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1900- 1950

Going through the exercise of determining top songs & albums from different eras (as well as looking at the "all-time" lists of fellow AMers) has inspired me to dig even deeper into the depths of recorded music.

I've decided to go back and explore each year on it's own, at the rate of perhaps a couple historical years every "real" month or so. I'd like to begin with 1900.

I'm reaching out now to some of the "experts" here in these forums for recommendations from the early years of the 20th century. I suspect some of you (Mindrocker, for one) have yearly lists going back this far, and I'd be very interested in seeing the lists as a basis for seeking out the music for my own enjoyment.

For example, I've found several early recordings of Sousa's band, and Arthur Collins on archive.com, as well as several other leads I'm ready to explore for 1900. But I'd like to hear from you, those who have already undertaken this task or who have other advanced knowledge of early 20th century music.

I'm amazed at the amount of music from the 1950's I'd never been exposed to before, and am certain the 50+ years prior are full of almost-lost gems that should be revived and enjoyed.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Re: 1900- 1950

Go to my blog River's invitation

You'll find posts with recordings from 1893 to 1920 including jazz, pop, pre-country, blues...
and a lot more from 1920-50

These songs are in the public domain so you can download them.

I'll give you some other links if you want

Re: 1900- 1950


awesome, Nicolas! Just the sort of thing I'm looking for!

Re: 1900- 1950

Nice to see some more interest for the acoustic age, Brad!
Yes I have plenty of music from this period, but didn't have the time to arrange them into best off lists yet. I'm planning to do that when we get to the pre-50s poll at the end of the year.

Anyway, here are some links for the old-age music.
The Archive.org site, the biggest of 'em all:

Cylinder Preservation And Digitization Project. Another enormous site, with recordings from the vaults of the Edison label.

Tinfoil.com, 1900-'10 material from the individual collection of the site owner.

The sound quality on RedHotJazz.com is rather poor (and you'll need a Real Player), but here you can listen to the (almost) complete discographies of all late-10s, 20s and 30s Jazz names, plus early Blues singers like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey.

The Secret Museum Of Mankind series (1925-'49) may even appeal to those who have only a vague interest in pre-50s music. Many early ethnic treasures, from Balkan polka orchestras to eerie Tibetan singers. The link for one of its volumes:

My own favourite however, is The Antique Phonograph Music Program, a radio program by Mac, on WFMU Radio. He's a younger guy, with a bias towards the weirder material (lots of yodeling and zither recordings and stuff). Also, Mac plays exclusively the original records and cylinders from his own collection, on a couple of authentic phonographs he has installed in the studio. During the program you'll literally hear him cranking up those old machines.

If you dive into the music of the acoustic age a whole different world will unveil itself. But beware, you'll have to wade through a lot of average material to discover some real gems (like in any kind of music, really).
Some names worth checking out: Arthur Collins & Byron G. Harlan, John Yorke Atlee, Joe Belmont (the best whistler ever), Bert Williams, the banjo players Fred Van Eps and Vess Ossman, George Gaskin, early Folk by Vernon Dalhart, Billy Golden (made lots of laughin' records), the yodeler George P. Watson, Arthur Fields, George W. Johnson (the first black recording artist), Fiddlin' Powers (early Folk/Country), Bob Roberts, virtuoso trompettist Bohumir Kryl, George Hamilton Green, Polk Miller (more early Folk), Eugene Jaudas, Guido Gialdini (another whistler), Bob Kimmell, Al Bernard.
Then there are of course the big stars of the epoch like Billy Murray, Al Jolson or Henry Burr & The Peerless Quartet. They had many great songs, but also very large discographies with hundreds of titles. So you really have to search for the good ones.
Good Ragtime: Scott Joplin, Charles L. Johnson, James Scott, Eubie Blake, Zez Confrey, Joseph Lamb.
The early (pre-20s) Jazz section: Earl Fuller, W.C. Handy, Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Marion Harris.
Also, there is an enormous amount of recordings from marching bands and orchestras. Arthur Pryor (the former lieutenant of John Philip Sousa) has a couple of nice tunes, but the most fascinating is arguably James Reese Europe, the only afro-american that led his own marching band. Europe's music sounds more adventurous and has more swing. He was like a precursor to the smaller black brass bands who, in their turn soon would evolve into the first Jazz orchestras.
Finally, for the serious music fan, the recordings by Bela Bartok may be of interest. Unlike many fellow musicians in Modern Classical music, Bartok not only just composed his pieces, but also recorded them after they were completed.

Re: 1900- 1950

wow, Mindrocker! Consider my mind rocked. I bow to you. Between you & Nicolas I have plenty to look forward to. Thanks so much for the in-depth summary & links!

Re: 1900- 1950

I nominate Mindrocker's post as one of the most informative in the history of AMF!

Re: 1900- 1950

You're welcome, Brad. Thanks for the props, Henrik.