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.

1920 large

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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


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.

1919 heading

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When we last heard from band leader James Reece Europe in 1914, he was taking his all-black orchestra to Carnegie Hall and accompanying Irene and Vernon Castle as they performed the foxtrot to high society. Of course, since 1914, a lot has changed. Jazz has swept ratime – even the hottest varieties of it – from the scene, and America has been to war in Europe. It might be natural to assume that the first of these is more important to Jim’s career, but not so.

As the USA entered the war in 1917, Jim joined his friend Noble Sissle in enlisting in the still segregated US Army, and were assigned to the legendary 269th Infantary Regiment, otherwise known as the “Harlem Hellfighters” – the first black unit sent to France. On arrival they were assigned to the French army out of fear that white American soldiers would refuse to fight alongside them, and a racist pamphlet titled “Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops” was distributed to their new commanding officers. For the most part, the French treated the 269th as they would any other regiment – the country was in such dire straits that any manpower was welcome – and given the chance to show their worth, the “Hellfighters” earned their nickname in a series of famous battles, with Private Henry Johnson, a former New York railway porter, becoming the first American to win the Croix de Guerre.

Europe and Sissle were not directly involved in combat, however – they were instead quickly enlisted in the regimental band, and as director Europe found the freshest talent available. As well as Sissle (later a major songwriter) the band featured Herb Flemming (later to play with Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Tommy Dorsey) and Russell Smith (a lead trumpet player in the big band ers). Not only had the new sounds of jazz not been heard in Europe before, they were also still a novelty to the American troops, and within a year the band had travelled over 2000 miles throughout France, sowing the seeds of jazz in French, American and even British audiences. For all three audiences their sound seems to have been a complete revelation. One journalist wrote;

“the sound might be called liquefied harmony. It runs and ripples, then has a sort of choking sensation; next it takes on the musical color of Niagara Falls at a distance, and subsides to a trout brook nearby. The brassiness of the horn is changed, and there is sort of throbbing, nasal effect, half moan, half hallelujah.”

The tour continued for months after the end of the war, and the group only returned to the USA in February 1919. As their ship arrived they were perhaps surprised to find more than a million people had lined the streets of New York in order to see their victory parade. On seeing the reception they received, Europe was reported to say

“I have come from France more firmly convinced than ever that Negros should write Negro music. We have our own racial feeling and if we try to copy whites we will make bad copies … We won France by playing music which was ours and not a pale imitation of others, and if we are to develop in America we must develop along our own lines.”

The next month he took his band to the studio to make their first recordings in half a decade – a collection of self-penned numbers and new jazz standards which would give the first hints of what they were capable of. Noble Sissle featured on vocal for several pieces.

On the night of May 9th, 1919, Europe performed for the final time, in a concert in Boston’s Mechanics Hall. Feeling ill with a heavy cold, he grew frustrated with the behavior of two of his drummers, and in the intermission he went to the wings to reprimand them. One drummer, Herbert Wright, did not take to being lectured in this way, and in a fit of anger lunged for Europe’s neck with a pen knife. The wound seemed to be only superficial, nevertheless Europe told the band to continue without him and went to the hospital, reassuring everyone that “I’ll get along alright.” The bleeding, however, could not be stopped, and he died hours later, at the age of 39.

Lieutenant James Reece Europe was buried in Arlington National Cemetary in Washingon. The funeral march, the first public memorial for a black person in New York, followed part of the same route followed by the victory parade three months before. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake completed the tour, before sending the band their seperate ways to change the sound of American music forever.


