At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year of recorded sound. The download here is a cut-down 30 minute mix, for the full two-hour version please come to centuriesofsound.com to stream, or patreon.com/centuriesofsound for downloads and a host of other bonus materials for just $5 per month.

1926 large

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We’ve been waiting for a year like this for a long time; when the limitations of technology and the music business would finally be advanced enough to get out of the way and let the music speak for itself. It could not have come at a more fortuitous time – the jazz age is right at the point of moving from fun novelty to full-blown art-form, country folk is undergoing a wave of exploration, and vaudeville and the speakeasies are soaking up and celebrating all the developments of this exciting era.

We start the mix with one of the founding fathers of jazz, and mentor to Louis Armstrong, King Oliver. Here with his new Chicago-based group the “Dixie Syncopators” he plays high-octane dance tune “Deep Henderson” – the group would continue a residency at the Plantation Cafe until it burned down in 1927.

Gustav Holst’s ‘The Planets’ was one of the first orchestral pieces given the full electrical recording treatment – it really brings home what a revolution has happened in sound recording in the last couple of years. The piece started at the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, and the premier was held during its final weeks in 1918. It’s hard not to feel that ‘Mars’ is inspired by the incomprehensible, industrial carnage of those grim years.

Plenty is written about the “blues roots” of American music, but this year we have plenty to demonstrate that “church roots” or “gospel roots” might be just as important. The Birmingham Jubilee Singers were organised by Charles Bridges, a trainer of gospel quartets from Alabama. The group included the extremely deep voice of one Ed Sherrill. “He Took My Sins Away” is a particularly strong example of the innovative a capella techniques practised in churches in the Southern states of the USA. Reverend J.M. Gates one of the most prolific preachers of the pre-war era, recording over 200 sermons. Death’s Black Train Is Coming” was recorded in front of his participating congregation in Mount Calvary Baptist Church for Columbia Records after their state-of-the-art electric recording system was shipped down especially for this purpose – it sold more than 35,000 copies.

New Orleans Creole pianist Jelly Roll Morton is another of the founding fathers of jazz. By 1926 he was recording with a group called The Red Hot Peppers. Doctor Jazz is one of the best examples of the early New Orleans jazz sound, using counterpoint, pre-written stop-time breaks and improvised solo passages – truly a feast within a few minutes, and the pinnacle of this particular sound.

“Masculine Women! Feminine Men!,” performed here by journeyman singer Irving Kaufman, often turns up on lists of the earliest queer records, though it should be stressed that this is accidental. The lyrics are intended as a sardonic look at changing fashions, but the effect is detached and wry rather than offended, leading to a reasonable implication that things like sexuality and gender are ripe for exploration, generally not a big deal, and basically fine to play with – a nice introduction to the changing social mores of the time.

The craze for female blues is on the wane by 1926, but Ethel Waters has stuck around, this time without her backing band. “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” is a folk blues, dating back to the 19th century, but its status as a standard only became fixed with this recording.

There is plenty to say about Duke Ellington elsewhere, just to note here that we have his earliest recording of East St Louis Toodle-Oo, which is usually acknowledged as his first classic. This isn’t the best recording of the track – we’ll be hearing another quite soon – but still stands out in its sheer sonic originality, even in this semi-developed form.

The tango was taking off in Argentina at this time, and the form was also having a huge influence in the old world, particularly Eastern Europe and Western Asia. We have a couple of examples here, from Greece and Turkey. Ibrahim Özgür, from Istanbul, declared the music he wrote was dedicated to the love letters sent by his female fans.

Portable electronic recording is already recording plenty of country folk music in the USA. Our first examples of this are Carl T. Sprague with a particularly morbid cowboy song, and Uncle Dave Macon with the white equivalent to the gospel tracks featured here: that is, much less adventurous in terms of harmonies, and dedicated to mocking the theory of evolution the year after the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Abe Lyman’s version of Papa Charlie Jackson’s “Shake That Thing” is a magnificent bit of raucous Chicago-style jazz, as hot as you get – you can only imagine the effect it would have on a dancefloor just eight years after the end of the first world war. Another hot jazz piece follows this, with Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra – another Chicago outfit, this features a guest appearance from Louis Armstrong on cornet. Erskine’s only contribution is shouting the title at the start.

Then we have The Dixieland Jug Blowers, an example of a jug band – groups formed in the urban south who blew on jugs for lack of real instruments, and Ben Bernie, an old-time vaudeville band leader jumping whole-heartedly onto the jazz bandwagon.

Drop The Sack from Lill’s Hot Shots is Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, operating under a pseudonym to bring Louis’s wife (piano player Lil Hardin Armstrong) to the forefront. Louis’s cornet with Johnny Dodds’ clarinet really do their best to overcome this fairly limited song and make something really special.

“Arizona” Juanita Dranes was a blind female gospel singer, and pioneer of the use of piano in gospel music. Her passionate, earthy, rough, nasal voice and her wild piano playing went on to have a great deal of influence, but mostly outside the world of church music.

The Savoy Havana Band was one of the big two British dance bands of the 1920s, formed by American saxophonist Bert Ralton, and featuring pianist Billy Mayerl, and young American saxophonist, Rudy Vallée, whose dreams of becoming a singer were roundly mocked by his band-mates.

Next we have some more old world tangos – a soulful Arabic piece from Farid & Asmahan and a hauntingly familiar-sounding tune from Greek singer Toula Amvrazi. Also soulful, but not in the tango tradition, is Said El Kurdi from Iraq, and we have passion from Iranina Morteza Ney-Davud – traditions which are undeservedly obscure in the west today.

At the age of 51, Fritz Kreisler was already regarded as perhaps the greatest violinist in the world in 1926, and his recordings had already had a great deal of effect in the use of vibrato from a new generation of musicians, eager to copy his style. At this point he was living in Paris, and playing around Europe, here with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra – but he would emigrate to the USA as Hitler seized power in Germany.

“The Laughing Policeman” is a British remake of George W Johnson’s “Laughing Song,” one of the best-selling records of the 1890s, and will be instantly familiar to UK listeners. Music hall artist Charles Penrose followed it up with The Laughing Major, The Laughing Curate, The Laughing Steeplechaser, The Laughing Typist, and The Laughing Lover, to diminishing returns.

The Happiness Boys was one of the most popular radio programs of the 1920s, and though radio was barely recorded in the 20s, we at least have novelty recordings from its two stars, Billy Jones and Ernie Hare, who also sang their novelty songs on disc. “What? No Women!” is another song of the times featuring possible transgressive undertones, maybe? Or am I imagining this?

Sol Hoʻopiʻi was one of the pioneers of the Hawaiian steel guitar, and on Farewell Blues he stretches the instrument to its limits, producing chicken squawking and pecking noises with the strings and the body. Nick Lucas was another pioneer of the guitar, though a more traditional one. Nevertheless, he has a decent claim to be the first jazz guitar soloist, and here accompanies himself on one of the biggest hits of the year, “Bye Bye Blackbird.”

Mandolin player Chris Bouchillon was also a pioneer – not so much with the mandolin, though, more with his distinctive half-singing-half-talking vocals, which he described as “Talking Blues.” If it sounds familiar, it’s because the style was picked up wholesale by Bob Dylan and others in the 1960s, and it feels slightly disconcerting to hear someone sing like that in 1926. Sam McGee, another pioneer guitar player, here presents a style which would also be picked up by folk musicians in the 1960s, though he would have a much better career, playing in a duo with his brother Kirk and becoming fixtures at the Grand Old Opry through the next few decades.

We will be hearing more from Gene Austin, one of the first crooners, but here we have him only starting to explore the new style made possible by electrical microphones.

Violinist Joe Venuti, here playing as ever with Eddie Lang, was an Italian-American jazz musician. I find Venuti and Lang’s records unbelievable because they sound just like the Hot Club De France a decade later.

Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders were a jazz band active since the precious decade, but only making inroads into recording at this point. They were from Pennsylvania rather than Kentucky, apparently the name is taken from their performances “My Old Kentucky Home.” This is the first of two tracks featuring the sound of tap dancing, the second being from a young Fred Astaire, here performing with his (then equally famous) sister Adele. At this point both were famous for stage performances – with the start of sound film the following year Fred would audition for Paramount, and be turned down as “unsuitable for films.”

Another Jelly-Roll Morton recording, The Chant, features a brilliant performance from Kid Orly on trombone – it’s a rare cover version for Morton, and was written by Mel Stitzel of white jazz group The New Orleans Rhythm Kings.

“Heebie Jeebies” is a landmark track for Louis Armstrong, featuring a famous scat singing section. A legend says that Louis dropped his lyric sheet and improvised the vocal solo, thereby inventing scat singing, a claim disproved immediately by the existence of recorded scat singing at least 15 years prior – however the record was still very influential in the development of vocal jazz.

We have a long-awaited trip to Latin America with Cuban Son band Sexteto Occidente, a short-lived group, but one whose records and members would go on to define the genre. From Argentina we have already heard early tangos, but here we have a couple of pieces from the earlier Argentinian folk music tradition – one from Rafael Iriarte and Rosendo Pesoa, and another from Alfredo Pelaia.

The NuGrape Twins were a bizarre gospel duo from Georgia who decided not to sing about God but to voluntarily make an advertising jingle for a regional soft drink, also called NuGrape, and which is still available there today. Their story is a bit too much to go into here, but can be found in a lot more detail here – – http://nadiaberenstein.com/blog/2015/4/3/got-plenty-imitation-but-theres-none-like-mine-heavenly-nugrape

Back to the jazz, then, we have the Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra, a radio jazz band from Kansas City, a superb piece from multi-instrumentalist Art Landry’s jazz band, and a fourth appearance from Louis Armstrong, here again guesting with Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra on “Static Strut”

Back over to Europe, we have a novelty jazz piece from the other big UK band leader, Bert Firman (by no coincidence the regional musical director for Zonophone Records), and something a bit more substantial from Romanian violin virtuoso Grigoraș Ionică Dinicu, a breathtakingly beautiful piece called Ciocârlia, composed by his grandfather Angheluș Dinicu

Cortot, Thibaud and Casals were already three of the most celebrated and widely-recorded classical musicians in the world, and all in their mid-40s already, but it wasn’t until 1926 that new technology allowed them to live up to their potential as recording artists. Here their playing is at once light and suffused with great depth.

More jazz then, from trombonist Brad Gowans, an early release from future superstar band leader Fletcher Henderson, and a rare lead recording from George McClennon, adoptive son of Bert Williams and virtuoso novelty clarinet player, probably a holdover from the last age but here sounding right up to date.

“In the Pines” AKA “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” is one of those American murder ballads with an unknown, presumably ancient lineage – it had been around at least fifty years before this, perhaps its first definitive recording, by Dock Walsh. Another link to the old folk tradition of the rural USA is provided by Uncle Bunt Stevens, whose style apparently reflects music played prior to the American Civil War.

A couple of European superstars are next – Maurice Chevalier, a big stage and screen name in France already, and from Spain, Pablo Casals, perhaps the greatest cellist of all time – I can’t help think the mournful style of this recording anticipates somehow his exile from his home country under Franco.

And finally, Paul Robeson, one of the defining performers of his age, here putting absolutely everything into a performance of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

Anyone still with me? Well done, it’s been quite the journey this time, thank you for listening.


