Saturday, April 07, 2012

The making of .... the first transfers

 Last summer the final 2cd album of The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings was released by Archeophone records ( = volume 4) - the crowning glory of twenty years of collecting and research, which resulted in a series of discographies dedicated to the paper hits of the 1930s: the Durium - Hit of the Week records. In some previous blogs ( have a look at menu at the right) I wrote about the birth and the making of ..... the discographies and now I love to introduce you to the first steps to transfer a complete series of all Hit of the Week records.
 A US newspaper announcement, entitled New Phonograph Record to Sell for Fifteen Cents ( March 1930) ( Hans Koert archive)
 If you transfer all ca. 200 commercial released Hit of the week records in a series of cd's, you need at least six cd's with a 74+-minutes playing times ..... But the rules of copyright in the US learn that you still have to pay royalties to the composers and songwriters after more then 80 years and, due to the fact that most of these Hit of the Weeks were Hits in those days, this might become a rather expensive story. Archeophone decided to release four in stead of three 2cd's, to spread the costs, which gave us the opportunity to insert test-, promo and seldom heard advertisement records. A great opportunity!

 Back In Your Own Back Yard Played by the Hit of the Week Orchestra - a prototype ( ca. 1929) (Hit of the Week Vol. I No. 4) ( photo Hans Koert archive)
Doug Benson, who is an experienced sound engineer, transferred the early Hit of the Weeks to digital files, which was a hell of a job, as he learned that Durium experimented with the size and the shape of the groove, so it was hard to find the right needle for each record. Later Durium would develope the so-called microgroove, which made it possible to record 5-minutes of playing time at one side of a cardboard record. An innovation in those days!
 The rather muddy varnished reverse of the prototype record (photo Hans Koert archive)
Doug, also a dedicated record collector, with a large 78rpm collection himself, could snatch a test record, a prototype, from oblivion and an early advertisement record. The prototype record, Back In Your Own Backyard as played by the Hit of the Week Orchestra, was already mentioned in Howard Waters list and, although the catalogue number ( Vol. I Nº 4) suggested that there must be more prototypes, this was the only one found ..... The Broadway record, as listed in Howard Waters list, catalogued as 1015, was never found. ....
 Song "Alma Mater" by the University Glee Club Quartet (Jan. 1930) ( photo: Hans Koert archive)
Doug was lucky to find one of the first custom records, released early 1930 for distribution at the St. Lawrence University annual meeting, to raise money for their Alumni Fund of 1930. We were so lucky that the university could send us letters from their archive, which gain an insight into the process of recording such a Durium custom record. The story of this early Song Alma Mater has been previous told. Although a university vocal quartet of students, directed by Professor Cram sung the Alma Mater song, this record contains also a rather boring speech of its professor Owen D. Young. We decided to leave this early custom record out of the selection.
The Complete Hit of the Week Recordings was released by Archeophone records, where this series can be ordered.

Deze bijdrage zal ook verschijnen in het Nederlands op de Keep (it) Swinging blog.

Hans Koert
author of the (online) Hit of the Week-Durium discographies.
hitoftheweek@live.nl

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