A website dedicated to 78rpm recordings of folkloric and vernacular music from around the world.

These items are from my own collection (unless noted) and have been transferred to the best of my abilities, without the aid of expensive noise reduction software. They are for research purposes only. With just a few rare exceptions, I post items that are not available on CD in any way, shape, or form.

Press/Articles

Opika Pende: Africa at 78 rpm
Los Angeles Times
PRI’s “The World”
Capital New York
Liberation
Chicago Reader
Spin
Radio Valencia (appearance 11/27/11)

Excavated Shellac: Strings
Signal to Noise
The Wire
Other Music
Aquarius Records
Sonic Magazine (Sweden, Issue 54, 2010)

Excavated Shellac
Contrappasso (interview, 2014)
Norient (podcast, 2012)
Radio Valencia, with Haji Maji (podcast, 2012)
WFMU (podcast, 2011)
Rare Frequency (podcast, 2010)
Dublab (podcast, 2009)
boingboing
Boston Phoenix
Arthur

Excavated Shellac is also on Facebook.

As I mentioned in my first post:

It’s been my philosophy that good music is best when it is shared. Of course, nothing beats that feeling, say, when you alone break open that box from Turkey or Indonesia, place the fragile platter on the turntable, only to feel your hair stand on end when the music begins. The feeling that you’ve never heard anything like this before in your life; it transports you to a place where words are irrelevant. But part of that feeling is thinking how you’d want to share that with others, to have them feel exactly the same way. This music – old music – never sounds “old” to me, personally. In fact, I believe that it is music of THE FUTURE. Our future.

Record collectors are eccentric people. I don’t even like the term “record collector.” They’ve been parodied far too many times. Accurately, I might add. But I could not live with myself as a “collector” without at least one person I could share sounds with. So this blog is for my friends, and for you, stranger.

If you like what you’re hearing, drop me a line. Yes, yes, it’s okay to download everything and then leave, but seriously – if you feel so moved, give me a shout out!

E-mail me for more information, or if you are the copyright holder of materials herein, and would like something removed.

With respect to the pioneers: Pat Conte, Richard Spottswood, Benno Haupl, Michael Kinnear, Hugo Strotbaum, Rob Allingham, Chris Strachwitz, Pekka Gronow, and Paul Vernon.

Also:

Creative Commons License
The written work on this blog is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

And of course, if you find any interesting 78s and would like to unload them, please get in touch!

*******

FAQ

Q: What kind of equipment do you use?

A: For at home listening, I use a workhorse Esoteric Sound turntable from the mid-90s (when they rebuilt Gemini turntables), about 6 different 78rpm styli, mostly made by Expert (but also Stanton and Ortofon). I run the turntable through a KAB EQS MK12 preamp, and then a NuMark 30-band equalizer. I use Cambridge Sound speakers.

Q: How do you transfer the tracks?

A: I bring all tracks into the computer raw, clean them up and EQ them using SoundForge and Cool Edit Pro with a variety of noise reduction plugins. Then a mono mix-down.

Q: How come you don’t post more tracks?

A: I like to take my time with my posts. Less is more, in some ways. I am also very busy and that’s a big factor.

Q: How long are the mp3s posted for?

A: They are posted here on the site for a while, and then they move over to the Excavated Shellac page at WFMU’s Free Music Project. If you don’t find something here, check there.

Q: Do you have any stuff from [fill in the blank]…?

A: Maybe. I have material from all over, although there are many gaps I’m constantly trying to fill. Most really great 78s are at the same time some of the hardest to find. There are some places where early recording engineers did not travel. My specialty is probably music from Africa, but obviously it’s such a vast continent with many recorded musical styles in each country, that’s crazy to even state. Let’s just say that I’ve worked hard to find lots of tough African 78s.

Q: I really like this one track – can you make me a CD of all your tracks from that particular region?

A: I hate to even bring this up, but I’ve received a lot of requests like this, and I kind of understand. But, unfortunately, I just don’t have time to do that. I wish I did, but I just don’t, I’m sorry. Keep checking in and perhaps I’ll post more of whatever you’re particularly interested in.

Q: You collect 78s? So, is “Ghost World” accurate in their portrayal of 78 collectors?

A: Another one I’m asked fairly often, believe it or not. And whenever I do, I become instantly crestfallen – either that or I fly into a rage: “Do I look like a Dan Clowes character? Huh?” The fact is, “Ghost World” is painfully accurate in some ways (“You think it’s healthy to obsessively collect things? You can’t connect with other people, so you fill your life with stuff…”), and a hilarious stereotype in others. No, we’re not all single dudes – no, we’re not all socially retarded or hopeless in one way or another…but there’s a heaping topping of obsession there, and we all deal with it in our own way, I guess. Eh, I could go on and on, but this ain’t the place.

