Christmas a Century Ago

HARRY E. HUMPHREY: The Night Before Christmas
New York — Released December 1914
Edison Blue Amberol cylinder 2464

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78 Records Playlist • Clarence Williams Rarities (1928)

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CLARENCE WILLIAMS & HIS ORCHESTRA: Wildflower Rag

Long Island City, NY (Gennett studio): November 1928
Q-R-S R-7033 (mx. 267 – )

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CLARENCE WILLIAMS & HIS ORCHESTRA: Midnight Stomp

Long Island City, NY (Gennett studio): November 1928
Q-R-S R-7033 (mx. 268 – )

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CLARENCE WILLIAMS’ JAZZ KINGS: The Keyboard Express

New York: August 1, 1928
Columbia 14348-D (mx. W 146825 – 3)

The Birth of Paramount Records: New York Recording Laboratories’ 1917 Incorporation Papers

One of the most persistent myths surrounding the New York Recording Laboratories (makers of Paramount records) is that the company was never legally incorporated. The misconception stems in part from testimony in a 1936 lawsuit (Wisconsin Chair Co. v. I. G. Ely Co., 91 S.W. 2d 913), in which it was stated — erroneously, as we now know — that NYRL “is not and was not at any time a corporation, a partnership, or an individual.”

However, NYRL was indeed incorporated — in Port Washington, Wisconsin, on July 2, 1917 — as the notarized copy of the incorporation filing shown below confirms. This  oversized document (from an early photostat, courtesy of Randy Stehle) is too large and faded to be easily legible online, so we’ve transcribed the most relevant portions at the end of the article.

NYRL did lose its corporate status in 1921, when (along with the United Phonographs Corporation, the original registrants of the Puritan trademark) it was merged with the parent Wisconsin Chair Company. UPC and NYRL were dissolved at that time. UPC was soon scuttled, but NYRL continued to operate, simply as a trade-name of Wisconsin Chair (although “Inc.” remained on the labels for several more years) — apparently cause for confusion in the 1936 testimony.

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MSP_NYRL-incorp-1917

Articles of Organization
Of
The New York Recording Laboratories

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Article I.

The undersigned, all of them adults and residents of the state of Wisconsin, have associated and do hereby associate themselves together for the purpose of forming a corporation under Chapter 86 of the Wisconsin Statutes; the business and purpose of which corporation shall be the manufacture and selling of phonograph records, phonographs, phonograph parts, and the manufacture and sale of all things incident to the use in connection with the same…

Article II.

The name of the said corporation shall be the New York Recording Laboratories, and its creation shall be in the city of Port Washington, county of Ozaukee, and state of Wisconsin.

Article III.

The capital stock of said corporation shall be Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and same shall consist of one hundred (100) shares each of which said shares be of the face or par value of One Hundred Dollars ($100).

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[Articles IV – VII deal with corporate structure and regulations, stockholder voting rights, and options for amendment.]

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In Witness Thereof, we have hereunto set our hand and seals this 2nd day of July, A.D. 1917.

F. A. Dennett
J. M. Bostwick
J. R. Dennett
Edward J. Barrett
O. E. Moesser

… [The above signed] doth each for himself depose and say that he is one of the original signers of the above declaration and articles, that the above and foregoing is a true, correct, and complete copy of said original declaration and articles and of the whole thereof.

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For the most detailed history ever published of Paramount records and the people and companies behind them, be sure to check out the second, revised and expanded edition of Alex van der Tuuk’s Paramount’s Rise and Fall, available from Mainspring Press and many libraries.

Victor’s Christmas Turkeys (1911)

No Scrooges at the Victor Talking Machine Company, as this 1911 article makes clear. By that time, the company’s Camden plant was a city-within-a-city, with its own railroad siding, hospital, fire department, printing plant, cafeteria, and (presumably) a very large walk-in cooler; the view below is from 1915.

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78 Records Playlist • Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” (Schweitzer, 1935 / Stokowski, 1927)

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ALBERT SCHWEITZER (organ): Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach)

London: December 1935
Columbia 11022-D (English Columbia mxs. AX7716 – 1 / AX7714 – 1)
Recorded at All Hallows Church

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PHILADELPHIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI, conductor):
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach; orchestral transcription by Stokowski)

Philadelphia: December 30, 1927
Victor 6751 (mxs. CVE 37468 – 2 / CVE 37469 – 2)
Recorded at the Academy of Music

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78 Records Playlist • Hot Dance Bands on Champion Records (1927–1929)

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BOB DEIKMAN’S ORCHESTRA (as Grandview Inn Orchestra):
Roll Up the Carpets

