Up from Spring, Texas — after a 1000 mile drive in his diesel Nissan box truck that doubles as his home on the road — and fresh from the 50th Annual Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in Bloomington, Indiana, Kurt Nauck made a pit stop in Brighton.
32 years in the vintage record business — Nauck’s Vintage Records at 78rpm.com, the largest of its kind in the world, — Kurt was here to admire and purchase some of my father’s 78 rpm jazz collection ranging from 1920 -19 50.
For 25 years, Eugene has bought books, catalogues, discographies, record sleeves and even records from Kurt. And now the favor was being returned.
In his quest for rare 78 rpm and rare phonograph records, Kurt has been all over the world from Buenos Aires to Vienna to Portland, Oregon to Portand, Maine, scouring museums, sound archives, radio stations, libraries, private homes, closets, basements, barns and chicken coops.
As for life on the road, one cardinal rule: no vinyl. According to Kurt, he breaks out in hives anytime he walks into a room with 45s or LP. Actually, Kurt thinks sometime in his youth he was injected with a steel Victrola needle.
Over dinner, Kurt shared images and sounds from his Conference presentation in celebration of the 50th anniversary. Kurt wowed the Conference — and us — with his carefully chosen selections, for instance, historical records dating back to 1890s, technological oddities, topical recordings dealings with atom bombs, flying saucers, taxes — and good music.
One of the rarest commercially issued cylinders to appear in the Edison catalog was President Porfirio Diaz’s letter to Thomas Edison, recorded in August of 1909. Edison had written to Diaz asking him to make a recording or two, and this was the result.
But for sheer bizarrity, I don’t think anything can hold a match to the RCA Victor Talking Ashtray! Honestly, this has to be the most useless product ever conceived by corporate Canada. Every time I tried to play the record, the tonearm kept knocking my cigarette across the room. About all I wound up with was a severe case of cue burn. I have no date for this recording, but the opening music was taken directly from American Victor’s 33rpm long-playing demo “Join the Victor Artist Party” which was recorded on July 30, 1931.
The Nauck collection consists of many different types of recordings by many different artists in many different genres. For instance, I tend to like records which are topical in nature, such as nuclear energy.
There were many great atomic records, and “Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb” is surely one of the best. You are listening to it performed in both the finest white and black gospel traditions: the Sunshine Boys Quartet kicked us off and the Five Trumpets will take us home.
The Great War officially ended on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. The following year one of the most amazing records ever made was issued to celebrate our victory. Aesthetically it was light years ahead of its time. Imagine, if you will, a 10” vertically recorded acoustic march. Pretty unremarkable, except for the fact that it looks like this! Aeolian Vocalion 22004 is pressed in the colors of the flags of our Allies, thereby complementing a medley of their national anthems! The counterpart to this recording is the even more stunning Aeolian Vocalion 12000 done up in the colors of Old Glory and featuring American patriotic songs.
Soon, you can see and hear the entire presentation on the ARSC website.
Over the years, many of you have enjoyed Eugene’s jazz salons in his study on Sunday night. From Eugene’s ample collection Kurt identified two noteworthy pieces. (Hear the Pershing recording from April 1918)
Don’t worry, there are plenty left for those Sunday soirées.
ON THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER’S INSTITUTE FOR POPULAR CULTURE