Dan Quinn, Part II: How do you whittle thousands of tracks down to 30?

In last week’s (inaugural) post about our upcoming Anthology CD of Dan W. Quinn, we included a link to the track list on our website. If you didn’t see it or didn’t have time to follow it, the tracks are here below with glosses on the selections and some rationale for inclusion.

Archeophone’s Anthology series is reserved for artists whose output was simply too great to be featured *complete* over the course of a few CDs. We’re talking about people who made thousands of records—and in the case of the 1890s stars, many titles have never been found. So each Anthology begins as early as possible in the artist’s career and goes as late as possible (emphasis on the acoustic era, of course), with hits and misses and representative tracks along the way. We want to hear all the different types of material the artist did, whether comic songs, ballads, sketch humor, or whatever. If it’s a solo star who also did duets, trios, and quartets, we need tracks representing these different kinds of activity. So far, we’ve done Anthology CDs of Billy Murray (covering 1903-1940), Henry Burr (1903-1928), and Irving Kaufman (1914-1974!).

With Dan W. Quinn, it’s a little tricky because he really didn’t do a great variety of material, and he rarely recorded duets or ensemble pieces. He did sing duets in the mid-1890s with Minnie Emmett (sadly, none have been found), more duets with Helen Trix in the 1900s, and was a member of the Spencer, Williams & Quinn Imperial Minstrels. (On most of these minstrel cylinders we’ve auditioned, it’s difficult to establish his presence.) The thing that makes Quinn especially unique is the number of different labels for which he made records. Some of them we bet you’ve never heard of.

So here is what we came up with to represent nearly 20 years of recording by one of the most prolific recording artists of all time. Note that the recording year on the cylinders is always “circa,” but we’re pretty confident on these.

Annotated tracklist for Dan W. Quinn, Anthology: The King of Comic Singers, 1894-1917

  1. The Private Tommy Atkins (1894)
    —  Columbia of Washington DC cylinder: a British song from A Gaiety Girl
  1. Lindy, Does You Love Me? (1894)
    —  probably a New Jersey cylinder: a composition by Quinn himself!
  1. The Streets of Cairo (1895)
    —  Berliner disc: with the well-known snake-charmer’s melody
  1. A Hot Time in the Old Town (1896)
    —  another Berliner: Quinn’s sobriquet, “The King of Comic Singers,” came from Berliner ads.
  1. My Pearl Is a Bowery Girl (1897)
    —  Columbia of New York City cylinder: stunning sound, capturing a very specific ethos of 1890s New York.
  1. The Handicap Race (1897)
    —  Columbia of New York and Paris cylinder: with all the bells and whistles, loud and well balanced recording. Composed by famous bandleader George Rosey with lyrics by Dave Reed, Jr.
  1. Mr. Captain, Stop the Ship (1898)
    —  Columbia of New York and Paris cylinder: this became a popular saying when someone wanted to register a protest.
  1. They All Follow Me (1898)
    —  Columbia of New York and Paris cylinder: from The Belle of New York, about a Salvation Army girl. Hilarious and “serious” at the same time.
  1. When a Coon Sits in the Presidential Chair (1899)
    —  Berliner disc: written by well-known African-American performer, George R. Wilson
  1. Say You Love Me Sue (1899)
    —  American Talking Machine Co. disc: this is one of those ultra-rare brick-red-colored discs that go for $$$$. Hot piano playing.
  1. On the Banks of the Wabash (1899)
    —  Columbia of New York and Paris *concert* cylinder: absolutely gorgeous, almost no noise.
  1. Cylinder slip for

    Cylinder slip of “Oh, Wouldn’t That Jar You?” (David Giovannoni Collection)

    Oh, Wouldn’t that Jar You? (1900)
    —  a “Phonetic Record” from the Brooklyn Phonograph Company. Ever heard of this company? This Lew Dockstader vehicle is one of the cleanest brown-wax cylinders we’ve ever heard.