0:00:22 The Savoy Orpheans – Radio Christmas 1926 (Excerpt 1)
0:00:40 King Oliver And His Dixie Syncopators – Deep Henderson
0:03:44 Edward B. Craft – The Voice from the Screen (Excerpt 1)
0:03:56 Gustav Holst with London Symphony Orchestra – Mars from The Planets
0:07:04 Birmingham Jubilee Singers – He Took My Sins Away
0:08:16 Rev. J. M. Gates – Death’s Black Train Is Coming
0:09:56 Jelly-Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers – Dead Man Blues
0:10:12 Jelly-Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers – Doctor Jazz
0:13:33 Al Jolson – April Showers (Intro)
0:13:38 Irving Kaufman – Masculine Women! Feminine Men!
0:15:17 Ethel Waters – Make Me A Pallet On The Floor
0:16:51 Rev. S.J. ‘Steamboat Bill’ Worell – The Prodigal Son
0:19:51 Duke Ellington and his Kentucky Club Orchestra – East St Louis Toodle-Oo
0:22:30 Banat Chemama, Malouf, Leila Sfez, Fritna Damon, Habbiba Msika, Louisia Tounsia… – Habibi Ghab (Leila Sfez)
0:22:51 Danae & Panos Visvardis – Aishe
0:25:45 Ibrahim Özgür – Son nefez
0:27:54 Compagnia Columbia – Il Funerale di Rodolfo Valentino (Excerpt 1)
0:28:17 Carl T. Sprague – O Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie (The Dying Cowboy)
0:29:45 Uncle Dave Macon – The Bible’s True
0:31:08 Edward B. Craft – The Voice from the Screen (Excerpt 2)
0:31:15 Abe Lyman – Shake That Thing
0:34:12 Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra – Stomp Off, Let’s Go
0:36:00 Dixieland Jug Blowers – House Rent Rag
0:38:02 Ben Bernie & His Hotel Rooswelt Orchestra – Hello! Swanee, Hello
0:39:59 Lill’s Hot Shots – Drop That Sack
0:41:34 Rev. J.M. Gates – Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Excerpt 1)
0:42:31 Arizona Dranes – It’s All Right Now
0:44:26 Rev. J.M. Gates – Death Might Be Your Santa Claus (Excerpt 2)
0:45:14 Taskiana Four – Creep Along, Moses
0:47:04 Rev. J.C. Burnett – The Downfall of Nebuchadnezzar
0:48:11 The Savoy Havana Band – Turkish Towel
0:49:43 Farid & Asmahan – Ishak ya boulboul
0:51:36 Toula Amvrazi – Sultana
0:54:17 Morteza Ney-Davud – ‘Oshshaq, Bayat Esfahan (Homayun) (Excerpt 1)
0:54:43 Said El Kurdi – Kassem Miro
0:56:20 Morteza Ney-Davud – ‘Oshshaq, Bayat Esfahan (Homayun) (Excerpt 2)
0:56:46 Sally Hamlin and Myrtle C. Eaver – The Sugar-Plum Tree (Excerpt 1)
0:56:55 Fritz Kreisler & Berlin State Opera Orchestra – Mendelssohn Violin Concerto e-moll Op.64
0:58:48 Sally Hamlin and Myrtle C. Eaver – The Sugar-Plum Tree (Excerpt 2)
0:59:05 Charles Penrose – The Laughing Policeman
1:01:28 George Formby – I Was A Willing Young Lad
1:01:40 Billy Jones & Ernest Hare – What? No Women!
1:03:05 Sol Hoʻopiʻi’s Novelty Trio – Farewell Blues
1:04:31 Nick Lucas – Bye Bye Blackbird
1:06:00 Chris Bouchillon – Hannah
1:07:32 Sam McGee – The Franklin Blues
1:08:58 Vernon Dalhart – Ain’t-Ya Comin’ Out To-Night?
1:10:57 Gene Austin – Ya Gotta Know How To Love
1:13:31 Joe Venuti – Stringin’ The Blues (1) (+ Eddie Lang)
1:15:58 Johnny Hamp’s Kentucky Serenaders – Black Bottom
1:18:33 Fred Astaire – Half Of It Dearie Blues (+ Adele Astaire & George Gershwin)
1:21:18 Jelly-Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers – Sidewalk Blues
1:21:33 Jelly-Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers – The Chant
1:23:43 Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five – Heebie Jeebies
1:25:51 King Oliver’s Jazz Band – Wa Wa Wa
1:27:28 Sexteto Occidente – Miguel, Los Hombres No Lloran
1:30:16 Iriarte and Pesoa – Libertad
1:31:35 Alfredo Pelaia – Chinita
1:32:58 Dick Henderson – Introduction
1:33:00 NuGrape Twins – I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape
1:35:44 Bessie Smith – Jazzbo Brown From Memphis Town
1:37:32 Dick Henderson – “She has the advantage of me…”
1:37:37 Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawk Orchestra – Brainstorm
1:40:24 Art Landry and His Orchestra – Slippery Elm
1:41:27 Erskine Tate’s Vendome Orchestra – Static Strut
1:43:32 Bert Firman & His Band – You Got ‘ Em
1:44:55 Stanley Roper – Impressions Of London (Excerpt)
1:45:12 Grigoraș Dinicu – Ciocârlia
1:47:54 Cortot, Thibaud and Cassals – Schubert Trio No. 1 in B Flat – Op. 99 1st Movement
1:49:10 The Revelers – Blue Room
1:51:06 Gowan’s Rhapsody Makers – I’ll Fly To Hawaii
1:52:01 The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra – Stampede
1:54:33 George Mcclennon’s Jazz Devils – While You’re Sneaking Out
1:56:48 Joe Candullo and His Everglades Orchestra – Brown Sugar
1:59:51 Dock Walsh – In The Pines
2:01:24 Uncle Bunt Stephens – Candy Girl
2:02:08 Maurice Chevalier – Moi Je Fais Mes Coups En Dessous
2:04:08 Pablo Casals – Saint- Saens – Le Cygne (The Swan)
2:06:11 Compagnia Columbia – Il Funerale di Rodolfo Valentino (Excerpt 2)
2:06:38 Paul Robeson – Swing Low Sweet Chariot
2:08:43 The Savoy Orpheans – Radio Christmas 1926 (Excerpt 2)

Radio Podcast #1 – 1853 to 1885


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For the inaugural Centuries of Sound radio podcast I’m joined by Sean Spencer (not pictured) as I delve into the first 35 years of sound recording, including lines drawn in soot with feathers, a wasp trapped in a bottle, a talking clock, three versions of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and the first (accidentally) recorded swearword.


At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year from 1953 to the present day. Download full mixes, bonus materials and more for just $5 per month at patreon.com/centuriesofsound. Thanks for listening.


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Have you see the videos of people hearing for the first time? Seen that look on their faces? Well that’s you, today. We have reached 1925, the year the microphone replaced the recording horn and the sideways electrical impulse replaced the hill-and-dale physical analog. The tinniness has gone, low and high sounds are reproducible, and no longer are we trapped in the narrow boundaries of reproducible sound. In theory, all audible sound can now be captured.

“Electrical recording had manifold consequences that affected a range of musical, engineering and business developments” – Susan Schmidt Horning – Capturing Sound

Of course, it’s not really all like that. For a start, at least half of these recordings are still made on old analogue equipment. Even the electrical recordings are still, let’s say, experimental. Sound engineers, some with decades in the business, had to re-learn the very fundamentals of how recording worked, and instead of hanging things across the room to resonate the sound were now having to shift to muffling and dampening. Nobody seems to have yet realised that you can get right up close to the microphone and make quiet things loud. But they will.

“The development of electrical recording made it possible to reproduce a much larger spectrum of sound; pianists, drummers and bassists could finally be heard without undue modulation. Nevertheless, the microphone had its own quirks, and may have also affected jazz performance.” Mark Katz – Capturing Sound

On this website, I make sound collages. These are not a new invention. Here we are in 1925, and pioneering Soviet film-maker Dziga Vertov is putting together audio with remarkable dexterity, in the form of “sound poems,” and “verbal montage structures.” – though his most famous film, Man With A Movie camera, produced at the dawn of the sound film era, is entirely silent.

“I had an idea about the need to enlarge our ability for organized hearing. Not limiting this ability to the boundaries of usual music. I decided to include the entire audible world into the concept of ‘Hearing.’” – Dziga Vertov

The dance known as the ‘Juba’ was originally brought by slaves from the Kongo to Charleston, South Carolina. In 1923 it was adapted for a stage play called Runnin’ Wild, with music by (black) stride piano king James P Johnson. The song, and the dance, were called “The Charleston,” known popularly for being danced by lines of (white) flappers in whitewashed recreations of this still-turbulent decade.

“The sound was somehow harsher, with a brightness that almost sounded like the radio. “The Edison has some air and detail, a little bit more roundness,” Devecka said. “The victor is a little bit more like cardboard cutouts. It’s like a photograph that doesn’t have quite the right contrast range.” …The Victor’s sound was impressive, but there was something ultimately more pleasant about the Edison sound” – Greg Milner – Perfecting Sound Forever

The expanded audio range of electrical recording is not its only benefit. The microphone, even in bulky early varieties, was much more portable than the recording horn. Suddenly it was possible to travel anywhere in the world and record – and let’s not forget the poorer parts of the USA, full of local folk and roots music, all untouched and ready. We are just a little too early to get the full force of this explosion, but can’t you feel it already?


