Whenever we go into an antique store, thrift store, Goodwill or the like, I hope that there is a pile of records. Most often the results are drab: the Dean Martin Christmas Record, the Hollyridge Strings Play (fill in the blank), 12″ disco hits. When there are albums of 78 rpm records, often they are middle-of-the-road classical sets, early Fifties red-label Columbias and Deccas. Something like a sunburst Decca Bing Crosby or a canary-training record is a bombshell in the midst of this assortment.
Who knew that the wine country and environs in Northern California would be so full of possibilities?
Mind you, no Gennetts or Paramounts; nary a Steiner-Davis in the lot. But I want to report two successful treasure hunts. (An older generation used to call this “junking,” but somehow the name — to me — suggests pawing through piles of trash.
Here are the gems (ninety-nine cents each plus tax) from a visit last night to the Goodwill in Petaluma, out of a plastic crate full of 78s that, for the most part, were either pre-electric or postwar pop.
The first one:
All I know about this is that “Ed Blossom and His New Englanders” is a pseudonym for the California Ramblers, and from the issue number I would date it as late 1928. The other side — a familiar tune — was more promising. (I left the sticker on for proof):
But when I looked online for more information (neither side appears in Tom Lord’s discography), this is what I found. Different label but the same matrix number:
That’s a perfectly amiable dance record, neatly played — but for someone like myself waiting for Jack Purvis to make himself known in the next-to-last bridge, a bit of a letdown. Still, it serves as a reminder of just how much we should value those hot interludes, because they didn’t appear at every session.
Here’s the second find, and although I have no idea of the accompaniment (again, no listing in Rust), I wasn’t disappointed. This disc had been well-played, a tribute to its singer:
Not only a Lee Morse record, but one of her originals! And here is the thing in itself: a fascinating exercise in history in reverse, or influence looking in a mirror. On the second chorus, Miss Morse sounds like Tamar Korn; on the third, she anticipates Connee Boswell:
The flip side:
And it’s testimony to Miss Morse’s stardom that she was able to change the lyrics of this pop hit to be gender-appropriate, something few artists could do at the time.
We move forward to this afternoon and an antique store on Grant Avenue in Novato — SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY — where I purchased three of these marvels for two dollars each:
These are eight-inch home recording discs, with five of the six sides grooved — three of them divided in two. None of the discs has any writing on the label, and the store did not have a three or four-speed phonograph, so I paid my money and live in hope — or in Emily Dickinson’s “Possibility.” What are the odds that these discs contain recordings of a 1943 after-hours jam session? Slim, I admit. More likely they are someone playing LADY OF SPAIN or Grandpa’s speech to the Rotary Club. (In past encounters, I’ve seen those discs — Sister Susie’s hymn recital.) But one must take risks in this life . . . !
The prize that accompanied these discs was the paper sleeve for a ten-inch Recordio disc — it was also in the pile, but blank and with the coating eroding and cracking. But you should know that RECORDIO DISCS were manufactured by Wilcox-Gay (of Charlotte, Michigan), and that they were ALUMINUM BASE, PROFESSIONAL QUALITY — meant FOR THOSE BETTER RECORDINGS.
“WILCOX-GAY offers a selection of 6 1/2″, 8″and 10″ sizes in RECORDIO DISCS for your recording needs. Aluminum base discs are manufactured to precision standards and are surfaced with a long-life, mirror-clear coating . . . combined with low surface noise this gives them preferred ratings on all markets. Fibre base discs are the original RECORDIO DISCS, famous for their long life and excellent reproduction. They are light, flexible and can be mailed without fear of damage. Genuine RECORDIO DISCS in aluminum or fibre base can be obtained from your local RECORDIO dealer. Always ask for them by name.”
“SUGGESTION Your recordings will last longer if you always keep them in this envelope when not in use. CAUTION Do not place RECORDIO DISCS on furniture or any laminated surface. Under some climactic conditions the dyes used in the manufacture of these discs will discolor certain surfaces.”
“Recordiopoint curring and playback needles are the perfect companion for RECORDIO DISCS. Always insist on Recordiopoint needles and RECORDIO DISCS for use with your Recordio.”
If there’s exciting news in a few weeks when I place these RECORDIO DISCS (they do demand all capital letters, don’t they?) on my phonograph, I will surely let the JAZZ LIVES readership know . . . we live in hope!