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Collins and Harlan "Melinda's Wedding Day" Victor Talking Machine Company (1913) Al Piantadosi

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Published on Jun 9, 2013

Collins and Harlan recorded "Melinda's Wedding Day" on February 5, 1913, for the Victor Talking Machine Company. It was issued on Victor 17295 (matrix B-12872/1).

The composer is Al Piantadosi. The words are by Joe Goodwin and Joseph McCarthy.

The team of Collins and Harlan consists of Arthur Collins (baritone) and Byron G. Harlan (tenor)--the most successful duo of the acoustic era.

Collins and Harlan performed comic songs in various dialects, cut rube skits, and covered songs satirizing trends of the day, including the new "jass" music introduced in Chicago clubs in late 1916 (the duo made the first record ever to refer to "jass"--the word "jazz" would not come into use until months later in 1917).

Some songs were sentimental (which suited Harlan's tenor voice well), not comic (Collins recorded comic songs on a regular basis as a solo artist).

Before teaming with tenor Byron G. Harlan, baritone Arthur Collins had a partner in tenor Joe Natus for a year. Collins and Natus made 19 Edison cylinders in 1901-1902 and several Victor recordings. Around this time Collins sang in an Edison ensemble called the Big Four Quartet, which recorded five titles issued in 1901. Harlan was one of the quartet's tenors; Natus was the other; A. D. Madeira was bass.

Collins and Harlan probably harmonized for the first time as members of this Edison quartet. By 1903 Natus no longer worked for Edison. The June 1903 Edison Phonograph Monthly announces that "I Must Have a Been a Dreamin'" (Standard 7850), sung by Arthur Collins and Joe Natus, would be "hereafter...sung by Collins and Harlan." Collins and Harlan made new takes of various titles originally cut for Edison by Collins and Natus.

The first time Arthur Collins was paired with Byron G. Harlan for a Victor session was on October 31, 1902 (Harlan's first Victor session).

They were again paired a day later, on November 1. They cut five titles on October 31, including "The First Rehearsal of the Huskin' Bee" (1723), a rube skit. Many of their early recordings are "rube" sketches with songs, such as "Closing Time in a Country Grocery" (Victor 1728; Burke & Rous cylinder 236) and "Two Rubes in a Tavern" (Victor 1727; B & R 239), and they continued recording rural comedy for years, Harlan performing it into the 1920s. Harlan recorded these same three titles with Frank C. Stanley, who wrote the sketches.

Collins and Harlan's first Edison cylinders were "Down Where the Wurzburger Flows" (8238) and "Troubles of the Reuben and the Maid" (8239), issued in late 1902 (they cut the latter for Columbia seven-inch 944 and ten-inch 944). They recorded many "rube" skits for Edison.

The duo made cylinders for the Lambert Company, with "Jerry Murphy Is A Friend of Mine" issued around 1903 on blue Lambert 935.

A Victor session on March 3, 1903, is noteworthy since Collins cut duets with Natus, then recorded numbers with Harlan. It was the last session for the team of Collins and Natus. Natus made Victor discs for another two years but only solo recordings, mostly of popular ballads. His last Victor session was on April 28, 1905.

Walsh reports in the December 1968 issue of Hobbies that the duo sang "what may have been the last Victor Monarch record to have a spoken announcement...It was 2451, and the title was 'It Was The Dutch.'" This Theodore Morse song was recorded on September 11, 1903, with Collins doing the announcement. The next four numbers, 2452 through 2455, were Billy Murray's first Victor discs and are unannounced.

Another change in the industry in 1903 was a shift from piano to orchestral accompaniment. The January 1904 issue of Edison Phonograph Monthly, announcing the release of "I Ain't Got No Time" on 8621, states, "This Record is also made with orchestra accompaniment, and with No. 8608 ["Barney," another Collins and Harlan duet] are the first Records ever made at the Edison Laboratory with such accompaniment." An example of a brown wax cylinder with orchestra accompaniment made nearly three years earlier is 7664, which opens with this spoken announcement: "Coleville Coon Cadets by Arthur Collins with orchestra accompaniment, Edison record." The fact that "orchestra accompaniment" is stressed in the announcement indicates it was exceptional for 1901.

In 1903 Collins and Harlan recorded "Hurrah for Baffin Bay," issued as twelve-inch Victor Deluxe 31074 and Edison cylinder 8447. Collins and Harlan would thereafter make many ten-inch Victor discs.

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