A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to uncover several of these single sided early Victor records at one of my regular haunts. Though they’re a little out of the scope of what I usually collect, they certainly are interesting, as they are all well over one hundred years old! Since they only have one side each, I thought it best to post two of them here at a time. These two are a pair of rags composed by Arthur Pryor and played by his military band.
Arthur Pryor, the trombone virtuoso, was one of Victor’s most popular artists around the turn of the century. He rose to prominence during the 1890s as a soloist with John Philip Sousa’s band, and took his first solo at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Pryor left Sousa’s Band in 1902 and soon began his association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. During the 1900s and 1910s, Pryor’s Band was one of the most popular in the United States.
Dating these early records is not my strong suit, but going by the matrix number of B-793, and the apparent take number of 2, this copy Victor 4069 was recorded April 26, 1903, mostly likely in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This record features Arthur Pryor’s famous composition (though its title would not be so acceptable today), “Coon Band Contest”. This one is, unfortunately, quite noisy, but not too shabby for a nearly 113 year old shellac disc!
With the matrix B2818, it appears that Victor 4525 was recorded October 18, 1905, also in Philadelphia. This one features the rag tune “Razzazza Mazzazza”, and plays considerably better than the first disc. It’s pretty fun music, too!
Updated with improved audio on June 6, 2017.