0:00:25 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 1)
0:00:38 Joseph Cherniavsky & Yiddish American Jazz Band – Chasene Niginim
0:03:41 Victor – Victor constant note record No 21 (Excerpt 1)
0:03:42 American Concert Orchestra – Extracts from the ballet- suite Scherazada
0:06:07 John Henry & Blossom – My Wireless Set
0:06:17 Clarence Williams’ Blue Five – Cake Walking Babies from Home
0:09:10 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 2)
0:09:26 Fred Longshaw – Chili Pepper
0:11:11 Gus Visser – Gus Visser and His Singing Duck
0:11:15 Sam Manning – Sly Mongoose
0:13:17 Original Cast – The Green Archer Silent Serial Promotional Record (Excerpt 1)
0:13:19 Paul Whiteman – Charleston (take 8)
0:14:59 James P. Johnson – Charleston (South Carolina)
0:16:46 Benson Orchestra Of Chicago – Riverboat Shuffle
0:18:10 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 3)
0:18:28 Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra – T N T
0:21:15 Original Cast – The Green Archer Silent Serial Promotional Record (Excerpt 2)
0:21:19 Clara Smith – Shipwrecked Blues
0:24:29 Bessie Smith – My Man Blues (Spoken word section)
0:24:57 Bessie Smith – He’s Gone Blues
0:27:50 Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five – My Heart
0:30:12 Phil Baker’s Bad Boys – How Can You Look So Good (Spoken intro)
0:30:56 Duke Ellington’s Washingtonians – I’m Gonna Hang Around My Sugar
0:33:55 Charlie Poole – Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues
0:36:44 Frank Ferera – The Farmer’s Dream
0:38:15 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 4)
0:38:33 Sexteto Habanero – Loma De Belen
0:41:34 Shelton Brooks & Company – The Spiritualist
0:41:46 Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra – Kater Street Rag
0:44:16 Uncle Dave Macon – Old Dan Tucker
0:47:16 Billy Mayerl – Jazzaristrix
0:49:04 Victor – Victor constant note record No 21 (Excerpt 2)
0:49:05 Wilhelm Kempff – Beethoven Piano Sonata No.23 Op.57
0:51:29 Revelers – Oh Miss Hannah
0:53:46 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 5)
0:54:02 Leipzig Gewandhaus Wind Quintet – Hindemith Kleine Kammermusik
0:56:00 Osip Mandelshtam – Gypsy Girl (Excerpt 1)
0:56:16 Harry Kandel’s Orchestra – Di Terkishe Khasene
0:59:25 Rita Ambadsi – Hanumakia
1:02:40 Cheikh Amin Hasanayn – Surah Al-Haaqqa, Pt. 1
1:02:51 Dahi Ben Walid – Soubhanak Allah
1:04:26 Ghulam Haider – Sindhi Song- I Play Music In The Bazaar
1:04:33 Golden Gate Orchestra – Red Hot Henry Brown
1:05:42 Dora Carr – Cow-Cow Blues
1:08:29 Hersel Thomas – Suitcase Blues
1:10:08 Billy Jones & Ernest Hare – Why Aren’t Yez Eatin’ More Oranges (Excerpt 1)
1:10:47 Billy Jones & Ernest Hare – As A Porcupine Pines For It’s Pork
1:12:21 Billy Jones & Ernest Hare – Why Aren’t Yez Eatin’ More Oranges (Excerpt 2)
1:12:33 Al Jolson – I’m Sitting On Top Of The World
1:14:27 Roy Smeck – Laughing Rag
1:15:49 Carl Sprague – When the Work’s All Done This Fall
1:18:41 Bix & His Rhythm Jugglers – Davenport Blues
1:21:25 Osip Mandelshtam – Gypsy Girl (Excerpt 2)
1:21:34 Kandel’s Orchestra – A Laibediga Honga (A Lively Honga)
1:23:33 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 6)
1:24:16 Tamara Tsereteli – Dorogoi Dlinnoyu
1:25:38 Gertrude Lawrence – Poor Little Rich Girl
1:28:30 Marcelle Meyer – Trois Mouvements Perpétuels
1:32:38 Art Gillham – Hesitation Blues
1:34:35 Ethel Waters – Sweet Man
1:37:26 Josephine Baker – I Wonder Where My Baby Is Tonight
1:38:45 Roger Wolfe Kahn and his Hotel Biltmore Orchestra – Bam Bam Bamy Shore
1:40:37 Irving Kaufman – Yes Sir, That’s My Baby
1:41:57 Calvin P. Dixon – Who Is Your God? Part I (Excerpt 1)
1:42:14 Fiddlin’ John Carson & Moonshine Kate – Welcome To The Travelers Home No-2
1:43:23 Calvin P. Dixon – Who Is Your God? Part I (Excerpt 2)
1:43:52 The Blue Ridge Duo (Gene Austin and George Reneau) – Lonesome Road Blues
1:45:39 Percy Glascoe – Steaming Blues
1:46:55 Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra – Sweet Georgia Brown
1:48:16 Fletcher Henderson & His Orchesta – Carolina Stomp
1:51:24 Tercato Yoyo – El Cangrejito
1:52:52 Orquesta Típica F. Canaro con canto – Besos de Miel
1:54:01 Fritz Kreisler & London Symphony Orchestra – Mozart Violin Concerto No 4 (1st mvt)
1:56:06 Joseph Cherniavsky’s Yiddish American Jazz Band – Kale Bazetzns (Seating Of The Bride)
1:58:31 Josie Miles – Mad Mama’s Blues
2:01:22 Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five – Put It Where I Can Get It
2:04:04 The Original Jazz Hounds – 1620 to 1865 Uncle Ephs Dream
2:05:45 Oliver Naylor’s Orchestra – Slowin’ Down Blues
2:08:01 Sippie Wallace – Baby, I Can’t Use You No More
2:10:57 Shelton Brooks & Company – Work Don’t Bother Me
2:11:09 San Francisco Symphony Orchestra – Wagner: Parsifal Prelude
2:15:40 Paul Robeson – Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
2:18:14 Maggie Jones – Suicide Blues
2:19:34 Dziga Vertov – Radio Ear – Radio Pravda (Excerpt 7)


Centuries of Sound is a monthly mix of original recordings from a single year. If you want higher bitrate downloads, a bonus podcast with discussion of the recordings, extra bonus mixes and much more, please support me on Patreon for just $5 per month, and keep the project ad-free.


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“It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang that is often so stimulating to a composer (I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise) that I suddenly heard—and even saw on paper—the complete construction of the Rhapsody from beginning to end. …I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America—of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness.” – George Gershwin

“As to the true origins of the cakewalk, it is believed to have begun at about the same time as minstrelsy, around 1840, with slaves parodying the formal dances of their masters. These burlesques came to be mimicked in minstrel shows. After the Civil War, when blacks entered minstrelsy, they assumed parts in the minstrels’ cakewalk. As Terry Waldo puts it in his book This Is Ragtime: “By the time the ragtime era began in 1896, the cakewalk was being performed by blacks imitating whites who were imitating blacks who were imitating whites.” I’m sure that the gist of this wonderful little observation can, without much squinting, be applied to the whole of popular culture” – Nick Toches ‘Where Dead Voices Gather’

I have two people for you to look at today, two white men (one of whom is actually a Mr Whiteman) who stood on the shoulders of black musicians to get a clear view of the outline of the American 20th Century (or at least its first half.) One is, rightfully, remembered as an epoch-defining composer, the other remembered less well, and even then often with a mild embarrassment or outright dismissal. Both, though, were important pieces in our puzzle, and it’s in 1924 that their paths meet, and they make the astonishing recording which holds this mix between its two sections.

Born in a second-floor tenement in Brooklyn to Russian / Lithuanian Jewish parents, George Gershwin was named after his grandfather, a Russian army mechanic from Odessa. Growing up in the Yiddish theatre district, George and his three siblings were exposed to music from an early age, and four all took it up, either as a hobby or as a career. Leaving school at 15, George found work as a song plugger, promoting music at a music publisher by playing it on the piano. He soon began composing his own songs, and in 1919 had a massive hit with ‘Swannee’ – made popular by Al Jolson, another New York Lithuanian Jew, and by now perhaps the most popular non-opera singer in the world. At the start of the 1920s, he began writing successful Broadway musicals with his brother Ira and the established writer William Daly.

Though Paul Whiteman was almost a decade the senior of George Gershwin, his career was then at an earlier stage. Born in Denver, he played without any great distinction in a couple of orchestras before joining that ever-surprising source of musical mimicry and innovation, a US Navy marching band. While his band took less in the way of plaudits than that of James Reece Europe, he nevertheless finished the First World War as a successful band leader and within a couple of years had brought his own Paul Whiteman Orchestra to New York to begin recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company.

An important thing to remember is that Gershwin was no more a classical composer than Whiteman was a classical musician. Both were New York music business operators, working on their next project. The fact that they broke out of the expectations handed down to them is perhaps the most astonishing thing about Rhapsody in Blue.

Whiteman and Gershwin had this in common – they were both adopters and popularisers of jazz. One way to view this would be to say they were taking advantage of this new genre, watering it down in order to make money. Another would be to say they were defenders and cheerleaders for music which polite society found dangerous, uncivilized and frightening. Working in the same circles, the two first collaborated in 1922, when Whiteman managed to get Gershwin’s jazz-opera hybrid piece Blue Monday into a show called George White’s Scandals, for which he was the musical director. This did not go particularly well, the piece was dropped after a single performance, but the two clearly realised there was potential in their collaboration, and seem to have kept in touch.

Rhapsody in Blue was written, at short notice, for Whiteman’s all-jazz concert “An Experiment in Modern Music” at Aeolian Hall in New York in February 1924. The requested piece was intended to demonstrate the progress of jazz, from its “primitive” form to the “sophisticated” version played by, um, Whiteman’s band. Gershwin went very much off-piste with this idea, presenting little more than an unrelated sketch to Whiteman’s arranger shortly before the concert. The piano parts were still unwritten, and Gershwin himself agreed to join the band and improvise these parts as he saw fit, signalling to the band when they should join in again. It’s a testament to his skills that this worked at all, and contrary to expectations it was the highlight of a successful night and motivation to extend to a series of concerts. Sergei Rachmaninov, violinist Fritz Kreisler and conductor Leopold Stokowski, three figures we will be hearing more from, were all present that night.

Aeolian Hall was not far from the Kentucky Club, where Duke Ellington played, and Roseland, home to Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra. Were George and Paul going there in the evenings? Possibly. The truth is that Rhapsody in Blue (its title inspired by Whistler’s Nocturne In Blue And Green)  only takes its inspiration from a few elements of jazz and blues, while leaving seemingly vital parts aside. More than a portrait of American music, it is perhaps better described as an aural portrait of the sounds of New York, its rhythms and noises, its harmonies, its stories. It has a kind of constant bubbling-up excitement and listening to it sometimes I feel there is the potential to imagine what would later be described as “the eight million stories in the naked city” within. For this mix I’ve taken the first and last sections from their contemporary recording (the middle section was not used this time) and put them at either end of my overview of music from the year.

Rhapsody in Blue is a view of the future as much as it is one of the past – but to follow Gershwin’s train metaphor, it is a vision of a line down which America would not travel. The bubbling stew from which jazz and blues have just emerged would not now allow their music to transform into a codified, respectable, professionalized standard. The momentum was with the improvisors, like Louis Armstrong, with bawdy Hokem songs and divinely inspired hymns played on improvised equipment. Thousands of musicians across the country were about to be given the chance to record on new electrical devices, and within a few years this will sound like the past. Even as a representation of 1924, Rhapsody in Blue seems slightly quaint – aside from that opening clarinet note, there is little to represent the seedy environment in which jazz had been born and was currently flourishing.

Perhaps Paul Whiteman had a better handle on this, in a sense, as he immediately returned to making a more polite form of the music with occasional toe-dips into the murkier depths – it was a niche that needed filling, and he did it well, earning the sobriquet “The King of Jazz” (as Arthur Collins had been “The King of the Ragtime Singers”) – Duke Ellington even said that “Paul Whiteman was known as the King of Jazz, and no one as yet has come near carrying that title with more certainty and dignity.” Aside from this one recording, his body of work now seems something less than essential, but he at least managed to avoid spoiling his reputation with petulance and resentment, as Nick LaRocca did. He dies at the end of 1967, with”Daydream Believer” by The Monkees at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Gershwin, of course, didn’t stick around so long, dying from a brain tumor in 1937. By then his reputation was assured, of course. Not only had he written standards like I Got Rhythm, Embraceable You, Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off, Someone to Watch Over Me, They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Fascinating Rhythm, and so on, he had put together the opera Porgy & Bess, featuring an all-black cast, including Paul Robeson, and maybe his most enduring piece, Summertime.