0:00:17 Edison Records – Fanfare
0:00:36 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Ostrich Walk
0:03:48 Lieut. Jim Europe’s 369th U. S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band – Memphis Blues
0:06:19 Joseph C Smith’s Orchestra – Yellow Dog Blues
0:08:44 Al Bernard – Hesitation Blues
0:12:20 Bert Williams – Elder Eatmore’s Sermon On Generosity
0:12:48 Bert Williams – Everybody Wants A Key To My Cellar
0:15:38 Vernon Dalhart – The Alcoholic Blues
0:17:17 Esther Walker – Sahara We’ll Soon Be Dry Like You
0:20:31 Marika Papagika – Hrissaido
0:23:23 Maria Smyrnea – The Grass Widow
0:24:44 Marika Papagika – Kremete I Kapota
0:28:35 Boston Symphony Orchestra – Lohengrin Prelude Act 3
0:30:02 Amilita Galli-Curci – Traviata Sempre Libera
0:32:17 Florence Cole-Talbert – Villanelle
0:34:28 R. Nathaniel Dett – Barcarolle
0:37:11 Edward H. S. Boatner – Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
0:39:43 George Gershwin – Whispering
0:42:50 Art Hickman’s Orchestra – Rose Room
0:46:08 Yerkes’ Happy Six – Karavan
0:48:15 Milo Rega’s Dance Orchestra – Peggy
0:51:17 Rudy Wiedoeft’s Master Saxophone Sextet – Saxophobia
0:53:48 Columbia Saxophone Sextette – Chong (He Come From Hong Kong)
0:55:35 Thomas Edison – Mr. Edison’s Christmas Greetings
0:55:49 Patrick J. Touhey – Drowsy Maggie
0:56:56 Ada Jones and Len Spencer – How Sandy Proposed
0:57:04 Irving Kaufmann – You’d Be Surprised
0:58:30 Waldorf Astoria Dance Orchestra – Taxi
1:00:24 Jean Louis Pisuisse – Ma Femme Et Ma Pipe
1:01:53 Maurice Chevalier – On The Level You’re A Little Devil
1:03:14 George Hamilton Green Novelty Orchestra – Moonlight Waltz
1:06:45 Paul Biese and his Novelty Orchestra – Mystery!
1:08:11 Ford Dabney’s Band – Camp Meeting Blues
1:10:23 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Tiger Rag
1:13:29 Orquesta De Antonio Romeu – Donde Andaba Anoche!
1:15:14 Carmen Flores – Evaristo Agachaté Que Te Han Visto
1:16:19 Orquesta Felix Gonzalez – Carmelina
1:17:49 Blanquita Suárez – La Cigarrera
1:19:23 Toots Paka’s Hawaiians – Pua O’ Hula
1:21:29 Harry T. Burleigh – Go Down Moses
1:22:19 Anatoli Lunacharsky – On People’s Education (Excerpt 1)
1:22:28 Abe Schwartz and his Orchestra – Bessarabia Hangi
1:24:27 Anatoli Lunacharsky – On People’s Education (Excerpt 2)
1:24:38 Pinchos Jassinowsky – K’dusho (Na’artizkho)
1:25:07 Sergei Rachmaninoff – Prelude In C Sharp Minor
1:27:20 Clarence Cameron White – Lament
1:28:55 Master Thomas Criddle – That Old Fashioned Mother of Mine
1:31:56 Edward Avis and Howard R Garis – Bird Calls with Story Part 2
1:32:19 George Formby Sr – One Of The Boys
1:35:03 Henry Burr – I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles
1:37:49 Louisiana Five – Virginia Blues
1:39:40 Wilbur C. Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Kansas City Blues
1:42:44 Lieut. Jim Europe’s 369th U. S. Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band – That Moaning Trombone


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.

1918 Wide

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One of the most jarring contrasts between imagined past and time as uncovered by these mixes is the feel of the First World War years. There are two very good reasons for this. Firstly, it shouldn’t be forgotten that our impressions of the wartime years, having dropped out of living memory, are based on a limited number of sources, most of which are second or third-hand reinterpretations. Even the most relevant cultural artifacts – written accounts of the war, contemporary films, photographs – do not contain any record of the sounds of the time, and even the best documentaries seem to focus on the images and either create their own audio or use recorded accounts from years later.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, we shouldn’t forget that the lens these mixes view the decade through are a very narrow one indeed. I cannot present recordings of the war because, to put it plainly, there are none. The last thing anyone, even a war journalist, was thinking of doing was taking a recording gramophone out into the trenches. In any case, the recording industry was still located mainly within New York, with a small number of people controlling what was put out. We don’t even have a decent view of the rest of the USA, let alone the rest of the world. European recordings are at this point few and far between.

Having made my excuses, this mix nevertheless probably presents the closest thing to an original-source First World War soundscape that has ever existed. The entrance of the USA into the war in 1917 may not have resulted in any actual recordings of the war, but at least it meant many more recordings about the war – and even if these were filtered through the cynical filter of the entertainment business, they still provide much more of a flavour of the times than anything else we’ve had so far. Naturally we have some more of the patriotic anthems intended to act as much as propaganda than as entertainment, including a wartime update of ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ from Marion Harris and a jingoistic song from Al Jolson. These aren’t all we have though – there is a very measured speech from Theodore Roosevelt, wartime soundscapes from Henry Burr, and humourous wartime songs from Arthur Fields.

Fields is new to us, but he had been in the entertainment business for decades. touring in minstrel shows, writing songs and working in a trio with Jack and Irving Kaufman. His wartime songs, though still patriotic, look at the mundanity and inconvenience of wartime life through the eyes of the average soldier – a smart move, as they would be arriving back from Europe just about now. Arthur Fields would continue to record right into the next world war.

Meanwhile, Jazz has sort of taken a back seat, slightly. The explosion of 1917 was clearly unsustainable, especially as it consisted largely of a set of pros imitating the life out of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band without any real understanding of what they were starting. In 1918 jazz is still around, only the heat has been let out a little. Seasoned musicians are starting to return to what they know; the light dance music which had always paid their wages. This will be a theme for the next few years, jazz being swallowed up into the more rigid, un-blue world of professional dance bands.

The exception to this is from two bands – one of course the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, still going strong in 1918, though they would soon lose their original piano player to the Spanish flu. In even more of an imperial phase however are their erstwhile rivals, variously known as “The Novelty Orchestra” “The Celebrated Society Orchestra” and “Earl Fuller’s Combination Seven,” but captured here as “Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra.” Where the ODJB are raucous and comic, Earl Fuller’s band are anarchic in a more transgressive, darkly sexual way, and at times their music anticipates the dangerous speakeasy feeling of early Duke Ellington. It’s a welcome dash of colour in a musical world which is trending back to its default conservatism.

