We are pleased to add this rare record to the British Dance Band Collection. It is a special souvenir recording issued to commemorate the maiden voyage of the RMS Queen Mary in May 1936. The BBC’s band-leader Henry Hall was asked to direct the ship’s orchestra for the trip to New York and to mark the occasion, he wrote “Somewhere At Sea” as the signature song of the brand new liner.
In the British Dance Band collection is a vast array of old 78 rpm records with attractive labels. Here’s a rare one from about 1930 advertising Siemens light bulbs! It is hoped that the collection will provide research material across a wide range of disciplines. Perhaps a Graphics student might write a thesis on pre-war record label design……..
An advertising record produced for the promotion of Siemens and their Opal and Pearl light bulbs. Recorded by an unidentified group of musicians and the vocalist Eddie Grossbart. Listen out for a lovely pair of solos….an alto just before the vocal and a trombone later on. The presence of Grossbart and the composer credit “Jeanette” have led some people to speculate that the musicians are members of Ambrose’s Orchestra. I am not so sure, and suggest that the band resembles that of Howard Godfrey’s Waldorfians. The record seems to have been pressed using the Duophone “unbreakable” process, but the recording timbre and quality is definitely that of Piccadilly. I would also suggest that the record was made towards the end of 1929 or even 1930 (rather than 1928 given in the discographies).
Although our British Dance Band Collection is predominantly concerned with popular music between the two World Wars, we have some examples of recordings made at the point where Ragtime was about to morph into Jazz. One of the most interesting combinations was a group of American Black musicians based at the fashionable Ciro’s Club. Here they are in 1917
This was not a big seller and a good clean copy has only recently been added to the Heritage Quay British Dance Band Collection. It is Eric Coates’s delightful “By The Tamarisk” played by Jack Hylton’s Orchestra. Hylton’s Orchestra was a major stage attraction by 1926 and exploring material well beyond the normal expectations of a dance band. Coates was enjoying the success of his Three Bears Suite and Selfish Giant at the time Hylton added “By The Tamarisk” to their repertoire
Amongst the 12,000 “pre-vinyl” 78s in our British Dance Band Collection are examples of around 200 different record labels. One particularly rare and sought-after brand can be seen here at the start of this video. It is the very short-lived “Gold” Edison Bell label which was only in existence for about 18 months in 1933-4. The rest of the video features still photographs of the Joe’ Loss band. Joe led one of the best British bands of the 1930s and he was still active as a bandleader until his death in 1990.
Here’s another recent addition to the British Dance Band collection here in the Heritage Quay. It represents exactly what was happening in popular music at the end of the Ragtime era before the arrival of jazz. The band was based at Lyons’ Corner House, Coventry Street, London with an instrumentation based on a lead violin, two banjos, piano and drums. Recorded in March 1918 and issued on the Winner record label that had adopted a rather dull colour during the austerity of WW1. Jazz “proper” arrived exactly 100 years ago by boat with the visit of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Next month we will be celebrating this by sharing their first London recording which was in April 1919″
Here’s one of the latest additions to the British Dance Band Collection held here at Heritage Quay. It is an exceptionally rare example of a World Record from the early 1920s. Unlike most of the collection wherethe records revolve at 78 r.p.m, World Records experimented with a system where the record starts slowly and gradually accelerates towards the record label.
The theory was to reduce the deterioration of sound quality towards the centre of disc recordings where each rotation is shorter. For various reasons the “World” project was doomed with the eccentric polymath aviator, publisher, Member of Parliament and entrepreneur-inventor Noel Pemberton Billing (1881–1948) swiftly moving on to other things .
However the system of “constant linear speed” was revisited much later with the introduction of CDs that revolve at a much faster speed when the laser gets close to the centre.The new acquisition will be difficult to transfer to an accessible MP3 as the team are still working out a way of using computer software for editing the sound files which will be recorded at a constant speed and then adjusted accordingly.