Herwin 75555 – Ernest Hare – 1927

Chas. A. Lindbergh, from Victor catalog.

Chas. A. Lindbergh.  From Victor catalog.

On May 21, 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh completed the first non-stop flight from Long Island’s Roosevelt Field to Paris’ Le Bourget Field.  Thus, he was catapulted to international fame, and to quote the Howard Johnson and Al Sherman song, “like an eagle, he flew into everyone’s heart.”

An air mail pilot, the twenty-five year old Lindbergh took an offer from the French-born New York hotelier Raymond Orteig to award $25,000 to the first pilot to successfully complete a non-stop flight across the Atlantic ocean.  Procuring a custom built Ryan airplane dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh, the dark horse of the contenders for the prize, left Roosevelt Field on Long Island on the morning of May 20, 1927, and arrived in Paris on the night of the next day, creating what was dubbed the largest traffic jam in Parisian history.  Becoming an overnight sensation, the hype surrounding Lindbergh was the largest media event of the inter-war years (we covered the third largest previously), Lindy was the 1927 “Man of the Year” for Time magazine, the topic of songs, and the likely namesake of that wildly popular dance craze, the Lindy Hop.

Herwin 75555 was recorded in May of 1927, mere days after Lindy’s flight, by Ernest Hare, and features two songs in celebration of Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight.  It is a Paramount pressing leased from Plaza masters, and was also issued on Banner 1994, Broadway 1078, Regal 8326, Oriole 921 and 922 (with the sides split up), and possibly others.  Hare was a very successful singer in the 1910s and 1920s, and is best known for his association with Billy Jones, who, as a pair, were known as the “Happiness Boys”, among many other names.  The Herwin label was a St. Louis, Missouri label produced from 1924 to 1930 by brothers Herbert and Edwin Schiele, mostly using masters leased from Gennett and Paramount.

On the first of the two Lindy songs sung by our Happiness Boy, Hare sings, “Lindbergh (The Eagle of the U.S.A.)”.

Lindbergh (The Eagle of the USA)

Lindbergh (The Eagle of the U.S.A.), recorded May 1927 by Ernest Hare.

On the second, he sings L. Wolfe Gilbert and Abel Baer’s similar composition, “Lucky Lindy”.  It’s been said that just about every song made about Lindbergh’s flight is terribly cheesy, and that’s about true, but I believe this one, as performed by Hare, is my favorite of the bunch.

Lucky Lindy

Lucky Lindy, recorded May 1927 by Ernest Hare.

Updated with improved audio on June 29, 2017.

Flexo – Jack Riley’s Orchestra – 1927

This Flexo disc in its original paper sleeve.

This Flexo disc in its original paper sleeve.

The unusual disc we have here is one of those extraordinarily uncommon and equally intriguing Flexo records, a slightly smaller than usual disc pressed in flexible translucent plastic of some sort.

The first line of Flexo Records rolled off the press in Kansas City in 1925, an invention of one Jesse J. Warner.  They were originally produced by the Warner Record Company until 1927, when Warner presumably joined forces with someone with a name ending in “bine” to form the Wabine Company, which continued to produce the records until 1929.  Some of the earliest recordings feature hot jazz by Johnnie Campbell’s orchestra, and many of the Kansas City Flexos contain religious music, many of them labeled “Unity”.  The sleeve of this one mentions the Unity School of Christianity, though the music is secular.  In ’29, Warner moved the production of Flexo records to San Francisco, where they were produced by Pacific Coast Records.  The California Flexos feature recordings by dance bands such as that of Jack Coakley, and interviews with popular Hollywood personalities of the day, including one with Norma Shearer.

Flexo matrices 845 and 848 make up this disc, the record itself is not given a catalog number.  Given the titles, these two sides were most likely recorded in mid-1927, and were produced by the second entity to make Flexos, the Wabine Comapny.  The sound quality would suggest they were recorded by either an excellent acoustical recording process or a rudimentary electrical one.  Both feature instrumental fox-trots of two popular hits of ’27, played with plenty of pep and excitement.  It is plausible that this was distributed at gigs by Riley’s orchestra.

Jack Riley’s orchestra was a distinguished but scarcely recorded band from Kansas City, Missouri.  In the 1910s, Riley’s orchestra had the distinction of having a young drummer in their ranks by the name of Carleton Coon, a man that would go on to become one half of the leadership of America’s favorite radio band, Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra.  Riley’s orchestra was still active as late as 1937.