The jazz revolution is, on the whole, slowing down, becoming a little too safe, but there’s no need to worry – we will soon be in for quite the ride. If you thought 1917 was a massive shift then just wait – the decade between 1918 and 1928 sees more of a change in what we’ll hear than any other decade I can think of.  So I’m not sure anyone will particularly miss these sounds when we’ve moved on, but this is still a moment which deserves to be remembered.


0:00:17 Charles Ross Taggart – Uncle Zed Buys a Graphophone (Excerpt 1)
0:00:30 Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra – Russian Rag
0:03:35 Charles Ross Taggart – Uncle Zed Buys a Graphophone (Excerpt 2)
0:04:12 Original Dixieland Jass Band – At the Jazz Band Ball
0:06:49 Wilbur Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Dallas Blues
0:09:56 Rector Novelty Orchestra – Singapore
0:13:16 Nora Bayes – Regretful Blues
0:14:50 J.J. Pershing – Address From France, April 1918
0:15:19 Arthur Fields – Yanks Started Yanking
0:16:19 Premier Quartet and Company – A Submarine Attack (Excerpt 1)
0:16:42 Al Jolson – Tell That To The Marines
0:18:06 Henry Burr & Peerless Quartet – Submarine Attack Somewhere At Sea (Excerpt 1)
0:18:20 Marion Harris – Goodbye Alexander
0:21:42 Henry Burr & Lt Gitz Rice – Life In A Trench In Belgium (Excerpt 1)
0:21:57 Arthur Collins – When Tony Goes Over The Top
0:23:26 Henry Burr & Lt Gitz Rice – Life In A Trench In Belgium (Excerpt 2)
0:23:56 Arthur Fields – Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning
0:26:35 Henry Burr & Peerless Quartet – Submarine Attack Somewhere At Sea (Excerpt 2)
0:27:03 Imperial Marimba Band – General Pershing March
0:27:33 Premier Quartet and Company – A Submarine Attack (Excerpt 2)
0:27:41 The Peerless Quartet – Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye Soldier Boy
0:29:50 Thomas Alva Edison – Let Us Not Forget – A Message to the American People (Excerpt 1)
0:30:20 Harry Lauder – Don’t Let Us Sing Anymore About War
0:32:24 Thomas Alva Edison – Let Us Not Forget – A Message to the American People (Excerpt 2
0:32:52 Courtland And Jeffries – Good-Bye-Ee
0:35:28 Metropolitan Military Band – Grand Peace Record
0:36:18 Honey Land Jazz Band – Steve
0:38:07 Monroe Silver – Cohen on his Honeymoon (Excerpt 1)
0:38:16 Wilbur Sweatman’s Original Jazz Band – Ev’rybody’s Crazy ‘Bout the Doggone Blues But I’m Happy
0:41:07 Monroe Silver – Cohen on his Honeymoon (Excerpt 2)
0:41:17 Joseph C Smith’s Orchestra – Rose Room
0:42:59 Eugene Jaudas Society Orchestra – Howdy One Step
0:44:42 Billy Murray – K-K-K Katy
0:47:25 Ethel C. Olson – A Norwegian Woman Using the Telephone
0:47:35 Bohumir Kryl – Where The River Shannon Flows
0:49:31 Marika Papagika – Smyrneiko Minore
0:52:13 Zabelle Panosian – Groung (Crane)
0:56:18 Amelita GalliCurci – Crepuscule
0:59:14 Roland Hayes – Arioso from ‘Pagliacci’ (‘Vesti la giubba’)
1:01:52 Theodore Roosevelt – Right Of The People To Rule (Excerpt 1)
1:02:32 Sexteto Habanero Godínez – Rosa, que linda eres
1:04:12 Pixinguinha – Os Oito Batutas
1:05:39 Fercor – La Commemorazione Di Cesare Battisti A Milano (Excerpt 1)
1:05:45 Orquesta De Enrique – El Biberon De Benitin
1:07:59 Yerkes’ Jazarimba Orchestra – Jazzie Addie
1:09:37 Theodore Roosevelt – Right Of The People To Rule (Excerpt 2)
1:09:50 Earl Fuller – Jazz De Luxe
1:13:52 Samuel Siegel & Marie Caveny – Ragtime Echoes
1:14:37 Pietro Frosini – New York Blues
1:16:16 Abe Schwartz Orchestra – Der Shtiller Bulgar
1:19:16 Harry Kandel’s Orchestra – Der Nicolaiver Bulgar
1:22:01 Eubie Blake Trio – Hungarian Rag
1:24:53 Bert Williams – Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting
1:27:32 Fercor – La Commemorazione Di Cesare Battisti A Milano (Excerpt 2)
1:27:55 Louisiana Five – Laughing Blues
1:30:35 Frisco Jazz Band – Johnson Jass Blues
1:34:47 Original Dixieland Jazz Band – Skeleton Jangle
1:37:39 Maude Powell – Poupee Valsante (Waltzing Doll)
1:39:44 Charles Harrison – I’m Always Chasing Rainbows


1917 large

“The music is a matter of the ear and not of technique. None of us knows music. One carries the melody and others do what they please. Some play counter melodies, some play freak noises, and some just play. I can’t tell you how. You “got to feel” Jass. The time is syncopated. Jass I think means a jumble. We came from New Orleans by way of Chicago. In Chicago a professor told us it was “the untuneful harmony of rhythm.” I don’t know what that meant, but I guess he was right. Anyway that’s Jass.”