0:00:17 WLAG – National Defense Day (Excerpt 1)
0:00:22 Paul Whiteman & His Concert Orchestra (the composer at the piano) – Rhapsody In Blue, Part 1
0:04:44 Wolverine Orchestra – Fidgety Feet
0:07:07 WLAG – National Defense Day (Excerpt 2)
0:07:13 Bessie Smith – Hateful Blues
0:10:12 J.D. Harris – The Grey Eagle
0:11:34 Fiddlin’ John Carson – Dixie Boll Weevil
0:13:24 Vernon Dalhart – Prisoner’s Song
0:16:37 Ernest V. Stoneman – The Titanic
0:18:41 Jasper Bisbee & Beulah Bisbee-Schuler – Opera Reel with Calls
0:20:34 Honorable James M. Curley – The Elks’ Eleven O’Clock Toast
0:20:59 Whistler and his Jugband – Jerry O’Mine
0:22:29 Emile Berliner – To His Grandson Bobby Frank (Excerpt 1)
0:22:33 Emmett Miller – Anytime
0:24:40 Emile Berliner – To His Grandson Bobby Frank (Excerpt 2)
0:24:43 Cliff Edwards – Fascinating Rhythm
0:27:07 Green Brothers – Fascinating Rhythm
0:28:52 Johnny Bayersdorffer and his Jazzola Novelty Orchestra – I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone
0:31:33 International Novelty Orchestra – Hey Hey And Hee Hee (with Rudy Wiedoeft)
0:33:32 Sioux City Six – Flock O’ Blues
0:36:08 George Mcclennon’s Jazz Devils – New Orleans Wiggle
0:38:32 Trixie Smith – Choo Choo Blues
0:41:04 Clarence Williams’ Blue Five – House Rent Blues (The Stomp)
0:43:59 Margaret Johnson – Absent Minded Blues
0:46:55 Johnny De Droit and his New Orleans Jazz Orchestra – The Swing
0:48:51 Calvin Coolidge – Speech
0:49:10 Virginia Liston – You’ve Got The Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole
0:57:18 King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band – London (Cafe) Blues
0:54:59 Arcadian Serenaders – Bobbed Haired Bobby
0:57:09 Oliver Naylor’s Seven Aces – Ain’t That Hateful
0:59:58 Charleston Seven – Nashville Nightingale
1:02:34 Johnny Dunn – Johnny Dunn’s Cornet Blues
1:03:35 Marion Harris – It Had To Be You
1:06:48 Jimmy Blythe – Chicago Stomp
1:09:39 Ted Weems and His Orchestra – Traveling Blues
1:12:06 Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra – Copenhagen
1:14:05 Fry Million Dollar Pier Dance Orchestra – Whom Do You Love
1:16:36 Billy Jones & Ernest Hare – I’m Gonna Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight
1:18:30 Doc Cook – Scissor Grinder Joe
1:20:07 Edith Wilson – How Come You Do Me Like You Do?
1:21:53 Ma Rainey with The Pruitt Twins – Dream Blues
1:23:33 Sylvester Weaver – Guitar Rag
1:26:30 Sophie Tucker – Mama Goes Where Papa Goes (in Yiddish)
1:28:33 Yetta Zwerling – Yankele Karmantshik (Yankele Little Pickpocket)
1:30:09 Naftule Brandwein – Wie Bist Die Gewesen Vor Prohibition? (Where Were You Before Prohibition?)
1:33:11 Lady Cantor Madam Sophie Kurtzer – Kiddush
1:35:03 Emma Liébel – Pars
1:36:57 Georgius – La Plus Bath des Javas
1:39:51 FT Marinetti – La Battaglia di Adrianopoli (Excerpt 1)
1:40:08 George Olsen and his Music with Rudy Wiedoeft – Sax O Phun (take 3)
1:42:06 Wolverine Orchestra – Big Boy
1:44:52 Ray Miller and His Orchestra – Red Hot Mama
1:47:35 Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra – Someone Loves You After All
1:50:51 The Red Onion Jazz Babies – Of All The Wrongs You’ve Done To Me
1:52:13 Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra – South
1:54:54 Bessie Smith – Rainy Weather Blues
1:57:45 Butterbeans & Susie – Construction Gang
2:00:50 Alf. Taylor and His Old Limber Quartet – Brother Noah Built an Ark
2:02:47 Sam Manning – Amba Cay La (7.5 Trinidad string band, cut out 1:37 to 2:39)
2:04:42 Juan de la Cruz y Bienvenido Leon – Que Partes el Alma – Rumba Son
2:06:14 Niño de Cabra y Ramón Montoya – Que Te Quise Con Locura (Malagueña)
2:08:17 Gaspare Marrone e Co. – Santa Genoveffa
2:08:28 Fatimah Bent Meddah And Kouider – Adhouh, Adhouh, Pt. 1
2:10:18 Sitt Wedoudah al-Manyalawiyyah with Sami al-Shawa – Asmar Helwah ya nas uhibuh
2:12:13 King George V – Speech at the opening of the British Empire Exhibition – 23 April 1924
2:12:26 Berlin State Opera Orchestra – Mahler Symphony #2 (Resurrection)
2:15:11 Bucca & Co. – Nofrio dal Barbiere
2:15:15 Orchestra, A. Paganucci director – 2nd record, Sept. 15, 1924
2:16:19 FT Marinetti – La Battaglia di Adrianopoli (Excerpt 2)
2:16:27 Staatskapelle Berlin – Bruckner- Symphony No. 7
2:17:00 Bellini Ensemble Unique – Moonlight Sonata
2:18:03 Gaspare Marrone e Co. – Santa Genoveffe Parte 3a. (‘Ntra la Sirva Erranti)
2:18:10 Paul Whiteman & His Concert Orchestra (the composer at the piano) – Rhapsody In Blue, Part 2





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1923 Large

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The early history of jazz can seem like a puzzle whose pieces don’t fit together. We’ve been through the initial explosion, led by groups of copycat, mostly white groups, playing their raucous novelty version of the music. We’ve heard those groups begin to refine and be assimilated into dance orchestras who were pretty much going that way anyway. We’ve heard the sudden craze for female blues singers, and the launch of lables specialising in “race records.” But where are, you know, the actual jazz bands though all of this? Six years of jazz and they still don’t seem to be recording.

Well 1923 is the year where that finally changes. The people running those “race record” labels know very well that they can’t rely entirely on the barrel-house mama craze, and those backing bands contain a wealth of (by now) unignorable talent. Joseph “King” Oliver would be the most obvious example. Born and raised in Louisiana, he started playing in proto-jazz bands almost as soon as such a thing existed. From 1908 he played in Storyville, the red light district of New Orleans, and from 1910 the band he led with Kid Ory was one of the most popular in the city. Storyville, one of the few unsegregated places in the USA, was where jazz really took form, and when it was closed down in 1918, King Oliver led the exodus to Chicago. With the start of prohibition and the rise of the speakeasies, he found himself leading the most successful band in what equated to the Storyville of the Midwest. And who did he send for from New Orleans? Cornet prodigy Louis Armstrong.

Louis, a New Orleans native, had been raised in poverty by his grandmother. He did odd jobs for the Karnoffskys, a family of Lithuanian Jews, including selling coal in Storyville, where he first heard this new music being played. Sent to juvenile hall at the age of 12 for firing a blank round from a gun into the air, he practised his cornet skills in their band. A few years after release he was making a name for himself in dance bands and on the riverboats which travelled up and down the Mississippi, enough so that King Oliver heard of his talents and invited him to join his band on second cornet.

The recordings Oliver and Armstrong contribute to this mix are in Oliver’s name only, but Dipper Mouth Blues is named after Armstrong, its soloist – Dipper Mouth being the nickname that later morphed into Satchel Mouth, then Satchmo. Recorded in Richmond, Indiana (a town associated with the Ku Klux Klan), the group were paid little for the recording, and had to put up with crude equipment and a tiny studio. Bearing all of this in mind, the two songs here are near-revelatory – but much better is to come later in the decade.

Across in New York, former home of the last wave of recording artists, another jazz boom was taking place. We have no Duke Ellington so far, but another band leader of the 1930s was already putting out records. Fletcher Henderson was born and raised in the south, moved to New York to work as a lab chemist and study for a master’s degree, but found himself made musical director of Pace and Handy Music Co within a year. In this role he played accompaniment to blues singers, including Ethel Waters. In 1923 he was recording on his own – his is one of two versions of West Indian Blues, a song which attracted a certain amount of controversy for its lyrics being written in a faux patois, which its singer, Esther Bigeou, did not speak.

We are still deep in the blues explosion, of course. While Mamie Smith is still recording, Bessie Smith (no relation) has become the premier performer – The Empress of The Blues, as Mamie was already The Queen. Edith Wilson with her Jazz Hounds are putting out some pioneering jazz records, and even old-timers like Sophie Tucker are getting in on the craze. Sara Martin performs with a novel guitar blues backing (the kind of thing which will be mainstream blues in a decade or so). My favourite, though, might be Marion Harris, as much a gospel and opera performer as a blues one, and here performing the spiritual ‘Deep River’ with breathtaking soul.


0:00:18 No Artist Listed – Morse Code Record. Part 1 (Excerpt 1)
0:00:35 King Oliver – Snake Rag
0:03:46 No Artist Listed – Morse Code Record. Part 1 (Excerpt 2)
0:03:54 Cotton Pickers with Billy Jones – You Tell Her I Stutter
0:06:49 Edgar Guest – A Heap o’ Livin’
0:06:58 Bessie Smith – Aggravatin’ Papa
0:10:04 Sara Martin – I Got What It Takes To Bring You Back (Excerpt 1)
0:10:21 Sara Martin – Atlanta Blues
0:13:11 Sara Martin – I Got What It Takes To Bring You Back (Excerpt 2)
0:13:57 Edith Wilson and Johnny Dunn Original Jazz Hounds – Evil Blues
0:17:14 Art Landry – Rip Saw Blues
0:19:56 Fletcher Henderson – West Indian Blues (Seven Brown Babies)
0:21:52 Esther Bigeou – West Indies Blues
0:24:39 Monroe’s String Orchestra – Old Lady Old Lady
0:26:10 Rosita Quiroga – Sollozos
0:29:24 Isa Kremer – Dwie Guitarre
0:30:16 Bishop Leadbetter of Sydney Australia – To Those Who Mourn (Excerpt 1)
0:30:35 Yossele Rosenblatt – Tal
0:32:33 Bishop Leadbetter of Sydney Australia – To Those Who Mourn (Excerpt 2)
0:32:51 Pablo Casals – Hebrew Melodies Op. 47
0:34:24 Naftule Brandwein’s Orchestra – Doina
0:36:38 Bessie Weisman – Vu Iz Mayn Yukel (Where is My Yukel)
0:38:34 Ignacy Ulatowski – Niemowa Kapelmaister (Excerpt 1)
0:38:41 Jacob Hoffman With Kandel’s Orchestra – Doina And Hora
0:40:55 Ignacy Ulatowski – Niemowa Kapelmaister (Excerpt 2)
0:41:00 Naftule Brandwein – Heyser Bulgar
0:44:05 Fred & Adele Astaire – Opening Dialogue
0:44:46 Fred & Adele Astaire – Whichness Of The Whatness
0:47:34 Eva Taylor – Oh Daddy Blues
0:50:12 Clarence Williams – Achin’ Hearted Blues
0:53;05 Sophie Tucker – You’ve Got To See Mama Every Night
0:55:47 Vic Meyers – Shake It And Break It
0:58:42 Frank Guarente’s Georgians – Learn To Do The Strut
1:01:28 Woodrow Wilson – Armistice Day Radio Address (Excerpt 1)
1:01:50 Marian Anderson – Deep River
1:04:55 Woodrow Wilson – Armistice Day Radio Address (Excerpt 2)
1:05:09 Huston Ray – Concert Fantasie
1:06:28 Anon (central Javanese gamelan) – Tedhak Saking
1:07:39 Clay Custer – The Rocks
1:09:10 Clara Smith – Kind Lovin’ Blues
1:12:09 Jelly Roll Morton – New Orleans Joys
1:14:54 Mamie Smith – I’m Gonna Get You
1:17:49 Abe Lyman – Weary Weazel (Tiger Rag)
1:21:00 Will Rogers – Will Rogers’ First Political Speech
1:21:21 Irving Kaufman with Bailey’s Lucky Seven – Yes, We Have No Bananas
1:23:54 King Oliver – Dipper Mouth Blues
1:26:06 Thomas Morris – Original Charleston Strut
1:28:50 Virginians – He May Be Your Man
1:31:59 Willy Derby – Loe Loe Ja Moe (Maggie Yes Ma)
1:33:31 Sara Martin & Sylvester Weaver – I’ve Got to Go and Leave My Da
1:36:07 Sylvester Weaver – Guitar Blues
1:39:00 Eck Robertson – Ragtime Annie
1:42:23 Fiddlin’ John Carson – The Old Hen Cackled & The Roosters Gonna Crow
1:44:12 Henry C. Gilliland And A. C. (Eck) Robertson – Turkey In The Straw
1:47:09 King George V of England – Empire Day Message
1:47:14 Pipe Major Henri Forsyth – Bagpipe Selection
1:47:59 Queen Mary of England – Empire Day Message
1:48:18 Marika Papagika – Ah! Giatre Mou
1:50:02 Edgar Guest – Ten Little Mice
1:50:24 The Benson Orchestra of Chicago – Dreams of India
1:52:14 New Orleans Rhythm Kings – Millenberg Joys
1:53:42 Rosetta Crawford – Down on the Levee Blues
1:56:00 Benny Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra – Elephants Wobble
1:59:06 Ida Cox – I’ve Got The Blues For Rampart Street
2:01:51 Sidney Bechet – Kansas City Man’s Blues
2:04:45 Fletcher Henderson – Do Doodle Oom
2:07:23 Clarence Williams’ Blue Five – Wild Cat Blues
2:10:20 Mamie Smith – Lady Luck Blues
2:13:28 Virginia Liston – Bed Time Blues
2:15:54 Bessie Smith – ‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home
2:18:47 Norfolk Jazz Quartette – Sad Blues
2:19:54 Isham Jones – Farewell Blues


Centuries of Sound is a monthly mix of original recordings from a single year. If you want higher bitrate downloads, a bonus podcast with discussion of the recordings, extra bonus mixes and much more, please support me on Patreon for just $5 per month, and keep the project ad-free.