First, Jack Riley’s Kansas City territory band plays a delightful rendition of the classic tune “Side By Side”.

Side By Side

Side By Side, recorded 1927 by Jack Riley’s Orch.

Interestingly, this side is labeled differently than the first, written in Spanish, and credited to the “Mexo-Flexo Co.”  This side features “Me and My Shadow”.

Me and My Shadow

Me and My Shadow, recorded 1927 by Jack Riley’s Orch.

Updated with improved audio on May 13, 2018.

An Electradisk Dance Double Feature – 1922 & 1923 – 1932

Peter DeRose and May Singhi Breen. From 1932 publication.

May Singhi Breen and Peter DeRose. From 1932 publication.

For your hopeful enjoyment today, I offer you yet another dance band double feature, this time two Electradisks.  As with our first Bluebird double feature, these two are consecutively numbered, one catalog number falling immediately after other.

Electradisk was the RCA Victor Company’s second venture into the field of budget records, following the failure of Timely Tunes.  Electradisks were introduced in 1932 and originally offered in an eight inch format (which is very rarely seen today) along with a prototypical Bluebird of the same format and sold at Woolworth’s dimestores.  Soon, both Bluebird and Electradisk were upgraded to the standard ten inch format, which seems to have sold better, though Bluebirds of that period are still impossible to find.  The Electradisk label continued into 1933, and was discontinued in that same year.  Around that time, the “buff” label Bluebird was introduced, and began huge success and a mainstay well into the 1940s.

First is Electradisk 1922, recorded on November 22, 1932 in RCA’s Studio 1 in New York City.  On the first of the pair, the Peter De Rose Orchestra (actually Tom Berwick’s Orchestra using DeRose’s name) plays “I’m Sure of Everything but You” with a vocal by the husband and wife duo of DeRose and “the original ukulele lady” May Singhi Breen…

I’m Sure of Everything But You, recorded November 22, 1932 by Peter De Rose Orchestra.

…and on the flip, “Underneath the Harlem Moon”, with a vocal by the Marshall Sisters, no doubt trying to capitalize on the success of the Boswell Sisters (though they’re nowhere near as good, sorry to say).

Underneath the Harlem Moon, recorded November 22, 1932 by Peter De Rose Orchestra.

The second disk splits up its artist credits to Jim Harkins and his Orchestra and Sid Peltyn and his Orchestra, but once again, both are pseudonyms for Tom Berwick’s band.  Both sides of Electradisk 1923 were recorded November 23, 1932 in New York.  On the first side, “Harkins'” orchestra presents a respectable rendition of the 1932 popular song “Play, Fiddle, Play”, featured by the likes of “Street Singer” Arthur Tracy.  According to the distinguished Mr. Paul Lindemeyer, Harkins was a Boston area banjo and guitar player who doubled on the bagpipes.

Play, Fiddle, Play, recorded November 23, 1932 by Jim Harkins and his Orchestra and Sid Peltyn and his Orchestra.

On the flip, “Peltyn’s” band plays the Great Depression topical song “Here it is Monday and I’ve Still Got a Dollar”.

Here it is Monday and I’ve Still Got a Dollar, recorded November 23, 1932 by Jim Harkins and his Orchestra and Sid Peltyn and his Orchestra.

Updated on April 28, 2018.

Black Swan 2005 – Lulu Whidby – 1921

In honor of Black History Month, I present to you a Black Swan phonograph record, from the first line “race records” made by and for African American people, featuring the early sounds of vaudevillian female blues, with an early appearance by Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra.

The story of Black Swan began during the Harlem Renaissance in 1920, when few black entertainers were afforded opportunities to record for any of the major record labels.  A man by the name of Harry Herbert Pace, previously a business partner of W.C. Handy, founded the Pace Phonograph Corporation in New York, and began to produce phonographs and records.  Pace also brought in a young song plugger from Handy’s company to serve as recording director and leader of the house orchestra, Fletcher Henderson.  Early on, Pace had difficulty finding a company that would agree to press records from the masters he recorded.  Eventually, Pace was able to contract his record pressing to the Wisconsin Chair Company of Port Washington, Wisconsin, makers of Paramount records.  From 1921 to 1923, Black Swan offered records recorded by black entertainers and intended for black audiences.  Some of the top artists on Black Swan included Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters, and W.C. Handy’s Band.  Unfortunately, the company folded at the end of 1923, and all of their assets were purchased by Paramount Records, who began their 12000 legendary race records series shortly thereafter, reissuing many recordings from Black Swan on some of the earliest releases.