Eddie Edwards, trombonist in the Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band, who was perfectly able to read music.

“Arriving as it did just nine days after Congress voted to declare war, the sound of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s manic, energetic music would be forever linked in the American Psyche with the new atmosphere in the country”

E. Douglas Bomberger – Making Music American; 1917 and the Transformation of Culture

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In April 1889, around the time Robert Browning made the earliest existent recording of poetry, Nick LaRocca was born in New Orleans, the son of poor Italian immigrants. His childhood, youth and early adulthood span the history of Centuries of Sound so far – a few decades where we have seen vast shifts in the recording and consumption of sound, but which all seem still to be somehow ancient history from the vantage point of 2019. This is something Nick is about to change. How much credit Nick or his band, the Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band, should get for this is difficult to measure – his own description of the birth of jazz is not just racist, but self-evidently untrue – but whether they are viewed as innovators, opportunists or just a catalyst, the record they made on February 26th 1917 is that rare thing in life, an unambiguous dividing line between an old world and a new one.

Over these last twenty years there have been no such revolutions, only gradual movements. We first heard Ragtime emerge as a flavour to season marching band music, then in its ‘hot’ form as a (sometimes frenetic) syncopated dance music – but even at its greatest surge, it remained in essence a minority interest, as far as the music business was concerned. There was enough interest in the general public for the genre to incite a moral outrage, but apparently not enough to get record companies and musicians cashing in.

Meanwhile in New Orleans, and (perhaps) down the length of the Mississippi River, jazz (or something not dissimilar to jazz) was already being played, perhaps as early as 1900. Not a single recording exists from this era, but later accounts have it that the sound began with cornet-player Buddy Bolden, whose hot ragtime band is often credited with introducing this mix of stomping dance music and bluesy swerves. It is unlikely that Bolden’s band truly sounded much like the records here – it’s better to view them as a vital missing link in the story. Bolden suffered an episode of acute alcoholic psychosis in 1907, and was admitted to the Louisiana State Insane Asylum with a diagnosis of schizophrenia – and there he would remain for the rest of his life. His successors largely remained within New Orleans until 1914, when a mixed-race group called The Creole Band began touring the vaudeville circuit. By 1916 Brown’s Dixieland Jass Band and Stein’s Dixieland Jass Band were active and performing in Chicago, and bandleader Bert Kelly claimed to have been playing Jazz in San Francisco as early as 1914. It was one thing to be playing new music on the circuit, though – for the genre to really break through this barrier it needed to be brought into the homes of the public, who in increasing numbers owned gramophones.

Among the clutch of New Orleans “Jass” bands playing Chicago in 1916 were Stein’s Dixie Jass Band, who had a residency at the Booster Club. They were spotted by Al Jolson, who found them another residency, this time at Reisenweber’s Café, a fashionable nightclub in New York. Taking their cue from other novelty vaudeville acts like Six Brown Brothers, they dropped Stein, rebranded themselves the “Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band”, and adopted a series of visual affectations and musical flourishes. This mix of influences, their vicinity to the recording business, and The Creole Band’s refusal to record anything lest it be stolen; this all led to a certain buzz, and it was a matter of weeks before they were in the Victor studio, on the twelth floor of 46 West 38th Street in Manhattan, making this momentous record.

Credit for this recording must be shared with the Victor engineers, led by Charles E. Sooy. Jazz had never been recorded before, and the hot ragtime records from earlier in the decade had just been a wall of (fairly exciting) noise, with individual sounds lost in the lack of a mix. Later recordings by the ODJB would also follow this unsatisfactory model, sounding muddy and muffled. Sooy understood the difficulties of getting their sound on record, and arranged the players at different distances from the horn, with drummer Tony Sbarbaro furthest away (25 feet back) and pianist Harry Ragas and clarinetist Larry Shields within five feet of the horn. That wasn’t all, though, as LaRocca later recalled:

“I asked them what all these wires were for, and one of the men told me it was to sop up the overtone that was coming back into the horn. The recording engineer at Victor had the patience of a saint. He played our music back until it sounded right.”

The resultant recording is, without hyperbole, an absolute revelation. Never before have we heard musicians cut loose with such wild abandon. There’s an almost palpable sense of the weight of the Victorian era being thrown off and joyfully discarded. LaRocca’s cornet, Shields’ clarinet and Edwards’s trombone twist and peacock around each-other, coming together from time to time, pausing for the horse impressions that give the song its title (it was originally Barnyard Blues) and then spinning back off into competing solos. Even over a century later, it feels like an exciting record, so it’s hard to imagine what it must have felt like to bring this record home and listen to it for the first time.

