Here’s another great recording by the Mother Of The Blues, Ma Rainey, expertly accompanied by Thomas A. Dorsey on upright piano. The lyrics to this song are pure blues poetry, and Rainey delivers them with unrivaled sincerity, ease and power. Here is a clean digital transfer from 78RPM Shellac for all to enjoy.
Here’s a very early version of the American Country and Blues music classic, “The Lonesome Road,” as performed by Country Music pioneer, George Reneau. The song was later recorded under the titles “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,” or “I Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way” by Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Roy Hall, Elizabeth Cotten, the Grateful Dead and many others. George Reneau recorded this gem with guitar and harmonica for Edison Records in 1925.
Ragtime is known as “the music that got lost” – mostly because jazz stole its thunder and captured the public’s attention after 1917. Ragtime showcases brilliant pianists like Alonzo Yancey, the lesser known of the Yancey brothers. Alonzo, raised in Chicago, recorded “Everybody’s Rag” in 1943. He serves his piano straight up, and one can only imagine what it’s like to move your fingers as fast as this melody requires. A compelling and ferocious performance.
Here is John Philip Sousa’s greatest march, staple of Independence Day celebrations across the USA and one of the most popular marches of all time, performed by Sousa’s own band. Happy 4th of July!
Recorded shortly before Charley Patton’s death, “Mind Reader Blues” is a song he performed with his common-law wife, Bertha Lee. In her magnificent voice, Lee scolds Patton for his womanizing even as he lovingly accompanies her on guitar. The lyrics are auto-biographical: “I remember a day when I were livin’ at Lula town, I remember a day when I were livin’ at Lula town, my man did so many wrong things ’til I had to leave the town.” Bertha Lee hailed from Lula, Mississippi, and Patton lived there with her for a time. What exactly he did so they had to leave, one can only wonder! This is a clean transfer from 78RPM platter from 1934.
Annette Hanshaw’s relaxed, jazz-influenced pop singing style was a hit with the Flappers in the 1920s. Known as “The Personality Girl,” Hanshaw had a prolific career, recording for Columbia, OKeh, and a handful of other labels through the late 1930s. Her early take on “Body and Soul” is a classic, which helped establish the song. Composed by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton with music by Johnny Green, this piece been interpreted by literally hundreds of artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Billy Eckstine, Etta James, Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra.
This great song was written by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy a year after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. It has since been adapted and recorded by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin and many others. Dylan’s adaptation appeared on the recording “Modern Times” in 2006. Led Zeppelin included a version of this song on their fourth album, Led Zeppelin IV. Memphis Minnie is credited for her lyrical contribution on this very popular song.
Chicago bluesman Joe McCoy had a lot of stage names. Best known as Kansas Joe McCoy, he also performed and recorded as Georgia Pine Boy, Hallelujah Joe, Hillbilly Plowboy and Mud Dauber. Joe was married to Memphis Minnie (who’s real name was Lizzie Douglas) and they made this classic record together in 1929. Here’s the timeless original, hot off the 78RPM vinyl.
The Georgia Melodians were an early jazz band from Savannah Georgia that performed extensively on the east coast of the US and recorded for Edison Records in the 1920s. Here is their lively celebration of the dance craze The Charleston, released in 1926. Named after the city of Charleston, South Carolina, the dance became a world-wide sensation which peaked around 1927. Pictured is the great Josephine Baker, doing her famous version of the dance. This mp3 is from the original Edison Disc.
Here is Collins & Harlan’s original recording of the novelty classic, “The Aba Daba Honeymoon” composed by Arthur Fields and Walter Donovan. Popular in its day, the song later became a hit for Debbie Reynolds and Carleton Carpenter, reaching #3 on the US Billboard chart in 1951. Merv Griffin and others also had success with the song, which has often been featured prominently in cartoons, movies and TV shows by The Three Stooges, Laverne and Shirley and others. It all started with this monophonic recording, released on Edison Disc in 1914.
Here is a fantastic early recording of the Hallelujah chorus, from Handel’s Messiah. Originally released on Edison Diamond Disc, (a format which pre-dated even the 78 RMP record!) this remarkable performance by a virtuoso oratorio chorus from 1916 is now available for us to enjoy as an mp3. George Frideric Handel could scarcely have known when he composed this masterpiece in 1741, that it would ever be recorded in any audio format – after all, they didn’t even have electricity yet! I expect he would be amused and delighted to know that anyone in the world can listen to this now.