Do Not Sell At Any Price -The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich

do-not-sell-at-any-price 1

You need this book. Really. Especially if you are -just like myself- an obsessed collector of long lost music.

It is one of the most intriguing and well researched music books ever written on the 0bsessive hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.

see also Caluza’s Double Quartet -makwaya music on 78 rpm

“A thoughtful, entertaining history of obsessed music collectors and their quest for rare early 78 rpm records” (Los Angeles Times), “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is a fascinating, complex story of preservation, loss, obsession, and art. Before MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes, even before LPs or 45s, the world listened to music on fragile, 10-inch shellac discs that spun at 78 revolutions per minute. While vinyl has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, rare and noteworthy 78rpm records are exponentially harder to come by. The most sought-after sides now command tens of thousands of dollars, when they’re found at all. “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is the untold story of a fixated coterie of record collectors working to ensure those songs aren’t lost forever.

Music critic and author Amanda Petrusich considers the particular world of the 78—from its heyday to its near extinction—and examines how a cabal of competitive, quirky individuals have been frantically lining their shelves with some of the rarest records in the world. Besides the mania of collecting, Petrusich also explores the history of the lost backwoods blues artists from the 1920s and 30s whose work has barely survived and introduces the oddball fraternity of men—including Joe Bussard, Chris King, John Tefteller, and others—who are helping to save and digitize the blues, country, jazz, and gospel records that ultimately gave seed to the rock, pop, and hip-hop we hear today. From Thomas Edison to Jack White, “Do Not Sell at Any Price” is an untold, intriguing story of the evolution of the recording formats that have changed the ways we listen to (and create) music. “Whether you’re already a 78 aficionado, a casual record collector, a crate-digger, or just someone…who enjoys listening to music, you’re going to love this book” (Slate).



Scribner |
288 pages |
ISBN 9781451667066 |
June 2015

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Mqonga Sikanise 78rpm Gallotone Xhosa/Mpondo

Good day to all. Two discs landed on my doormat last week. Two shellac discs I had bought from a German dealer who acquired these in the 70’s from an old record shop in Cape Town. Alas, the man hadn’t packed very well… The first record came in it’s full glory while the other was completely broken in two neat parts. Poor packaging results into this…

It hurts my soul to see a broken record …ouch! but playing the pristine  shellac soothed the feeling of loss.

From the original 78 rpm, featured here and now is Mqonga Sikanise, an obscure artist of Xhosa origins who sings and plays the concertina on this recording.

Singing is not the right word I guess, it is more a myriad of shouting, yodeling, grunting and stomping vocals. A wild style of telling a story, accompanied by the same instrument some tribes use in their dancing, like the Amadoda, grown men from the Xhosa tribes who tell their stories with instruments like the concertina.

See also my previous post on Xhosa/Mpondo tribal dancing.

The recording was probably done in the field by Hugh Tracey for his “Sound Of  Africa” series in order to present African music to a general audience. Parts of the Hugh Tracey field recordings were released commercially as shellac discs in the early 1950’s by Gallotone Records, South Africa.

Mqonga Sikanise -Tikoloshe Gallotone Records GB 1823

Mqonga Sikanese-Into Ezimnandi Gallotone Records GB 1823

Mqonga Sikanise -Wayi Hunzapi Lenomo/Ndithakatha Kancini

Gallotone Records GB 1825