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In a moment I will press the ‘publish’ button on this post, the RSS feed will be updated, the show will be updated on different podcast apps, and people all over the world will be able to hear this mix. It’s a bit glib to say we take all of this for granted, that’s what the progress of technology is all about, after all, but still, imagine someone in 1922 in the place you live – most of this music would be completely inaccessible to them. They might be rich enough to own a phonograph, but the chances they would have something like this collection of new sounds is astronomically small. If I’m making a soundtrack of what people are hearing around the world then this still isn’t really it.

But things are still changing at an increasing speed (aren’t they always?) For one, radio is finally taking off, a good 25 years after its initial “invention” (putting scare quotes around that because it’s such a minefield I don’t know where to even begin.) Strangely enough there were effectively audio broadcasts as far back as the 1890s, with music and speech transmitted down phone lines, but these never took off as a mass medium. The best claim to being the first real radio station is perhaps 2XG in New York, which was using a vacuum-tube transmitter to make news and entertainment broadcasts (gramophone records) on a regular schedule as early as 1915, and even broadcast the result of the 1916 presidential election. This was, naturally, over a small area of the city, probably picked up by a small number of hobbyists, and disappeared from the airwaves as the USA became involved in the First World War. By 1922, though, a wide range of stations had sprung up around the USA, the Marconi company opened 2MT and 2LO in London and CFCF in Montreal, and music stations were broadcasting in Paris and Buenos Aires. What tantilising recordings do we have from this? The answer is, apparently none whatsoever, not even the merest scrap, nothing substantial for another five years. Nobody thought to put a recording gramophone in front of a radio receiver. They did, however, record radio parodies on disc, and that’s something at least.

This is a music-based show, so I shouldn’t neglect developments in this area. The majority of this mix is concerned with a massive expansion of classical female blues, with a knock-on explosion of resurgent jazz, but we’ll have plenty of time to discuss this next time. More interesting perhaps are two simply transcendent recordings from Alexander Campbell “Eck” Robertson. Robertson was born in Arkansas, grew up in Texas, and began learning the fiddle from the age of five. He spent 18 years working as a jobbing musician at medicine shows, a piano tuner, an accompaniment for silent movies and at country fiddling contests. At a reunion of confederate soldiers in 1922 he met 74-year old fiddler Henry C. Gilliland, and the two of them decided to audition for the Victor Talking Machine Company. The resulting records made no great waves at the time, but in a historical context they are just astonishing, not simply country music five years before it supposedly started to be recorded, but such perfect sounds that they seem to be a door to an unknowable world of regional music prior to the invention of electrical recording.

This is also the “stride piano” mix – not such a wild departure as it represents the natural bridge from ragtime piano to jazz piano, but a music which thankfully has its pioneers reasonably-well represented. James P. Johnson and Fats Waller both appear here, on their own and accompanying the blues singers. If we want to take away one single picture from this year, it would again be these people playing somewhere in a smoky speakeasy. That wouldn’t be a fair representation, of course, but really, what is?

0:00:20 Joe Hayman – Cohen Listens in on the Radio
0:00:27 Frederic Lamond – Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 ‘Emperor’
0:02:10 Monroe Silver – Cohen on the Radio
0:02:23 Edith Wilson – Rules And Regulations ‘signed Razor Jim’
0:05:33 Joe Hayman – Cohen Buys a Wireless Set
0:05:39 Ladd’s Black Aces – Virginia Blues
0:08:30 Sophie Tucker – High Brown Blues
0:11:36 Prof. Charles H. Collins – Victor Records for Health Exercises
0:11:59 Frank Guarente’s Georgians – Chicago
0:14:35 Sara Martin & Fats Waller – T Ain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do
0:17:24 James P. Johnson – Carolina Shout
0:20:04 Eva Taylor – Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home
0:22:58 Fats Waller – Birmingham Blues
0:25:54 The Virginians – Blue
0:27:41 Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Hounds – Four O’Clock Blues
0:30:45 Mamie Smith – New Orleans
0:33:42 Ethel C. Olson – The Larson Kids Go Bathing (Excerpt 1)
0:33:59 Henry C. Gilliland And A. C. (Eck) Robertson – Arkansaw Traveler
0:36:53 Eck Robertson – Sally Gooden
0:39:57 Ethel C. Olson – The Larson Kids Go Bathing (Excerpt 2)
0:40:15 Rudy Wiedoeft – Saxema
0:41:44 New Orleans Rhythm Kings – Bugle Call Blues
0:44:03 Carl Fenton – Kitten On The Keys
0:46:24 Zez Confrey – Coaxing the Piano
0:49:03 Gilbert Girard – Santa Claus Tells of Mother Goose Land (Excerpt 1)
0:49:15 Original Memphis Five – Strutting At The Strutters Ball
0:52:13 Conchita Piquer – El Florero
0:55:13 La Argentinita – Una Vida De Mujer
0:55:30 Salgado do Carmo & Eugenio Cibelli – Fado popular
0:58:36 Agustín Barrios – Minueto
0:59:26 Robert Trucksess – Flow gently sweet afton & Bonnie, sweet Bessie
1:00:51 Gilbert Girard – Santa Claus Tells of Mother Goose Land (Excerpt 2)
1:01:08 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Bow Wow Blues
1:04:21 Edith Wilson and Johnny Dunn’s Original Jazz Hounds – Old Time Blues
1:06:07 Alberta Hunter – Down Hearted Blues
1:09:07 Ethel Waters – ‘Frisco Jazz Band Blues
1:12:32 Ed Gallaher & Al Shean – Mr Gallagher And Mr Shean
1:14:53 Anna Hoffman and Jacob Jacobs – Chana Pesel furht in an Automobile (Excerpt 1)
1:15:15 Anton Günther – Wu de Wälder haamlich rauschen
1:16:52 Anna Hoffman and Jacob Jacobs – Chana Pesel furht in an Automobile (Excerpt 2)
1:17:15 W. C. Handy’s Memphis Blues Band – St. Louis Blues
1:18:41 Lucille Hegamin – He May Be Your Man But He Comes To See Me Sometimes
1:20:41 The Cotton Pickers – Hot Lips
1:23:04 The Original Memphis Five – Ji-Ji-Boo
1:25:01 Carl Fenton + Rudy Wiedoeft – Georgia
1:26:47 Ethel Waters’ Jazz Masters – Tiger Rag
1:29:53 Guy Maiere and Lee Pattison – Espana Rhapsody
1:32:40 The Original Sacred Harp Choir – The Christian Warfare 179
1:33:32 Shimizu Itoko – Yasugi Bushi
1:35:18 Marika Papagika – Olympos Ke Kisavos
1:37:57 Monroe Silver – Cohen Becomes a Citizen
1:38:00 Harry Kandel’s Orchestra – Kiever Bulgar
1:40:33 Semen Kirsanov Reads Velimir Khlebnikov – Not To Panel!
1:40:59 Naftule Brandwein – Kallarash
1:44:08 Georgel – La Garçonne
1:45:13 Maurice Chevalier – Pas Pour Moi
1:47:40 Okeh Laughing Record – Okeh Laughing Record
1:50:29 Amelita Galli-Curci – Rimsky-Korsakov- Sadko – Song Of India



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“The parties were bigger. The pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser, the liquor was cheaper.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

If you could chose any era to live in, the decades between 1910 and 1950 would probably not be the most immediately appealing. Aside from two world wars, a great depression, and the worst pandemic in history, the era was marked by civil unrest, often for good cause, but whose benefits would not be felt until the dust settled many years later. However, in the middle of this maelstrom, we have a period of peace and prosperity, a boomtime for the creative arts, in short “the twenties” – a decade which is shorthand for a cornucopia of culture in the way “the thirties” and “the forties” absolutely aren’t. “Golden times” like these are usually best treated with a pinch of salt – most people tend to be to some degree nostalgic about their youth, particularly writers – but perhaps this time we can take it a little more seriously. The shift which seems to have happened in this time seems if anything like the half-century was saving up its changes and released them all at once while the sun was shining and it wasn’t otherwise occupied.

The dawning of universal suffrage surely had a role here. Even more so, the population of the world shaking itself loose from the incredible suffering of the 1910s. But perhaps the greatest part was played by a series of innovations – some of them technological (as we will get to in a few years) and some the unintended consequences of an ill-thought-out law – prohibition.

From January 17th, 1920, when the Volstead Act went into effect, the USA saw a nationwide ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. The sheer logistics of such a thing in a country with such a tradition of alcohol consumption when anyone with minimal expertise could make their own, well, it didn’t make any sense and it still doesn’t. Organised crime immediately began to take over the alcohol business, and consumption shifted from the old bars and hotels to speakeasies. The managers of these places had no stock in the entertainment establishment, and no interest in going through the process of booking well-known vaudeville acts, who probably wouldn’t want to be seen there anyway.

Instead, they hired jazz bands. Touring / recording groups from around the country had residencies in clubs in Chicago and New York where they could practice and innovate every night in front of an audience. The nascent genre, which had been coasting for a few years after its initial explosion, suddenly got a new lease of life. The likes of Armstrong, Ellington and Fats Waller developed their sound in front of sometimes multi-racial audiences. The often regressive instinct of proprietors to be “respectable” had dissipated – what role could censorship ever play in a place whose entire existence was already illegal, and paid for with bribes?

This isn’t to say that all of this has yet seeped through the cracks into recorded media. While (inspired by the success of “Crazy Blues”) Okeh were releasing their series of “race records,” they were still exclusively operating out of New York, and their competitor Paramount Records would not start releasing this sort of recording until the following year. The rest of the music industry was still firmly stuck in the 1900s, releasing the sort of sentimental ballads and d-grade operetta they had been since they’d formed, likely the same singers and the same management too. Occasionally they would put something out by a dance band, and occasionally they would strike gold, but such things do not seem to be generally part of the business plan.

So as far as the mix is concerned, we are still operating on the margins, but the margins are expanding, cracks are forming, soon this wonderful infection is going to be irresistible in its spread.



