preview page that I'm not even close to filling that space, even though, in pre-published form, it appears that I have. At least the text has stayed together this time. Enjoy the old sounds!
Hezekiah (Don Richardson)--Conway's Band--Patrick Conway, Director, 1915
Singapore--Medley (Intro: While You're Away; Gilbert-Friedland)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1918
Wonderful World of Romance (Simpson-Wood)--John McCormack, Tenor, 1920
Waiting for the Robert E. Lee--Medley Turkey Trot--Victor Military Band, 1913
When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'--Medley Turkey Trot--Same
Those Draftin' Blues (Pinkard)--Art Hickman's Orchestra, 1919
The Hesitating Blues (Intro: Beale Street; Handy)--Same
Arabian Nights (David-Hewitt)--Columbia Band, Dir. by Charles A. Prince, 1918
Peter Gink (Cobb)--Same
Mr. Jazz Himself (Berlin-Wells-Schwartz)--Prince's Band, 1917
Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight (Metz)--Victor Military Band, 1916
Pork and Beans (Roberts)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra, 1917
Howdy (Ted and Josh)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra, 1918
The Red Lantern--Medley (Fischer-Cowan-Monaco)--Waldorf-Astoria Orch., Dir. Joseph Knecht, 1919
Introduce Me (Mel B. Kaufman)--Conway's Band--Patrick Conway, Director, 1916
The Skyscraper--One-Step (Chester W. Smith)--Same
Gee! But I Hate to Go Home Alone (Hanley)--Natzy's Biltmore Orchestra (Jack Green, Director), 1922
Oh! Sing-A-Loo (Lew Pollack)--Rega Dance Orchestra, 1922
Alexander's Ragtime Band (Berlin)--Victor Military Band, 1911
Slippery Place Rag (Hacker)--Same
Alice in Wonderland (Berlin)--Anna Howard--Harry Macdonough, 1916