Houston: March 19, 1925
Victor mx. B 32111 – 2 (commercially unissued on 78)
FATTY MARTIN’S ORCHESTRA: Jimtown Blues
Houston: March 19, 1925
Victor mx. B 32111 – 4 (commercially unissued on 78)
Above two titles from c. 1960s custom vinyl pressings of the original stampers. Takes 1 and 3, respectively, were issued on Victor 19700 (released 1925, deleted 1926).
ROSS DE LUXE SYNCOPATORS (Margaret Miller, vocal): Skad-o-Lee
Savannah: August 22, 1927
Victor 20961 (mx. BVE 39823 – 2)
Released: December 16, 1927 – Deleted: 1929
ROSS DE LUXE SYNCOPATORS (Frank Houston, vocal): Florida Rhythm
Savannah: August 22, 1927
Victor 20961 (mx. BVE 39827 – 2)
Released: December 16, 1927 – Deleted: 1929
MEMPHIS RAMBLERS: Hold It Still
Memphis (Auditorium): February 4, 1928
Victor 21270 (mx. BVE 41841 – 2)
Released: April 20, 1928 – Deleted: 1931
WILLIAMSON’S BEALE STREET FROLIC ORCHESTRA: Scandinavian Stomp
Memphis (McCall Building): February 27, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37959 – 1 (commercially issued on Victor 21410) .
WILLIAMSON’S BEALE STREET FROLIC ORCHESTRA: Midnight Frolic Drag
Memphis (McCall Building): February 27, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37960 – 2 (commercially issued on Victor 21410)
Above two titles from c. 1960s custom vinyl pressings of the original stampers. Victor 21410 was released July 20, 1928, deleted in 1930, and sold 4,819 copies according to the production-history card.
Not as widely known as the Discography of American Historical Recordings (although it certainly deserves to be), the UK-based CHARM website offers another outstanding online discography — in this case, of historical classical and operatic recordings. Hosted by the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music, CHARM is partnership of Royal Holloway, University of London (host institution) with King’s College, London, and the University of Sheffield.
CHARM is the perfect complement to DAHR, offering hard-to-find data on foreign as well as domestic recordings, primarily from the 1920s onward. The database includes much of The Gramophone Company’s 78-rpm output (from original file data compiled by the late Alan Kelly), as well 78s and some LP series from numerous other US, UK, and European companies, including Columbia and Decca, from data supplied by Michael Gray. *
The CHARM site includes a very flexible search engine, and results can be downloaded as comma-delimited text (.csv) or Microsoft Excel files. Here’s a small part of the results from our search on Cesare Formichi’s Columbia recordings: .
In addition, almost 5000 streaming sound files are available via the Find Sound Files facility. Sound files are transferred from 78-rpm discs held by the King’s Sound Archive at King’s College London.
Like DAHR and the affiliated National Juke Box site from the Library of Congress, CHARM is an entirely free service, with no registration or log-in required.
* Dr. Alan Kelly compiled the monumental His Master’s Voice Discography for Greenwood Press during its glory days in the 1990s; when new owners pulled the plug, he completed the project on his own, self-publishing the entire run on a set of inexpensive CDs. In 2007 he was honored with the Association for Recorded Sound Collections’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Michael Gray — besides being one helluva nice guy — has had a distinguished career that includes a long run as director of the Voice of America’s Research Library and Digital Audio Archive projects. He served as series editor for Greenwood Press discographies, has written numerous books and articles, and is the recipient of ARSC’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Photos from the Victor monthly supplements, courtesy of
John Bolig .
GEORGE M. COHAN: You Won’t Do Any Business If You Haven’t Got a Band (“A Little of Everything”)
Camden, NJ: May 4, 1911
Victor 60043 (mx. B 10268 – 1) With studio orchestra (conductor not credited in the Victor files)
NORA BAYES & JACK NORWORTH: Turn Off Your Light, Mr. Moon Man (“Little Miss Fix-It”)
Camden, NJ: April 24, 1911
Victor 70038 (mx. 9830 – 5) With studio orchestra (conductor not credited in the Victor files)
AL JOLSON: That Haunting Melody (“Vera Violetta”)
Camden, NJ: December 22, 1911
Victor 17037 (mx. B 11409 – 2) With studio orchestra conducted by Walter B. Rogers. Although Rogers is not credited in the Victor files, Jolson addresses him by name in “Asleep in the Deep (Parody),” recorded at the same session.
