Dr. B wrote:
In late 1922
Hewitt had a visit from Charles Hoxie who was doing sound-on-film
recording for GE and WGY, and loaned Hewitt some of the equipment.
Parts of this system was later the basis of the Brunswick Light Ray
Recording process which is not such a mystery as Dave Lewis seems to
Well, good. Perhaps you can point me to a study on the light ray
technology. I'm interested in it, but never encountered much on it save
record collector's scuttlebutt.
As usual, there is no mention of Orlando Marsh in this thread. And to my
knowledge Autograph did not issue anything before 1924, though
I've never encountered a formal, or even informal, listing of their
releases. Nevertheless, Rainbow 1026, "Oh My Soul Bless Thou Jehovah"
and "Tis the Precious Name of Jesus" by tenor Loren Jones appears to be a
Marsh electrical. It is difficult to date precisely, and the copy I
have seen comes from a period whereby Homer was stamping out the centers of
his master discs and replacing them for some reason, so
that the mx. number is lost. But it was available by his third catalog,
published in October 1922. And typically there is no mention on the disc
that it is electrical; Rainbow was well past the number 1026 at that time,
and it appears this disc was used to fill in for an intended issue that
didn't come about for some reason.
Although it wasn't issued at the time, one very early Marsh disc that
survives is the "Unknown Black Band" performing "Muscle Shoals Blues"
from late 1921; it is Marsh mx. "19" and I don't know of an earlier one
The band is officially "unknown," but unofficially believed to be Tim
Brymn's Black Devil Orchestra. On their arrival in Chicago from the European
theater the Brymn unit, which was still military at that time, set up at a
local Armory and played music in addition to conducting military drills.
of the drills were filmed by Oscar Micheaux and shown as part
of a newsreel exhibited along with one of his features though -- like so
many of his
films -- it no longer is known to survive, and we don't even know what the
title of that may have been.
I think one of the reasons Orlando Marsh seems to get so little love is
that his electricals don't sound like electricals; they sound like
acousticals with extra distortion added. Note the blasting on the drums
here, which would likely have precluded its release if Marsh had any way to
issue his records in 1921. While I will certainly not argue against the
"Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" as the first issued electrical, and this
track was not
issued until the 2000s, I would humbly suggest that this might be the
earliest surviving electrical recording of music.
I also used to have a cardboard flexi from Canada which contained choral
music, recorded electrically in 1924. I don't remember the details on it,
claimed it was the first electrical recording; it is certainly still very
Uncle Dave Lewis