The fact that the first half of this mix is comprised of “jazz” songs shows what an impact the record had. The record industry was very much used to crazes (we are also at the peak of Hawaiian recordings) but this one was immediately different, both in terms of scale and of reach. Within months a host of other musicians were making “jass” or “jas” or “jazz” records – some were the real deal, some were obviously just jumping on the bandwagon, but all were operating within the expectations set by ‘Livery Stable Blues’ and its flip side ‘Dixieland Jass Band One-Step’.

This early form of jazz does not exactly correspond with the genre as it later developed or with the music being made in New Orleans by other perhaps less-opportunistic artists. On one hand it does consist of free-wheeling seemingly improvised solos over a twelve-bar blues, but on the other it is clearly in the lineage of what we might call “novelty ragtime” – obviously the animal noises are the main example of this, but there is a general air of raucous wackiness without the depth or weight of the blues behind it. Here are, after all, five white boys having a great time. This was the first public airing for jazz, and the slew of other records which came along later in the year take this as their blueprint.

Following the lead of Collins & Harlan in late 1916, this mix also features a few examples of Tinpan Alley songs which are *about* jazz rather than actually *being* jazz. These generally feature a description of a jazz band, superlatives to describe the spectacular wildness of each individual instrument, which inevitably make the singer want to dance – there is then quite often an instrumental section where the backing band demonstrate (with differing degrees of success) these jazz-style noises. It’s a cynical cash-in for sure, but not one unique to jazz – in the mid 1950s there will be plenty of songs along the same lines about rock & roll.

It’s perhaps unexpected that we have this almost-enforced party atmosphere when the nation is now involved in the first world war, but as far as the music industry is concerned all this meant was that they had to stop making recordings of “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier” and switch to “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile” and “Over There”. The main influence the war would have on this new American music was to spread it – this is the start of jazz in France, and even trad jazz in England, which would always retain something of the spirit of this early form. It seems there was no inverse dampening of enthusiasm from the troubles of the old world.

The world is not America, however, and the horrors of the war do have a bearing on this mix. 1916 was the start of the Armenian genocide, and while singer Zabelle Panosian was already living in the USA, it doesn’t seem a stretch to imagine that the almost unbearable sadness in her 1917 recordings of traditional Armenian ballads was influenced by reports of her friends and family, many of whom would have been dead or missing. The first recording featured here, Mir Khor Babge Kerezman (“Our Father’s Deep Grave”) is one of the most profoundly beautiful things I’ve ever heard, and I would perhaps put it forward as the greatest work of art recorded in the acoustic era.

part one – jazz

0:00:07 Marie Cahill – Dallas Blues (Excerpt 1)
0:00:10 Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band – Livery Stable Blues
0:03:02 Earl Fuller’s Famous Jazz Band – Yah De Dah
0:06:24 Rudy Wiedoeft’s Frisco Jazz Band – Cute Little Wigglin’ Dance
0:08:14 Marion Harris – Everybody’s Crazy ‘Bout The Dog-gone Blues But I’m Happy
0:11:12 Eugene Jaudas Society Orchestra – Jass One Step
0:15:12 Marie Cahill – Dallas Blues (Excerpt 2)
0:17:51 Eubie Blake Trio – Jazzing Around
0:19:53 George Gershwin – Jaz-O-Mine
0:21:17 Gene Greene – Alexanders Got A Jazz Band Now
0:23:17 Memphis Pickaninny Band – Some Jazz Blues
0:26:05 Original Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band – Dixieland Jass Band One-Step
0:28:39 Collins & Harlan – Everybody’s Jazzin’ It
0:30:53 Six Brown Brothers – Smiles And Chuckles
0:32:03 Rudy Wiedoeft’s Frisco Jazz Band – Pozzo
0:33:52 Marion Harris – When I Hear That Jazz Band Play
0:36:23 Blake’s Jazzone Orchestra – The Jazz Dance
0:38:03 Wilbur Sweatman and his Jass Band – Joe Turner Blues
0:40:56 Irving Kaufman – Mr. Jazz Himself
0:42:50 Ciro’s Club Coon Orchestra – St Louis Blues
0:45:20 Handy’s Orchestra of Memphis – That Jazz Dance
0:46:45 Yerkes’ Jazzarimba Orchestra – That’s It

