Sunday, May 27, 2007

Marcha Zacatecas

A few days ago an article in our newspaper made the discovery public of an Egyptian tomb found in Dayr al-Barsha near El-Minya ( center of Egypt) by an archeological team of the University of Leuven ( Belgium). Thrilling news for me, as it reminds me to our trips to Egypt and our visit to numerous archeological monuments, like the location of the so-called Golden Mummies, found in the Al-Bahriyyah oases in the Lybian dessert some years ago. I still feel that thrill entering the tombs coming face to face with the masked Golden Mummies. I guess, somewhere in my genetic code this archeological interest must been stored. Well, this looks likes a subject put a bit on the sidelines then the regular Keep swinging blogs, but it has to do with the next subject.

Since ca 1994 I'm researching the cardboard record label Durium, as it was published early 1930s in the US and later in Europe. One of the most known label is the Hit of the week. Durium, the firm who published these records, also made a lot of small cardboard records for advertisement or releases for special occasions. These records are very rare nowadays and I could list hunderds of that kind of small records in my Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography ( see part of it in the online version ). A lot of these small, beer mat-sized, card board records, were unknown up to then. Thanks to Bob, who pointed me to an eBay item, one of those long forgotten records has been brought to light, like an unbroken Egyptian tomb. It has only the label text Marcha Zacatecas and I could list it in my discography thanks to some additional information of the seller, who thought, erroneously, that it was a Mexican release. I hope to give aditional information about this little archeological treasure later.

I found out that the Marcha Zacatecas is a known and popular tune in Mexico ( it is even labeled as Nuestro Segundo Himno Nacional (= our second national anthem) and I found several fragments I can show you. This march refers, I guess, to one of the most important events in the Mexican Revolution of 1914 when the city of Zacatecas was liberated. This event is still a day of meetings and festivities in Mexico. I have found some informal performances of this Marcha Zacatecas, and one played by a more official band. As I haven't heard this little record I suppose the same tune is on the little record ( of course played ( and sung?) by a Durium studio band).

Marcha Zacatecas played by a Mexican family

Performed on the guitar

Joco musical

This contribution has also been published on my Keep swinging web log .

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Record Lock

In the Hit of the week Portable Gramophone web log I promissed to explain what a Record Lock is as some one requested to do so. Well, Cornee Naalden contacted me and asked what a Record Lock is.
Durium records (the most well known series was the Hit of the week) are cardboard based records with a thin layer of Durium, a kind of acetate. As the reverse of the record has no acetate, the surface tension makes the record curle. Some people think that only old, 75 years old records have this problem - no also in the early 30s new records curled. That's why Durium made the Record Lock, a small piece of thick cardboard.

This is such a small cardboard Record Lock. It is 1.5 cm long and the only thing you had to do was put the curled record on your turntable and make it flat.
Then you had to put the Record Lock across the centre pin.

If you don't have a Record Lock, they are pretty rare now, you can also use a heavy metal ring to keep the record flat or a paper clip can help you.

In the US they put a Record Lock into the 10 ¢ Hit of the week Needles sacks you could buy at your newspaper dealer - the 5 ¢ envelopes had no Record Lock. In Europe Durium Products (GB) Ltd. put a Record Lock in each ( sealed) cover. If you're lucky you can find such a free Record Lock if you buy a bunch of Durium records in their original sleeves.
If you have questions about Hit of the week - Durium records, please contact me and I'll make a blog about the subjects, so that other Hit of the week - Durium collectors can read it too. Find the online Durium discographies while clicking on the title bar of this blog.
Hans Koert
Author of the Hit of the week Discography / Durium (GB) Discography and the Durium Advertisement and Custon Records Discography.
Don't forget to visit my daily Keep swinging web log.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Amelia Earhart

( Naar de Nederlandse vertaling.)

This is a small, 10 cm square cardboard record, released by the Durium Product Incorporated, an advertisement agency, released early 1930s in order of the publisher of the book The Fun Of It, written by Amelia Earhart. It is one of the rare small Durium records we can date exactly: 22 May 1932, 75 years ago.

Who was Amelia Earhart? And what's on this rare record? On the reverse of the cardboard record ( Durium records are only playable on one side) is printed: High Spots Of The First Woman's Solo Transatlantic Flight Amelia Earhart. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean alone, exactly five years after Charles Lindbergh famous solo flight across the Atlantic between 20 and 21st of May 1927 in 33.5 hrs.

