Amoeblog

What Are Those Schlocky Pop 78s Doing in My Blues Record Collection?

Posted by Sherwin Dunner, June 22, 2012 06:50pm | Post a Comment

Over the years I've shared my favorite vintage 78s with friends who are not part of the hard core 78 collector crowd. While we might share a taste for the same films, books and restaurants, we're not quite on the same page with music, at least not yet. Since I'm fondest of music from the 1920s and 1930s, and that's a long way from the 21st Century, it's a challenge to break in those who live with contemporary sounds. Not that I'm hoping to make full converts, but if I share some of my favorite 78s, maybe some will cross the accessibility threshold and they'll acquire a taste for more. Inevitably, when it comes to 1920s jazz, most fall flat – it all apparently sounds like cartoon music. With blues singers, the all too familiar refrain is that it's three chords and the same song over and over. Even though I always play those I consider "can't miss winners," in principle I can't totally disagree with them as I've spent many hours squirming my way through what I consider “formulated” blues 78s by lesser, second tier blues singers.

The great country bluesmen seldom recorded a formulated dud, but in acquainting myself with their body of work, I discovered that those few 78s where country blues singers chose to work their magic on popular tin-pan-alley hits were some of my favorite 78s. It was refreshing to hear the different tempos, more varied melodies, and new notes coming out of the instruments of these masters once outside the confines of the blues idiom. The best selling sheet music for these songs could be found sitting on pianos in middle class homes. Orchestras in every podunk town were playing stock arrangements of them at dance halls. And in a few rare cases, they made it onto “race” records by blues singers. Some of my purist blues collector friends pointed out with a sneer, those were POP records, eyeballing me like there was a cancer hanging over my blues collecting impulse, yet I prized these performances over many of the straight blues sides, and whenever possible I would swing a trade for some of these pop records by blues singers. So I'm of a different ilk, not strictly a blues collector, but a music collector who likes great blues singers, especially when they are not singing the blues.
 

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(In which Job returns from [kind of a] vacation.)

Posted by Job O Brother, September 4, 2007 11:31am | Post a Comment

Honey! I’m home…!

[Kiss.]

Whew! It is crazy hot here in Hollywood. How have you survived? I’m this close to envying the Donner Party.

[Sets luggage down.]

Where have I been? Didn’t you see the Post-It note I left on our autographed portrait of Gunnar de Frumerie?

No?

What do you mean you were struck blind by the Lord Our God while traveling the Road to Damascus? Are you crazy?

Yes, I know Labor Day traffic on I-5 is maddening, but I hardly think a detour through Syria was good idea. And anyhow, I wrote the note in Braille, so that’s no excuse for not reading it.

[Takes off shoes and unbuttons shirt.]

Anyway, I don’t want to fight.

I’ve been in Santa Barbara over the weekend. I was at a wedding for some of Corey’s friends. It was hot there, too, but at least we were on the coast, so it was beautiful.

Oh, a funny thing happened that continues a strange theme in my recent blogs. One of the humans attending the wedding was Octavia Spencer – a total sparkplug, very quick with the one-liners – and, as she was introduced to my small group, she lowered her sunglasses at me and said:

“Whoa! You have some pretty eyes! Hoo!”

Which makes two times this week that an obscure female comedian has commented on my optical globes. I know, right? What exactly are my pheromones excreting? Too funny.