part two – not jazz

0:49:43 Zabelle Panosian – Mir Khor Babge Kerezman
0:52:48 Edouard Risler – Plays Beethoven
0:54:54 Charles Prince’s Band – Arrival Of The American Troops In France (Excerpt 1)
0:55:22 Edward Hamilton – Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag and Smile, Smile, Smile
0:56:55 James Watson Gerard – The German Peril
0:58:11 Billy Murray & American Quartet – Over There
1:00:55 Charles Prince’s Band – Arrival Of The American Troops In France (Excerpt 2)
1:01:06 Bert Williams – No Place Like Home
1:03:50 Opal Cooper – Beans, Beans, Beans
1:05:20 Sally Hamlin – Our Hired Girl (Excerpt 1)
1:05:31 Eva Gauthier – Alouette
1:07:44 Ford Hawaiians – Kawaihau Waltz
1:09:25 Helen Louise and Frank Ferera – Everybody Hula
1:10:56 Ford Hawaiians & Henry Kailimai – Kaena
1:11:50 Waikiki Hawaiian Orchestra – My Waikiki Mermaid
1:13:29 Louise, Ferrera, and Greenus – Malani Anu Ka Makani
1:14:59 Ford Hawaiians – Wiliwili Wai
1:15:58 Choro Carioca – Guará
1:17:40 German Hernandez Trio – Nosotros
1:20:55 Orquesta Tizol – El Valor
1:21:12 Pixinguinha – Rosa
1:24:14 Carlos Gardel – Mi Noche Triste
1:26:22 Eugenia Roca – El Fox De Las Campanas
1:28:22 Oberbayerische Bauernkapelle – D’ Buam Schneid
1:30:34 Victor Military Band – Kansas City Blues
1:33:42 Eddie Cantor – That’s The Kind Of Baby For Me
1:35:53 Van & Schenck – For Me And My Gal
1:37:25 Sally Hamlin – Our Hired Girl (Excerpt 2)
1:37:40 Harry C. Browne & Peerless Quartet – Carve Dat Possum
1:40:16 Fisk University Male Quartette – In the Great Gettin’ Up Mawnin’
1:42:17 David Arthur Smith and Corporal White – Cock o’ the North
1:43:15 Fred van Eps Trio – Razzberries
1:44:46 Felix Arndt – Marionette
1:46:59 Aleksandr Vertinskiy – V Goluboy Dalekoy Spalenke
1:49:37 Oriental Orchestra – Russian Scissors
1:51:59 Yiddisher Orchestra (Abe Schwartz’ Orchestra) – Beim Reben’s Sideh
1:55:29 Anna Hoffman – A Kind Un a Heym (A Homeless Child)
1:57:40 Amelita Galli Curci – Ah Non Credea Mirarti
2:00:47 Zabelle Panosian – Caroun (Spring)
2:04:05 Boston Symphony Orchestra – March Miniature


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The story of recorded must prior to 1917 has been, on a personal level, a juggle with two opposing narratives. First there is of course the convoluted journey towards the explosion in jazz and blues of the late 1910s and 1920. Then there’s the other side, the world of music and musicians who had their own path and their own values. So far these two threads have been happy so sit peacefully side by side, occasionally intertwining, but always on their own terms. In 1916, though, there is an overwhelming feeling that something really big is coming. Perhaps its the war (covered here by a single track) with its mythical power to change attitudes, perhaps its the work of a number of talented individuals, perhaps the spread of the gramophone is making it necessary – but for whatever reason, the majority of music in this mix seems to be almost-but-not-quite jazz and blues.

A couple of exceptions to this, before we go digging in – the mix kicks off with one of a couple of very atmospheric klezmer cymbolom instrumentals (this is a genre which would not be so easily colonised by the new music), and features yet more of the Hawaiian craze which seems to have been a constant in the decade. The biggest revelation here may be from fiddler Don Richardson – his instrumental version of Arkansas Traveller (featured on here a couple of times before in its vaudeville form) is as far as I can tell indistinguishable from the “first country records” which would kick off the other musical explosion in about a decade’s time.

Blues has been around for a while at this point, though not so much as a genre as a mood, or perhaps even what we might call a meme now. The sheet music for “I Got the Blues” by New Orleans musician Antonio Maggio was published in 1908, and over the following decade a number of other songs started riffing on the idea, including some written in Tin Pan Alley and given to a new generation of female vaudeville singers, most notably Sophie Tucker. In this vein we have torch-song standard “I Ain’t Got Nobody” – here performed by Marion Harris, the music for which was written by a black songwriter, Spencer Williams – a pattern of visible white performers with black artists in the background which started as early as the 1890s and would continue until the start of the 1920s.

This naturally leads on to one of the accidental shifts this music has pushed into view. W.C. Handy’s compositions weren’t just called “blues” – they actually drew from his life as a black man in the south of the USA, the presumed source of the melodies and rhythms which easily delineate this music to the modern ear. The St Louis Blues was his breakthrough hit, but is here presented as an instrumental, and performed by a ragtime dance band who had started out performing military marches, led by Charles Adams Prince, a record company director and relative to two US presidents.

The appallingly titled “Nigger Blues” was, naturally, written by a white man, Lee “Lasses” White, a veteran of minstrel shows and “coon songs” who would go on to become a stock actor in early westerns. It would be nice to think that the racism of the turn of the century was dying off by this point, but this would be extremely wishful thinking. “Chinese Blues” was written by young George Gershwin, and is here represented by the composer himself (on a piano roll) and Sousa’s Band, of all people.

The most striking example of all this dissonance, however, is to be found on “That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland” performed by Arthur Collins and Byron G Harlan. Collins, now billed as “king of the ragtime singers”, has a long and very mixed history on this site, as is natural for a figure who looms as large as he does in pre-WW1 music. A good case could be made that “That Funny Jas Band” is the first jazz recording, but it’s a bit less embarrassing to call it “the first recording that mentions jazz” as it is, on the whole, the sort of embarrassing racist churned-out “coon song” which you’d instinctively want to sweep under the carpet – it even includes a painful bit of minstrel-show banter in the middle. For all that though, I don’t know what you can call the instrumental break at the end except jazz – it’s straight out of an Original Dixieland piece.