Amelia Earhart, born in Atchinsons (Kansas), in 1897 became mad about airplanes when she was at a stunt-flying exhibition December 1920. Since that date she saved all her money to take hir first flying lessons and to buy her own airplane. In 1921 she bought her first plane, a yellow coloured Kinner Airster two-seater, named Canary (what's in a name). With this plane she set her first women's record by rising to an altitude of 4200 meter. In 1928, a year after Lindbergh's solo flight, she was invited to do the same, although not alone, but together with two pilots. The team started with their Fokker F7 in Newfoundland on the 17th of June 1928 and landed 21 hours later in Wales. Amelia became the first woman to cross the Ocean by plane. Back home she was greeted with a ticker-parade in New York and a reception held by the US President Calvin Coolidge at the White House. In 1931 she married and in the meantime she worked in secret on her next flight: A solo flight across the Atlantic. She left on the 20th of May 1932 in Newfoundland. The weather was bad - strong northern winds and icy conditions. She had also problems with her plane, so she didn't reach Paris as she had planned but landed in Ireland on the 21st of May 1932 at 9:30 A.M. hrs. After scaring most of the cows in the neighborhood, she said later, I pulled up in a farmer's back yard. She travelled to London and the next day, 22st of May 1932, she was interviewed at an International Broadcast, unique of its kind, on 3:30 pm ( Eastern Daylight) that could be received in the US. This interview was recorded by Silvertone and was released on the little square Durium record above.

Thanks to his first solo flight by a woman across the Atlantic Ocean Amelia Earhart became a famous personality in the US. In 1937 she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world, but, unfortunally, after she took-off in New Guinea ( now Irian Jaya ) her plane got desorientated and missed the small island of Howland, a small spot in the Pacific. Her plane and her body where never found ( Amelia Earhart 1897 - 1937 )

I love to share with you a fragment of a documentary where you can learn more about her thrilling life.

The discographical information:

FROM Amelia Earhart’s …..: Amelia Earhart interview

recorded New York City, 22 May 1932 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight

5158 B ……………….– AE interview

The record has no catalogue number.

This is a square 4" record. On the label: <>.

(Source: Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography ( online) ( Hans Koert - 2007)

This contribution was also posted at my Keep Swinging web log.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hit of the week Portable Gramophone

Last year Bob E. from Georgia visited me at my house in the Netherlands, talking about our common Hit of the week passion and rummaging in my collection. We visited the Doctor Jazz Reunion in Wageningen ( centre of The Netherlands). Yesterday Bob mailed me that he had purchaised a Hit of the week portable Gramophone and asked for information.

Durium Products Corporation and its successor Durium Products Incorporated were a firm, active in the US during the Depression Years, between 1929 and mid 1932. These companies were in fact advertisement agencies and sold gramophone records and related products like gramophone needles and gramophones.

Thanks to the use of Durium, a kind of acetate, it became possible to make unbreakable records on a cardboard base. These records were not the latest thing in this field as Flexo, Goodson and Filmophone ( in Europe), to name some, were other unbreakable records on a plastic base, but these records were of an inferior quality. In 1930 Durium Products Corporation started a weekly release, that contained the Hit of the Week. These records were sold at news stands. They also sold record needles and tried to get one's share in the gramophone sales by offering a cheap portable gramophone.

We know little about these protable wind-up gramophones as showed on the pictures. There are no indications that they had their own factory, so probably the machines were regular models made elsewhere and labeled as Hit of the week. The diafragm has the name Durium on it. I have another picture of a Hit of the week gramophone, although sold in black, but that one seems to be more reliable. As far as I can see the diagram looks the same. It would be great if Bob could find some indications about the source of these gramophones.

European ( Italian) durium Portable Gramophone ( ca. 1935)

In Slough ( a suburb of London - Great Britain) another Durium company ( Durium Products (GB) Ltd) started its activities based on its US example, with a weekly record ( labeled durium ( small letters). There are no indications that the Durium Products (GB) Ltd sold gramophones, as the only Durium gramophones are advertised during the mid 1930s in Italy, when the English Durium had been broken and several local firms continued to make cardboard records, like the Italian one. These European Durium Portable Gramophones , here on an Italian durium cover, look different.
It would be great if Bob's copy of the Hit of the week Portable Gramophone should have some original Hit of the week needles. As you might know needles had to replaced each time a record was played. The Hit of the week needles were sold in little sacks and contained ca. 80 needles. They were sold in sacks of 5 ¢ and 10 ¢ ( incl. a record lock ) I could obtain such a little envelope at an auction, but when it arrived it was still closed. I never took courage to open the sealed envelope - so I have never seen a Hit of the week needle. Maybe Bob can help me !!

Dear Bob, do me a pleasure and don't play your valuable Hit of the week records on this wind-up portable gramophone. Use an electric turntable with 78rpm please. I have posted a fragment how to play your portable gramophone and a fragment that learns that you have to prepare yourself before you get into an electronica shop to buy a 78rpm turntable equipment. I've warned you

1930s Electrola wind up gramophone

In the gramophone shop:

You can find more information about these card board records in the online Hit of the week - Durium discography.
If you want to know what a record lock is, please contact me and I will blog this subject as a web log contribution.
(Commercial released )Hit of the week Records ( on CD) in my collection:
  • Hit Of The Week/The Complete Hit of the week recordings - volume 1 (2) - volume 2 (2) (Archeophone)
  • Hit Of The Week/Paper Hits volume 1 - volume 2 - volume 3 ( Audiopark)
  • Hit Of The week/The Best of the Paper Hits vol. 1 - vol. 2 ( New Life Recordings)
  • Hit Of The Week/Shine on Harvest Moon (Swingtime)
  • Hit Of The Week/Music Box Theatre vol 1 - vol 3 ( Music Box Theatre)
  • Hit Of The Week/Toppers Van Toen-6 (Toppers van Toen - Archief Historische Geluidsdragers)
  • Hit Of The Week Record / vol. 1 ( D. Ward )
This contribution has also been posted at my Hit of the week - Durium web log.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jan Garber

> For most of the readers of this blog Jan Garber may be a rather familiar name or at least a name somewhere hidden far away in the remembrance of the history of popular music. Jan Garber was a well known bandleader and radio star in the 1920s up to the 1960s, nicknamed Idol of the Airlanes in the 1940s.

