Dismuke's Hit Of The Week
Previous Selections
April 2002
April 25, 2002

This week's Hit of the Week is brought to you by

The Lamar Sanitary Bath House
Mineral Wells, Texas
(From circa 1910s postcard)


Melinda's Wedding Day - Medley         
Victor Military Band                           1913
(Victor 17362-B)

The Victor Military Band was one of the Victor Talking Machine Company's most prominent in-house bands during the 1910s.  In addition to the marches that one would expect from a band with such a name, the group recorded a lot of great ragtime - of which this week's selection is an example.

 In addition to "Melinda's Wedding Day" a song called "Oh, So Sweet" is also featured during the middle part of the recording. 

Victor billed this record as "For Dancing" and, below the title, described the song as a "One Step, Two-Step or Turkey Trot" - all of which were popular ballroom dances during the 1900s and 1910s. 

April 18, 2002

This week's Hit of the Week is brought to you by

Rapidly attaining its manifest destiny - the complete conquest of its market by higher quality easily recognized.  Outselling on the closest possible comparison of the four great evidences of value - manufacturing superiority, better performance, greater beauty and durability.  Fulfilling and surpassing the promise of two years ago that the good Maxwell would be made so good that leadership would come to it by spontaneous public recognition.
Cord tires, non-skid front and rear; disc steel wheels, demountable at rim and at hub; drum type lamps; Alemite lubrication; motor-driven electric horn; unusually long springs; new type water-tight windshield.  Prices F.O.B Detroit, revenue tax to be added: Touring Car, $885; Roadster, $885; Club Coupe $985; Four-Passenger Coupe, $1235; Sedan, $1335.


(From 1923 ad)

Blue Hoosier Blues         
Broadway Dance Orchestra                  1923
(Edison 51165-R  mx 8950)

This week's selection comes from an old Edison Diamond Disc.   These unique records were introduced in 1913 and marked Thomas Edison's entry into the disc record business.

Edison was one of the greatest geniuses of all times.  Indeed, it was Edison who invented recorded sound in 1877.  His business practices, on the other hand,  were sometimes rather strange to say the least.

The first decade of the 20th century saw the rapid public acceptance of disc records at the expense of the cylinder format originally established by Edison.  Disc records were easier to store and, with the widespread introduction of double sided disc records in 1908,  were capable of storing  twice as much recorded material.  Edison, however, preferred the cylinder record for technical reasons:  the sound quality on a disc record deteriorates somewhat as the grooves get closer to the center of the record.  By 1912,  Edison was the sole remaining manufacturer of cylinder records.  Not only did he refuse to abandon the fomat, he actually introduced an improved cylinder record which he called the Blue Amberol.  In spite of  a dwindling market, Edison stood by the cylinder record and continued manufacturing Blue Amberols until  1929 when he was forced out of the record business by the onset of the Great Depression.   In addition to his technical reasons for prefering cylinder records, Edison was strongly opposed to what we today would call "planned obsolescence."  Edison felt that he had an obligation to continue manufacturing  records for the customers who had purchased his cylinder phonographs. 

In 1913, more than a decade after his rivals began manufacturing disc records, Edison finally bowed to market pressure and introduced his own version  - the Diamond Disc.   These records were significantly different from the standard disc records of the day.  They were 1/4 inch thick and weighed a full pound. Their grooves were cut using the the same vertical or "hill and dale" method as were cylinder records - as opposed to the standard lateral cut disc records, the patents for which were controlled by Victor and Columbia.  The grooves were also very narrow which gave the records a playing time of up to 4 minutes.  Diamond Discs had to be played with a special diamond stylus instead of the steel needles used on standard disc machines of the day.  As a result, they could only be played on Edison machines.  Likewise, without special attachments, Edison machines were unable to play records issued by other companies.  This seriously hampered the marketability of Edison products,  especially during the 1920s when the expiration of the patents for the lateral cut recording process resulted in a proliferation of new record labels.  Neverthless, until the introduction of electrical recording in 1925, the sound quality of the Diamond Disc was superior to that of any other record on the market.   Edison was slow, however,  to adopt electrical recording and it wasn't until 1927 that the first electrically recorded Diamond Discs were made. 

