Friday, July 31, 2009

John Lacalle's Band - A Signal from Mars

A happy little marching tune from a 1901 cylinder. Listening to it, this isn't exactly how I would've imagined this song to sound - especially judging from the wonderful sheet music cover. Perhaps we're meant to imagine the marching bands in the street parades that would be celebrating and commemorating Earth's contact with alien life... just before we get fried and go up in a big fiery puff of klaatu-barada-nikto. We're no baloney Homosapiens, take it back with ya.

John Lacalle's Band - A Signal from Mars

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mira Music Box - Must You?

So, in 9th century Iraq, the Banū Mūsā brothers invented an automatic musical device which played interchangeable cylinders with raised pins on the surface.

Centuries later, the Swiss popularized the ancient Iraqi invention with their own musical snuff boxes that made sounds when you opened them. The sound was produced by a mechanism plucking tiny metal nibs that made different tones depending on their size and shape. By the 19th century, music boxes had come into their own as a means of song propagation before the advent of phonograph records.

It was through this amazing technology that someone committed this song ("Must You?") to immortality by crystallizing it into tiny metal nibs on a small rotating drum or disc in the 19th century. By 1903, even more amazing technology had come about - the phonograph cylinder. Someone had the bright idea of holding this Mira music box up to the recording horn of an Edison machine, thus making a copy to be preserved and distributed.

But then, much later in the century, someone recorded that cylinder on an amazing technology called magnetic tape, thus making a third-generation copy to be preserved and distributed. A few years later it was probably then transferred to a fourth-generation copy on the next amazing technology called the digital compact disc.

So here's the fifth generation copy, wherein someone used the very latest amazing technology and did away with the need for a physical disc, instead converting it to pure digital binary microscopic quantum beep-bop-blips to be decoded by microchips.

Stay tuned: in a few years, we'll be converting all these old recordings into hyper-dimensional meta-holographic constructs that can be gleaned psychically by anyone in the known universe by uploading them to an interstellar web of microtubular connection via nanodust. Bet me.

The song "Must You?" was written for L. Frank Baum's bizarre 1902 Stage Version of The Wizard of Oz.

Mira Music Box, circa 1903

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seven Foot Dilly - Streak Of Lean, Streak Of Fat

Ladies and Gentlemen, your friend - and his - the one, the only, the unfathomable recording sensation Seven Foot Dilly on guitar, accompanied by his rotgut-drinkin' buddy A.A. Gray on the fiddle. Recorded March 20, 1930.

Quotations from Chairman Dilly: "I hear music." "Watch him, he taps both feet at the same time." "Boy, he likes his Cincinnati Chicken." "Go Crazy. Ain't gonna live long now."

Seven Foot Dilly - Streak Of Lean, Streak Of Fat

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders - Black Bottom

Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders cut a lot of great early Jazz records in the 1920s, and constantly toured the USA and England with their Kentucky-themed band. A jazzed-up cover of Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" was their signature tune.

Thing is, though, the band weren't Kentuckians, as least as far as we know. There's no evidence that they even played here. Hamp himself was from Lancaster, PA.

The band predated Hamp as The Serenaders, but at some point in the late 1910s he filled in for the band's regular leader (was he from Kentucky, mayhaps?) and ended up staying on permanently. By 1919 they were touring regularly and had renamed themselves Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders, for reasons that still defy logical explanation - not that any is really needed for the nomenclature of fly-by-night dixieland orchestras.

Their biggest hit was 1926's Black Bottom" (Victor 20101-B) which started a nationwide dance craze that become associated with Kentucky to some extent, despite the apparent lack of actual connection.

From 1931 on they dropped the Kentucky Serenaders name and simply became The Johnny Hamp Orchestra, lasting a few more years before hanging it up for good as World War II loomed on the horizon.

Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders - Black Bottom

Friday, July 24, 2009

Madame Rombro - Po Oolitza

Here's a real mystery record. Po Oolitza, by one Madame Rombro, released in 1899 on Edison brown wax cylinder 7179.

A Google search brings up only the Internet Archive entry where I found the mp3, and a reference to the cylinder having been played before on WFMU. And that's it.

As for the song itself, a book called Travels to the seat of war in the East, through Russia and the Crimea in 1829 by Sir James Edward Alexander mentions "the favorite national air of Russia" as being a song that starts with those words (see image above).

Madame Rombro - Po Oolitza

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Erhard Bauschke - Blindekuh

Erhard Bauschke was one of pioneers of German swing music, playing clarinet in the James Kok Tanz-Orchestra, a Berlin band popular for its jazzy interpretations of international hits. The Kok orchestra was dissolved when Kok, along with most of the band's Jewish musicians, were forced to flee to Romania in order to avoid Nazi persecution. Bauschke, together with whatever former members were left, formed his own band. He died in 1945, struck by a speeding motorist in Berlin.

"Blindekuh" is a German children's game in which people are blindfolded and led around.

Erhard Bauschke - Blindekuh

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka - Kamarinskaya

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (seen above in a painting by Ilya Repin) was a key member of "The Five", a cadre of Russian composers who sought to create a new and specifically Russian kind of art music, rather than one that imitated older European tradition.

This is a 1904 recording of "Kamarinskaya" by Glinka, complete with weird bird noises.

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka - Kamarinskaya