The Playlist • Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke (1928)


Vocal: Bing Crosby with Jack Fulton, Charles Gaylord, Austin Young

Arranger: Matt Malneck

New York (Liederkranz Hall): February 13, 1928
Victor 27688 (mx. BVE 41689 – 3)
Take 3 held — First release in 1941


PAUL WHITEMAN & HIS ORCHESTRA: There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s
Worth the Salt of My Tears

Vocal: Bing Crosby with Jack Fulton, Charles Gaylord, Austin Young
Arranger: Tom Satterfield

New York (Liederkranz Hall): February 8, 1929
Victor 25675 (mx. BVE 41681 – 2)
Take 2 held — First release in 1937


PAUL WHITEMAN & HIS ORCHESTRA: ‘Taint So, Honey, ‘Taint So
Vocal: Bing Crosby

Arranger: Bill Challis

New York (Okeh Union Square studio): June 10, 1928
Released: Jul 20, 1928
Columbia 1444-D (mx. W 146316-9)

The Playlist • The Allen Brothers (1930–1934)


Austin Allen (vocal, speech, tenor banjo); Lee Allen (guitar, kazoo)
Note: The first two selections contain racially derogatory language


ALLEN BROTHERS: Maybe Next Week Sometime

Memphis Auditorium: November 22, 1930
Bluebird B-5165 (mx. BVE 62996 – 2)



Memphis Auditorium: November 22, 1930
Montgomery Ward M-4750 (mx. BVE 62997 – 2)



New York (1776 Broadway): October 3, 1934
Vocalion 02890 (mx. 16098 – 2)


The Playlist • Henry Thomas – “Bull Doze Blues” and Other Texas Classics (1927 – 1928)



Chicago: June 12, 1928
Vocalion 1230 (mx. C 1999 – )



Chicago: June 12, 1928
Vocalion 1197 (mx. C 2001 – )

Above two titles: Two takes were recorded of each selection; the selected takes are not shown in the files or on the records. Blues and Gospel Records 1890–1943 gives the date for this session as June 13, in error.


HENRY THOMAS (RAGTIME TEXAS): The Fox and the Hounds

Chicago: October 5, 1927
Vocalion 1137 (mx. E 6708, renumbered from Brunswick mx. C 1198)

From a tape dubbing supplied by the late Gilbert Louey.


Emerson Tries to Challenge the Red Seal (1919)

The Premier series was Emerson’s top-of-the-line, intended to challenge the Victor Red Seal and Columbia Symphony Series. Its roster included Max Bloch, Stanisalu Berini, Eva Leoni, and other operatic stars who had been passed over by the major labels, but also an odd mish-mash of studio performers and relative unknowns from the company’s ethnic series. The label chosen for this ad features Paul Bolognese, who at that time was Emerson’s house conductor for the ethnic-catalog session; he was later Grey Gull’s musical director, where he was responsible for grinding out pseudonyms, run-of-the-mill dance-band records.

Following Emerson’s bankruptcy, some of the Premier-series masters were leased to cheap labels like National Music Lovers, which issued them under pseudonyms. Details of the 10″ and 12″ Premier issues can be found in The Emerson Discography, Vol. 1, available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.



Ragtime in England: The Gramophone Co. Orchestras (1912 – 1913)


THE PEERLESS ORCHESTRA: The Turkey Trot (J. Bodewalt Lampe,
as Ribé Danmark)

London: November 13, 1912
Zonophone Twin 1001 (face # X-40694; mx. y 15981e)
Gramophone Co. studio group; conductor is unlisted in files


THE PEERLESS ORCHESTRA: Powder Rag (Charles L. Johnson, as Raymond Birch)

London: November 13, 1912
Zonophone Twin 1016 (face # X-40698; mx. y 15984e)
Gramophone Co. studio group; conductor is unlisted in files


THE MAYFAIR ORCHESTRA (as Peerless Orchestra) — Eli Hudson, conductor:
Fiddlesticks Rag
(Al B. Coney)

London: February 15, 1913
Zonophone Twin 1049 (face # X-40709; mx. y 16300e)
Gramophone Co. studio group; Hudson is listed in files


Discographical data are from the original Gramophone Company files, courtesy of Dr. Alan Kelly.