  1. Pretty as a Picture (1900)
    —  Columbia brown wax cylinder of a “song and dance”: full orchestra accompaniment and clog effect to this very
    pretty old-time waltz number.
  1. Ma Blushin’ Rosie (1900)
    —  no company announced on this brown wax cylinder, and the singer announces himself as simply “Quinn.”
  1. Vaudeville Specialty (1900)
    —  Edison brown wax. After some Irish drinking jokes, Quinn sings “The Family Living Next Door.”
  1. My Jersey Lily (1901)
    —  late Edison brown wax. Very well recorded.
  1. I Want to Go to Morrow (1901)
    —  one of Quinn’s earliest 10-inch Victor discs, about the fellow who is having a hard time getting to his destination.
  1. O, Didn’t He Ramble (1902)
    —  another early Victor disc, comparing quite favorably to other versions of this song (Arthur Collins, for instance)
  1. Good Morning, Carrie (1902)
    —  very early Edison Gold Moulded black-wax cylinder. This is the Williams and Walker classic. Those of you who are looking for “Good Evening, Carrie,”—note, there is no such record. That is a typo in Joel Whitburn’s Pop Memories.
  1. Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home (1902)
    —  7-inch Victor disc version of the great American standard
  1. Couldn’t Help It, Had to (1902)
    —  2-minute celluloid black Lambert cylinder. This is a British music-hall song dating to 1898.
  1. Mister Dooley (1903)
    —  10-inch Victor disc by Quinn in his best brogue. From The Wizard of Oz.
  1. Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill (1904)
    —  10-inch Victor disc of one of the early industry’s “war-horses.” Great sound effects.
  1. Growler on a String (1905)
    —  10-inch American record (the Hawthorne & Sheble label with the Indian on it) with a full orchestra. Another Irish piece.
  1. Football (1905)
    —  10-inch Victor disc, also from The Wizard of Oz. “Just bring along the ambulance and call the Red Cross nurse….” Nothing has changed in 110 years.
  1. Fol De Iddley Ido (with Helen Trix) (1906)
    —  10-inch Zonophone disc from The Pearl and the Pumpkin. It’s a series of limericks and features whistling by Trix (of “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat” fame).
  1. Beatrice Fairfax, Tell Me What to Do (1915)
    —  Quinn’s comeback disc for Columbia about the famous advice column (an early predecessor to “Dear Abby”)
  1. At the Fountain of Youth (1915)
    —  Quinn’s comeback disc for Victor. He sounds better here than on most of his late material.
  1. It’s Not Your Nationality (It’s Simply You) (1916)
    —  a Majestic vertical disc: Quinn recorded for a *lot* of startup labels in his last couple years of recording (Rex, Paramount, Operaphone, Emerson, etc.). This is one of the best you’ll hear, with a full, rich sound.
  1. How Could Washington Be a Married Man (and Never, Never Tell a Lie?) (1917)
    —  late 2-minute Indestructible celluloid cylinder. Quinn’s name appears on a number of these Indestructibles from the period, but he didn’t actually record most of them (Arthur Collins and others did). It’s not clear what was going on, but this cylinder is really him!

Many of these rare records come from our good friend, David Giovannoni. Thanks to him! Also thanks to Tim Brooks, Rod Pickett, George Paul, Chuck Shaffer, and Hiroaki Onishi. And some of the records are ours too!

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One thought on “Dan Quinn, Part II: How do you whittle thousands of tracks down to 30?

  1. So glad to see this coming to fruition…here’s hoping you folks consider a second (or more) anthology for this guy…1000+ songs – so much untapped antiquity!

    Especially pleased to see ‘The Band Played On;’ I watch a lot of vintage Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies/insert-early-cartoon-here, and love to listen to the soundtracks and pick out the songs I hear – many times, the song ties into the visual comedy onscreen…anyway, that’s always been a favorite of mine that pops up from time to time, and being able to hear the original artist is so very rewarding.

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