Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings-volume 3

Today I love to share with you a contribution by Russ Shore.

CD: THE COMPLETE HIT OF THE WEEK RECORDINGS Vol. #3. Archeophone 3004. 4106 Rayburn Ct. Champaign IL 61822 USA.

While most record companies limited their output during the Great Depression, Hit of the Week issued an astounding number of discs during its short life: 1930 -1932. This collection features 51 sides made during the summer and fall of 1931, including a number of private issues and advertising discs that, while lacking jazz content, exude a certain period charm.
Hit of the Week, for those unfamiliar with the discs, were made of paper and coated with a resinous substance called Durium into which the groove was pressed. The discs held up fairly well, considering they were sold for 15 cents at newsstands, some people could carry them home with their evening newspaper. In addition, the sound quality was quite good, if occasionally erratic. Over the years, the Durium coating congealed causing the records to warp, or split which created challenges for those wishing to remaster them. Archeophone does an excellent job here.
Straight talk on the jazz content here. Not much. This collection features the well-known Fred Rich sides of Little Girl and It’s the Girl, which were two of the jazziest HOWs issued, with nice Bunny Berigan solos. There’s also a surprise with Phil Spitalny’s Some of These Days and some lovely singing from Helen Rowland whose brooding photo here offers the first glimpse I’ve ever seen of her. This set also includes the exceptionally rare Eddie Cantor Ballyhoo record. Listeners will notice a number of college anthems, the reason being – the notes by Hans Koert and Doug Benson explain - is that the HOW folks wanted to exploit the five-minute playing time but did not want to incur double royalty charges for using two pop tunes, thus the out-of-copyright college tunes became the filler-of-choice. Rah Rah Rah.
In all, the collection features well-played Depression-era dance music remastered with extreme care. The liner notes by Hans Koert and Doug Benson tell the HOW story well and discuss the artists involved, along with their histories. For those who have a fascination for the paper records or fancy early 1930s dance music, it’s an excellent set. We should thank Benson and Koert for documenting this fascinating era of recording.
Also published at the VJM Vintage Jazz & Blues Mart

This 3rd volume in the Complete Hit of the week Recordings was preceded by the first
and second volume in this The Complete Hit of the week Recordings. Volume four, which will contain the first half of 1932, will be published later. This contribution will also be posted at the Keep swinging blogspot on Saturday.

Keep swinging
Hans Koert


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