Early Okeh Race Record Advertisments (1921–1925)

(Top to bottom) August 1923, July 1921, and June 1925. Okeh claims the dubious distinction of having been the first label to segregate records by black artists, in the spring of 1921. Numbered in the 8000s, they were advertised as “Race Records,” a term that was soon picked up by other labels. The Norfolk Jazz Quartet (which also recorded spirituals as the Norfolk Jubilee Four) were sufficiently popular with white buyers that Okeh continued to release their records in the 4000 standard catalog series until late 1921.



Branding 78’s: The Impresad (1922)

If you’ve ever wondered how those circular dealer ads ended up on the inner rims of 78s, here’s the answer (from The Talking Machine World for November 1922) — the Impresad. In our admittedly very informal survey, these stamps seem to turn up most often on Brunswick, which also had its main office on South Wabash, just three blocks away from W. H. Wade. The the device was handled in Canada by the Musical Merchandise Sales Co., Brunswick’s Canadian distributor, and there’s even an uncanny resemblance between the two company’s logos.


“Hoosier Poet” James Whitcomb Riley Records for Victor (1912)


JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY: Down to Old Aunt Mary’s
(from “The Lockerbie Book of Riley’s Verse”)

Indianapolis: June 5, 1912 (?)
Harry O. Sooy, recording engineer
Victor 70078 (mx. C 11975 – 3)

The recording date of June 5, from the Victor ledger, conflicts with Harry Sooy’s recollections, below. Note Sooy’s disclosure that the recordings were released despite the company’s concerns over substandard technical quality:

.“April 29th [1912] —I journeyed to Indianapolis, Indiana, with the instructions to make records of some poems by the author, James Whitcomb Riley (the Hoosier Poet). On my arrival at Indianapolis, I got in telephone communication with Mr. Riley at his home on Lockerbie Street, a very quaint and unassuming street just one block long. He asked me to come out to see him that we might talk over the problems of making records. Upon my arrival at Mr. Riley’s home I was very sad to see him almost an invalid, after having an attack of paralysis, affecting his entire right side, and, naturally, leaving him in a very weak condition.

“After our talk regarding the making of the records, I returned to Mr. Riley’s home the next day with the recording paraphernalia, at which time I found it necessary, and did, make the records there in his home by having him recline in an easy chair. This was accomplished by having the recording machine movable, permitting me to place the recording horn very close to his face while in a reclining position. Mr. Riley’s voice was, of course, very weak, so much so that I felt the records would not have commercial value, which proved to be quite true after I had returned and they were manufactured…

“After some discussion by the Company over these finished records of Mr. Riley’s, he was informed they did not have commercial value owing to their lack of volume. Mr. Riley then requested having me come out again to Indianapolis to try again, so I was instructed to make over the records in June. This time I took Mrs. Sooy along with me. After our arrival at Indianapolis, we secured quarters in the Claypole Hotel, and found Mr. Riley somewhat improved in health, and determined to make good.

“I, on this trip, persuaded Mr. Riley to come to the hotel to make the records. The second engagement of recording started June 7, 1912 [note: the Victor ledgers show  June 5] and continued 8th, 9th and 10th—p.m. only, as Mr. Riley had his automobile ride habitually every morning for recreation. And, while we were there on the trip, he would stop regularly at the hotel and insist that Mrs. Sooy and I accompany him on these automobile trips.

“We always found Mr. Riley to be in a jovial spirit, and a real entertainer even in his broken health. I recall one morning, while riding with him, we had a blow-out, which, naturally, made quite a report, and Mr. Riley exclaimed— “My God! They pop just like pop-corn don’t they?”

“After our auto ride and luncheon, Mr. Riley came to our hotel each afternoon until we had finished our recording. I am very sorry to say he was too ill to make a good record of his voice. Although a few of Mr. Riley’s records appear in the Victor Catalog, they are not as good as we aim to have Victor products, but very few people understand just why they are not good; the foregoing is self-explanatory.”


Victor attached the text to the blank reverse sides of the original purple-label issues (a nicety that was lost when the records were later coupled in the blue-label series):



The Playlist • Vess L. Ossman – Early Ragtime Banjo Solos (1903–1905)



VESS L. OSSMAN: Whistling Rufus

New York: c. 1903 (remake of 1902)
Columbia 723 (take 4)
Acc: Uncredited pianist


VESS L. OSSMAN: Mississippi Bubble

Philadelphia: November 5, 1903 (remake of October 23, 1903)
Monarch 1973 (mx. B 588 – 2)
Acc: Uncredited pianist


VESS L. OSSMAN: Yankee Land

New York: Released June 1905
Zonophone 162 (mx. 4735)
Acc: Studio orchestra (probably Fred Hager, conductor)

100 Years Ago at the Victor Talking Machine Co.: November 1914 Catalog Highlights

Courtesy of John R. Bolig

Coming in 2015: The Bluebird Discography, 1932–1942 (three volumes), compiled by John Bolig from the original RCA-Victor recording and production files. Volume I is scheduled to release in January.