ELSIE JANIS: Fascinating Baseball Slide
Camden, NJ: October 22, 1912
Victor 60090 (mx. B 12527 – 1) With studio orchestra (conductor not credited in the Victor files)
DAVE MONTGOMERY & FRED STONE: Travel, Travel, Little Star (“The Old Town”)
Camden, NJ: January 24, 1911
Victor 70033 (mx. C 9845 – 1) With studio orchestra (conductor not credited in the Victor files)
DAVE MONTGOMERY & FRED STONE: Gay Paree
Camden, NJ: May 19, 1911
Victor 70042 (mx. C 9906 – 2) With studio orchestra (conductor not credited in the Victor files)
NAT W. WILLS: New York, What’s the Matter with You? (Ziegfeld’s “Follies of 1913”)
Camden, NJ: September 22, 1913
Victor 17461 (mx. B 13838 – 1) Frank N. Darling, conductor, per Victor files (Darling was the conductor of the “Follies” orchestra).
Believe the old tale that the first jazz record (Victor 18255, by the Original Dixieland Jass Band) sold a million copies? Or more?
Not even close — and we finally have the evidence from the Victor Talking Machine Company itself.
We recently got the welcome news from record researcher and Phonostalgia host Ryan Barna that microfilm copies of the “missing” blue production-history cards for Victor 18255 have been found in the Sony archives by Sam Brylawski — filed not under 18255, but under the catalog number of RCA’s 1967 LP reissue (LPV-547)! We then double-checked with Victor expert John Bolig, who was also able to locate his scans of the cards as well, and kindly forwarded them.
The most important news: The blue card states that 250,983 copies of Victor 18255 were pressed. Far short of the common million-seller claim, but more in line with what we’d expect for a best-seller of the period. Assuming this figure is correct, actual sales would have been a bit less (deducting free copies, breakage, dealer returns, leftover inventory destroyed when the record was deleted, etc.). In the interest of full disclosure, the blue-card figures could be off a bit, as John notes:
“Many years later somebody counted the pressings for a trial, and the company reported 250,983 copies had been pressed UP TO THAT TIME. I don’t know when that trial happened, but the record was deleted from the 1927 catalog. If the trial was earlier, more copies may have been pressed. If it was later, then the total is probably final and presumably accurate.”
It’s possible that this was the 1943 RCA–Decca trial, in which RCA submitted a tally of annual Victor record sales from 1901 through 1941. If so, 250,983 copies would likely have been the final tally; and presumably a reasonably accurate one, since the annual tally was formally entered into evidence at the trial.
Whatever the case, this is the only primary-source document located in the Victor archives so far that relates to the sales of 18255 — and as such, we trust it far more than the claims of some aging ODJB band members, who didn’t produce any documentary evidence to back up their boast, or the countless pop-culture writers who have uncritically swallowed that tale.
* * * * *
We don’t have permission from Sony to reproduce the card scans here. But the other key bits of information relating to Victor 18255, as relayed by both Ryan and John from the blue card and recording ledger information, are confirmation that these recordings were indeed originally made as trials, and were not accepted and assigned master numbers until March 1; that testing was not completed and approved until March 10 (eliminating any possibility of the March 5 release claimed by Rudi Blesh and others); and that the record was assigned to the May 1917 supplement (which would have been issued in late April). John suspects that the “March 1917 Special” notation might have been added to the card at a later date:
“The blue card for ‘Dixieland Jass Band, One Step’ (‘That Teasin’ Rag’) has handwriting on it that may have been added when the record was issued on LX-3007 [in 1954], and somebody using that pen and much darker ink seems to have added “Mar 1917 Special” above the “Date listed” cell that reads May 1917. That notation about a special release does not appear on the card for the other side. The writer penned the letter S twice in the same distinctive style on the word “Special” and on the words “Side 1” [the latter on a line referring to the 1954 LP reissue, which also gives the track number]. I doubt that employee was at Victor for the 1917 release and later for the LP release.