0:00:17 Harry E. Humphrey – Santa Claus hides in your phonograph (Excerpt 1)
0:00:32 American Symphony Orchestra – Ride of the Valkyries
0:01:30 Harry E. Humphrey – Santa Claus hides in your phonograph (Excerpt 2)
0:01:41 Zez Confrey – Kitten On The Keys
0:04:42 Shelton Brooks & Co. – Darktown Court Room
0:04:50 The Jazz Hounds – Royal Garden Blues
0:07:47 Mamie Smith & Her Jazz Hounds – ‘U’ Need Some Lovin’ Blues
0:10:40 Justine Roberts – The Shop Girl (Excerpt 1)
0:10:50 Ladd’s Black Aces – Aunt Hagar’s Children’s Blues
0:14:01 Justine Roberts – The Shop Girl (Excerpt 2)
0:14:11 Lucille Hegamin – Wabash Blues
0:17:24 John Riley – Casey Departing to Congress
0:17:29 Fletcher Henderson – There Ain’t No Nothin’
0:20:39 Isham Jones – Wabash Blues
0:23:37 Yerkes’ Happy Six – Yokohama Lullaby
0:25:32 Carl Fenton with Rudy Wiedoeft – Biminy Bay
0:28:45 Sergei Esenin – Confessions Of A Hooligan (Excerpt 1)
0:29:16 Luigi Russolo – Serenata
0:31:14 Sergei Esenin – Confessions Of A Hooligan (Excerpt 2)
0:31:30 Jacob Gegna – A Tfileh fun Mendel Beilis
0:34:58 Claudia Muzio – Sei Forse L’angelo Fedele
0:37:42 Bucca-Perez Co. – Nofriu al Telefono
0:37:52 Agustín Barrios – Tarantella
0:40:10 Achilleas Poulos – Kamomatou
0:42:06 Bucca-Perez Co. – Nofriu Buscevicu
0:42:18 Doumoua Ellaini – Aicha
0:43:13 Grupo Pixinguinha – Domingo Eu Vou Lá
0:45:14 Grupo Do Moringa – No Rancho
0:47:41 Warren G. Harding – Opening of Limitation of Armaments Conference
0:47:55 Michael Coleman – Bag of Spuds
0:48:44 Ford Hanford – My Old Kentucky Home
0:49:20 Kandel’s Orchestra – Kandel’s Bulgar
0:51:21 Marcus Garvey – Objects of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Excerpt 1)
0:51:36 Eubie Blake – Sounds Of Africa
0:53:07 Marcus Garvey – Objects of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (Excerpt 2)
0:53:32 Rudy Wiedoeft’s Californians – Jabberwocky
0:56:45 Gene Rodimichs Orchestra – Home Again Blues
0:58:45 Edgar A. Guest – Wait Till Your Pa Comes Home
0:59:26 Al Weston & Irene Young – At The Circus
1:01:34 Maurice Chevalier – Je N’ Ose Pas
1:04:10 Bert Williams – Unexpectedly
1:05:41 William Cahill – Dinnie Donohue on Prohibition
1:05:55 Sam Moore and Horace Davis – Laughing Rag
1:08:26 Empire Vaudeville Co. – Down At Finnegan’s
1:08:36 Ethel Waters’ Jazz Masters – Bugle Blues (introducing Old Miss Blues)
1:11:11 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – St Louis Blues
1:14:23 Lanin’s Southern Serenaders – Shake It & Break It
1:17:19 Fletcher Henderson – Unknown Blues
1:18:46 Paul Whiteman – Humming
1:21:11 Green Brothers – Moonbeams
1:23:51 Newport Society Orchestra – Yoo Hoo
1:25:43 Benson Orchestra Of Chicago – Ain’t We Got Fun
1:28:49 Brown and Terry Jazzola Boys – Saxophone Blues
1:30:45 James P Johnson – Keep Off The Grass
1:33:02 Sissle’s Sizzling Syncopators – Low Down Blues
1:35:34 Justine Roberts – The Shop Girl (Excerpt 3)
1:35:44 Mamie Smith – Lovin’ Sam From Alabam’
1:38:19 Harry E. Humphrey – Santa Claus hides in your phonograph (Excerpt 3)


Centuries of Sound is a monthly mix of original recordings from a single year. If you want higher bitrate downloads, a bonus podcast with discussion of the recordings, extra bonus mixes and much more, please support me on Patreon for just $5 per month, and keep the project ad-free.



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Blood on her hands… …I’m not that nice… …there’s one viewer you care about… …it’s not that serious… …what’s your deal, man?… …I use my white woman’s voice… …you can’t dance around it… …no sweat, no tears… …enemy of the people… …don’t think we can be friends… …shut the hell up… …let me cloak my wrist… …but it’s good to know… …is there a single soul out there listening?… …people have all sorts of ideas… …you have the cheek to call us savages… …barbies on the kid and they flex with the gang… …I guess we proved you wrong… …I never voted for you… …never or now… …claire said you were brutal… …we have lots of history… …never again… …I’m doing it because I feel sorry for you… …one-sided news stories plaguing our country… …it’s just unbelievable… …cut off some friends, where they go… …this system is insane… …I don’t have any feelings… …I’m a flawed human being… …spread my wings in these noxious skies… …you have created this monster… …I don’t think you’re thinking anything… …laurel… …I guess neither one of us… …this a celly, that’s a tool… …a life without despair is a life without hope… …I felt like I didn’t know her… …does the president believe he is above the law?… …the company I keep is not corporate enough… …ain’t no surprises in the repertoire… …the memory of making love… …fuck trump… …it seemed so odd though, how they so cocky… …why are you scared of me?… …history will judge us… …this meeting of two dictators… …it’s not your property… …what you reap is what you sow… …it’s like this mad riddle… …you don’t need to be scared… …do not mention that you think that you are jesus christ… …let it be the day the pain stop… …this is a good conversation… …I know no one will save me… …I’ll try not to sound too awful, but… …I don’t care what I’ve been told… …I don’t see any reason why it would be… …fuck it, I did my time… …the self-inflicted wounds of your own imagined democratic choices… …eager and unashamed… …I just wanna fly… …truth isn’t truth… …to the bottom of a made up ocean… …only a fool folds a winning hand… …blind are the brokers and the unskilled workers… …that is all, that is all, there is nothing else… …his weight was heavy… …I wanna smell you, even from far away… …double agents atcha door… …a hit dog will holler… …I’m a breath of drop and the sea nears me… …it’s dull as hell… …when two worlds collide, two things happen… …no one is leaving, now this is your home… …only thing on my mind was death… …the internet looked at him and said yes… …it’s called transparency… …if you miss it, that’s that… …I know it’s hard to be an optimist when you trust least the ones who claim to have the answers.

Tracklist – Just the music

0:00:20 Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury – Excerpt from “Annihilation” OST
0:00:51 Mount Eerie – Distortion
0:01:07 MGMT – When You Die
0:02:02 Ravyn Lenae – Sticky
0:03:58 Grace Vonderkuhn – Worry
0:05:54 Anna von Hausswolff – The Truth, the Glow, the Fall
0:07:27 Tune-Yards – Colonizer
0:09:07 Spice – Tik Tak
0:10:41 Hoodboi – Glide feat. Tkay Maidza
0:13:13 Nilufer Yanya – Thanks 4 Nothing
0:15:29 Leif – Number 13
0:17:14 JPEGMAFIA – 1539 N. Calvert
0:18:47 Kero Kero Bonito – Only Acting
0:22:50 E Ruscha V – Who Are You
0:24:03 ionnalee – Blazing
0:24:52 Simmy ft. Sun-EL Musician – Ubala
0:26:51 Peach – Silky
0:29:40 700 Bliss – Cosmic Slop
0:31:05 Stormzy – Brit Awards Performance
0:31:34 Loski – Cool Kid
0:33:41 Andrew W.K. – Music Is Worth Living For
0:36:20 Jon Hopkins – Emerald Rush
0:40:05 Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
0:42:16 Doja Cat – Go To Town
0:44:46 Novelist – Stop Killing the Mandem
0:45:50 Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)
0:47:21 Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
0:49:31 Grouper – Parking Lot
0:52:00 Sarah Davachi – Hours in the Evening
0:53:08 Hammock – Build a Castle (Reinterpretation)
0:55:32 Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Solarised Sound
0:58:01 Tyler, The Creator – OKRA
0:59:42 Jimothy Lacoste – Subway System
1:02:08 Gila – 106 Slipper
1:03:09 Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Peacock
1:04:33 Henry Kaiser – Spoonful
1:04:50 Sons of Kemet – My Queen Is Ada Eastman
1:08:23 Cazzu – Chapiadora
1:10:31 Kali Uchis – In My Dreams
1:12:00 Autechre – All End
1:14:40 KAREN MEAT – Overdwelled
1:17:13 Donato Dozzy – Cleo
1:19:16 Róisín Murphy – All My Dreams
1:21:17 DJ Koze – Pick Up
1:22:45 Valee – Womp Womp (feat. Jeremih)
1:24:16 Childish Gambino – This Is America (Video Version)
1:26:35 Joy O, Ben Vince – Transition 2
1:28:04 Simian Mobile Disco – Defender (feat. The Deep Throat Choir)
1:29:33 Laura Jean – Girls On The TV
1:33:56 MEUTE – You & Me (Flume Remix)
1:37:33 Pusha T – If You Know You Know
1:39:22 Daphne & Celeste – BB
1:43:14 Melody’s Echo Chamber – Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige
1:46:30 Lizzo – Boys
1:48:31 YOTA ft. MF DOOM – Drop the Bomb
1:50:05 Colin Stetson – Steve
1:51:34 Low – Fly
1:55:54 Hilary Woods – Sever
1:59:30 DeJ Loaf feat. Leon Bridges – Liberated
2:01:56 Sophie – Immaterial
2:03:31 Koelsch & Tiga – HAL
2:06:19 Ella Mai – Boo’d Up
2:08:43 Emily Harrison – I’d like to thank the Academy (Tips on getting Prozac from your GP)
2:09:12 Mr Twin Sister – Jaipur
2:12:13 Denzel Curry – Black Balloons
2:14:31 Charli XCX – Focus
2:17:00 Mitski – Nobody
2:19:23 Moses Sumney – Rank & File
2:20:55 Yves Tumor – Noid
2:23:00 Daniel Avery – Quick Eternity (Four Tet Remix)
2:24:11 Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting – End Rap Scene
2:26:11 CHVRCHES – Out of My Head (feat. Wednesday Campanella)
2:28:55 Christine and the Queens – 5 Dollars
2:30:47 Kink – Perth (Dusky Remix)
2:31:35 Mac Miller – What’s the Use (feat. Thundercat)
2:35:00 Diana Gordon – Wolverine
2:36:16 Oh Sees – Sentient Oona
2:40:25 mewithoutYou – Julia (or, ‘Holy to the LORD’ on the Bells of Horses)
2:42:29 Louis Cole – When You’re Ugly
2:44:21 Paul Woolford feat. Kim English – Hang Up Your Hang Ups (The Only One) (CamelPhat Remix)
2:45:35 Szun Waves – Temple
2:47:30 Thom Yorke – Unmade
2:50:00 Tim Hecker – This Life
2:50:59 Suede – Roadkill
2:52:45 Illingsworth – Greens
2:53:50 Miljon – What Does It Take
2:55:50 Julia Holter – I Shall Love 2
3:00:02 Shackleton – Wakefulness & Obsession
3:02:01 Bruce – What
3:03:35 Low – Tempest
3:05:46 AdriAnne Lenker – Symbol
3:07:54 Sigrid – Sucker Punch
3:10:23 Lafawndah – Joseph
3:11:22 Marie Davidson – Work It
3:13:52 Lando Chill – Peso (feat. Quelle Chris & REY)
3:15:26 Toro y Moi – Freelance
3:17:16 Sam Wilkes – Tonight feat. Sam Gendel, Louis Cole & Brian Green
3:20:47 Daughters – Long Road No Turns
3:23:31 Neneh Cherry – Natural Skin Deep
3:25:07 Lone – Pulsar
3:26:20 Makaya McCraven – Mantra
3:27:47 Kelly Moran – Radian
3:29:07 Octo Octa – Beam Me Up (To The Goddess Mix)
3:30:57 The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land
3:34:08 Zuli – Nari (feat. Abyusif, Mado $am, Abanob, R-Rhyme)
3:35:20 Earl Sweatshirt – Nowhere2go
3:36:37 Jonathan Personne – Comme Personne
3:38:18 The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
3:41:53 Holly Herndon & Jlin (feat. Spawn) – Godmother
3:43:10 Beta Librae – Problem Solving Program
3:45:10 Lubomyr Melnyk – Barcarolle
3:47:50 Andrew Bird – Bloodless

