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Author Topic: Lost Sounds - recording industry, 1890-1919  (Read 1602 times)

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Offline outfidel

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Lost Sounds - recording industry, 1890-1919
« on: November 26, 2005, 07:32:10 PM »
LOST SOUNDS Blacks & The Birth Of The Recording Industry, 1890-1919
by Tim Brooks

BOOK $34.98
Paperbound, 634 pages, counts as 12 CDs for shipping

Now available as paperback. Fascinating and important (and large) new book providing an in depth look at the African-American artists who recorded prior to 1920. The timeliness of this book was brought home by Columbia's recent reissue of blues singer Mamie Smith where they stated that her 1920 recording of Crazy Blues was the first commercial recording by an African-American performer. They couldn't be more wrong as this book documents dozens of artists who recorded before her with the very first commercial recording being by the, up to now, obscure George W. Johnson who first recorded in 1890 and who was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1890s. Based on more than 30 years of original research Brooks provides biographies and discussion of the recordings of Johnson and many other artists like The Unique Quartet, The Standard Quartet, Bert Williams (one table shows that sales of William's recordings between 1918 and 1931 totaled almost 2,000,000), Thomas Craig, Carroll Clark, The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Jack Johnson (the boxer), Apollo Jubilee Quartet, James Reese Europe, Dan Kildare, The Right Quintette, Wilbur C. Sweatman, Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake, W.C. Handy, The Four Harmony Kings and many others. Included are contemporary accounts from newspapers and journals, rare photos and lots of other ephemera plus an appendix by Dick Spottswood on Caribbean and South American recordings and a discography of available reissues on CD. This is a very readable effort as well as a labor of love loaded with information which will be new to most readers and will of profound interest to blues and jazz enthusiasts. See below for details of just released complementary CD set. Hardbound version is also still available for $65.00 - counts as 14 CDs for shipping.
Lost Sounds - Blacks & the Birth Of The Recording Industry

Archeophone 1005
CD $26.98
Two CDs, 54 tracks, 154 mins, essential

Fabulous and important collection featuring some of the earliest recordings of African-American music made between 1891 and 1922. This set complements Tim Brooks's groundbreaking book of the same name (available from Roots & Rhythm - $65 - counts as 14 CDs for shipping) which documented the lives and music of the many black artists who recorded well before the 1920s which is the era usually associated with the beginning recordings of black music. Although there is not much here that will appeal directly to diehard blues fans there is much music of great interest and appeal including quartets singing spirituals and secular songs, the first recording of a minstrel group, jazz precursors like Europe's Society Orchestra and Wilbur C. Sweatman and much more including classical performances, novelty songs, comedy routines and a recording from 1891 of The Whistling Coon by George W. Johnson - one of the very first recordings of a black artist who had previously recorded the same song a year earlier and recorded the songs several more times as it was a big "hit." Johnson is thought to have recorded as early as 1878. There are also fascinating spoken word pieces from boxer Jack Johnson and the great black leader Booker T. Washington. Archeophone have done a truly remarkable job in sound restoration and in spite of the age, rarity and wear of these recordings the sound quality is highly listenable and enjoyable in their own right. The aforementioned George W. Johnson cylinder was broken in several pieces when found but you'd never know it. A couple of tracks were in such bad condition that very little could be done to improve the sound but are included because of their historical importance. Includes a 60 page illustrated booklet with notes by Brooks and full recording information. Congratulation to Archeophone for doing such a splendid job in making these important historical recordings available in such an appealing form. (FS)
source: Roots & Rhythm
« Last Edit: November 27, 2005, 05:23:32 AM by outfidel »
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Offline Great Bear

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  • Howdy!
Re: Lost Sounds - recording industry, 1890-1919
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2005, 06:20:02 AM »
Hi folks. Long time listener, first time caller. Thanks for the heads up Outfidel. I've just ordered both. I'm especially interested in Dan Kildare and his tragic end. Here's a link to WFMU's radio show on the book:
« Last Edit: November 27, 2005, 06:21:53 AM by Great Bear »

Offline Stuart

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  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Lost Sounds - recording industry, 1890-1919
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2006, 04:38:51 PM »
In the "day late and a dollar short" dept., I just ran across a review of the "Lost Sounds" CD in the Tuesday, January 3, 2006 edition of the New York Times on page E1 of The Arts section in the "Critic's Notebook" column. The full article is not available (for free at least) at their website, but if you're interested, you might check your public library.


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