I hope any viewers and listeners out there appreciate the music.

66 Responses to “About/FAQ”

  1. mrowster said

    I can vouch for this guy – he’s the real thing. And that room pictured above smells exactly how you might imagine it does. Aaaah, musty shellac!

  2. Dave said

    I really like what you are doing here. Thanks for sharing your finds with us, and please keep it up! :p

  3. DaveM said

    Thanks for the great tunes!

  4. JW said

    Thank you very much.

    DaveM: love the rebetika. Big fan.

  5. We will so be following your lead here in historical accordion music for our Accordion Noir radio show. We already play old cylinders off the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization site. Nothin’ like a bit of the 1890’s to liven up a show, lead into Russian punk-rock.

    Thanks much. I’d love to have a copy of that Squashbox record. African and Asian accordion are very interesting to me right now.

  6. Michael said

    Wow i came across your site while looking for info on a aremian columbia 78 by A. Kevorkian i just junked,glad i found this great site,the real treat was hearing Rizeli Sadik,what a wonderfull side,and chance you may put the other tracks up by Sadik?

    Keep up the great work

  7. JW said

    Thanks, Michael – I appreciate the kind words. Sadik is a master…you never know, I might post more!

  8. Jason said

    The Internet seems smaller and grander thanks to coolcats like you; thanks much for all your wonderful posts of esoteric (for me at least) music. There is nothing better than being exposed to new things, and there is nothing better than a foreign entity to foment thoughts of how beautiful life can be.

  9. JW said

    Thank you very much for the kind words!

  10. Karenka said

    Love, love, love it! Now I feel guilty for not doing anything with my tons of ethnic 78s…

  11. Ilia said

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so excited to find all this precious music here! I downloaded few tracks (Arnautka, Sadik with his kemanche, Jeirani) , all of them are fantastic. I have special interest in Armenian music, do you have some more and is there a chance to reupload A.Kevorkian?

  12. JW said

    It’s possible that the old tracks will be resurrected relatively soon. I will keep you posted. Yes, I do have more Armenian music, though I’m not sure when I will post more. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting!

  13. cohort said

    great blog.

  14. josh said

    i stumbled across your jewel of a blog, thank you so much for the time and energy you put in it. gorgeous selections! the eastern european, south american(!) and south asian tracks are especially mesmerizing. please, keep them coming, especially any indonesian ones you might have!

  15. [...] his About page, JW writes “It’s been my philosophy that good music is best when it is shared”. [...]

  16. aleatoric said

    In howling abjection I write you after having missed the cut off
    for your precious Phata Phata post at Matsuli Music. Such agony!
    I find it impossible to assuage the pain I feel in missing this ebullient
    boat. Is there any hope that any of the South African material you so
    generously offered up will find its way to some new availability?
    To find oneself on the wrong side of this sublime offering is
    grievous in more ways than I can say.

  17. JW said

    There is always hope…;)

    If I have any news, you’ll know about it here first!

  18. aleatoric said

    I am most grateful to you for all your generosity elsewise.

  19. Daniel said

    Thank you so much for this blog! Layout is beautiful, writing is wonderful… and the music!

  20. I see your text about Maria Alice and like it very much. I´m a portuguese collector of 78 rpm. I have quite a lot of recordings, specially from the frst two decades (Zonophone. Gramophone, Odeon, Columbia, Victor, etc).
    I would like to konw if you have other portuguese records, Maria Alice recorded a lot. I also have LOUCO but Brunswick 9126. I can tell you that I´m going to start a new series of my collection Fado Archives, that you can check in my website and Maria Alice qill be one of the 12 new releases. José

  21. Just discovered your terrific website. (What took me so long?) As someone who has been reissuing ethnic (read: “Yiddish” and “klezmer”) 78s for decades (and more recently hillbilly and blues 78s) I’m thrilled to find another colleague and a new outlet. Please keep it up and if you would like to post some stuff from my world of expertise I would be thrilled to help.

  22. roothogordie said

    A million thanks for your time and handiwork. Wondering if you’re averse to the occasional tune being lifted and re-broadcast on internet radio, with, of course, credit given? Would be honored to help spread the good news, which we’ll do either way, by radio or by spoken word!

  23. andy said

    Wow. Just great. Thank you.- Andy

  24. starinar said

    Hello,
    very nice work must say. It’s nice to stumble upon good sites every now and than. Welcome to visit mine @
    http://www.earthmusic.wordpress.com/

    Voices of Forgotten Worlds: Traditional Music of Indigenous Peoples

    “It’s been my philosophy that good music is best when it is shared” – so true!

  25. Joel Ritchie said

    Thanks for the hard work in finding and letting us listen to these treasures. Your site is excellent and all the links are great too. I wish I had found this early so i could hear some of the posts that aren’t on here any more (would love to hear the tracks from Armenia).
    Thanks once again. Cheers Joel.