Pathe-Perfect Discography (Vol. 1) Now in Stock

PATHE-cover-x5Volume I of The Pathé–Perfect Discography is here and ready for immediate delivery. It covers all recordings (including those from other studios) that were issued jointly on the American Pathé and Perfect labels, from Perfect’s launch in 1922 through the end of the American Pathé label in 1930.

Volume I covers the Race Record, Popular Vocal, Star, Standard / Miscellaneous, and Classical / Operatic series. It’s organized by Perfect catalog numbers and includes data on all corresponding American Pathé (vertical-cut) and Pathé Actuelle (lateral-cut) issues, as well as American client- and subsidiary-label issues. There’s also a detailed, illustrated history of the U.S. Pathé recording operation, with source citations; user’s guide, covering such tricky topics as false vs. actual take numbers, assignment of false master numbers in Cameo and ARC co-recording sessions, etc.; and artist and title indexes.

Volume I is a 280-page 7″x10″ quality paperback, priced at $45, with free U.S. shipping. The book detail page on the Mainspring Press website has more information and secure online ordering (as well as mail-order option).

Volume II, covering the jazz and dance band issues, is in final editing and will release in 2015.

The Playlist • Bert Williams (1906)



New York — Initial release December 1906
Columbia A305 (mx. 3504 – 2; 1908 coupling)



New York — Released July 1906
Columbia 3410 (take 2)


BERT WILLIAMS: Here It Comes Again

New York — Released September 1906
Columbia 3454 (take 2)


BERT WILLIAMS: All In, Out and Down

New York — Initial release January 1907
Columbia A5031 (mx. 30039 – 2; 1908 coupling)


B. A. Rolfe Biography (1931)

From “Radio Digest” (click on image to view a larger version). Rolfe was Edison’s answer to Paul Whiteman — at one point the orchestra swelled to fifty members, but Rolfe never found his Bix, Bing, or Tram to cut through the musical clutter (click here to hear Rolfe’s Orchestra performing in typical style on the first “Edison Hour” broadcast, in February 1929).

You can find discographical details of Rolfe’s recordings, from the original Edison files, in The Edison Discography: The Final Years, 1926–1929 (just a few copies left — order soon if interested). MSP_rolfe-ba_radio-digest

Leo Slezak in the Pathé Studio (c. 1913)

MSP-TMW-1914_slezak-patheThe location is probably Vienna, reputedly the site of Slezak’s 1913 Pathé session. The photo was reproduced in the September 1914 Talking Machine World, just as the New York–based Pathé Frères Phonograph Company (the French company’s U.S. licensee) was preparing to unveil Pathé discs to the American public. The company had only recently begun to make its own recordings and thus had to rely heavily on imported discs, like Slezak’s, to fill the initial catalog.

The oversized cylinder master, from which the disc masters would be transcribed pantographically, can be seen at the far right. This photo (along with others taken in the American studio and in various foreign locations) contradicts the popular anecdotal tale that Pathé’s recording equipment was a jealously guarded secret, hidden behind locked doors and never to be glimpsed by performers or the public.

The Playlist • The Roosevelts (1912, 1920)


You wouldn’t know it from the recent Ken Burns special, but Theodore Roosevelt was no stranger to recording. Here are two of his Edison cylinders, recorded in his Oyster Bay home — politicians were among the very few to whom recording companies would dispatch a mobile unit at the time. His sister Corinne’s only known commercial recording, backing Warren G. Harding in the 1920 presidential election, is among the rarest of the Nation’s Forum issues. And finally, we have a young FDR, in his first known recording, already touching on the themes that would put him in the White House twelve years later.


THEODORE ROOSEVELT: Social and Industrial Justice

Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, NY): c. July 1912
Edison Amberol 1147 (released September 1912)


THEODORE ROOSEVELT: The Right of the People to Rule

Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, NY): c. July 1912
Edison Amberol 1149 (released September 1912)



New York: July 18, 1920
Nation’s Forum N.F. 18 (Columbia mx. 49864 – 1)



New York: c. Late July 1920
Nation’s Forum N.F. 20 (Columbia mx. 49871 – 1)