Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Janet Carling 78 rpm Collection

I'm still wading up to my knees in old records! I haven't even had chance to look through the Easthope Collection - the ones I brought back from the Midlands last weekend yet. At the moment I'm working my way through a collection given to me several years ago by a work colleague who knew I loved 78 rpm records and who turned up with a Christmas Hamper box full.

The collection was mostly, though not exclusively, of jazz records from around 1940. There are some great names on the records and the condition of them is excellent. Some of them sound brand new, the quality being not far short of a "straight from the master" quality. You expect a bit of background noise from 78s - they would lose their "flavour" without it, but pops and snicks from scratches are almost totally absent.

There are several bound albums in the collection. These are fibre-backed board covers into which several records can be bound together in their original sleeves.

With 78s quite often you can find records easily enough, but getting the original cover and in pristine condition is extremely hard. Here they are all with their original covers. Some examples are absolutely mint. But... all glued together at the bottom where they fit into the album cover. So scanning them is impossible!

Paper covers are flimsy. Sometimes, as with this 1940s Parlophone sleeve, they are complete if not untouched. I've managed to stick over the tears to make it look ok. Sellotape yellows with age and shrinks so using it is not ideal and when I'm forced to use it I only ever stick it on the inside so that it won't be visible. But repairing many covers is hard because so many tears are along an edge, making internal joins a bit difficult!

As I've been playing them I've been recording them onto my computer. The free Audacity software allows me to remove any clicks and to reduce most of the background noise and the quality even from a 1930s record can be almost unbelievable.

I've just gone through one of the albums containing Duke Ellington records. He recorded for several labels during the 1930s and 40s and with several different bands and orchestras. As his fame grew he made the most of it, recording as Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra!

The sticker with the T.T markings is a tax sticker. Whilst VAT has not been with us for 50 years yet, there was Purchase Tax on most goods including records and sometimes it was as high as 100%!

And amongst some of the little surprises in the Janet Carling Collection is this disc by Beryl Davis in which she sings one of Shakespeare's soliloquies which has been set to music which at times reminds one of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelly's Hot Club de France sound!

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