From 1898 up through the 1950s, the 78 rpm record, usually made from shellac (beetle resin) was the major medium of recorded music. A big chunk of the artists you see featured on "Throwback Thursday" -- all those great blues, hillbilly and jazz artists of the '20s, '30s and '40s -- started out on 78s
Supposedly there were more than 3 million sides produced during the 78 era. But while the most famous and most commercially successful of those have been preserved onto modern formats, there are countless obscure old 78s out there that are in danger of being lost. After those old shellac artifacts are known to shatter in your hands without warning,
Luckily there's an effort by The Internet Archive, the George Blood LP company and the Archive of Contemporary Music to save these musical treasures.
|A George Blood turntable used for 78 rpm digitization of|
four simultaneous recordings with different needles. Fancy!
The Great 78 Project is a community project for the preservation, research and discovery of 78 rpm records. ... Already, over 20 collections have been selected by the Internet Archive for physical and digital preservation and access.
... There’s no way to predict if the digital versions of these 78s will outlast the physical items, so we are preserving both to ensure the survival of these cultural materials for future generations to study and enjoy.
And already there is plenty to enjoy. At this writing there are 30,495 songs on the project's Internet Archive home.
I'm going to post a few but I recommend you check it out yourself and get lost in the sounds of yesteryear.
Here's a little 1936 craziness from Hal O'Halloran's Hooligans: "She's Way Up Thar."
Here's one called "Jungle Boogie." No, it's not Kool & The Gang, it's The Bobby True Trio from 1948.
Country music star Roy Acuff is part of the Great 78 collection. Here's "A Sinner's Death" from 1947.
Here's a highfalutin, rootin' tootin' version of "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" by Dick Jurgins & His Orchestra (1941).
This is a 1927 record called "Hawaiian Dreams" by The Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra.
And here is Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends singing "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" from 1947
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