Tracklist – Everything

0:00:16 “Annihilation” Ending Scene
0:00:20 New Year Times Square
0:00:37 Interview with Peter Kirkham
0:00:51 Mount Eerie – Distortion
0:01:07 MGMT – When You Die
0:01:47 Jake Tapper – cuts off Trump adviser
0:02:02 Ravyn Lenae – Sticky
0:03:46 Oprah Winfrey – Golden Globes speech
0:03:58 Grace Vonderkuhn – Worry
0:05:36 The Commuter – “Fuck You” Scene
0:05:54 Anna von Hausswolff – The Truth, the Glow, the Fall
0:07:22 Teacher gets arrested at Vermilion Parish School
0:07:27 Tune-Yards – Colonizer
0:08:59 Harvey Weinstein attacked at Scottsdale Restaurant
0:09:07 Spice – Tik Tak
0:10:23 TV Host on “Shithole Countries”
0:10:41 Hoodboi – Glide feat. Tkay Maidza
0:12:57 Jeff Flake – Trump battered and abused the truth
0:13:13 Nilufer Yanya – Thanks 4 Nothing
0:15:17 Piers Morgan clashes with Ash Sarkar
0:15:29 Leif – Number 13
0:16:53 Ex-GOP chair – shut the hell up
0:17:14 JPEGMAFIA – 1539 N. Calvert
0:18:43 John Humphrys
0:18:47 Kero Kero Bonito – Only Acting
0:22:03 Scene from “Loveless”
0:22:50 E Ruscha V – Who Are You
0:23:54 The Onion – Reviews Fifty Shades Freed
0:24:03 ionnalee – Blazing
0:24:41 Black Panther – End Credits Scenes
0:24:52 Simmy ft. Sun-EL Musician – Ubala
0:26:45 Emma Gonzalez – A student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
0:26:51 Peach – Silky
0:29:15 Andrew Neil on Jeremy Corbyn Accusations
0:29:40 700 Bliss – Cosmic Slop
0:31:05 Stormzy – Brit Awards Performance
0:31:34 Loski – Cool Kid
0:33:26 Andrew W.K. – In Your Darkest Moments
0:33:41 Andrew W.K. – Music Is Worth Living For
0:36:02 OC college condemns faculty member
0:36:20 Jon Hopkins – Emerald Rush
0:39:48 Scene from “Claire’s Camera”
0:40:05 Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
0:41:52 The Onion – Parody ad from “A Very Fatal Murder”
0:42:16 Doja Cat – Go To Town
0:44:43 You Were Never Really Here – Clip – Senator
0:44:46 Novelist – Stop Killing the Mandem
0:45:45 “Annihilation” Ending Scene
0:45:50 Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)
0:47:13 The square – Tourette syndrome scene
0:47:21 Bicep – Opal (Four Tet Remix)
0:49:03 Cambridge Analytica secret recording
0:49:31 Grouper – Parking Lot
0:51:00 Emma Gonzalez – March for Our Lives speech
0:52:00 Sarah Davachi – Hours in the Evening
0:53:08 Hammock – Build a Castle (Reinterpretation)
0:54:58 Isle Of Dogs – Fetch It scene
0:55:32 Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Solarised Sound
0:56:31 Sinclairs script for stations
0:57:40 RWW News – We Have Been Dominated By Homosexuals
0:58:01 Tyler, The Creator – OKRA
0:59:35 Happy As Lazzaro
0:59:42 Jimothy Lacoste – Subway System
1:01:49 Clip from “Thoroughbreds”
1:02:08 Gila – 106 Slipper
1:02:50 James Comey Interview
1:03:09 Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Peacock
1:04:33 Henry Kaiser – Spoonful
1:04:50 Sons of Kemet – My Queen Is Ada Eastman
1:08:10 Scene from “The Rider”
1:08:23 Cazzu – Chapiadora
1:09:54 Michelle Wolf – White House Correspondents Dinner
1:10:31 Kali Uchis – In My Dreams
1:11:19 Crap students in Cambridge
1:12:00 Autechre – All End
1:13:42 TMZ staffer vs Kanye West
1:14:40 KAREN MEAT – Overdwelled
1:17:03 Clip from “Dead Souls”
1:17:13 Donato Dozzy – Cleo
1:19:07 Yanny v Laurel
1:19:16 Róisín Murphy – All My Dreams
1:21:17 DJ Koze – Pick Up
1:22:45 Valee – Womp Womp (feat. Jeremih)
1:24:16 Childish Gambino – This Is America (Video Version)
1:26:09 First Reformed Clip 1
1:26:35 Joy O, Ben Vince – Transition 2
1:27:41 First Reformed Clip 2
1:28:04 Simian Mobile Disco – Defender (feat. The Deep Throat Choir)
1:29:33 Laura Jean – Girls On The TV
1:33:45 Clip from “Burning”
1:33:56 MEUTE – You & Me (Flume Remix)
1:37:01 Peter Alexander refuses to give in to Sarah Sanders
1:37:33 Pusha T – If You Know You Know
1:39:06 Clip from “McQueen”
1:39:22 Daphne & Celeste – BB
1:43:03 Clip from “Shoplifters”
1:43:14 Melody’s Echo Chamber – Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige
1:46:30 Lizzo – Boys
1:48:26 Robert De Niro says F – — Trump at Tony Awards
1:48:31 YOTA ft. MF DOOM – Drop the Bomb
1:50:01 Clip from “Hereditary”
1:50:05 Colin Stetson – Steve
1:51:23 Audio Of Screaming Children Shows Effect Of Donald Trump Policy
1:51:34 Low – Fly
1:55:33 Geraldo Rivera and Hannity – Erupt Over Border Policy
1:55:54 Hilary Woods – Sever
1:57:25 Fox News Host Calls Trump-Kim Summit a Meeting of Two Dictators
1:59:20 Alison calls the cops
1:59:30 DeJ Loaf feat. Leon Bridges – Liberated
2:01:21 Danny Dyer on Brexit
2:01:56 Sophie – Immaterial
2:03:19 Interview with former ICEgov spokesperson James Schwab interrupted by a surprise visit from government agents
2:03:31 Koelsch & Tiga – HAL
2:06:06 Clip from “Leave No Trace”
2:06:19 Ella Mai – Boo’d Up
2:08:43 Emily Harrison – I’d like to thank the Academy (Tips on getting Prozac from your GP)
2:09:12 Mr Twin Sister – Jaipur
2:11:54 Clip from “Sorry To Bother You”
2:12:13 Denzel Curry – Black Balloons
2:14:24 Eighth Grade – Truth or Dare Scene
2:14:31 Charli XCX – Focus
2:16:45 Eighth Grade – Conversation Scene
2:17:00 Mitski – Nobody
2:19:11 C-SPAN thanks Russia for interfering in our elections
2:19:23 Moses Sumney – Rank & File
2:20:42 Trump Putin Press Conference clip 1
2:20:55 Yves Tumor – Noid
2:22:42 Trump Putin Press Conference clip 2
2:23:00 Daniel Avery – Quick Eternity (Four Tet Remix)
2:24:11 Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting – End Rap Scene
2:26:11 CHVRCHES – Out of My Head (feat. Wednesday Campanella)
2:28:20 Stewart Lee on Social Media (Content Provider)
2:28:55 Christine and the Queens – 5 Dollars
2:30:42 Reckless London driver threatens to run over cyclists
2:30:47 Kink – Perth (Dusky Remix)
2:31:35 Mac Miller – What’s the Use (feat. Thundercat)
2:34:39 Clip from “Madeline’s Madeline”
2:35:00 Diana Gordon – Wolverine
2:36:14 Clip from “Minding the Gap”
2:36:16 Oh Sees – Sentient Oona
2:40:06 Rudy Giuliani Declares Truth Isn’t Truth
2:40:25 mewithoutYou – Julia (or, ‘Holy to the LORD’ on the Bells of Horses)
2:42:00 Clip from BlacKkKlansman
2:42:29 Louis Cole – When You’re Ugly
2:44:16 Clip from “Support The Girls”
2:44:21 Paul Woolford feat. Kim English – Hang Up Your Hang Ups (The Only One) (CamelPhat Remix)
2:45:21 Brexit Central editor Jonathan Isaby being dismantled by a former trade negotiator
2:45:35 Szun Waves – Temple
2:47:04 Crazy Rich Asians – Mahjong With Auntie Eleanor
2:47:30 Thom Yorke – Unmade
2:49:29 Chinese vlogger records her own arrest
2:50:00 Tim Hecker – This Life
2:50:48 Trouble in Beijing
2:50:59 Suede – Roadkill
2:52:30 Ash is Purest White betting scene
2:52:45 Illingsworth – Greens
2:53:35 Scene from Green Book
2:53:50 Miljon – What Does It Take
2:55:50 Julia Holter – I Shall Love 2
2:59:45 Hurricane approaching
3:00:02 Shackleton – Wakefulness & Obsession
3:01:53 Clip from “Mandy”
3:02:01 Bruce – What
3:03:27 Highlights from Senate hearings with Kavanaugh and Ford
3:03:35 Low – Tempest
3:05:46 AdriAnne Lenker – Symbol
3:07:44 Scene from “Monrovia Indiana”
3:07:54 Sigrid – Sucker Punch
3:10:13 Clip from “First Man”
3:10:23 Lafawndah – Joseph
3:11:14 Jennifer Holdsworth
3:11:22 Marie Davidson – Work It
3:13:37 Clip from “Can You Ever Forgive Me”
3:13:52 Lando Chill – Peso (feat. Quelle Chris & REY)
3:15:19 Clip from “mid90s”
3:15:26 Toro y Moi – Freelance
3:17:10 Ryanair Racist
3:17:16 Sam Wilkes – Tonight feat. Sam Gendel, Louis Cole & Brian Green
3:20:20 A hit dog will holler
3:20:47 Daughters – Long Road No Turns
3:22:53 Riot Scene from “Roma”
3:23:31 Neneh Cherry – Natural Skin Deep
3:24:53 Clip from “Museo”
3:25:07 Lone – Pulsar
3:26:08 Jordan Peterson on his all-beef diet
3:26:20 Makaya McCraven – Mantra
3:27:37 Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Intro to Surly Joe song
3:27:47 Kelly Moran – Radian
3:28:25 Clip from “Bros: After The Screaming Stops”
3:29:07 Octo Octa – Beam Me Up (To The Goddess Mix)
3:30:19 Leave Voter Breaks Into Tears As He Apologises For Backing Brexit
3:30:57 The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land
3:33:55 JRM You Haven’t Got A Clue
3:34:08 Zuli – Nari (feat. Abyusif, Mado $am, Abanob, R-Rhyme)
3:35:06 Widows Movie Clip – I Know Why
3:35:20 Earl Sweatshirt – Nowhere2go
3:36:20 Hunting scene from The Favourite
3:36:37 Jonathan Personne – Comme Personne
3:38:04 Clip from “The Wild Pear Tree”
3:38:18 The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
3:41:08 The 1975 – The Man Who Married A Robot
3:41:53 Holly Herndon & Jlin (feat. Spawn) – Godmother
3:42:27 Trump threatens shutdown in heated meeting with top Democrats
3:43:10 Beta Librae – Problem Solving Program
3:44:58 Clip from “Free Solo”
3:45:10 Lubomyr Melnyk – Barcarolle
3:47:47 Clip from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
3:47:50 Andrew Bird – Bloodless
3:50:52 Deedee Megadoodoo – Local News Fails Again


Centuries of Sound is a monthly mix of original recordings from a single year. If you want higher bitrate downloads, a bonus podcast with discussion of the recordings, extra bonus mixes and much more, please support me on Patreon for just $5 per month, and keep the project ad-free.

