Victrola Favorites: 78 RPM Records Go Digital
By James Grahame
It's not often (never, in fact) that one comes across a 144-page clothbound color book accompanied by a 2 CD set featuring recordings taken from vintage 78 rpm shellac records from the 1920s through the 1950s. The book is crammed with images of record labels, needle boxes, instruction booklets and other 78-related curios. It's heavy on images rather than text, but I think that's the way a collection of this nature should be presented. The visual presentation is part of what makes exploring these recordings special, unlike the standardized album art provided by iTunes.
Victrola Favorites was put together by Seattle-based experimental musicians Jeffrey Taylor and Robert Mills of Climax Golden Twin. The songs were mic'd straight from a classic Victrola, in an attempt to preserve the authentic listening experience.
The 48 tracks feature a diverse range of music that spans the world - everything from Chinese opera to Hillbilly & Persian folk songs (though not together on a single track). If I had a time machine, I'd love to take this back to the original performers to get their reaction to the digital magic we take for granted less than a century later.
Inquisitive retro fans will also appreciate the Victrola Favorites audio sample page, with Real Audio excerpts of each track.