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78 RPM records, musical genres & old-time marketing

Posted by Mark Ralston on Sunday, November 18, 2012

Linda ran into a junk-store owner who says she has "crates and crates" of 78 rpm records.  Linda told her that I like 78's, and the owner told Linda to give her a list of records that I like and the owner would see if she has anything that might be of interest.

First of all, Linda scores again with a potentially interesting musical find.  Next, identifying what 78's I might like is a challenge.  It wouldn't be practical to make a list of artists or bands, since there were so many from the 19-teens until the 40's that I like (I cut & pasted some artists from my 78 rpm collection into my "Favorite Bands / Musicians" list on my Homepage).

While trying to put together some guidelines for what sort of 78's I might like, I realized that I generally key on records with old labels, so this is one hint.  I also realized that I key on the marketing descriptions of the music that most labels use.  I went through some 78s that are in a crate near my desk and made a list of the descriptors...... list is below, and some are pretty colorful.  I think that it's a little bit sad that this aspect of early music has mostly dropped out of the picture with CD re-issues.

I did a little bit of on-line research... found out that many labels used "marketing genres" such as "blues, string band, jug band, old-time,  hillbilly, early country, country,  jazz, event song, race, bluegrass", and I'm sure that the musicologists can add to this list.  I think that I'm drawn to the "old-time, hillbilly, and early country" genre.  Anything with "fox-trot" on the label is not for me.

A pleasant exercise for a chilly Sunday morning.... I concluded that I'm probably better off by trying to invite myself to the 78-owner's storage facility to look through the records myself rather than trying to make a list of guidelines.

Pictures of all of these labels here:  78 labels


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