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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hot Tracks on Wax… Cylinder

Posted by on March 19 at 8:26 AM

If you enjoyed the Border Radio column last July wherein I mentioned the old-timey music archive Turtle’s “78 RPM” Jukebox (you’ll have to scroll down to the end of the column), make sure to read Jody Rosen’s excellent story “How Pop Sounded Before It Popped” in today’s New York Times Arts section. It offers a comprehensive and entertaining overview of the efforts of historians to preserve and distribute the wealth of surviving popular recordings from the early part of the 20th century. Fun, fascinating stuff.

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Oh, my god, thank you, Kurt. This is the SHIT. 78s and cylinders rule.

If you want to flip your understanding of the way the world works inside out, read "Where Dead Voices Gather" by Nick Tosches while you're listening to some of this stuff. It's amazing to find out, for instance, that a fair portion of the "authentic" rural folk music, black and white, that guys like Alan Lomax recorded in the field, was in fact not ancient African pre-blues or Appalachian Childe ballads, but Tin Pan Alley tunes that Lomax, being a purist (spit) was unfamiliar with. The stew of American popular culture is a thousand times more complex than the Rolling Stone versio allows for.

Archeophone is the best label in the world.

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