Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Transcription Mystery Disc #89

I don't recall setting out to have a string of "Transcription Tuesdays" but the trend continues this week. This one is actually from a set of three 7-inch cardboard-core Recordisc transcription discs. The sides are mostly labeled and dated. All are recorded at 78 RPM except the track labeled only as "Organ" which is 33.3 RPM. The inventory is as follows

A. Eric Wilkinson - (Organ)
B. Morton Gould - Tea For Two

A. Eric Wilkinson - If You Were The Only Girl
B. Horace Heidt - Dark Eyes

A. Unknown - Drink to Me Only
B. Blank
You can see the engineers interest in proper labeling diminished over time. That track isn't by unknown.. there's just no performer listed. It is also interesting that two of the three discs have inner rings cut with grooves but no audio. Also notable that only one track has a snipped of narration. At the end of "Organ" a narrator comes in and is quickly cut off. He utters perhaps 4 words adding no identification just proving that these are live radio transcriptions.

Horace Heidt and Morton Gould are known names in radio land. They were composers and orchestra leaders. The problem is bringing them together with the totally unknown character Eric Wilkinson. In 1947 Heidt had come out of retirement to lead an orchestra on the Phillip Morris sponsored show "The Youth Opportunity Program." But that show debuted in December, he'd been off air since 1945. If this is anything but a dub from LP it's a one-off appearance I'll never find.

The same goes for Gould. In the 1940s he did the Cresta Blanca Program and the Chrysler Hour both on CBS. In the late 1940s he focused primarily on composing patriotic music. Books that mention this period of his career lament the lack of chronology. but it's for certain he was no longer on WOR, and no longer musical director of any radio program. This too is likely a dub from an LP.

But Eric Wilkinson is unlike the others. I include his audio above. In the December 1943 issue of Billboard I find an Eric Wilkinson playing organ on 990 WIBG-AM. It notes he formerly was the staff organist at KYW, and now leads an 8-piece band for WIBG. The Music year Book of 1943 also lists him as musical director for WIBG. the answer may lie in another issue of Billboard form July 1943 that also mentions him:

"Pacting with the music union also gives WIBG the privileged to go in for remote broadcasts. Station did not lose any time, running a wire backstage to the Earle Theatre for weekly interviews with the band celebs coming in each week."