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Amanda Petrusich – Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78 rpm Records

C. Michael Bailey By

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That said, I do own a few 78s, nothing special and nothing rare. I have a Glenn Miller set (on Bluebird and a single Victor ("In the Mood" 20-1565-B, black label) from the '40s, something my parents would have listened to when first married before World War II. They saw him live in Houston, where they were living at the time. My dad love Glenn Miller. He represented what popular music was to my dad in that tumultuous period. I also have a copy of Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys' "San Antonio Rose" on Okeh (04755 (DAL615), purple label), but I am, in no way obsessed as Petrusich and her subjects are. Bob Wills was taking jazz West in 1930, when this was recorded (with a B- side of "The Convict and The Rose." I failed to mention my MGM copy of Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys' "Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (11283-A, metrolite yellow label). But there is nothing special about it. Williams recorded this June 13, 1952 at the Castle Studio, Tulane Hotel, Nashville Tennessee. "Jambalaya" was also released in the relatively new format of the 7-inch 45 rpm record. And I did not spend all of my child's college tuition on the ones I have, nor am I as detail crazy as this bunch of lunatics.

Nor would I do something truly crazy like scuba dive the Milwaukee River where someone 80 years ago might have tossed old masters and discs for sport, as the author claims to. I was told of a farmer in Northwest Arkansas who had a barn full of 78 records still in the original boxes fill a 25' x 25' x 25' room. Said it was from overflow at the pressing plants up North. Said he would sell the whole lot for $450.00. I only had $100.00. I did forget to mention one of my favorite 78s, Brinkley Arkansas' own Louis Jordan and his Tympani Five's "Saturday Night Fish Fry" on Decca (75123, black label). And, for that matter I will do these know-it-alls in Petrusich's book, I own not only a 1930s vintage Victrola, but an Edison Amberola also. These guys believe that this music sounds best played from these deteriorating shellacs on modern equipment. I say listen on the equipment for which the discs were intended...that is truly "period practice." But who cares anyway. It's just a bunch of old- timey music on inferior media.

As a closing note, backing out of this Ms Petrusich's case study on this unique brand of madness, if there is any reader with an original copy of Louis Armstrong's "West End Blues" on Okeh (8597, red label... not the blue or black labels (I have them), the red label, damnit!), I would appreciate you contacting me via email. I must have the original recording of the ground zero of jazz. I am not obsessed. Also, I am looking for a copy of Jimmie Rodger's "T.B. Blues" on Victor (23535- A, blac...

Collecting old 78s is a mental illness in search of its DSM designation. Oh, such sweet madness.

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