KEEN-O-PHONE, REX, AND IMPERIAL RECORDS
The Complete Discography (1912 – 1918)
Edited and annotated by Allan Sutton
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Online Reference Library
The Keen-O-Phone Company was part of the first wave of American vertical-cut record producers in the early 1910s. Too early to market, with little demand having yet developed for vertical-cut products, Keen-O-Phone suspended operations in early 1914. Its assets were leased by a new company, the Rex Talking Machine Corporation, which took up production where Keen-O-Phone left off.
After a series of financial ups and downs (detailed in the discography’s introductory timeline), Rex was forced to liquidate in early 1917. A group of its stockholders and creditors purchased the company’s assets and resumed operations under the Imperial Talking Machine Company banner. But the new venture fared no better than its predecessor, and after failing in early 1918, some of its assets were acquired by Otto Heineman in preparation for launching his new Okeh label.
Fred Hager retained possession of the masters, which he sold to any unnamed purchaser in the 1930s. They’ve long-since vanished, along with the Keen-O-Phone, Rex, and Imperial files. Therefore, this is a “forensic discography” (an apt term coined by David Giovannoni), a reconstruction compiled from first-hand observation of the original discs, catalogs, and ancillary materials.
George Blacker began work on this project in the 1960s, with support from members of the Record Research group (Walter C. Allen, Carl Kendziora, Len Kunstadt, et al.) and, later, William R. Bryant and his circle of trustworthy collaborators. The completed discography, published here for the first time, has been updated, edited, and annotated by Allan Sutton, with significant revisions and additions contributed by David Giovannoni and Ryan Barna.
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