It’s been long time since I haven’t posted anything on the blog, even though I have bought some great 78s in the past months. Instead of writing a long article as usual, I decided this time to share with you a selection of recordings from my collection. I only wrote a very short description for each track.
Instrumental Zourna (Turkey)
An hypnotic track from Turkey featuring a Zurna solo with a drum accompaniment. A record from the late 20’s or early 30’s on the British branch of Columbia. Its central label features a sticker from the now-disappeared shop of Léon Nichanian, that used to sell Armenian, Greek and Turkish records in Paris’ Belleville neighbourhood.
Smarda el Olgia – Bellah ya Hamed ya Khouïa (Tunisia)
A piece of Malouf music from Tunisia performed by singer Smarda el Olga and realeased on what seems to be her own label. I have combined both sides of the record, so that you can hear the whole song.
Hemanta Mukherjee (India)
There’s something mysterious in Paris with Indian 78rpm records. I’ve found dozens of them in yard sales last year, after discovering that several antiques dealers were using them as demonstration records for the gramophones they were selling. I’ve tried to find out the origin of these records but didn’t get any answers from the sellers. I guess they bought pieces of the same gramophones collection a few years ago, and these Indian records might have been part of it. I have no idea who this mysterious person was, but I like the idea that I’m slowly reconstructing its Indian records collection. This one was performed by the famous Bengali singer and producer Hemanta Mukherjee. This is a great song, I only wish I owned a better copy of the record…
[UPDATE] The mystery of these Indian records has become clearer since I posted this. It seems that they reached European flea markets with the so-called “Crap-O-Phones“, which were counterfeited gramophones produced in India in the 1960’s. Thanks to HIGUYS78 for his comment!
Félix Valvert et son Orchestre Antillais – Antilles (Guadeloupe)
Félix Valvert was one of the major figure of the Biguine scene in Paris in the 30’s and 40’s and the successor of Alexandre Stellio as the bandleader in “La Boule Blanche“, a well-known club located rue Vavin, in the Montparnasse neighborhood. This one released by Pathé features a vocal duo by Stella Félix and Gérard La Viny.
Dr Lucas Junot – Fado Corrido de Coimbra (Portugal)
A scratchy but beautiful Coimbra fado recording released by Columbia. Stunning vocals with a guitar accompaniment. Love it!
Mr. Baboian accompanied by Mr. Apkar – Ouzoun déré (Armenia)
An instrumental track featuring a solo of tar, a plucked string instrument used in Iran, Turkey and several Caucasian and Central-Asian countries. This one was released by the Marseille-based Ararat label, which cut numerous 78rpm records in the 50’s for the Armenian diaspora in France.
“Somalis et Dankalès” – Maolid (Somalia)
Some of you might already be familiar with the fantastic recordings made during the “Exposition coloniale internationale” held in Paris in 1931. The Opika-Pende set compiled and edited by Jonathan Ward, from the blog Excavated Shellac, features a terrific song called “Guelabiessi” performed by a group of male singers from Somalia… here is the other side of this record, a praise chant recording released by Pathé. (Thanks to Abdulwadûd Louws for his help!)
John Gobrait avec Eddie Lund et son Orchestre Tahitien – Eiaha (Tahiti)
That’s a cool song! Eddie Lund was an American musician who moved to Tahiti in the 30s and released many recordings inspired by Polynesian folk music. This record was published on the local Tahiti label and features vocals by a singer called John Gobrait.
Les Enfants à la Croix de cuivre – I linso, lyali limo (Congo)
Another recording on the Fiesta label, this time from Congo. This hunt song is performed by “Les Enfants à la Croix de cuivre”, a children choir conducted by Joseph Kiwele. A similar recording by “Les Chanteurs à la Croix de Cuivre” on the Belgian label Olympia can be heard on the Opika Pende set.