110 Years Ago at the Victor Talking Machine Company: 1906 Catalog Cover Art

In February 1906 Victor began featuring original artwork on its monthly supplement covers, in place of the uniform boilerplate design that it had used since early 1904. Unfortunately, with the exception of the May 1907 issue, the illustrations are unsigned. The last original cover artwork appeared on the November 1907 issue, after which Victor reverted to using a plain stock design, which varied only in its color scheme from month to month.

Original catalogs courtesy of John R. Bolig


The Playlist • Cow Cow Davenport — Vocalion Solos (1928–1929)



COW COW DAVENPORT: Slum Gullion Stomp

Chicago: June 22, 1929
Vocalion 1434 (mx. C 3696 – )



Chicago: May 22, 1929
Vocalion 1291 (mx. C 3531 – )



Chicago: July 16, 1928
Vocalion 1198 (mx. C 2064 – A)



Chicago: October 2, 1928
Vocalion 1253 (mx. C 2379 – )


All selections are from tape dubbings made by the late Mike Stewart. Two takes (-A and -B) were made for each title, per the Brunswick-Vocalion ledgers, but except for “State Street,” the selected takes are not shown in the ledgers or pressings. Brian Rust’s Jazz Records shows non-existent take -C for “Slum Gullion.”

The Playlist • Columbia “XP” Cylinder Favorites (1903 –1906)


(As with many records from this period, some of these contain racial and ethnic stereotypes and racially derogatory language, which does not reflect the views of Mainspring Press)


LONDON MILITARY BAND: The Passing of Ragtime

London: c. 1903
Columbia XP Cylinder 200696
According to the 1904 Columbia catalog, this group was made up of musicians from the Queen’s Hall, Richter, and Royal Opera orchestras, under the direction of Arthur Smith.


WILL F. DENNY: Miss Helen Hunt

New York (Released: c. 1903)
Columbia XP Cylinder 6365 (replacing Denny’s original brown-wax version)


BILLY MURRAY: Strike Up the Band, Here Comes a Sailor

New York (Released: c. 1904)
Columbia XP Cylinder 4254 (replacing George J. Gaskin’s brown-wax version)
There is no listing of this number in the 1903 XP catalogs we have inspected; it first appears in XP form in the 1904 list, but is identified there only as “Tenor.”


CAL STEWART: When the Circus Comes Around

New York (Released: February 1905)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32627



New York (Released: March 1904)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32375


ARTHUR COLLINS: Pretty Little Dinah Jones

New York (Released: February 1904)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32353


BILLY MURRAY: Strolling ’Long the Pike

New York (Released: October 1904)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32561


BOB ROBERTS: ’T’ain’t No Disgrace to Run If You’re Scared

New York (Released: March 1904)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32398


HARRY TALLY: Goodbye, Sweet Old Manhattan Isle

New York (Released: November 1905)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32812



New York (Released: December 1906)
Columbia XP Cylinder 33025


BOB ROBERTS: I Wants a Graphophone

New York (New York: Released: July 1905)
Columbia XP Cylinder 32747


Cylinder Collectors — Be sure to check out the award-winning Edison, Indestructible, and U-S Everlasting cylinderographies from Mainspring Press (no Columbia just yet, but…..)


The Playlist • Dick Justice (1929)



DICK JUSTICE: Brown Skin Blues

Chicago: May 20, 1929
Brunswick 336 (mx. C 3515 – )



Chicago: May 21, 1929
Brunswick 367 (mx. C 3521 – )



Chicago: May 20, 1929
Brunswick 395 (mx. C 3516 – )

Selected takes are not noted in the Brunswick ledger nor visible in the pressings. “Cocaine” is a word-for-word cover of the Luke Jordan song, which Jordan recorded two years earlier for Victor. Whether Justice (a white performer from West Virginia) was in some way associated with Jordan (a black performer from central Virginia), or simply copied it from the record, remains a tantalizing mystery.


The Playlist • Gennett in Birmingham, Alabama (Summer 1927)


A sampling from Gennett’s summer 1927 trip to Birmingham, Alabama. A temporary studio was set up in the Starr Piano Company store at 1820 Third Avenue. It was an exceptionally productive stay from a historical (if not commercial) standpoint, preserving a rich cross-section of Birmingham’s musical heritage.


Many discographies show incorrect recording dates for these sessions because their compilers misunderstood the Gennett ledger sheets. The dates given in the ledgers (in the “From N.Y.” column, which was used regardless of the actual origination point) are those on which the masters were received at the Richmond, Indiana, facility. Masters — the original waxes (indicated by a “W” in the ledgers) rather than metal parts, in the case of the Birmingham sessions — were shipped in batches by rail, so the actual recording dates, with allowance for packing, transport, etc., are probably at least a week prior to the Richmond receipt dates.


Revival for Sinners

Birmingham: August 1927 — Mx. receipt date not entered (c. August 29)
Silvertone 5143 (Gennett mx. GEX 849 – A)
Estimated receipt date based on entered dates for other mx’s


JAYBIRD COLEMAN (as Rabbits Foot Williams):
Man Trouble Blues

Birmingham: July–August 1927 — Mx. received in Richmond August 5
Champion 15379 (Gennett mx. GEX 771 – [replacing rejected GEX 694])
The pianist is not credited in the Gennett ledger


GEORGE H. TREMER: Spirit of ’49

Birmingham: July–August 1927 — Mx. received in Richmond August 8
Champion 15436 (Gennett mx. GEX 779 – A)


FRANK BUNCH & HIS FUZZY WUZZIES (as New Orleans Strutters): Fourth Avenue Stomp

Birmingham: August 1927 — Mx. receipt date not entered (c. August 20)
Champion 15398 (Gennett mx. GEX 832 – A)
Estimated receipt date based on entered dates for other mx’s


TRIANGLE HARMONY BOYS (as Alabama Harmony Boys): Chicken Supper Strut

Birmingham: August 1927 — Mx. receipt date not entered (c. August 20)
Champion 15398 (Gennett mx. GEX 838 – A)
Estimated receipt date based on entered dates for other mx’s


DUNK RENDELMAN & HIS ORCHESTRA (as Down Home Serenaders): Mean Dog Blues

Birmingham: August 1927 — Mx. receipt date not entered (c. August 29)
Champion 15399 (Gennett mx. GEX 852 – A)
Estimated receipt date based on entered dates for other mx’s


EVA QUARTETTE (W. J. Smith, organ; as Ellington Sacred Quartette): You Can’t Make a Monkey Out of Me

Birmingham: August 1927 — Mx. received in Richmond August 11
Challenge 404 (Gennett mx. GEX 792 – A)
An anti-evolution song. This is one of the few Birmingham sides that is relatively easy to find, appearing on seven different labels under various names.