“I have dealt with these cards most of my life, and I seriously doubt that a record sent to the lab on March 9th could have been listed in a March special announcement. The absence of the notation on the other card supports my belief that a March announcement was almost impossible given the time required to design and print labels, press records and prepare them for distribution.”
Ryan has done some excellent sleuthing for ads and other materials confirming that Victor 18255 was on sale in some locations by late April (although apparently not before that) — in other words, a few weeks earlier than the “official” May 17 release date, but far later than Blesh’s logistically impossible March 5 date. He’ll be posting those ads and revealing the results of his investigation (which has turned up many interesting details regarding the initial release that we’ve not presented here) on the Phonostalgia site — be sure to pay him a visit.
John Bolig’s many fans will be happy to hear that his new Victor Black Label Discography, Volume 5 is now available as a free download, courtesy of UC-Santa Barbara’s online Discography of American Historical Recordings (< click this link to get to the download site).
Volume 5 — the first in this important series for which there will be no printed edition — covers the 25000, 26000, and 27000 series, from 1935 to 1942. Like all previous volumes, it was compiled from the original RCA documentation and contains no speculative or anecdotal material — just the (non-alternative) facts.
The download is in searchable PDF format (Adobe Acrobat or Reader) and can be printed out for personal use. For book enthusiasts, Mainspring Press still has copies of Volumes 1–4 available (which are not available as free downloads), but quantities are very limited, so order soon to avoid missing out — they’re sure to become collectors’ items.
Clarice Vance, from the November 1907 Victor supplement (top, courtesy of John Bolig); Elsie Janis and Fanny Brice (lower left and right; G.G. Bain Collection, Library of Congress)
Performances by several leading comediennes of the early twentieth century, ranging from the sublime to a howlingly bad (but historically instructive) example of what white-folk thought the “blues” were in 1917. Like many records of the period, some of these contain derogatory racial and ethnic stereotypes, which do not reflect our views.
CLARICE VANCE: I’m Wise
Probably Philadelphia: August 7, 1907
Victor 5253 (mx. B 4768 – 1)
BLANCHE RING: Yip! I Adee, I Aye!
Camden, NJ: March 29, 1909
Victor 5692 (mx. B 6914 – 3)
BLANCHE RING: The Billiken Man
Camden, NJ: June 24, 1909
Victor 5731 (mx. B 8073 – 2)
ELSIE JANIS: Fascinating Baseball Slide
Camden, NJ: October 22, 1912
Victor 60090 (mx. B 12527 – 1)
ELIDA MORRIS (with BILLY MURRAY): You’ll Come Back
Camden, NJ: May 16, 1910
Victor 16653 (mx. B 8572 – 4)
MARIE CAHILL (CARL GRAY, piano): The Dallas Blues
(Preceded by Mose’s Baptism)
New York: January 2, 1917
Victor 55081 (mx. C 18652 – 3)
FANNY BRICE: The Sheik of Avenue B
Camden, NJ: July 14, 1922
Victor 45323 (mx. B 26800 – 2)
Studio orchestra conducted by Rosario Bourdon
Discographic data from the Victor Talking Machine Company files, courtesy of John Bolig. Except for the last selection, conductors are not listed in the Victor files.
Four very different treatments of Shelton Brooks’ 1910 hit, beginning with a Victor release by studio singer Billy Murray in auto-pilot mode. Given what we know of Victor’s musical assembly-line of the period, Murray’s first encounter with the song quite likely came when a company representative handed him the score and gave him a few days to prepare for the recording.
The song might have died on the spot, given such treatment, but Sophie Tucker made it her own. She brought audiences to their feet (and folks of the sort who carped about “white coon shouters” to near-apoplexy), and it would serve as her signature tune for the rest of her career. Here are two of Tucker’s many recorded versions — the original, and a mid-1920s reworking with the Ted Lewis band that incidentally marks one of the earliest fruits of the Columbia-Okeh merger. Lewis was exclusive to Columbia, Tucker to Okeh; the fact that Columbia got the release was perhaps a not-so-subtle reminder of who was boss in the new relationship.
