Volume I
Originally Posted April 1998

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    Dill Pickles               Zon-o-phone Orchestra          1908
    This is a lively example of turn of the century ragtime.  My only criticism is that sometimes the arrangements tended to be a bit repetitive - as in this instance. It is almost as if the musicians were trying to stretch the music out in order to fill up the record.

    Velma                     Rudy Wiedoeft                       1920
    This Pathe-Actuelle record was one of the first 78s that I owned when I was a child.  I was fascinated by everything about it: the distinctive Pathe logo and its trademark rooster, the way the label looked when it was on the spinning turntable and of course the music itself.  A couple of decades and a couple of thousand records later, the novelty has worn off a bit.  Nevertheless, it is one of my most treasured records.  Wiedoeft (1893-1940) was an extremely popular saxophone player back in the late 'teens and early '20s.  Apparently, he had a thing for song titles that ended with the letter A:  "Velma," "Valse Erica," "Saxarella" Saxaphobia," "Saxema," "Gloria" etc.  One of Wiedoeft's fans was a young saxophone player who was so enthralled that his college classmates gave him the nickname "Rudy."  The name stuck and today that young fan is remembered as Rudy Vallee.

    Merry Widow Two Step         Victor Dance Orchestra        1908
    This recording features selections- played in dance tempo - from Franz Lehar's famous operetta by the same name which had debuted only a few years before. I particularly enjoy the tune that makes up the last half of the recording.  Lehar was extremely popular on both sides of the Atlantic during the first decade of the century.  Happily, most of his works are still recorded and are available on CD.

    It's A Long, Long Way To Tipperary     American Quartet    1914
    This song was  extremely popular with the British troops on the front lines of World WarI. 

    Just A Little Drink         Ray Miller and his Orchestra             1925
    In 1925, drinking alcoholic beverages was against the law in the United States.  Of course, that did not stop Americans from drinking in record numbers. Indeed, drinking and "speakeasies" became fashionable.  Some lessons are never learned -  as evidenced by the anti-smoking Nazis in the present administration.  Sorry, I couldn't resist saying that!

    Somebody                    Prince's Dance Orchestra                   1920
    Charles A Prince (1869-1937) and his band recorded a large number of  ragtime and popular dance tunes in the late 'teens and early '20s - primarily for the Columbia Graphaphone Company.  This pleasant dance tune was recorded just before jazz started taking over.

    Out In An Automobile             Collins & Harlan                      1906
    At the turn of the century, the automobile was still considered to be an impractical toy of the rich and was the butt of many jokes. The usual target of the jokes was the Model T Ford.  Inexpensive booklets of Ford jokes were popular and sold well.  Henry Ford himself once commented: "The jokes about my car sure helped popularize it.  I hope they never end."  A typical joke went:  "He named his Ford after his wife." "How funny!" "Not really.  After he got it, he found he couldn't control it."  This recording has a similar theme.  While there was some factual basis for the jokes,  I suspect the source of the complaints often had more to do with the condition of turn of the century roads than with the automobile itself.

    "Sempre libera degg'io"         Giuseppina Finzi-Magrini             1914
    I don't care if it is acoustical, I think this is a great recording.  I was 17 when I first heard La Traviata. I was riding in a convertible through the mountains of southern Colorado - stereo playing full blast.  I had never before seen such a blue sky. Even though it was summer, the temperature was only in the 60s.  To this day, I think of mountains whenever I listen to La Traviata.  I am glad I do not understand Italian.  Understanding the words would destroy the imagery. 

    Waiting For The Robert E. Lee      Heidelberg Quartette           1912
    The South and steamboats were frequent topics of turn of the century lyrics.

    The Alcoholic Blues             Emerson Military Band                 1919
    This recording is anything but "blue."  Nor is there anything particularly militaristic about it.  Lots of great ragtime, as well as light classical selections, were recorded by so-called military bands.  Such bands picked up well on acoustical recordings.

    Marimba March            Blue and White Marimba Band            1916
    The marimba is a musical instrument resembling a xylophone that reproduced especially well on early recordings. In fact, this recording almost doesn't sound acoustical.  This is one of my favorite records and I play it frequently. It has an almost Caribbean sound to it - sort of like a 1910's variation of reggae music. Next month I will put up the flip side which features a slower tempo waltz.

    I'd Feel At Home If They'd Let Me Join The Army  Billy Murray  1917
    The words to this are a riot!   For Murray, fighting on the front lines of World War I would allow him much more peace and quiet than his normal domestic "tranquility."

    La Segadora        Banda Columbia        unknown (circa 1916-1923)
    I have a lot more questions than I do answers about this record. It was made by  the Columbia Graphaphone Company and has their standard late 'teens through early '20s label.  However, with the exception of trademark information,  everything is in Spanish - suggesting that it was intended for export.  Unfortunately, both the catalogue number and the matrix number are of a series not mentioned in any of the reference guides I use to date my records.  In English, "La Segadora" translates into "The Harvester."  This proud sounding song sounds  to me like it may have originally come from a ballet or an opera.  The composer credited on the label is  E.V. Robles.  If anyone if familiar with this song, I would be most appreciative for any information they may have about it.

    What'll I Do        The Southampton Serenaders               1924
    This Irving Berlin composition is considered a classic and is still occasionally performed.  There have been many subsequent recordings of this song that are arguably better, but this haunting version is my favorite.

    Wild Cherries Rag          Victor Orchestra                        1910
    This was the first ragtime record that I owned.


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