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The Vulcan Cylinder Record Company is proud to announce its first six-inch long cylinder record

For just three years, from 1905 to 1908, the Columbia Phonograph Co. released a series of six-inch long Twentieth Century Talking Machine Record cylinders which played for three, rather than the usual two, minutes.

Now, more than 100 years later, the Vulcan Cylinder Record Company is proud to announce the launch of its 6-inch Series, made, as usual, in hard wearing plastic resin.

The first title in this new Series, Lost Arrow, is a banjo solo by Fred Van Epps, with orchestral accompaniment.

Introducing No. 2 in the Brown Wax Era Recordings

We are pleased to announce the second of our Brown Wax Era recordings, ‘Why should I keep from Whistling?’ by John Yorke Atlee, with piano accompaniment by Professor F. Gaisberg.

This was originally recorded for the Columbia Company sometime in 1893 or early 1894, after the Company had established itself in a large building on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.  The announcement of the record acknowledges the presence on the ground floor of the building of a large nickel-in-the-slot phonograph parlour.

What makes the record even more significant than its early date is the identity of the accompanist, styled as Professor F. Gaisberg.  This is of course part of the early recording studio career of Fred Gaisberg who moved on to work with Emile Berliner at The Gramophone Company and from there travelled to Europe and is most obviously famous for being the man who recorded Caruso in Milan in 1902.  He retired in 1939 but continued to work as a consultant for The Gramophone Company right up until his death in 1951.

He was still a teenager when this recording was made.

Here is Fred Gaisberg’s own account of an earlier recording session working with John Yorke Atlee:

“… his pompous announcements which introduced each performance in tones that made the listener visualise a giant.  In reality he was a mere shrimp of a man, about five feet in his socks, that little Government clerk with the deep, powerful voice.  Of this and his fine flowing moustache he was mighty proud.  After his office hours, from nine to four, as a wage-slave of the U.S. Government, he would return to his modest home where I would join him.  In the parlour stood an old upright piano and a row of three phonographs lent to him by the Columbia Phonograph Company.  Together we would turn out, in three’s, countless records of performances of ‘Whistling Coon’, ‘Mocking Bird’, and the ‘Laughing Song’.  I can still hear that reverberating announcement:


I was then only sixteen.  Some professor …”

Introducing the first number in our new series – The TA Edison Recordings

We are proud to present: The Liver Story, spoken by Thomas Edison.

The Liver Story was recorded in the Edison Laboratory, in Orange, New Jersey, in 1906 (or thereabouts – there is some dispute about the exact date). Edison loved to entertain his staff by telling jokes, and this one was recorded by Walter Miller, but never intended for release to the public. We think it is a fitting acknowledgment of the great man. We hope you like the special packaging. The record comes with a record slip that includes a transcription of the recording, plus another one of his stories as a bonus. We thank Norman Bruderhofer for the label design.

The record comes with a specially labelled box and an inclusion slip.

21st Century music form meets 19th Century technology

Death Metal, a derivative of Heavy Metal, is not what you would expect to find on a cylinder record, but that’s what we’ve got in our brand new catalogue section, Vulcan Miscellany.

The Title of This Song is Longer Than The Song is a record that we made for one of our customers, Matthew Lippart, and we are so taken with the idea of having this genre of material on cylinder that we thought we’d make it available publicly.  We love the label, too.

For the full story of this recording, go to the Vulcan Miscellany page.

Introducing a brand new Series – the Vulcan Brown Wax Era Records

The Vulcan Brown Wax Era Records

We are proud to announce a new series of records from the Vulcan Cylinder Record Company – the Vulcan Brown Wax Era Records.

The series starts with A Trip to China Town, by the Edison Grand Symphony Orchestra, catalogue number 501.

Although these records are made in the same hard-wearing plastic resin as the black cylinders you are accustomed to see from Vulcan, you will be hard put to it to tell the difference between these and the original brown waxes – we hope you like the effect.  We’ve created labelling to match the era as well, so the look and feel of the product is as close as we can make it to those available during the period 1890 to 1901.

The records are transferred at a similar level of volume and at the same recording speed as the originals – 120rpm to 144rpm. This makes them Ideal for owners of early machines and suitable for listening through ear tubes as well as via an external horn and on later models.

