Friday, January 27, 2006


Lost Sounds: Blacks & the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891 to 1922

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Lost Sounds:Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry 1891-1922

"Virtually all history goes unrecorded. And what was recorded by African-Americans in the late 19th and early 20th century goes virtually unheard--stashed away for decades when not thrown away for good." So state the notes of Lost Sounds, focusing on the former situation rather than the latter, unearthing some century-plus lost sound documents on this amazing wellspring of long-gone voices and groups. Taking as its cut-off point the first recordings of Mamie Smith, widely hailed as the first recorded African-American, it delves into the secret history of all that came before her. It's hard to tell of all the hidden treasures here (54 cuts in all), from the days of minstrelsy on into vocal singing groups. Names of turn of the century minstrel performers like Bert Williams and George W. Johnson are here, not to mention the blow-by-blow account of Jack Johnson's title fight, as recounted by Jack himself! Gospel and jubilee groups are in abundance, and late in the set, ragtime jazz and blues make their appearance. Curated to coincide with the Lost Sounds book by Tim Brooks, it seems natural to have the Arioso from Pagliacci alongside "God Down Moses," which then moves into "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." A fascinating listen, to say the least. [AB]

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