  26. JW said

    Thanks for the kind comments. The old tracks are coming back – stay tuned for an announcement –

  27. Jlo said

    I just found out about this site.
    I really like it a lot. It’s amazing.
    I am a big fan of 78rpm music from all across the globe. I really like the museum of mankind cd’s for instance. Unfortunately i am not in the geographical or financial position to acquire some 78’s of my own so it’s great to hear these songs i would otherwise never get a chance to hear. I also like the detailed information. I think i am going to be a regular on this site from now on.

    Keep up the good work!

  28. Thank you, this is a WONDERFUL site. The Goanese hillbilly song with the yodeling! The somewhat Cajun sounding Petite Lili Valse! The other strange but beautiful sounds! Thank you thank you thank you.

  29. jbart900 said

    Hello and thanks. I so appreciate the work you’ve put into this site. I might enjoy some form of player stack or playlist to listen a bunch. thanks again.

  30. JW said

    I recommend checking out the archives for Excavated Shellac, on WFMU’s Free Music Archive, at http://freemusicarchive.org/curator/Excavated_Shellac/

    I’ve created a playlist there, and you can create your own as well.

  31. mat said

    Great blog! Can anybody help me? I am trying to find out when was recorded “Kaloutera sta katerga”, Odeon Greece GA 7853, by E.Preka, with Spyros Peristeris conducting orchestra.Thanks, and keep up the good work.

    • Tony Klein said

      Hi Mat
      According to the Greek 78rpm discography compiled by Dionysis Maniatis the record was made in 1955, and the name of the singer is given as Vangelis Prekas, who is also credited as composer.

      • Philippe Varlet said

        Hello Tony, could you post the info for this discography? I would like to get a copy if I could. Thank you

  32. Bob Brinkmeyer said

    What a gold mine! Thanks so much for this–the African music is a treasure and available nowhere else. Keep going–and thriving. Your site, which I just found out about, is flat out amazing.

  33. urbanology said

    a lot of people already said it, but I really have to say it again: woah!

    so many treasures, thanks for all the ill stuff

  34. pvc said

    fantastic work. the way it should be done, or should HAVE been done. (you are too kind). best wishes.

  35. JW said

    Thank you, pvc – your words mean a lot to me. I have gotten more enjoyment from your efforts than I can accurately express.

  36. Hi,

    Excavated Shellac is the best. Especially because the music is coming from no matter which corner of the world!
    I sincerely hope that one time you are able to excavate shellac records with QURANIC RECITATION on it or perhaps the ATHAN (the islamic call to prayer).

    Keep up the good work.

  37. JW said

    Thank you for your nice comments, Abdulwadad! I do have early recordings of Quranic recitation. They are quite rare. At some point, I will try and post one. Thank you for visiting!

  38. llore said

    I can’t see no RSS in your page…

    I’ve checked to receive notification of new posts via email.

    Good job!

  39. JW said

    To subscribe to the RSS, you click on the RSS icon at the top of the page, usually opposite the URL. You must already subscribe to Bloglines or a similar RSS feed to receive the notifications.

  40. TinMonkey said

    Such a great blog!
    Thanks for the time you take preparing and curating lost music, its an inspiration!

  41. john said

    hi, can you set up a rss feed for your site? would love to syndicate it to my page (that sounded sexy)

  42. JW said

    Hi John – You’ll have to forgive me as I’m terrible with this stuff. It was my understanding that, if you use Firefox, all you need to do is click the orange RSS feed button to the right of the URL, and you’ll be subscribed.

  43. p. said

    thanks so much for yr hard work, knowledge and time. just amazing!

  44. JW said

    Philippe – I believe it’s: Maniatis, Dionysis, I Ek Peraton Diskografia Grammofonou, Athens 2006. Not sure how to go about getting it, though. I’m sure Tony will chime in.

  45. tim said

    brilliant work. autoharp band from south africa kills me and the hausa record of salifu titah’s band. really exceptional.

  46. tim said

    i’ve spent the whole day listening to these recordings. i can’t believe i’d never heard of your project before. really great

  47. JW said

    Thanks very much, Tim! I’m glad you’re enjoying the music.

  48. Petar said

    Hi,

    Thanks very much for your work.
    I found on your site some interesting info about Kosta Sarcanski.
    Kosta played for my grand parents wedding in 1923, I have a picture taken at that occasion.
    I am from Sombor and looking for information about Sombor musicians: Kosta, Stevan Bacic Trnda, Jova Mijatovic, Joca Maksimovic Conka.

    Regards
    Petar

    • Maja said

      Petre, I’ve sent you an Email through contact info on the website pera&pera. I’m Kosta’s great granddaughter and I would like to get in touch with you for more information about him and Trnda. I’m living in Trnda’s former house. He lived here for relatively long time. He owned a pub next to this house a long time ago.
      Greetings from Maja from Sombor!

