Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Transcription Mystery Disc #68

This one was a nice surprise. As you can see above it was dirty, and scratched and totally unlabeled. The spindle hole was ragged indicating repeated play.  It did not look promising.  But after a quick wipe I gave it a shot.  It turns out that the engineer was quite adept and the levels were such that the vocal track was clearly audible above the noise floor through out with no filtering whatsoever.
This is a six inch Recordisc, it spins at 78 rpm and starts at the outer edge except for 3 blank inner rings that ran the opposite direction.  Despite all this there were four places where the groove wall had collapsed and I had to reset the needle and splice in Audacity. The final product is intelligible and even somewhat listenable. Phonozoic dates this brand and make of paper-core blank to about 1948.

It begins with a greeting from Helen, who does not give her name or location. She then sings a country song complete with yodels. It is the song Red River Valley. Interestingly her version has 3 stanzas. The classic Cowboy song only has two. This does help to date it a bit. While the song easily dates to the late 1800s in Canada popular versions popped up regularly  in the first half of the 1900s. Slight variations in the lyrics also do. She does not sing the Woody Guthrie version from 1944. His had an instrumental break instead of the yodel.  It's quite similar otherwise. Carl T. Sprague recorded a version known as the Cowboy Love song in 1925.  It's lyrically very similar and influences the two more contemporary versions and also has the 3rd stanza making it likely to be at least an indirect influence on the recording.