Born in 1897 in Morristown he studied the violin and became a classical violin player in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. While in military service during World War I he became the director of a military band and started a dance orchestra in the 1920s together with Milton Davis, the Garber-Davis Orchestra. From the mid 1920s he became the only leader of the band, and the it was renamed simply as Jan Garber and his Orchestra. Early 1930s it seemed that the musical taste of the people had changed and he took over the band of Freddy Large and started to play sweet music, like the Guy Lombardo Orchestra - ten a very popular band. He became very popular and when in the early 1940s everybody wanted to hear swing, he reorganized his band again and started to play in the swing style. This Jan Garber Orchestra, with Gray Rains as its arranger and Carl Ladra at the piano, was extremely popular in those war years and there are only some radio transcriptions available from this band due to the record ban. Liz Tilton and Bob Davis, now long forgotten, were the vocalists of that band. After the war, people wanted to hear sweet sounds again, so ...... you guess - no problem for Jan Garber. His band played what the pop music of those days wanted and even in the 1950s and 1960s he was still extremele popular in Las Vegas. Jan Garber died as a wealthy man, 83 years old, October 1977 and even nowadays it seems that the Jan Garber Orchestra still exists as a remembrance of this popular band leader.
Jan Garber's music is popular music, or as we would call it: pop music. Pop music is a generic term for music that is loved by the general public. Musicians like Jan Garber listened carefully to their audiences, and when their record sales diminished it became time to change sound or style. That sound of the band was very important; especially on the air - the listeners should recognize their popular band withing a few bars. Think of that typically Glenn Miller sound. Lyle Spud Murphy, saxophone player in Garber's band and arranger, started to change the arrangements late 1920s as he found the rhyhm section inept. I went a little further until I found it damn good. Until Garber said: Hey, you're changing the style of this band. I said: I hope it's for the better and he said: I don't think so. I'm out to make money. That was in New Orleans, Spud says, a few days later, in Philadelphia, we were all fired; that's when he got the cornball imitation of Lombardo. This story, which illustrates the conflicting interests, must have happened early 1930s during the depression age, when Jan Garber recorded the Hit of the Week recording Lazy Lou' siana Moon.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

This contribution was also posted, with some additions, at my Keep swinging web log.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Vreemde Geluiden

Yesterday Jan Turkenburg and his wife Wilma visited us in Heinkenszand ( southwest part of the Netherlands) to hold an interview for his program Vreemde Geluiden ( = Strange Sounds) broadcast by Radio Zwolle.

The subject of the interview was my Hit of the week-Durium collection and the projects according this subject, like the listing of the Durium records in my three discographies ( Hit of the week Discography - Durium (GB) Discography - Durium Advertisement and Custom Records Discography ( most parts free available on the internet now )) and about the Complete Hit of the Week Recordings project, which means that all Hit of the week recordings ( including a lot of test pressings, advertisement and custom records) will be available on four 2CD sets. Two of those 2CD sets have been released by Archeophone Records - the third 2 CD will be released later this year. We talked for two hours about these strange cardboard records, once sold in quantities of 350,000 records a week, that are now almost forgotten in the collective memory of people, but thanks to the projects mentioned above, saved and archived for our descendants.

The interview will be broadcast in Vreemde Geluiden later this summer ( with a lot of music of course). I'll let you know !! Thanks Jan and Wilma for your visit. It was a pleasure.

Listen to an English Durium record Sweetheart For Ever by the Durium Dance Band from the film The Crooner,, sung by Sam Browne and recorded in London October 1932, released as durium E.N. 38. ( Source:
Durium (GB) Discography ) Enjoy it.

The following CDs dedicated to the Hit of the week records are in my collection:

  • hit of the week/shine on harvest moon
  • hit of the week/the complete hit of the week recordings - volume 1 (2)
  • hit of the week/paper hits volume 1
  • hit of the week/the best of the paper hits vol. 1
  • hit of the week/the complete hit of the week recordings - volume 2 (2)
  • hit of the week/music box theatre vol 1
  • hit of the week/music box theatre vol 3
  • hit of the week/paper hits volume 3
  • hit of the week/the best of the paper hits vol. 2
  • toppers van toen-6/hit of the week
  • hit of the week/paper hits volume 2

This contribution is also posted at my Keep swinging web log.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

To my last Keep Swinging contribution