Now in Stock: The Pathé – Perfect Discography, Vol. 2 (Dance Series, 1922–1930)

Volume 2 of The Pathé–Perfect Discography has just arrived. It covers the Dance Series, which ran the gamut from house-orchestra throwaways to some fine hot dance bands and outright jazz.

cover-pathev2-x370Special attention has been paid to the joint Pathé–Cameo–ARC issues. The Record Research group (Walter C. Allen, Len Kunstadt, George Blacker, Carl Kendziora, Perry Armagnac, et al.) used synchronized dual turntables and careful visual inspection of the original pressings to tackle alternate takes, false (assigned) master numbers, control numbers, artist pseudonyms, and other discographical complexities that are sometimes glossed-over, guessed-at, misunderstood, or simply gotten wrong in existing works.

The group published a skeletal Perfect Dance Series listing in RR many years ago, but they intended to publish their more detailed findings in book form, so the manuscript was kept under wraps before finally being passed on to Bill Bryant, following whose death it disappeared into storage. Now recovered and newly updated and annotated by Allan Sutton, the group’s detailed findings appear in print here for the first time. The result is a much-needed fresh look at these records that cites its sources and often supplements or corrects what is found in previously published dance-band discographies.

The Record Research group’s work has been supplemented by what remains of the original primary-source documentation, including the now-lost Form 19 Cards (which a member of the group fortunately copied), the Plaza-ARC and Compo Company ledgers, the Pathé and Perfect Dealer Advance Lists, and the logs of Ed Kirkeby and other contractors and musicians who worked with Pathé.

You’ll find this new volume as easy-to-use as it is informative. Every record (including all corresponding releases on U.S. client and subsidiary labels) has its own line, showing the exact, verbatim label credits and all relevant markings in the wax and on and under the labels for that issue, taken from first-hand inspection of the original discs — setting a new standard for completeness, accuracy, and discographer accountability.

Also included is a detailed user’s guide explaining Pathé’s recording and dubbing processes; their use of outside studios and licensed masters, particularly their relationship with Herbert Berliner and the Compo Company; the transfer procedures and assignment of master and take numbers between themselves and the Cameo and Plaza / American Record Corporation groups (there actually was some method to the seeming madness); real takes vs. dubbing numbers vs. irrelevant superscript digits posing as take numbers; and other fine points. (An illustrated history of the American Pathé operation appears in Volume I, which released last year.)
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