In the 1970s, when I was in my 20's, I owned a Victrola record player. One very similar to the one pictured below.
Along with it I had a serious collection of 78 RPM records. Some were from the 1920's, while others were from the 1940's and even early 1950's. Alas, I had to give it up when I moved aboard a sailboat.
But I loved that damned thing.
And I loved the music it played as well. Billy Murray and the American Quartet, The Andrews Sisters, Paul Whiteman's Orchestra, Al Jolson, Allan Jones, Bing Crosby, Sachmo, and Eddy Duchin . . . to name a few.
Sure the platters popped and hissed, and this was way before stereo had been thought of, but the music was alive, vibrant, and rich in history.
Today you can hear many of those old 78's again, right over the Internet.
The Internet Archive has more than 5,000 old 78's and even older cylinder recordings available for you to listen to, or download. Some of this music goes back more than 100 years.
Sure, some of it may seem obscure, even archaic at times, but this is a glimpse back at what passed for popular culture a century ago. As you listen to the music from one decade to the next, you can see how tastes changed, and how more musical sophistication crept into the recordings over time.
A trend that, regrettably, reversed itself when rock & roll arrived on the scene in the 1950's. But I digress . . .
Listen to this collection of 78rpm records and cylinder recordings released in the early 20th century. These recordings were contributed to the Archive by users through the Open Source Audio collection.
Artists available here include Ada Jones, Caruso, Eddie Cantor, Edison Concert Band, Harry MacDonough, Len Spencer, Paul Whiteman, and many others.
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While you'll find everything from Ada Jones singing By the Light of the Silvery Moon to the Memphis Jug Band doing the Cocaine Habit Blues, and some obscure recordings as well . . . I've included just a few sample links below to give you a small taste of what's in store.
Anything Goes - Paul Whiteman with Ramona Davies
78rpm audio by MusicProf
Average rating: (10 reviews)
Across the Alley from the Alamo - The Mills Brothers
The Mills Brothers ("Four Boys and a Guitar") singing "Across the Alley from the Alamo" from the B-side of an original Brunswick 78rpm disc.
Average rating: (1 review)
Ain't We Got Fun - Benson Orchestra of Chicago
Average rating: (3 reviews)
1934BoswellSisters - Boswell sisters
Make Believe - Paul Whiteman with Bing Crosby
Average rating: (7 reviews)