  49. Hi,
    I am very impressed and touched by the quality of your work, and the level of research and documentation for each release.
    If you have a moment, have a look at a very modest contribution along the same lines I have put under the “music found” page of my web page. It will certainly inspire me to research the background of the few recordings I have put there!!
    (www.brunoguastalla.net)
    Best wishes from Oxford,
    Bruno

  50. JW said

    Thanks very much for your kind words, Bruno. I will definitely take a look at your website.
    JW

  51. TJ Vedas said

    Jonathan; Kudos. Love the site and the opportunity to explore these distant sonic vistas. It’s understating the case to say that the aural experiences are nothing short of revelatory. Great job!

  52. Bill Dean-Myatt said

    I think that African Test Pressing No.1 (OAB-70007) was recorded
    in Freetown, Sierrra Leone between Septembet 1954 and Frebruary 1955.
    Rena Galibova (OPC-132-2) was recorded in Braga on 17th. June 1947.
    African Test Presing No. 4 (WAO-20102-2) was recorded for Odeon in Lagos, Nigeria between December1955 and January 1956/
    Manuel Centeno (K-864) was recorded for Columbia possibly in Barcelona, ca August 1928. Nino Ricardo was recoridng with La NIna do los Peines at this time.
    Martin Cayla (Sansac de Marmiesse, 23rd. June 1889 – Paris, 28th. January 1951). Le Soliel records ran from No. 1 to 479.I think the first were made about 1930 but I don’t know when the last issues were made. Le Soliel also had a vertical series that ran from No. 1 ro No. 98. I think this started in 1927 and finished abour 1931.

  53. tom said

    I was wondering, with the whole “green” movement, why no one has decided to start producing shellac records? They were certainly not made of plastic!

    anywho, I thought that some darned engineer would improve something from the past.

    one can only hope.

    cheers, and I’ll be checking in on the site often.

    Tom

  54. Ken Braun said

    Jonathan,

    I’ve compiled and annotated several CD compilations of classic Congolese pop for Sterns Music, a British label that specializes in African music. I’m now at work on a retrospective of Joseph “Kallé” Kabasele. I have lots of the records he recorded in the 1960s with his band Orchestre African Jazz, but I’ve found very few of the earlier records that made him famous in the Congo.

    I’m particularly looking for 78s he recorded for Opika from 1950 to 1957 and for Esengo from 1957 to 1960. La Voix de Son Maitre reissued some of them in France, but those have also proved to be scarce. Collectors I’ve contacted in Europe have come up with very little.

    Do you have any Kabasele records or know of who might?

  55. Miguel Aires said

    Nice music from all over the world. I´m a brazilian fan. If you need some tip abot brazilian music please contact me. Thanks and keep doing this amazing work.

  56. I got into 78s from listening to my mom’s recordings made in 1939 and 1940 for Teichiku in Japan. Funny they are being reissued later this month at http://www.cdbanq.com/VA–Nippon-Modern-Times-Swing-Girls-2CDS-Japan-CD-TECH-37281_p_59392.html
    I graduated to some Sarah Vaughn recordings I found at Amoeba on Sunset Blvd. Last month I listened to some Subbulakshmi 78s I got off ebay and they are priceless. I’ve made dubbings but I’ve never taken it farther than that (i.e. no noise reduction etc.)

  57. Helen Lyons said

    Serendipitous, indeed. I was just forwarded the LA TImes Blog about you from a friend I did a radio show with in the very early 70’s. I had just reconnected with him after nearly 40 years two weeks ago. I am in the midst of reading the biography of Alan Lomax and going through my vinyl collection from the 70s, trying to see what I can sell (bad economic times), but unable to let go of my Africa LPs. Your site is JUST what I needed. I used to live for finding new musical treasures, new and different sounds. For months once, I listened to the same section of tape every day, over and over, of a recording of the Sundiata epic from Mali. It never gets old – these treasured pieces. Thank you soooo much for your Blog! Can’t wait to listen to every single piece and what’s been archived!

    Helen Lyons

  58. now0here said

    Thank you for this. I have been looking for this for years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Here is (what will hopefully become) the video-based version: http://invisiblesessions.org/

  59. Damian said

    Hi JW,

    Re: RSS feed for your site. You are right, Firefox will give you that little symbol to click on, but on, but this doesn’t work on Chrome. Could you put it in your ‘About’?

  60. Hi
    We just linked you on our blog.
    regards

  61. Brilliant… Interesting.. Uplifting… Inspired… just recently stumbled upon a box with a bunch of 78s but yet to dig in…. but I believe now got this renewed urge to find out what lies therein… I’m also certain i’m going be back here…. soon to be another virtual home close to home…

    peace in light….

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