If we are going to award the birth of jazz to anyone in 1916, though, perhaps the best recipient would be the two acts that close the mix. We’ve heard “Down Home Rag” before, performed at a frantic pace by James Reece Europe and his ‘Society Orchestra’ – but here it is again, first performed by its composer Wilbur Sweatman, on course to become one of the founding fathers of jazz. Then we switch into a supercharged version played by The Versatile Four, associates of Europe who had branched out to form a more portable unit, able to tour the USA and Europe. They may be a smaller ensemble, but their glorious racket is more than enough to match Europe’s Society Orchestra. This really feels like the start of something.


0:00:00 Joseph Moskowitz – Doina
0:01:06 Gilbert Girard & Company – Daybreak at Calamity Farm (Part 1)
0:01:15 Eugene Jaudas National Promenade Band – Memphis Blues
0:04:36 R.H. Burnside – A New York Hippodrome Rehearsal
0:04:45 Arthur Collins – Hesitating Blues
0:06:15 Prince’s Orchestra – The Hesitating Blues
0:07:56 George O’Connor – Nigger Blues
0:10:27 Gladys Rice – Here Comes Tootsie
0:10:41 Marion Harris – I Ain’t Got Nobody
0:12:20 Elsie Baker & Billy Murray – Play A Simple Melody
0:13:17 Gilbert Girard & Company – Daybreak at Calamity Farm (Part 2)
0:13:42 Abe Schwartz – Sadigurer Chused’l
0:16:39 Aleksandr Vertinskiy – Malen’kiy Kreol’chik
0:19:20 Jeanne Feinberg – Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen
0:21:17 Enrico Caruso – Ah Tout Est Bien Fini (Le Cid)
0:23:54 Karl I of Austria – Speech, Feb 1916
0:24:05 Murray Johnson – Pack Up Your Troubles
0:26:47 Barney Bernard – Goldstein Goes in the Railroad Business
0:27:06 Kyria Koula – Tsifte Teli
0:29:07 Canhoto – Abismo De Rosas
0:30:18 Raquel Meller – Los Impertinentes Mágicos
0:32:55 Quinteto Borinquen – Diamante Negro
0:34:31 Pepita Ramos ‘La Goyita’ – La Modista Militar
0:36:44 Helen Louise & Frank Ferera – Hapa Haole Hula Girl
0:37:51 Rene Dietrich and Horace Wright – My Own Iona
0:40:18 Ciro’s Club Coon Orchestra – On The Shore at Le-Lei-Wei
0:42:51 Scott Joplin – Magnetic Rag
0:45:42 Avon Comedy Four – Ginberg’s Stump Speech
0:45:56 Six Brown Brothers – Walkin’ The Dog
0:48:12 Eugene Jaudas National Promenade Band – Walkin’ The Dog
0:51:30 Fred Van Eps – Raggin’ The Scale
0:54:08 George Gershwin – Chinese Blues
0:56:14 Sousa’s Band – Chinese Blues
0:57:40 Lou Chiha Frisco – Kangaroo Hop
0:59:29 George Formby Snr – The Grandfather’s Clock
1:02:14 Bert Williams – Never Mo’
1:04:48 Strassmeir Dachaur Bauernkapelle – Werdenfelser Trompeten Landler
1:07:41 Conway’s Band – Two-Key Rag
1:10:42 Prince’s Band – St. Louis Blues
1:13:24 Eugene Jaudas Society Orchestra – Step With Pep
1:15:26 W.G. Haenschen & T.T. Schiffer – Sunset Medley
1:17:14 Cunniah Naidu – Modi Instrumental- Ragam-Alapana In Thodi
1:19:02 Adeline Francis – The Mouse and the Thomas Cat
1:19:15 Don Richardson – Arkansas Traveller
1:22:00 F. J. Bacon – Massas in De Cold, Cold Ground
1:22:51 Charles Ross Taggart – Old Country Fiddler at the Telephone
1:23:12 Collins & Harlan – That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland
1:26:49 Wilbur Sweatman – Down Home Rag
1:28:10 The Versatile Four – Down Home Rag


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“Looking back in hindsight, 1915 appears to be a saga of such horrors, of such mismanagement and muddle, that it is easy to see why it coloured the views of succeeding generations and gave rise to prejudices and myths that have been applied to the whole war. But it was a year of learning. A year of cobbling together, of frustration, of indecision. In a sense a year of innocence. Therein lies its tragedy.” – Lynn Macdonald – 1915: The Death of Innocence

Nobody is likely to make the case for 1915 as a marquee year in the history of recorded music, and, to be frank, I am not going to change anyone’s mind on the issue today. Certainly there is a lot of good music being played, somewhere, the recordings of the next decade didn’t just spring up from thin air, but with the downturn in recording due to the war, coupled with the dissipation of the hot ragtime craze, everything has an odd air of being either too late or too early to the party.

The stars of this mix are in a sense unlike those we’ve encountered before, in that nobody is apparently interested in writing a glowing biography of Eugene Jaudas or Henry Burr. But dare I suggest there is something sort of here? With the bigger names either out of the game (James Reece Europe will be back in 1918) or past their best (even Bert Williams is by this point sounding a little tired of the game, and we don’t even have jazz yet!), acts who would usually be also-rans are given a chance to flourish. Whether they deserve this chance is moot, I at least have them to build a mix around which doesn’t have to sound like it’s going through the motions.