And finally, a full jazz treatment by The Missourians, the sensationally hot band that Cab Calloway had recently taken over. Within a few months he would begin adjusting personnel and reducing them to glorified accompanists, but here we have them in their final, untampered-with glory.
BILLY MURRAY & AMERICAN QUARTET: Some of These Days
Camden NJ: December 27, 1910 (Released March 1911)
Victor 16834 (mx. B 9740 – 3)
Personnel not listed in the Victor files. The American Quartet at this time normally included Murray (lead tenor), John Bieling (tenor), Steve Porter (baritone), and William F. Hooley (bass).
SOPHIE TUCKER: Some of These Days
New York: February or March 1911 (Released May 25, 1911)
Edison Amberol 691 (four-minute cylinder)
The Edison studio cash books list Tucker four-minute sessions on February 17 and 24, and March 2, but do not indicate the titles recorded at each.
TED LEWIS & HIS BAND with SOPHIE TUCKER: Some of These Days
Chicago: November 23, 1926
Columbia 826-D (mx. W 142955 – 2)
CAB CALLOWAY & HIS ORCHESTRA (Cab Calloway, vocal):
Some of These Days
New York: December 23, 1930
Brunswick 6020 (mx. E 35880 – A)
San Antonio (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-5435 (mx, BVE 82677 – 1)
Released: April 18, 1934
MODERN MOUNTAINEERS (Vocal by SMOKEY WOOD):
San Antonio (Texas Hotel): March 1, 1937
Bluebird B-6976 (mx. BS 07435 – 1)
Released: May 26, 1937
CLIFF CARLISLE: That Nasty Swing
Charlotte, NC (Southern Radio Building): June 16, 1936
Bluebird B-6631 (mx. BS 102651 – 1)
Released: November 4, 1936 Accompanying personnel are not listed in the files or credited on the labels; published personnel listings are speculative.
TOMMY McCLENNAN: Bottle It Up and Go
Chicago (Studio A): November 22, 1939
Bluebird B-8373 (mx. BS 044241 – 1)
Released: March 1, 1940
Discographical data from the RCA Victor files (Sony Music archives, NYC) by way of John Bolig’s Bluebird Discography, available from Mainspring Press.
New Year, New Dog!
On New Year’s Eve we welcomed Nick to his new home in the U.S. He’d been picked up as a stray overseas and was flown to Colorado by a local rescue group in December, after receiving a clean bill of health and his official doggie passport. He doesn’t understand any English yet — but he has a huge heart (and a huge head to go with it) and is already turning out to be the perfect gentleman and office companion.
The Gramophone Company began producing “complete” operatic recordings in Italy in 1906. The earliest attempts were rag-tag productions, sometimes with different singers substituted if those originally scheduled couldn’t make a session; and in at least one case, a domestic Red Seal recording had to be substituted for a missing side in the U.S. There were no Carusos or Farrars or other Red Seal–class celebrities to be heard — even had their Victor contracts allowed them to record for The Gramophone Company, their astronomical royalty rates would have driven the price of these sets beyond the means of most customers — but the recordings caused a sensation nonetheless. There are reports of record stores staging “Victrola Opera Nights” using these records, with costumed locals lip-synching their parts. You can find much more about them in A Phonograph in Every Home, available from Mainspring Press.
Here are some highlights from a later, better-organized attempt, recorded in Milan in 1915 but not released in the U.S. until March 1919, on the lowly black-label series. These sets pre-date the “album” concept — i.e., the records were sold individually, and the big arias handily outsold the less-juicy portions — so assembling complete sets can be a daunting task. Our Cavalleria Rusticana set is growing steadily, but still has a ways to go.