While many great recordings were certainly issued on the Edison label, the company was unable to compete with its rivals in terms of attracting big name talent.  Part of it was undoubtedly due to the fact that its non-standard products had a more limited market.  But equally important was a corporate culture more focused on technical perfection than on meeting  the demands of the marketplace.  Things were even further hampered by the fact that , for years, no recording was issued unless it had been listened to and approved by Edison himself  - whose musical taste favored old fashioned 19th century ballads.  This is even more astonishing when one considers the fact that Edison was almost deaf  and had to bite into the cabinet of his phonograph in order to amplify  its sound vibrations.

Finally, in 1929, Edison once again bowed to market pressure and introduced a line of standard lateral cut 78 rpm records which he called the "Needle-Cut Electric."  Unfortunately, for Edison, they were not enough to save his record enterprise from decades of defying the marketplace.  On November 1, 1929, days after the stock market crashed, Edison gave orders for all  of his phonograph operations to be closed immediately.

I don't have a lot of information about the Broadway Dance Orchestra. Its large number of recordings on the Edison label makes me suspect that it was probably an in-house studio band specializing in popular, jazz oriented selections. 


I'm The One        
5 Red Caps                                     1943
(Beacon 115-A)

One of the more frequently commented on selections on my website is the recording of "Grand Central Station" by the 5 Red Caps featured in my June 1998 update.  When I first came across the recording, I was unfamiliar with the group and amazed at how "modern" it sounded for something appearing on a Gennett record - a label that went out of business in the early 1930s.  I later learned that, for reasons of war time rationing of shellec (the material out of which 78 rpm records were made), the Gennet label was briefly revived during the early 1940s and that it was during that period that "Grand Central Station" was recorded.  Since then, I have acquired a few more records by the 5 Red Caps.  And while their style is somewhat outside the scope of this website, I find their recordings to be quite enjoyable and thought that regular visitors might be interested in hearing one of them.  If you would like additional information about the group, you may find it by clicking here.

April 11, 2002

This week's Hit of the Week is brought to you by

Oriental Hotel  - Dallas, Texas
(From circa 1908 postcard)


Indiana Two-Step       
Uncredited Band                               circa 1905
(Standard 50482)

NOTE: This week marks the beginning of a slight format change for my Hit of the Week updates.  Up to now, they have focused on recordings the 1920s and 1930s with an occasional selection from the early 1940s thrown in.  Because it has been a while since I have made any updates to the Turn of the Century section of this website, I have decided to add some older acoustical recordings from the 1900s and 1910s to the mix.

This week's  selection comes from an old single-sided Standard Disc Record.   Standard records are unique in that they have an oversized 5/8 inch spindle hole (see photo above).  The records were pressed by Columbia for the Standard Talking Machine Company of Chicago.  Standard marketed a very popular wind-up record player which was also manufactured by Columbia.  The external horns on the machines were often hand decorated and quite beautiful (see example).  Standard's machines had the oversized 5/8 inch spindle so that only their brand of records could be played on them.  Sometimes, however, machine owners tried to get around this marketing tactic - as evidenced by the fact that one sometimes finds other brands of records from the period with the spindle hole hand drilled out to the larger size.

Standard records drew from the Columbia catalogue.  Releases on Columbia and Standard shared the same matrix number, which, in the early years, also doubled as the catalogue number for both labels.  Other than the larger spindle hole and the brand information on the label, Standard records were otherwise identical to Columbia pressings.

