The SFC has recently cataloged over 1,000 CDs from Europe and Argentina, mostly re-issues of songs recorded during the 1930s-1940s. This means we are now one of the world’s largest repositories of recordings by: Nazi-era singing sextets, British and German dance orchestras, French accordion virtuosi, and mid-century tango ensembles. Put into perspective, this includes 38 albums by Argentinean guitarist Oscar Alemán, 33 albums featuring the German singing troupe the Comedian Harmonists, and 25 albums featuring the French accordion master Will Glahé.
Last week we stumbled upon an anomaly among these historical reissues: a sampler from the Swiss label West Side Studios containing a rare track by the Swiss country group Monday Morning.
West Side Studios sampler
Monday Morning was, of course, fronted by vocalist and steel guitar wizard Helmut Schoeni, who sounds almost authentically Oklahoma-born in this cover of “Tulsa Straight Ahead.”
“Tulsa Straight Ahead”
Schoeni may be best known for his solo album Countreeeeeeeee Music (1999) or for his duo-album with Joe Schwach A New Tropical Breeze: Counga Infection (2003). “Tulsa Straight Ahead” gives us a perhaps wider glimpse into his musical range–and especially the ease with which he is able to approximate a “boogie” feeling. We are proud to now be able to provide access to this track, as well as to the other Swiss country gems featured on the West Side Studios sampler (CD-10421).
Track listing for West Side Studios sampler
The Southern Folklife Collection is currently cataloging a large donation of reissue CDs that feature Austrian and German cabaret singers from the World War II era and after. Though most of the songs on these albums were written by German composers, there are a few American jazz standards and folk songs that receive the cabaret treatment—”Sweet Georgia Brown” for example, seems to have been a favorite among many female vocalists.
Another noteworthy example is the 1957 recording of “Oh Susanna” by Austrian singer and actress Maria von Schmedes (1917-2003). The sample below comes from the compilation album with a fantastic title Du darfst nicht traurig sein: die besten Schellackplatten und Funkaufnahmen – in Erstveröffentlichungen – von Maria von Schmedes, 1940-1960, (translation, “You must not be sad”) now cataloged and ready for patrons (CD-9676).
Maria von Schmedes, “Oh Susanna,” 1957
- Michel Pruvot, Record Musette (1991), CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection
The Southern Folklife Collection has just cataloged a unique collection of French accordion music CDs. Some of them are re-releases of 1930s recordings, primarily accordion-plus-big band arrangements of foxtrots and waltzes. Others come from the 1980s and 1990s and feature the instrument in genres like disco, boogie, and samba.
Especially noteworthy among this group of CDs is the 1991 reissue of the album Record Musette by accordion virtuoso Michel Pruvot (originally released in 1984). Though he is perhaps best known as the host of the French television show Sur un Air d’Accordéon (On the Accordion), Pruvot has also distinguished himself as a repeat winner of the international Accordion Endurance Competition, able to play continuously for over 117 hours.
CD9567, Southern Folklife Collection
Record Musette features a combination of original Pluvot compositions and covers. The clip included here is his interpretation of “Orange Blossom Special,” a song originally for bluegrass fiddle.
“Orange Blossom Special”
The SFC is proud to be the only repository in North America to have a cataloged copy of Record Musette.