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (Mascagni)
FRANCO TUMINELLO, GEORGINA ERMOLLI, LENA REVELLI and E. PERNA, with LA SCALA CHORUS & ORCHESTRA (CARLO SABAJNO, conductor)
Recorded in Milan by The Gramophone Company (F. W. Gaisberg, engineer)
PARTS 1–4 (Victor 35680 / 35681)
Cavalleria Rusticana: Preludio e Siciliana (mx. 3022c; April 8, 1915) Cavalleria Rusticana: Preludio – Part 2 (mx. 3021c; April 8, 1915) Cavalleria Rusticana: Gli aranci (mx. 3017c; April 5, 1915) Cavalleria Rusticana: Tempo e si mormori (mx. 3018c; April 6, 1915)
PARTS 17–18 (Victor 35688)
Cavalleria Rusticana: A casa, a casa (mx. 3020c; April 7, 1915) Cavalleria Rusticana: Brindisi (mx. 3019c; April 7, 1915)
Discographic data from the Gramophone Company files, courtesy of the late Dr. Alan Kelly.
Alexander Maloof was a second-generation Syrian immigrant who carved a niche for himself in the 1920s with the Maloof and Music of the Orient labels. Although known primarily for championing Middle Eastern music, Maloof was also a capable pop composer. He was a survivor as well — when times got tough in the early 1930s, he kept himself afloat by recording pipe-organ solos for skating rinks and funeral homes.
Maloof’s exact birth date remains questionable. His Social Security death record states that he was born on August 10, 1886. However, his tombstone states 1887; the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census files state 1885, while the 1940 Census goes far afield with “about 1895″; and a copyright filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark office lists 1884. Although various publications in the 1920s stated that Maloof was Turkish or Egyptian, his passport application and Social Security records state that he was born in Syria. The family, headed by Chames Maloof, apparently arrived in the U.S. in or around 1894, based on a 1925 report. On October 29 of that year, Maloof filed a declaration of intent to apply for naturalized citizenship.
By the early 1910s, Maloof was becoming well-known on the New York musical scene. In 1913 he recorded two of his original piano compositions — “Al-Ja-Za-Yer” (made as a test on July 24, and subsequently accepted for release) and “A Trip to Syria” (on September 16) — for the Victor Talking Machine Company. In a unusual move, the titles were assigned to both the ethnic and standard catalogs, as Victor 65830 and Victor 17443, respectively. Apparently, neither release sold well enough to earn Maloof a second Victor session.
The E. T. Paull Music Company published two of Maloof’s dance numbers, “Ticklish Sensation” and “The Egyptian Glide,” in 1914. The latter was available in two arrangements — Maloof’s own tango version, and a one-step-step/two-step/trot arrangement credited to Paull himself. By the late ’teens, Maloof was operating his own music studio in New York and was attracting notice for concert appearances at which he featured his original compositions.
The tango version of Maloof’s “Egyptian Glide” (1914). E. T. Paull also provided a “One-Step,Two-Step, Trot” arrangement.
The Maloof Phonograph Company was launched in 1920 to specialize in traditional Middle Eastern fare. Its earliest labels show either no copyright date, or a 1920 copyright, which does not appear to have been formally registered. The earliest pressings are from masters in a three-digit M-prefixed series of unknown origin, some of which show master-broker Earle W. Jones’ characteristic handwritten “J” in the wax. Physical characteristics suggest that they were pressed by the Siemon Hard Rubber Company, with which Jones was affiliated.
By late 1922 production of the Maloof label had shifted to the Starr Piano Company (Gennett), corresponding to a new (and also apparently unregistered) 1922 label copyright date. Maloof would become one of Gennett’s most active clients, rivaling that other highly prolific customer — Homer Rodeheaver — for the amount of time booked in Gennett’s studios.
A second Maloof line, Music of the Orient (credited to the likely fictitious “Orient Company”) appeared in or around 1923, also produced by Gennett, and using some of the same masters as the Maloof label. Although Maloof’s masters were numbered in the standard Gennett series, most were recorded for his exclusive use.
