Sunday, September 04, 2011

The making of ......

The Making of .... the birth of a discography
a series blogs about the birth of the Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies and the four 2-cd series The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings.
Hans Koert
Recently the latest Archeophone 2-cd album was released in its series of four 2-cds The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings. This series contains all commercial released card board Hit of the Week recordings as released early 1930s in the US (and overseas). The first Hit of the Week, Through, recorded by the Bert Lown Hotel Biltmore Music, was published February 1930 in the newspaper stands in the streets of New York City and its last one, My Silent Love - Hummin' To Myself by Phil Spitalny's Music in the summer of 1932. These unique recordings are now reissued at the US record label Archeophone; a record company specialized in early 20th century acoustic recordings. Hit of the Week records are all electric recorded, so it seems that these card board records are strangers in their midst, and Archeophone listed these records in its Labels & Innovations list. Archeophone Records, managed by Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey from Champaign, IL (USA), was founded a dozen years ago and a lot of serious music collectors from the prehistorically times of popular music know the high quality of its reissues; nine of them received a Grammy nominations ....... At its website you can learn that online US web magazine Slate.com has named Archeophone principals Richard Martin and Meagan Hennessey to their list of the most innovative and practical thinkers of our time. The audio restoration and transfers of the vulnerable Hit of the Week records was made by audio engineer Doug Benson, who was praised for his early 1920s King Oliver transfers a few years ago, which were reissued for the Off the Record label, also distributed by Archeophone. Doug Benson invited me to compile this Complete Hit of the Week Recordings series. The last 2cd in this unique series The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings, volume 4, is the crowning glory of this project.
A bunch of Hit of the Week records (source: eBay.com)
But what came prior this unique historical document, the release of this complete series of reissues of these rare cardboard 1930s record? I love to share with you, in a number of Hit of the Week blogs, some recollections about the making of the discographies and the record series.
Early 1930s cartoon by Harris ( source: Record Research) (collection: Hans Koert)
It all started 30 years ago - a bunch of bended cardboard 78-rpm records attracted me and I bought my first cardboard records at the record fairs in Boskoop and Wageningen (The Netherlands), organized by the Dutch traditional Doctor Jazz Magazine, a group of traditional jazz collectors. I tried to flatten the records and played it at my 1930 portable Columbia type 109A gramophone ....... I was surprised to learn that the music wasn't as bad as I suspected and so was the sound quality of that cardboard stuff. That was my first experience with the record itself.
How to flatten a Durium record with a so-called record lock. (collection: Hans Koert)
Years later, when my collection grew and I became interested in the hidden story of the records, I started a quest for information ....... What musicians had recorded these records? What were the names of the members of the anonymous Hit of the Week Orchestra, as labelled on the records? A lot of record collectors could inform me about their attempts to flatten the records and that these discs were from the 1930s, but they couldn't help me with the info I wanted.
Howard Waters' list of Hit of the Week records ( source: Record Research issue 26 ( January-February 1960) (collection: Hans Koert)
I found an article in the 1960 Record Research, written by Howard J. Waters, with a list of all known Hit of the week records. This was useful information to me ....... I took the three dozen Durium records ( Durium was the name of the firm that released these cardboard records) in my collection and studied the information .......... It was a pity that only half of the records, all Hit of the Weeks, were in the list, but not the European Durium records I had found at the record fairs and junkshops, like the durium (small letters), SUPER durium or SEFONO. I became anxious to learn more about those records and I tried to contact other record collectors who might have other Durium records ....... That wasn't as easy as it sounds today - mind that had internet nor other social media were available as we have today, so I started to list my own Durium records and inserted it in the Waters list, which was a good starting point. I distributed the lists at the Doctor Jazz meeting ( now Doctor Jazz Dag), which were scheduled two times a year, and other record collectors where glad they finally could date their records too, but sent me also info about unlisted items from their collections. The Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies were born ..............

This series of blog about the Making of .... will be continued.
Deze bijdrage is ook geplaatst in het Nederlands op de Keep Swingingblog.
Hans Koert
hitoftheweek@live.nl
online Hit of the Week-Durium Discographies