Sonntag, Mai 27, 2012

Little Wonder Records

Eine weitere Reise in das Woolworth Building, dieses Mal mit den Ohren. Auf der Wikipedia-Seite über das WB hatte ich vor einiger Zeit gelesen, dass die Schallplattenfirma Columbia Records bzw. früher mal "Columbia Phonograph Company" 1913 in das neuerrichtete Gebäude eingezogen war und dort auch ein Aufnahmestudio unterhielt.

"At the building's completion, the Woolworth Company occupied only one and a half floors of the building, but, as the owner, profited from renting space out to others, including the Irving Trust bank and Columbia Records. Columbia Records had moved into the building in 1913 and housed a recording studio in it. In 1917, Columbia made a recording of a dixieland band, the Original Dixieland Jass Band in this studio."

Vom Columbia-Studio im Woolworth Building habe ich leider bisher keine Bilder auftreiben können, wohl aber eine Aufnahme aus dem Columbia Studio im Haus Nummer 102-104 W 38th Street, die auf die Jahre 1914-1915 datiert ist und eine Vorstellung ermöglicht, unter welchen Bedingungen damals Musikaufnahmen stattfanden.

Jetzt zurück zu den Little Wonder Records: "This is a very good record recorded in 1917 and the artist is not listed, as was the case with most Little Wonder Records. I've got many of these, but the sound quality on some is just not good enough for recording. I will try to add as many as I can. This is played on my Strand floor model victrola. Here's some interesting background information about these great little records. Little Wonder Records was a United States record label from 1914 through 1923. Little Wonders were manufactured by the Columbia Phonograph Company, and were distributed exclusively by Henry Waterson (the business partner of Irving Berlin) in their early years (1914-1916) -- an arrangement that has only recently been discovered as the original contract stipulated that both parties were to keep this relationship a secret. Artists are generally uncredited on Little Wonder labels, which simply give recordings such general attributions as "band", "tenor", "quartette", or "accordion solo".

Hier ist die Passage im Begleittext, die darauf schließen lässt, dass diese Musikaufnahme 1917 im Studio im Woolworth Building entstanden sein könnte:

"There is some controversy about whether Little Wonders were made by artists who recorded for Columbia. One account says that recording artists would visit the Little Wonder recording studio on one floor of the Woolworth Building before or after making records at the Columbia studio on a higher floor of the same building. And there has been some speculation that the masters for Little Wonders were actually warm-up balance checks recorded as tests at the beginning of Columbia recording sessions; if such tests happened to record a usable performance, they would be leased to Little Wonder. However, court papers from an early lawsuit between Waterson and Victor Emerson indicate that performers were paid separately and specifically to record for Little Wonder records."

Noch mehr über die Little Wonder Records: "Little Wonders were lateral-cut single sided 5½ inch gramophone records. The records contained only about 1½ to 2 minutes of music. The small size of the discs (together with the cherubic face on later versions of the label) has led some record collectors to incorrectly assume that Little Wonders were made as children's records; they were actually made for the general audience looking for low-priced recordings. The records retailed for ten cents each, some of the lowest priced recordings available at the time. This price point revolutionized popular recorded music, making it possible for everyday people to purchase and listen to music other than live performances. The audio fidelity is average to slightly above average for the time, with rather narrow grooves (best played with a smaller stylus than contemporary discs). Millions and millions of these records were sold, principally through many 5 & 10 cent department store chains of the time and through Sears & Roebuck catalogs. Among the noted artists of the day whose performances were released (uncredited) on Little Wonder include Al Jolson, Gene Greene, Wilbur Sweatman, Billy Murray, Vernon Dalhart and the Louisiana Five. Little Wonder # 339, "The Camp Meeting Jubilee" by a male vocal "quartette", issued in 1916, contains the lyrics "We've been rockin' an' rolling in your arms / Rockin' and rolling in your arms / In the arms of Moses." This is believed to be the first use in an audio recording of the phrase "rock..and roll..", albeit in the context of a religious spiritual rather than its later secular use."

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