Bert Williams: The Early Years
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Archeophone's most highly anticipated CD release to date, Volume 1 in our Complete Bert Williams series, The Early Years, 1901-1909, compiles 31 of the legendary comedian's recordings dating back as far as his
landmark Victor sessions, through to his 1906 Columbia sessions at which Williams
waxed several of his trademark songs. The CD is accompanied by a stunningly
beautiful 32-page full-color deluxe booklet with extensive notes on Bert Williams'
early life and stage career up to 1909, extremely rare graphics, and an essay
from 1906 on African Americans in the theatre by Williams' partner, George
The Rarest of the Rare
Archeophone has searched high and low for five years to obtain the rarest records
Bert Williams made-indeed some of the rarest records in the world. Our efforts
have borne extensive proof, and we present here 15 sides from Williams and
Walker's 1901 sessions. Five of the selections--"I Don't Like that Face
You Wear," "The Phrenologist Coon," "Where Was Moses
When the Light Went Out," "All
Going Out and Nothing Coming In," and "Good
Morning, Carrie"-are presented in both their seven- and ten-inch
disc versions. Sometimes, the longer version of a song merely repeats a verse
or a chorus, but not always. Listeners who have never heard these before
will be surprised especially on "Face" and "Carrie" at
how different the versions could be.
Legendary Broadway Shows
As the accompanying notes discuss, Williams and Walker starred in several hit
productions in the late 1890s and introduced their hilarious version of the
cakewalk to the American public. But beginning with Sons of Ham,
the team began a string of major stage successes, and the recordings on The
Early Years chronicle several of these shows. "In
My Castle on the River Nile" and "Good
Morning, Carrie" are two such songs featured in Sons of Ham.
It demonstrates the theme of native Africans that Williams and Walker were
fascinated by and dramatized frequently. Abyssinia is also well-represented,
with Bert's signature "Nobody" (from the rare Marconi take), "Let
It Alone," and the wry "I'm
Tired of Eating in the Restaurants."
Lots of Surprises
We get a strong taste of the electric sense of humor and interplay between
the great team of Williams and Walker on these records too. They laugh and
play throughout, as you can hear by George Walker's background contributions
to Williams' solo attempt on "All Going Out and Nothing Coming In" and
by Williams' vocal foolishness behind Walker's lead on "Pretty
Desdamone." But there are other surprises: note that Bert accompanies
George on piano on such tracks as "Her
Name's Miss Dinah Fare," and that some of Williams' routines from
vaudeville, such as the minstrel-style "The
Mississippi Stoker," are here too. And we are happy to present for
the first time the rare rejected take of Bert's "I've
Such a Funny Feeling When I Look at You."
Scarce Cylinder Records
All four two-minute cylinders Bert Williams made are included here. Since the
cylinders did not go as long as their disc counterparts, Bert shifted his
routine to take advantage of the space. On "He's
a Cousin of Mine," Williams breaks into song in the last chorus,
in vaudeville "big-finish" style. But if these uncommon treasures
weren't enough, The Early Years includes what may be the only extant
copy of the three-minute, six-inch 20th Century cylinder of "Here It
Comes Again." We couldn't make such rarities available to you except
through the generosity of our gracious contributors.
An Historic Collection
Never before have these one-of-a-kind recordings been gathered in one place,
and never with such a handsome and informative package. In fact, most of
these recordings have not been heard by the public in over 100 years. Archeophone
Records is proud to deliver this unprecedented collection of songs by Bert
Williams, a true American treasure.