I don't have recording dates for this record's matrix number series. However,  comparing the disc to Columbia records I have with known dates indicates that it was pressed between 1904 and 1906 - though it is possible that it was recorded two or three years earlier.  An unusual matrix number series is sometimes an indication that a selection was recorded overseas. In 1908, shortly after Columbia introduced double sided records, this selection was reissued on Columbia with a catalogue number of A-61 and paired with a reissue of a 1902 recording of "Hail To The Bride March" on the flip side.  The bands on both sides of the 1908 reissue are credited simply as "Columbia Band."   It is also  likely that this recording of  "Indiana Two Step" was issued on other  labels pressed by Columbia  such as Sears Roebuck & Co.'s Harvard and Oxford labels as well as the United and Harmony labels which also had oversized spindle holes.

The price listed on the back of this record, by the way, was 6o cents. While that may not sound like a lot of money, keep in mind that 60 cents around the turn of the 20th century was the equivalent of around $10.70 in 2002 dollars. (See the AIER Cost of Living Calculator)  For that kind of  money, buyers got exactly what you hear: a single musical selection of less than 3 minutes duration.  Prices of wind-up record players in Sears catalogues around that period ranged from $8.75 to $45 - or roughly between $156 and $806 in today's money.  Despite the relatively high price of records, in an age of limited home entertainment options, wind-up record players became fixtures in the parlors of even many families of modest means.  It just goes to show how dramatically technology has expanded and lowered the cost of our entertainment options over the past 100 years.


You're Wonderful       
Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra       1929
(Victor  21497-B)

Here is a record I picked up this past weekend that I cannot resist sharing.  I fell for it the moment I listened to it and ended up playing it over again several times.  It conveys the lighthearted good cheer that was so typical of  the music of the 1920s and 1930s - and is so completely absent from today's musical scene.  Sadly, this particular copy is quite worn in spots - undoubtedly due to a former owner failing to change the steel wind-up phonograph needles after every playing.  My audio restoration software did a great job of cleaning it up - but there is only so much it can do with a worn out record.  Happily, Nat Shilkret records are not especially rare so I am optimistic that I will eventually come across a copy in better condition.

April 4, 2002
This week's Hit of the Week is brought to you by

Modernize Your Laundry

Washday's tasks are made a whole lot easier when the ever-present drying problem is satisfactorily solved.  Summer or winter, good weather or bad, your clothes dry quickly, clean and white in the 


It permits your laundress to wash on the same day each week - dry your clothes spotlessly clean and iron them - without delay!  It protects them from dust, soot, frozen fibers and whipping winds.  It does away with makeshift lines in the attic or basement.  And it sterilizes every garment.


Indirect heat, thermostatic control, and the natural circulation of fresh, warm air positively prevent scorching or discoloration.

Your local Gas Company will be glad to show you the LAMNECK.  Or write us direct for descriptive literature.

The W. E. Lamneck Company
438 Dublin Ave.
Columbus, Ohio

(From circa 1929 ad)

Me And The Man In The Moon        
Ted Weems and His Orchestra
Arthur Jarrett, vocal                                   1929
(Victor 21809-A)

Because this week's record was not in the best of shape, I had to leave in a small bit of the surface noise to prevent the recording from being distorted by the audio restoration software.

Ted Weems had one of the more popular bands of the late 1920s.  The band had a nice style which, happily, has been preserved on a few CD reissues.

Vocalist  Art Jarrett was the son of Arthur L. Jarrett, an actor in silent pictures and later a screen writer for a number of films in the 1930s and 1940s.   The younger Jarrett appeared with several bands including the Ted Weems, Red Nichols and Earl Burtnett bands.  He also played guitar, banjo and trombone. Jarrett appeared in 20 films between 1932 and 1950, including several early '30s musical short features in which he appeared as himself.  During his film career, he introduced several popular songs including "Everything I Have Is Yours" (Dancing Lady 1933), "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking" (Sitting Pretty 1933) and "Let's Fall In Love" (Let's Fall In Love 1934).  He had his own band from 1935 though the 1940s.  From 1933 though 1938 Jarret was married to Eleanor Holm, a swimmer who won a gold medal in the 1932 Olympics.  He died in 1987 at the age of 80.


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