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It’s the 1920s, prohibition has kicked in, jazz bands are playing Chicago speakeasys, this is the year the revolutions around the world are matched by a revolution in music, but hold on – wasn’t this all done a few years ago? Are we not already firmly in the jazz age? Well, yes and no. 1917-1919 is an era of its own, a mini preview jazz age if you like, bands playing as raucously as they can with as many novelty sound effects as they can feasibly cram in there, often with very enjoyable results, but something usually considered essential has been missing – the flavour we usually call “the blues” or later “soul.”

The story of the blues as popularly understood involves pre-Civil-War slave chants and proto-gospel singing gradually mutating into a formalised style of guitar music played by poor blind black men in the Mississipi Delta. While some parts of this are in some ways accurate, as an origin story it is not only incorrect, but erases the women who should, if anything, be at the very centre of the story. So, let’s try to redress that, a bit.

To start at the beginning, the roots of the blues do indeed seem to lie with the songs of the slaves, but as far as documented history is concerned, the more important immediate antecedent is the music of the stages of black vaudeville in the southeast USA in the first two decades of the century. This was black pop music, undocumented by the upper-middle-class businessmen of New York, who would rather travel around the world than go down to Georgia. Much of the music played in these places was written and published elsewhere, including in New Orleans and Tin Pan Alley in New York. The idea of putting the word ‘blues’ in the title of a song dates back to at least 1908, with Antonio Maggio’s ‘I Got The Blues’ – but the craze for naming your song “The [something] Blues” doesn’t seem to exactly indicate a shift in the music being played. Many of these songs, like “Memphis Blues” and “Dallas Blues” were ragtime pieces – others were simply pop songs – but it wasn’t until songs like W.C. Handy’s “St Louis Blues” and “Yellow Dog Blues” began to be repurposed as jazz numbers that the association with this new wave of music became fixed.

The “blues” which appears apparently fully-formed in this mix is from a different, but connected strand. The earliest signs of this are perhaps in 1902, when Ma Rainey “The Mother of the Blues” wrote her first song about a woman having lost her man. Her performances on the “tent show circuit” inspired a host of copycats, and by the 1910s even Tin Pan Alley writers were putting together similar numbers, for white women singers to perform in character. Many were inspired to start similar acts, including Mamie Smith, a young singer who performed at clubs in Harlem.

As the initial wave of dixieland jazz crested and began to recede, W. C. Handy found himself to be one of the country’s most in-demand songwriters, and in a position to lobby record companies to record music for the new generation of black consumers who owned phonographs. Mamie Smith was the first to be recorded. On August 10th 1920 (her second session) she was was joined by a group of musicians quickly christened the “Jazz Hounds” and performed a Perry Bradford song titled “Crazy Blues”


It’s hard to overstate what an impact this recording had. No longer was the sound of black America constrained by the expectations of the white upper-middle-class recording market. The record sold over 75,000 copies within a month, and its label Okeh Records realised there was a huge market out there for what it termed “race records.” Initially these were largely copycat pieces from similar singers, but it would only be a few years until this meant Louis Armstrong, Clarence Williams, Lonnie Johnson and King Oliver. The copycat pieces weren’t at all bad either, as there was quite the stock of talent out there for those asking for a blues singer with a jazz backing band. As well as Mamie there would soon be recordings from Bessie Smith, Lucille Bogan, Sara Martin, Victoria Spivey and Ma Rainey – this is an era now known for “classic female blues” – a genre which certainly deserves to have a less pedantic name.

Crazy Blues, then; a genuine watershed moment, and a genuinely brilliant record.


0:00:17 Mamie Smith & Her Jazz Hounds – Crazy Blues
0:03:44 Yerkes’ Happy Six – Shake Your Little Shoulder
0:06:33 Lucille Hegamin – Jazz Me Blues
0:08:58 Paul Whiteman – Wang Wang Blues
0:12:15 Marion Harris – I Ain’t Got Nobody
0:14:28 George Gershwin – Swanee
0:16:03 Al Jolson – Swanee
0:18:37 All-Star Trio – Swanee
0:19:33 Louisiana Five – Clarinet Squawk
0:22:19 Wilbur Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Think of Me Little Daddy
0:23:46 Arthur Collins – Old Man Jazz
0:25:55 George Hamilton Green Novelty Orchestra – Oriental Stars
0:28:04 Ada Jones and Steve Porter – Backyard Conversation Between Mrs. Reilly and Mrs. Finnegan (Excerpt 1)
0:28:16 Noble Sissle – Great Camp Meetin’ Day
0:30:54 Rudy Wiedoeft + Orchestra – Saxema
0:33:28 Milo Rega’s Dance Orchestra – Young Man’s Fancy
0:36:33 Plantation Jazz Orchestra – Murder
0:39:04 Aleister Crowley- The Call Of The First And Second Aethyr (Excerpt 1)
0:39:23 Marika Papagika – O Marcos Botsaris
0:40:33 Mozmar Caire Orchestra – Raks Baladi Hag Ibrahim (Country Dance)
0:43:24 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Soudan
0:46:26 Aleister Crowley- The Call Of The First And Second Aethyr (Excerpt 2)
0:46:55 Zeki Duygulu – Karciar Taksim
0:48:00 Abe Schwartz – National Hora Pt.2
0:50:27 Joseph Shlisky – Omar Rabi Elozor
0:53:29 Kandel’s Orchestra – A Freilachs von Der Chuppe (A Happy Dance from the Wedding Ceremony)
0:55:34 Mishka Ziganoff – Odessa Bulgar
0:56:50 Columbia Saxophone Sextette – Crocodile
1:00:08 Calvin Coolidge – Gov Coolidge for Vice President
1:00:21 Art Hickman – Love Nest
1:01:49 Mamie Smith – Don’t Care Blues
1:04:46 Yerkes’ Novelty Five – Bo La Bo
1:06:22 Raderman’s Jazz Orchestra – Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me
1:08:32 Ted Lewis – When My Baby Smiles At Me
1:10:09 Harry Raderman’s Jazz Orchestra – Peacock Walk
1:12:52 Warren G Harding – Speech
1:13:10 Bert Williams – When The Moon Shines on The Moonshine
1:15:46 Max Fells’ Della Robbia Orchestra – La Veeda
1:18:20 Orquesta Felipe Valdes – Bombo Camara
1:19:37 Ben Hokea – Honolulu March
1:22:11 Hawaiian Trio – Hawaiian Twilight
1:24:51 All-Star Trio – Oh! By Jingo!
1:26:47 Yerkes’ Blue Bird Orchestra – Scandal Walk
1:29:39 Louisiana Five – Weeping Willow Blues
1:31:44 George Gershwin – Singing The Blues
1:33:28 Leopold Stokowski & The Philadelphia Orchestra – Beethoven Symphony no 8 in F Movement 2
1:36:33 Will Fyffe – I Belong To Glasgow
1:40:29 Carl Fenton – On Miami Shore (+ Rudy Wiedoeft)
1:42:16 Ada Jones and Steve Porter – Backyard Conversation Between Mrs. Reilly and Mrs. Finnegan (Excerpt 2)

2017 – The Clean Version

Yaroslav Shuraev - Aniva lighthouse, Sakhalin, Russia

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The original version of 2017 came out very sweary indeed, and I promised to immediately upload a clean version, suitable for listening with children, with all the swears removed. Ten months later, here it finally is.


Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Undoing a Luciferian Towers 0:00:00
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Deadly Valentine (Soulwax Remix) 0:01:16
Jeff Beal – House of Cards S05E03 Closing Titles 0:04:00
Danny Brown – Ain’t it Funny 0:05:27
Zimpel-Ziolek – Wrens 0:06:28
Superorganism – Something for Your M.I.N.D. 0:09:08
Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot 0:10:57
Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) 0:13:15
Kendrick Lamar – FEEL. 0:15:31
Blanck Mass – Hive Mind 0:18:57
Trio Da Kali & Kronos Quartet – Lila Bambo 0:21:50
The Horrors – Something To Remember Me By 0:25:13
Self Esteem – Your Wife 0:27:16
Roger Robinson – Welcome to Dog Heart City 0:29:11
Caroline Spence – Softball 0:31:16
Leif – July V 0:34:20
Cardi B – Bodak Yellow 0:37:49
Avelino (feat. Stormzy & Skepta) – Energy 0:39:05
Orbital – Copenhagen 0:40:26
Strobes – OK Please 0:42:25
Tom Zanetti featuring Sadie Ama – You Want Me 0:44:20
Justin Adams ft. Anneli Drecker – Wassoulou 0:45:34
Denzel Curry, Lil Ugly Mane – Zeltron 6 Billion 0:47:18
CCFX – The One to Wait 0:48:50
Kero Kero Bonito – Rock & Roll Star 0:52:20
Yaeji – Raingurl 0:55:15
Nite Jewel – 2 Good 2 Be True 0:58:01
Colin Stetson – Spindrift 0:59:48
Vince Staples – Crabs in a Bucket 1:01:40
Tove Lo – Disco Tits 1:03:32
Special Request – Stairfoot Lane Bunker (Minor Science Remix) 1:05:22
Baxter Dury – Porcelain 1:08:03
Antwood – Disable Ad Blocker / Sublingual 1:09:30
Chino Amobi – Eigengrau (Children of Hell II) 1:11:06
Hammock – When The Body Breaks 1:12:17
James Holden & The Animal Spirits – Thunder Moon Gathering 1:14:22
The Jungle Giants – Bad Dream 1:16:31
Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular 1:18:08
Grace Mitchell – Now 1:20:15
Lindstrøm – Tensions 1:21:30
The Seven Fields of Aphelion – Drift (Losing Light) 1:22:57
Young Fathers – Only God Knows 1:23:30
Bjork – Arisen My Senses 1:25:53
clipping. – The Deep 1:28:23
Kelly Lee Owens – Anxi 1:30:22
Photay – Off-Piste 1:32:22
Lost Souls of Saturn vs. Mashrou’ Leila – Bint El Khandaq 1:34:43
Alessandro Cortini – Vincere 1:36:36
Nilüfer Yanya – Baby Luv 1:39:07
Kesha ft. The Dap-Kings Horns – Woman 1:41:42
KIASMOS – Blurred 1:44:03
Oliver – Chemicals (feat. MNDR) 1:46:27
Lingua Ignota – Woe to All (On the Day of My Wrath) 1:48:09
Jlin – Kyanite 1:49:32
Migos – T-Shirt 1:51:16
Ghostpoet – Freakshow 1:53:44
Meridian Brothers – Yo Soy Tu Padre, Yo Te Fabrique 1:55:33
Lanark Artefax – Touch Absence 1:57:49
Aldous Harding – Imagining My Man 2:01:06
Moses Sumney – Doomed 2:04:11
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Who I Am And Why I Am Where I Am 2:05:59
Lorde – Green Light 2:07:49
Visible Cloaks – Screen 2:10:18
Ibibio Sound Machine – Give Me a Reason 2:11:45
Mondo Grosso – Labyrinth 2:13:50
Bing & Ruth – Starwood Choker 2:15:55
Brian Eno & Kevin Shields – Only Once Away My Son 2:17:53
Rapsody feat. Lance Skiiiwalker – Power 2:20:00
Susanne Sundf›r – The Sound of War 2:23:13
SZA – Supermodel 2:25:57
Sinkane – U’Huh 2:27:55
Bicep – Glue 2:29:46
Leif Vollebekk – Elegy 2:33:36
Tornado Wallace – Voices 2:36:45
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Life, Life 2:39:27
Pippa Murphy – Small Consolation 2:40:35