Eugene Jaudas was a bandleader, violin soloist and director of music at Edison Records, and seems to have decided to cash in on the success of Europe’s Society Orchestra by launching his own knock-off version. As might be expected, the frenetic pace and inventiveness have been largely done away with – however in their place there is a very professional sort of energy which works well on its own terms. The transformation of the raw sound of hot ragtime into a formalized pop discipline begins and ends here – in two years everyone will be trying to play jazz instead. Accidentally this fairly cynical cash-in attempt therefore led to music which is more-or-less unique. The mediocre jazz-age Jaudas recordings are evidence that the genre was probably a dead end, but for now this sounds sort of exciting in its own way.

Not all of the artists from 1915 disappeared in the 1920s. Patrick Conway managed to become the leader of a very successful radio orchestra. Novelty vaudeville saxophone group Five Brown Brothers, or even Six Brown Brothers, turned their blackface into clown make-up and retconned themselves (with some justification) as jazz pioneers. And Fred Van Eps, now eclipsing Vess L Ossman as the banjo soloist of choice, continued recording all the way to the 1960s.

All of this may seem beside the point in the year of Galipoli and Ypres, and perhaps it is, but where this human experience resides we have only a void in the audio record. This isn’t to say that the war is not covered here – only that it’s viewed from afar, and with a great deal of suspicion. The biggest hit of 1915 by some counts is I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier, a rehashing of the old sentimental wayward soldier boy trope, with the twist being that he hasn’t gone off to war and he won’t. Not that it stops it being sentimental, of course, but directing such mawk in the direction of pacifism is strangely effective, especially when considering as horrible and pointless a war as this one. We also have the spin-off song, essentially the same deal, titled ‘Don’t Take My Darling Boy”. Some of these same singers would change their minds apparently at the same moment as Woodrow Wilson, whose campaign slogan in the 1916 election was to be “He kept us out of the war.”

Judge for yourself what you think of 1915, but be assured, this world is about to be swept away.


0:00:16 George Formby Snr – All of a Sudden it Struck Me
0:02:38 Miller R. Hutchinson – Transcontinental Telephone Message
0:03:11 Irving Kaufman – Listen to That Dixie Band
0:05:23 Jaudas’ Society Orchestra – Pick a Chicken
0:09:27 National Promenade Band – Paprika
0:11:25 Bert Williams – I’m Neutral
0:12:56 Henry Burr – I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier
0:14:54 Peerless Quartet – I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier
0:15:36 Cal Stewart – War Talk at Punkin Center
0:16:55 Henry Burr & Peerless Quartet – Don’t Take My Darling Boy
0:18:26 Charles Crawford Gorst – Laughing Love
0:19:59 Billy Murray – Which Switch is the Switch, Miss, for Ipswich?
0:21:51 Joe Hayman – Cohen at the Real Estate Office
0:23:08 Joseph A. Phillips – My Lady of the Telephone
0:24:55 Patrick Conway’s Band – Ragging the Scale
0:27:50 Five Brown Brothers – Independentia and Billboard
0:29:49 Bahiano – O Meu Boi Morreu
0:32:25 Dúo Ruiz Acuña – Corazones Partidos
0:35:03 María Conesa – Ni Una Palabra Más (2ª Parte)
0:37:09 David K.Kaili & Pale K. Lua – Honolulu March
0:39:43 Fred Van Eps Banjo – Omena Intermezzo
0:42:37 Harry E. Humphrey – An Old Sweetheart of Mine
0:42:59 Isidore Moskowitz – a Flower of Italy
0:45:48 Harry E. Humphrey – Antony’s Address Over the Body of Caesar
0:46:02 Sangit Vidyarnab Gopeswar Banerjee – Sitar Instrumental- Kafi Tetala
0:48:29 Abe Elenkrig’s Yidishe Orchestra – Nit Ba Motin
0:50:21 Vladimir Mayakovsky – Naval Romance
0:50:33 Victor Military Band – Booster Box Trot
0:53:05 Six Brown Brothers – Chicken Reel Comedy Medley
0:54:46 Ada Reeve – Foolish Questions
0:57:37 Collins & Harlan – Mississippi Barbecue
0:59:26 Cal Stewart – Uncle Josh in a Barber Shop
1:00:11 Harry Fay – They All Do the Charlie Chaplin Walk
1:01:44 Eugene Jaudas Society Orchestra – Carnival One Step
1:03:18 Guido Deiro – Put Me to Sleep With an Old-Fashioned Melody
1:04:44 Bert Williams – Indoor Sports
1:06:19 Right Quintette – Exhortation
1:09:30 Enrico Caruso – Cielo Turchino (Ciociano)
1:11:51 Arvid Paulson – Karolinas Tråkigheter
1:11:58 The Premier Quartet – Moonlight Bay
1:13:57 Vess Ossman’s Banjo Orchestra – Universal Fox Trot
1:15:39 George Formby Snr – All of a Sudden it Struck Me (Outro)