Black Swan 2005 was recorded circa April 1921 in New York City by Lulu Whidby with Henderson’s Novelty Orchestra.  It was later reissued on Paramount 12127, and also appeared on Claxtonola 40055.  The early Fletcher Henderson band includes Chink Johnson or George Brashear on trombone, Edgar Campbell on clarinet, probably Cordy Williams on violin, Fletcher Henderson on piano, and possibly John Mitchell or Sam Speed on banjo; the trumpet and tuba players are unknown.  It has been suggested that Garvin Bushell played clarinet at this session, but he did not recall participating.

It has been suggested that the standard 78.26 RPM is too fast for this record, and I can agree to that.  If anyone has a suggestion as to what the correct speed may be, I’ll add new transfers with it corrected.

First, Lulu Whidby sings the classic Harry Creamer and Turner Layton song, “Strut Miss Lizzie”.

Strut Miss Lizzie

Strut Miss Lizzie, recorded circa April 1921 by Lulu Whidby.

On the reverse, Whidby sings Irving Berlin’s “Home Again Blues”.  Henderson’s orchestra really shines on this one.

HomeAgainBlues

Home Again Blues, recorded circa April 1921 by Lulu Whidby.

Edison 14028 – The Edisongsters – 1929

Thomas A. Edison, image courtesy National Park Service, via World Book.

The Wizard of Menlo Park with his electric light.  Image courtesy National Park Service, via World Book, 1977 edition.

February 11 marks the 169th anniversary of the birth of one of America’s greatest inventors, the man who gave us the phonograph, dictaphone, the kinetoscope, and the electric light, Thomas A. Edison.  In remembrance of his birthday, I present one of his least common records (and the only type I’m equipped to reproduce.)

Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio in 1847, and spent his boyhood years in Michigan.  As a youngster, Edison was called “addled” by a schoolteacher, and his formal school career ended after a brief three months.  Instead, he educated himself, with his mother’s teaching and visits to the Cooper Union in New York City.  He began his professional career as a telegraph operator, and through that work began to develop innovations related to that field.  Settling in Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1876, Edison produced countless new inventions and practical improvements on existing inventions that would have great effect on the lives of people all around the world, including the practical electric light bulb, the motion picture camera, direct current (DC) electrical systems, and, most important to this website, the phonograph.  As an aside to the DC power, Edison’s position against alternating current (AC) electricity led to his development of the electric chair to prove how dangerous AC power could be.  By the end of his life at the age of 84 in 1931, Edison held 1,093 patents in his name.

In the phonograph industry, Edison began in 1877 with his recording and playback of “Mry Had a Little Lamb” on a tinfoil cylinder.  Not long after, his company began selling cylinders and the phonographs used to play them.  By the 1910s, disc records began to overshadow cylinders as the public’s preferred medium for sound reproduction, and Edison introduced his Diamond Discs in 1912, requiring an Edison phonograph to properly play the esoterically cut records.  Finally, in 1929, standard laterally cut phonograph records, playable on a Victor or comparable talking machine had far exceeded Edison’s records, and as his last venture in the phonograph business, Edison rolled out a short production of “Needle Type Electric” records, designed to play on regular laterally oriented reproducers, rather than requiring an Edison phonograph.  The “Needle Type” discs were identical in form to ordinary 78s, as opposed to the heavy, quarter inch thick Diamond Discs.  These “thin” Edisons, as they are sometimes called, were only produced for several months, making them quite scarce today.

Edison 14028 was recorded sometime in 1929, I can’t seem to place the exact date or month; if anyone knows it I’d appreciate if you could share it.  The Edisongsters, Edison’s answer to the Revelers, consist of Will Donaldson, J. Donald Parker (aka Jack Parker, aka Glen Wick), that versatile Frank Luther, and Phil Dewey.

On the “L” side (standing for the side that should face left when the record is stored in a vertical position), the Edisongsters sing “Peace of Mind”.

Peace of Mind

Peace of Mind, recorded 1929 by The Edisongsters.

On the “R” side, they sing “I Want to Meander in the Meadow”.  I’m sure both these songs are the kind of conservative, restrained, and by all means not “hot” music the old Edison would have approved of.

I Want to Meander in the Meadow

I Want to Meander in the Meadow, recorded 1929 by the Edisongsters.