The series will develop over time as we find other good quality source material from this era.

M01 – The Title of this Song is Longer than the Song – 2-minute £35.00

Matthew LippartThe song, The Title of This Song is Longer Than The Song, came off the album, Let There Be Rock (a tribute to ACDC).  This album was the first death metal release to be recorded in Myanmar (Burma).  Burma was, at the time, the second most oppressed country in the world, behind North Korea, and the government controlled everything, with spies to match.  It took almost six months to get the music and lyrics past the censors. The recording took place in Rangoon, where an armed soldier had his gun out the entire time – made for an interesting recording environment.

All the music was written by me – I also played the bass tracks and did the vocals.  I had a couple of Myanmar guys lay down the drums and guitar parts, but they did not want their names released in case the government got upset about the whole thing.

And get upset they did – during the recording process, when we were adding some extra vocals and guitar bits, the army came in, pointed a gun to my head, and demanded we stop immediately – they took all the recorded materials.  Luckily I had made a copy of the master before they arrived, which is what ended up on the cylinder.  Out of the 8 songs planned, only four were finished – it was released as a four song EP.

There were accusations of witchcraft and demonic possession (I don’t think my vocals were THAT bad), and that was the end of Myanmar’s experiment with Western death metal.  The studio was destroyed in a flood a few months later, and I was not granted any more recording permits.

The Title of This Song is Longer Than The SongOnly 50 copies of that initial release were made, and over the past year I thought it would be nice to find a way to do justice to the bizarre origin of the record.  When I heard that cylinders were still being made, it seemed like a perfect fit – what better way to celebrate the release of the first death metal album in Myanmar’s history than with another first?  The first (as far as I have been able to determine, anyway) death metal song released as a cylindrical phonograph – that makes it doubly obscure.

The song was my attempt to meld Nirvana and Iron Maiden together.   Ironically enough, it was the soldier’s idea to have an acoustic guitar part towards the end, and I think it came out pretty well.

Christian Leden and the National Library of Norway

Vulcan Cylinder Records has been privileged to be invited to work with the National Library of Norway in its project to preserve and make publicly available as much of its archival material as possible. Included in the material is a collection of cylinder moulds made by Christian Leden between 1909 and 1955, as he recorded indigenous folk music in Greenland, Canada, Norway and later in Chile, Argentina, South America and Easter Island, though apparently the material from these last expeditions was never edited or published.

Here are some exerpts from the National Library of Norway’s website, regarding Leden:

Christian Leden‘Christian Leden is considered a pioneer in the use of the phonograph for collecting music, and he is also the first to record film from the northern Arctic region. In addition to music he collected objects typical of Greenland’s culture, and also took photographs.’

‘In 1909 he went to North Greenland with the famous Danish Arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen.’

‘… Leden argued in favour of preserving Norwegian folk music. On his own initiative he travelled around Norway, making many valuable recordings during 1937 – 1938. He also argued for the establishment of a National Music Collection. ’

For the rest of the story, go to http://www.nb.no/highnorth/leden.php

Our involvement, at Vulcan Cylinder Records, was to take the 200+ cylinder moulds that have been in storage, and to clean them, repair where necessary, and make recordings from them. It is likely that this is the first time some of these recordings have ever been heard.

Duncan and LarThis has been an exciting project, as we received and carefully catalogued the moulds, amazed at the pristine condition of some and by the corrosion and rubbish on others.

After very careful cleaning, to find most of the moulds in very good condition, to produce the records and then to listen to the results, has been truly amazing. The first batch of cylinders has now been received back in Norway, where they will be listened to, analyzed, oohed and aahed over and then carefully stored away, though now they can be made available to researchers and listened to over and over again.

Duncan, of course, used his wide experience, his own tried and true methods and his own, fairly recently developed, durable plastic to produce long lasting and hard wearing cylinders that can be played many times without any signs of wear.

Here are some photos of Duncan with Lars Gaustad, from the National Library of Norway, when Lars came to visit us recently, to see for himself what we were doing for the project.

Duncan and LarsThis is Duncan and Lars, looking at the latest batch of cylinder moulds we had just received …

… and here they are with some of the newly produced recordings, in their specially liveried boxes.