Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mentioning of Hylands by Jim Walsh, and a mystery cylinder

Well, from what I was sent this morning by Charlie Judkins, it would seem that Jim Walsh mentioned Hylands a few times. FINALLY! It's about time we see that he mentioned Hylands...
I wanted to use this picture in my last post, but anyway, here you go:
If you read the "whip" analogy I used in my last post about Hylands at Hylands Spencer and Yeager, this makes full sense. 
I just saw this when I thought about that. It's kind of awful, but it's funny. 
Since that picture just above is of Hylands, it fits the subject of this post to a high degree. 
It would seem that what Jack Stanley told me was true, Walsh did indeed know about Hylands being a pianist and publisher, but not much more, as there was nothing to be done in regards to Hylands when he was researching all these recording stars. As, by the 1960's, when he wrote these articles that mentioned him, most of Hylands' closest relatives were long gone. It was only his nieces and nephews who were still living by 1955 and 1962. His wife was long gone by then, and all those who worked with him were as well(they all died off in the 1930's and 1940's), Billy Murray was the last surviving recording star to have worked with Hylands in Columbia's studio. It's strange to think, but it's true. Walsh mentions Hylands in the context of his publishing firm ventures, as he was following the flow of The Phonoscope editions that mention him, probably just like this: 
(this is some of them in order)
(May, 1898)
(July, 1898 still makes me laugh...)
(also July 1898)
(this goes with that exhibition picture I use so often, which is from September 1898)
(Also September 1898)
(February 1899)
(March, 1899)
(Also March, 1899)

(May, 1900)

And so on, you get the point. Hylands was mentioned in many Phonoscope issues from 1898 to 1900, as he was a first-class character and eccentric at Columbia who rose his way up rather quick, just by becoming a publisher. He had more activity in The Phonoscope than many other famous recording stars did, just look through their issues, and you'll be surprised. 
Walsh noted all of the obvious sections, including all of the ones above, save for that one with the quote that we all know of. I guess it's because Hylands throwing out a narcissistic compliant means nothing to a researcher looking for information on other recording stars.
It's still unfortunate that Walsh didn't bother to dig deeper into Hylands to eventually do an article on him, but as I've said before, Walsh only cared about the singers and performers, not many accompanists made it into his articles, though Banta was mentioned often. Banta was a special case though, and we know why. 
I still wonder if it was a lack of information about Hylands or if it was that the surviving artists who were interviewed speaking of him in a not-so-easy way. It was probably a mix of both, since there weren't many resources out there to find him,  and he already spoke to the last surviving studio stars and workers who would have worked often with Hylands. It's really great to see Hylands mentioned in Walsh's articles anywhere, as it gives this whole Hylands thing much more credibility, as Walsh's writings are the go-to place for information about any of these recording artists. 

Now to change the subject slightly, just as I was writing the post, a very interesting record was sent to me. It's very mysterious, so some analyzing needs to be done to think it through. It's a very strange recording, with no company attached to it, and no performers either. Of course when a cylinder like this comes by, anything is possible! 

Before I dig into it, here's the record:
Very strange indeed. 
There's no information given, so it doesn't help, though from what I can hear, it sounds like an "off-label" Columbia, maybe a pirated one? Now if it's affiliated with Columbia in any way, the Cornetist is probably Tom Clark or David Dana. The Clarinetist is probably William Tuson more than anyone. I am not usually one who can tell tones apart in wind instruments, but that Clarinet playing is definitely Tuson. It sounds like the piano gives away some hints. 
That piano sounds a whole lot like Columbia's awful out-of-tune piano of 1897, of which you can hear examples here:
(do excuse the home recording, most of what needs to be heard is here.)

As I have said, the cause for the awfully out-of-tune piano likely came from Len Spencer flipping the thing over in earlier 1897, as reported in The Phonoscope
Yep.(from the May, 1897 issue of you know what)
That^^ is why Columbia's piano sounded so damn awful for several months of 1897, thanks Len! 

One of the theories I have about this cylinder is that it was probably a pirated Columbia, or something along those lines, and that it was recorded in one of Columbia's recording rooms at 27th and Broadway. It sounds like it might be that room: 
But! Something about it makes me think it's the inevitable. Their exhibition hall! Seen below:
The room sounds very large and tall, more so than their upstairs room(in the orchestra picture). It be strange to think that this mysterious cylinder was recorded in their exhibition hall, but there's a possibility. I'm not saying that it's a cylinder souvenir from an exhibition(that would be amazing though!), but something's strangely familiar with the sound of that piano paired with that room. 
If more information was listed about it, then I could probably jump to pianist conclusions, but there's no way to do that here. The pianist has the power and heavy hands of Hylands when he played their awful piano early on in his term, but there's no reason it can't be Edward Issler either. Also, it must be noted that the announcer on Tom Clark's "Schubert's Serenade" is the same as on this mystery cylinder. 

**If you have any guesses as to what you think that cylinder is, make comments on this post! I'd love to read your guesses!**

Hope you enjoyed this! 


  1. The file for "Angel's Serenade" puts the album as "Edison-Bell Consolidated Record?" - odd because there is little to no indication of how that is, other than the fact that Edison-Bell did sell recordings made in New York in the 1890s. The "Orchestra Selection" announcement was used on USPCo cylinders that did not mention the artists (and Columbia did distribute some of these), but the possibility of Exhibition cylinder is possible since the setup sounds a little impromptu (balance is off, distorted) but could feature the prominent Columbia band members.

    1. It sounded much more like a Columbia record to me, as the room sounds identical to the ones that they had at their 27th and Broadway headquarters. Also the horrible sounding piano is something that was distinct to 1897 Columbia records, or maybe an 1898 exhibition record. From the room's resonance, it sounds like their exhibition hall on the ground floor. I will take a few more listens to see if I can figure out the piano placing and distance, as that will really give it away. From the two pictures of their exhibition hall in 1898, I will see if the balancing lines up with that strange setup they had for those.