Richmond, IN: December 5, 1927
Champion 15401 (mx. GEX 991 – plain take)

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JOHNNY RINGER’S ROSEMONT ORCHESTRA (as Wally Spencer’s Georgians):
Buffalo Rhythm

New York (9-11 East 37th Street): May 24, 1927
Champion 15305 (mx. GEX 660 – plain take)

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DUCKY YOUNTZ [sic] & HIS ORCHESTRA (as Bobby Hall & his Orchestra):
If You Like Me Like I Like You

Richmond, IN: August 12, 1929
Champion 15801 (mx. GE 15432 – A)

Ducky’s real name reportedly is Charles Yontz, and just to add to the confusion, he’s entered in the Gennett ledger as Duke Yountz.

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The Photo Gallery • Victor Records – Popular Instrumental Stars (1915–1916)

From the Victor monthly supplements (1915 –1916), courtesy of John R. Bolig. Full discographical details of the artists’ recordings from this period, compiled from the original recording ledgers and production cards, can be found in John’s Victor Black Label Discography, Vol. 1 (16000 / 17000 Series), available from Mainspring Press and many major libraries.

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Highlights from the Victor Records December 1914 Catalog

Victor skimped on its popular releases for the 1914 holiday season (the dance offerings consisted almost entirely of Victor Military Band renditions, and the pop vocal offerings were hardly more inspired) in favor of pricier Red Seals. Courtesy of John Bolig.

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78 Records Playlist • Leopold Stokowski Explains Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony (1927)

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A music appreciation lesson, 1920s style. In early 1928, Victor released a newly remade version of their first Musical Masterpiece album — Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5, “From the New World,” by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. The original version (using October 1925 masters recorded in Camden, New Jersey) had released on April 30, 1926.

As a bonus, the remade version included this special single-sided disc by Leopold Stokowski himself, which was never sold individually. The new recordings, other than Stokowski’s talk, were made at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. They retained the original matrix numbers (which were assigned higher take numbers), M-1 album number, and 6500-series catalog numbers; however, Red Seal catalog numbers had advanced into the 6700s by the time the new version was issued, as reflected by the number assigned to this side.

At one point, Stokowski contends that Dvorak was influenced by “Negro jazz,” confusing jazz with its predecessor, ragtime (seminal examples of had just begun making their way into print at the time Dvorak was composing this symphony in 1893) — not an uncommon error, even at that late date.

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LEOPOLD STOKOWSKI (speech and piano): Symphony No. 5, “From the New World” (Dvorak, Op. 95) — Outline of Themes with Piano

Camden, NJ: October 6, 1927
Victor 6743 (mx. CVE 40401 – 2)
Included in version 2 of Victor Musical Masterpiece Album M-1 (released January 27, 1928)

Note: Victor also recorded a Spanish translation of Stokowski’s talk by José Tablada, with piano by Rosario Bourdon, for the Latin American market (issued on single-sided Victor 6750).

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Discographical data from the original Victor files (courtesy of John R. Bolig) and Victor’s May 1926 Talking Machine World listing.

78 Records Playlist • Mamie Smith (& her Jazz Hounds, 1921 / & Billy Fowler’s Orchestra, 1929)

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MAMIE SMITH & HER JAZZ HOUNDS: Jazzbo Ball

New York: c. February 1921 — Issued: May 1921
Okeh 4295 (mx. S 7788 – B)
Some discographies show Feb 21, 1921, with no source cited (not original file data)

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MAMIE SMITH & HER JAZZ HOUNDS: “U” Need Some Lovin’ Blues

New York: c. February 1921 — Issued: May 1921
Okeh 4295 (mx. S 7795 – A)
Some discographies show Feb 22, 1921, with no source cited (not original file data)

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MAMIE SMITH (with BILLY FOWLER & HIS ORCHESTRA): My Sportin’ Man

New York, April 1, 1929 — Unissued
Okeh mx. W 401761 – D
From a blank-labeled c. 1960s vinyl custom pressing from the original stamper

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

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PAUL WHITEMAN & HIS ORCHESTRA: From Monday On
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

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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, 1928
Victor 25675 (mx. BVE 41681 – 2)
Take 2 held — First release in 1937

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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)

78 Records Playlist • The Allen Brothers (1930–1934)

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

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ALLEN BROTHERS: Maybe Next Week Sometime

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

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ALLEN BROTHERS: A New Salty Dog

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

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ALLEN BROTHERS: New Deal Blues

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

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

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HENRY THOMAS (RAGTIME TEXAS): Bull Doze Blues

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

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HENRY THOMAS (RAGTIME TEXAS): Texas Easy Street Blues

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.

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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.