Excavated Shellac: Strings – Guitar, Oud, Tar, Violin and More from the 78rpm Era (Dust-To-Digital)
Jonathan Ward, a young 78rpm collector and music researcher, has amassed an absolutely incredible collection of rare 78rpm records from around the world. Generally sharing these through his well-known blog, Excavated Shellac, Ward’s one-of-a-kind collection is showcased for the first time on Dust-to-Digital’s vinyl imprint, Parlortone.
None of these tracks have appeared prior to this release, either on Excavated Shellac or on any CD or LP compilation. The Excavated Shellac archives are hosted on WFMU’s Free Music Archive, and are essentially an (inter)national treasure. This LP features 14 outstanding compositions from the four corners of the world played on stringed instruments and recorded and released 78rpm records circa 1920-1950.
Featuring fiddles, shamisen, charango, Paraguyan harp, Indian vina, Lebanese oud, Persian violin, Vietnamese moon guitar, and more. All previously-unreleased, carefully transferred and mastered and presented with detailed liner-notes. Pressed on high-quality vinyl, with a full-color cover featuring 78rpm record sleeve graphics, and an insert of extensive liner notes and photos.
It’s hard to believe anyone managed to find all of the 78s from which the recordings are sourced, let alone compile them into one reissue. More impressive than the rarity, however, is the quality of the performances, as well as their eclectic variety. Most of them do share a somewhat somber, melancholic feel sometimes verging on piety, in the melodies, vocals (for those pieces that feature them), and ways in which the instruments are played.
But the fierce emotion and passion underlying the execution is both undeniable and moving. Despite the age of the original discs, the sound is about as good as it can be with such relatively ancient material with which to work, and the annotation thorough and accessible.