Tolley: Online

Hit-of-the-Week records

Hit-of-the-Week records: Ben Pollack’s Orchestra, “Cryin’ For the Carolines,” Label #1027, 10” 78rpm, 1930. AND Harlem Hot Chocolates, “St. James Infirmary,” Label #1046, 10” 78rpm, 1930.

One-sided 10” records issued between 1930 and 1932 that contained one song. These were made of Durium, a heat-resistant synthetic resin, on a base of cardboard fiber instead of the common and more expensive shellac. These could be purchased each week from newsstands across the United States for 15 cents each. Because of their flexibility, they needed to be weighted on the turntable in order not to warp. Though the label went defunct in 1932, cheap means of releasing recordings continued into the 60s, 70s, and 80s in the form of flexi discs.

Interestingly, the Harlem Hot Chocolates was a pseudonym for Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Orchestra and was one of two songs recorded for the short-lived recording label. This makes the record particularly valuable to jazz enthusiasts because of the stature of the band leader. The synthetic resin used for these records only allowed them to be played a limited number of times before the grooves began to wear out, therefore these digitized versions of these songs allows them to be heard indefinitely.


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