The Maloof and Music of the Orient labels seem to have disappeared by late 1925, but Maloof and his associates continued to record in Gennett’s New York studios into the summer of 1931, covering everything from Egyptian and Syrian folk music to old warhorses like “Home Sweet Home” and assorted Christian hymns. Gennett picked up the occasional title for its own use, but most were pressed as Personal records, at Maloof’s own expense. In-between, there was a visit to Victor’s New York studio on February 15, 1926, with his Oriental Orchestra. The session yielded four ethnic-catalog releases, one of which (“Egyptiana”) was also issued in the Mexican series, where it was retitled “Somali.”
Maloof held the dubious honor of having recorded the last masters ever made in Gennett’s legendary Long Island City studio, in late June 1931. (June 30, shown on the ledger sheet, is the date on which masters were received in Richmond, not the recording date. The ledger sheet for the final Long Island session is headed “1932” in error; master numbers are contiguous with the May–June 1931 sessions listed on the previous sheets.) Maloof’s final Gennett sessions included organ solos intended for use in the company’s Chapel series, which was marketed to funeral parlors.
From the Gennett ledgers — Top: The final session in the Long Island City studio, in late June 1931. Bottom: One of several earlier 1931 Maloof sessions. Note that the recordings were dubbed to new N-series masters; several dubbings from these sessions were released commercially on Champion and Superior in the early 1930s, and even on Decca’s revived version of the Champion label in the mid-1930s.
Chames Maloff died in1930, and Alexander moved to Los Angeles in 1931. He was living there by September 2 of that year, when his application for citizenship was finally accepted. However, he seems to have returned East on occasion, launching his new Orient label (credited to the Maloof Music Company of Englewood, New Jersey, and using newly recorded material) at some point in the 1940s. He died in Los Angeles on May 1, 1968.
The Maloof family plot in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles. George Maloof made a few recordings for his brother’s label in 1920. (Courtesy of Irv Lightner)
JACK STILLMAN’S ORIOLE ORCHESTRA: I’m Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston
New York: c. October–November 1925?*
Paramount 20423 (mx. 2333 – 1)
*Evidence is mounting that Paramount’s New York studio did not always assign final master numbers at the time of recording — particularly some discrepancies between the date ranges given in traditional discographies (like the questionable one shown here), and confirmed date ranges extrapolated from talent-broker Ed Kirkeby’s session files. Could this be one of those instances, given that companies for which original files exist recorded this title during the mid-summer of 1925? A large amount of research remains to be done in this regard, but we’re on it — stay tuned!
COON-SANDERS ORIGINAL NIGHT HAWKS ORCHESTRA (Carleton Coon & Joe Sanders, vocal): I’m Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston
Camden, NJ: July 13, 1925 (Released August 21, 1925; Deleted 1927)
Victor 19727 (mx. BVE 32768 – 4)
CALIFORNIA RAMBLERS: I’m Gonna Charleston Back to Charleston
New York: July 9, 1925
Columbia 419-D (mx. W 140674 – 1) Rust’s Jazz & Ragtime Records 1897–1942 and derivative works, including American Dance Bands on Records and Film, give the date as June 9, in error. July 9 is confirmed in the Kirkeby logbook and Columbia files.
Some favorite sides featuring what early jazz writers termed “The Chicagoans,” a loosely affiliated group of young, white, mostly Midwestern jazz musicians who congregated in the city during the 1920s.
CHICAGO RHYTHM KINGS (as “Jungle Kings”; Red McKenzie, uncredited vocal): Friars Point Shuffle
Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. Late March – Early April 1928
UHCA 3 (dub of Paramount 12654 [NYRL mx. 20563-2])
Given the scrambled accounts of this session in Eddie Condon’s autobiographical We Called It Music, and later in Brian Rust’s Jazz & Ragtime Records (6th Ed.), the date remains open to question. Rust erroneously stated that Condon said this session was held “on the day after the Chicago Rhythm Kings session for Brunswick.” But what Condon actually said was “The next day, he [Red McKenzie] went to Paramount and sold Lyons a date for us.” Compounding the problem is Condon himself, who got his two Brunswick-studio sessions out-of-order in his autobiography, confusing the first (on March 27, which produced only unissued masters allocated to Vocalion, including “Friars Point Shuffle”) with the second (on April 6). Although Condon stated that the Paramount date followed the session that produced “I’ve Found a New Baby,” his confusion over the Brunswick-studio sessions raises the question of which date the Paramount session actually followed.
