Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Durium Junior A-series

CAL & GID CARSON [2vo, g, haw g, ? oboe] Frank Luther vo g (as Cal Carson), Carson Robison vo g (as Gid Carson) New York City, fall 1931-1932
ARCH 3003

A few days ago I received a copy of this small Durium card board record from Patrick Van G. from The Hague ( The Netherlands). This 10 cm ( = 4 inch) DURIUM JUNIOR A4 seems to be a small gramophone record made for children, as the title of the label suggest, but in fact these Durium Junior A-series records belonged to a serie of promos for the "renewed" Hit of the week record. These small hill-billy records were released in the second half of 1931, when the Durium Products Corporation had been broken and the Durium Products Inc. tried to launch its new products.

On the reverse you can read all about it. There were five of those DURIUM JUNIOR records in the A-series, 5 Assorted Records of Standard and Novelty Songs. They were hidden into the cover of a "grown up" Hit of the week
or you could buy it for a nickle ( = 5 cents) in one of those cheap mass-merchandise stores like W.T. Grant, S.H. Kress Co. or J.J. Newberry Co. where every article costs 5 or 10 cents ( they were labeled as five and ten, nickel and dime, five and dime or just a dimestore). You could also buy it directly by mail at the Durium Products Inc. in New York City.

As this ticket learns, these "Hill Billy" Durium Junior Records were also for free, if you sent such a leaflet to the Durium head office. The first four releases ( A1 up to A4) where all sung and played by Cal Carson alone or in a duo accompanied by Gid Carson. If you try to find info about these two men you won't find it, as both names are pseudonyms. One of the great artist from that period was Carson Robison, a crooner, nicknamed as The Kansas Jaybird, and he is to be found in this series as Gid Carson. Frank Luther is nicknamed here as Cal Carson. The strange instrument you can hear on some of these records is the ocarina and maybe an oboe. They also might use a kazoo
and a hawaiian guitar, very popular instruments around the early 1930s.

EVA TAYLOR [vo, ?] Eva Taylor vo with ?Clarence Williams Band
Recorded New York City, ca 1931
A stranger in our mids is the fifth record in this 5-record series - no hill billy, but a bluesy recording by Eva Taylor, the wife of Clarence Williams, titled DE TROUBLE I'VE SEEN (sic). Isn't it weird to find this kind of music on a cardboard Durium record sung by a black woman who doesn't fit into the regular list of "white" Durium performers? Maybe that's the reason that only a few copies of this little record are known. We are lucky that this rare record has been reissued, like the other four previous mentioned, on the Complete Hit of the Week Recordings - volume 2 ( Archeophone 3003).

Keep swinging
Hans Koert

author of the Hit of the week / Durium Discographies.


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