Press Review - Das Bilderlexikon der deutschen Schellack-Schallplatten - names & numbers

Noticed: Das Bilderlexicon der deutschen Schellack-Schallplatten by Rainer E. Lotz mit Michael Gunrem and Stephan Puille. Band 1 A-D, 512pp; Band 2 E-1, 512pp; Band 3 J-0, 464 pp; Band 4 P-S, 416 pp; Band 5 T-Z, 384 pp. Holste, Germany, Bear Family Records, 2019. ISBN 978-3-89916-708-5.

This massive picture book of German shel-lac records is hardly susceptible to a conven-tional review. Quite apart from the impossibil-ity of reading every page on a reasonable time scale, who other than the authors themselves is qualified to judge the contents? Band 1 starts with a brief history of the German record in-dustry up to the mid-fifties, followed by a tech-nical section defining terms and including an il-lustrated section on `Lisenzmarken' (copyright stamps). This section also includes some pic-tures of `Sprechpuppe' (talking dolls). The text proper begins on page 31 with 59 pages de-voted to anonymous discs, fifteen of which are indeed devoted to discs for Sprechpuppen. The format of the main text is label photo-graphs accompanied by a tabulation of Series-Owner-Manufacturer-Distribution-Repertoire-Dates of Issue, and a description of the label. Longer notes are also provided for many labels to elucidate histories too complicated for tab-ulation. Coverage extends to phantom labels (advertised or trade-marks registered but no issues made; there are a lot of the latter) and I have noted a few labels known only from liter-ature and therefore not illustrated.

The pages of Brunswick labels and explanations should finally make it possible for those of us who are challenged on the point to finally learn how to recognize which apparently French Brunswick issues from the Nazi years are really German. If we do not, it will not be the authors' fault. Coverage includes export issues so that for example Indonesian, Malayan, and Chinese is-sues from Beka are illustrated and described. Explanations are offered for the Danish HMVs produced in Germany between 1939 and 1943; the illustrations include X6534 by Cole-man Hawkins. The pages of Export Odeons are equally enthralling. One can only praise the clarity and logic of the scheme for dividing up the output of major labels into manageable chunks.

Many of the labels illustrated and listed inev-itably feature little or no music likely to engage most readers of these lines. Many delightful one-offs have had to be included, such as the Bratislava label (a phono-postcard of the now capital of Slovakia) and advertising discs. The Weko Tonbild-Postkarten of which 22 pages of illustrations appear in Band 5 must be among the most collectable artefacts ever produced. The Longophone picture discs of 1932-1934 (8 pages in Band 3) are a more mixed pleasure. My own tolerance of the pages devoted to Teddy, a kiddy label active in 1955-60 is rath-er lower but it takes all sorts and this work is nothing if not comprehensive. In case anyone should take the title reference to shellac too literally be assured that labels like Phonycord Flexible are included. All text is in German but the basic informa-tion is likely to generate little difficulty for read-ers with a working knowledge of gramophile terminology. A dictionary will do the rest. The absence of a comprehensive index makes it difficult to find labels whose assignment is not obvious unless there happens to be a cross-ref-erence. There is none under "K&M" (for Klari-nette & Mandoline, describing the logo), which is the usual discographical description of many of the Charlie and His Orchestra records at least since Horst Lange's Die deutsche Jazz-Disco-graphic.

They are to be found under Anonym-[Grammophon] (Deutschlandsender), along with other issues with different logos. 'Lyra' also has no cross-reference. This is both a book to dip into and delight in, and a very significant work of reference which will answer most questions about the German recording indus-try and its products. Howard Rye

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