CHICAGO RHYTHM KINGS: I’ve Found a New Baby
Chicago: April 6, 1928
Brunswick 4001 (mx. C 1886 – A)
RAY MILLER & HIS ORCHESTRA: That’s a Plenty
Chicago: January 3, 1929
Brunswick 4225 (mx. C 2743 – ) Three takes were recorded; the selected take is not indicated in the Brunswick files or on inspected pressings.
ELMER SCHOEBEL & HIS FRIAR’S SOCIETY ORCHESTRA: Prince of Wails
Chicago: October 18, 1929
Brunswick 4653 (mx. C 4560 – A)
EDDIE [CONDON]’S HOT SHOTS (Jack Teagarden, vocal): That a Serious Thing
New York: February 8, 1929 (released May 17, 1929)
Victor V-38046 (mx. BVE 48346 – 2)
“Eddie Condon and his Orchestra” entered in Victor ledger, with “Eddie’s Hot Shots” assigned. This was a mixed-race session, with Leonard Davis (trumpet), Happy Caldwell (reeds), and George Stafford (percussion) present, which apparently was enough to land it in Victor’s predominantly black “Hot Dance” series.
The usual members of this group were Jerry Adams, Hampton Durand, Walter Howard, Ned Nestor, Clyde Shugart, and Percy Stoner (with the addition of pianist Tommy Reilly on one oddball Brunswick session at which the Harmaniacs had no harmonica player — the only instance in which at least partial personnel were listed in the recording files).
HARMANIAC FIVE: Harmaniac Blues
Chicago (Marsh Laboratories): c. May 1926
Paramount 20476 (Marsh mx. 1079) From a tape dubbing supplied by the late Gilbert Louey. Jazz Records shows two banjos and no guitar, in error (one of each is audible, even through the horrendous surface noise and notoriously inaccurate “Marsh Sound”).
FIVE HARMANIACS: Coney Island Washboard
New York: September 17, 1926
Victor 20293 (mx. BVE 36327 – 2) No personnel listed in the Victor files.
FIVE HARMANIACS (with uncredited vocal): Sleepy Blues
New York: February 24, 1927
Brunswick 7002 (mx. E 22013, renumbered from E 4587) Race-series release (although the band was white). Originally recorded as a test master (Vocalion mx. E 4587, unissued on that label), and subsequently transferred to Brunswick on March 18, 1927, and assigned Brunswick mx. E 22013. No personnel are listed in the Brunswick-Vocalion files. Jazz Records shows a recording date of February 4, in error.
FIVE HARMANIACS: It Takes A Good Woman (To Keep a Good Man at Home)
New York: February 8, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37751 – 1 (unissued in 78-rpm form) From a c. 1960s blank-label vinyl pressing from the original stamper. Take 2 was released on Victor 20507 in April 1927. No personnel listed in the Victor files.
FIVE HARMANIACS (Walter Howard, speech): What Makes My Baby Cry?
New York: February 8, 1927
Victor mx. BVE 37750 – 1 (unissued in 78-rpm form) From a c. 1960s blank-label vinyl pressing from the original stamper. Take 2 was released on Victor 20507 in April 1927. No personnel, aside from Howard, are listed in the Victor files.
One of the easiest way to determine pressing plants for RCA Victor’s later 78s and early 45s and LPs is from subtle clues in the label design. Victor revealed them in the Standardizing Notices pictured below in 1947 (for 78s) and 1950 (for 45s). For 78s, the clues lie in the concentric rings, and their spacing relative to the circled RCA logo; for 45s, in the placement of a double hyphen within the upper text circle.
“Canonsburg” refers to RCA’s auxiliary plant in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which opened in 1947. In 1950 it was converted to a 45-only plant, then was closed in 1953.
Indianapolis text above, which is unclear on the original, reads: “Two concentric circles nearly touch small RCA circle.