Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The older songs...

...can be a little difficult to find. In the article from April 14th, 2020 we have shown which sources we use most often for our research. Today we would like to show you where we search if we have to go a bit further into the past.

The 7" single with 45 rotations per minute was certainly the most important medium of the 50s and 60s. It was inexpensive, the kids could afford it and could also take it to their parties without any problems. Probably no other medium uplifted the triumphal march of Rock 'n' Roll as much as the small vinyl disc, also thanks to the jukebox. An excellent source for the 7" singles is 45cat, with over a million entries probably the largest collection that exists on the net especially for singles. But background information about artists and authors is rather underdeveloped. There is no separate database like there is on Discogs. But with 45cat you can usually better rely on the year information. For UK singles there are often exact dates, because often the data are printed on the label shown or additionally under the entry: "Release date from booklet 'New Singles No. xxx'. In such cases you have of course a higher security.

45cat is a part of the internet label 45world.com, where you can also find CDs, vinyl albums and much more – unfortunately not as extensive as on Discogs. But a very important part is the 78rpm section, where you can currently find over 110,000 shellac records. Since even today's artists like to bring very old songs to the market in a polished way, the time of the 78rpm records is very important for our search for the originals.

For the shellac records from the US market there is an excellent source in the Discography of American Historical Recordings. The site is operated by the library of the University of Santa Barbara in California and lists with scientific accuracy a wealth of recordings – mostly with the exact date of recording, matrix number, names of the contributors and the authors – and the resulting records. One source that very often offers extensive information on shellac records is the music archive of the German National Library. Unfortunately, there is hardly any information on the content and technical details of the sound carriers, such as the date of recording or the release date.

If you need to go back to the 19th century to find an original, there is the UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive, which contains wax and tinfoil cylinders from the period between 1880 and the early years of the 20th century. Mostly you can even listen to the complete song. This is also true for the shellac archive of archive.org. Here you can currently find over 170,000 shellac records with the complete songs and excellent label photos. Unfortunately the recordings published here are limited to the US market in most cases.

The French market is represented by the site encyclopedisque.fr, but the search on this site is a bit complicated and needs getting used to. There is a similar situation for Italian records with the Discografia Nazionale della Canzone Italiana. On both platforms you can find records from time to time that are missing on Discogs or 45cat. The site AllMusic has also developed in recent years. You can now also find vinyl from the 50s and 60s and the artist database has improved, with interesting biographies of the artists. A rather rarely used, but quite extensive site is fono.fi for editions from the Finnish market and thanks to Google Translate, if you don't know the Finnish language, you can also understand this site.

Since originals are not only found pressed on records, but often also performed for the first time in films or on stages all over the world, corresponding databases are of course very important for us. IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is, as far as we know, the largest film database on the net, it offers very accurate premiere data and when it comes to Broadway performances of musicals, there is no way around IBDB (Internet Broadway Database). IMDb also has a "Soundtrack" section for many films, which (usually) lists all the songs that were played and sung in the film. The German counterpart filmportal.de unfortunately doesn't have this section, but you can at least get some information about the persons involved and the dates. And then there is the operetta encyclopedia, in which one can find information about originals from time to time.

There are a lot of other sites on the net, which deal with special topics of music and sometimes contain useful information, like doo-wop.blogg.org, Rock'n'roll Schallplatten Forum, Phonopassion.de, Jazzdisco.org and much more. But with all these sites, what is true for every Wikipedia article also applies here: you can write a lot on the net when the day is long, and not everything has to be right. A good help to check information is for example Google Books. What you find here as a scanned excerpt from printed publications can usually be considered as really secure. You can have a look into the Billboard Journal, which is a good help to find out the release dates of songs.

That’s all for this part of the sources for our site. Soon there will be a sequel, because there are still some special fields of research to be done.

Friday, May 1, 2020

„You'll Never Walk Alone“

At the beginning of April 2020, when the Corona crisis had also become more and more threatening in Great Britain, the former officer of the British Army Captain Thomas Moore decided to thank the doctors and nurses of the NHS. They had lovingly cared for him during his skin cancer treatment and hip surgery in hospital and he wanted to do something good for all those who help with their work to overcome the crisis.

He started walking back and forth with his walker on his property 25 m on the 6th of April, with the aim of doing 10 laps a day. With his campaign he called for donations to the NHS Charities Together, a consortium of over 250 charities that support the National Health Service (NHS) with their work. By his 100th birthday on 30 April, he wanted to collect 1,000 British pounds.

This goal had already been achieved on 10th April and after the media around the world became aware of it, the amount donated grew exponentially. By the end of April 30, 2020, more than 1.5 million people had donated a total of £ 32,795,497.

When Captain Moore had completed his 100th round, Michael Ball sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" live on BBC Breakfast. Within a day, it became a digital single with Michael Ball's singing and the NHS Voices of Care Choir and the spoken words of Captain Tom. It was immediately released by Decca Records and reached number 1 in the weekly UK single charts on April 24, 2020. This made Thomas Moore the oldest artist ever to reach #1 in the charts and earned him an entry in the Guinness List of World Records.

He received a second entry in the Guinness List for the fundraising campaign that raised the largest amount of money in an individual collection. On his birthday he received over 150,000 birthday cards and many other honors. He received the Pride of Britain Award and was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College in Harrogate.

COVER.INFO would also like to congratulate him on his birthday and wish him strength and health for many more 25 m rounds.



Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Our most important sources

The article of 26 March 2020 explained how new entries come about. To conclude our series of articles on the occasion of 20 years of COVER.INFO, we now would like to reveal which sources we mainly use when checking new song entries.

By far the most important source for us is the Discogs database because it is one of the largest sound-carrier databases on the net. This is where the search usually begins and when a corresponding sound carrier is found, we usually try to confirm the information with other sources. What works very well with Discogs is the artist and author database in the background. Most of the information about the persons is well-founded, often with additional information and usually there are also links to the corresponding Wikipedia articles. And almost always you will find pictures of the cover, the record label, often also the back cover, up to pictures of multi-page inlays.

Discogs tries to display the song titles exactly as they appear on the sound carriers, but a controlling look at the illustrated covers or labels is always appropriate. First and foremost, music-loving users enter their albums and CDs and sometimes they simply make typing errors. Caution is also advised with the dates entered for the sound carriers. One cannot always rely on that. Thus we often look for other sources.

A very important source to find out the authors is the database of the GEMA, a German collecting society. It is not easy to use, but once you have familiarized yourself with the system, you can be sure to find the right composer and lyricist. Often the database contains their complete civil name, so that we can complete the author, who is abbreviated on the record with only the initial letter of the first name, for the purpose of our database.

Since the redesign of our website we also have the possibility to include videos as audio samples. Therefor we are using YouTube. But you can't always find the song you're looking for there, and so we can try to make comparisons between the original and the cover with the 30-second audio samples, for example on Amazon, AllMusic or the Swiss Hit Parade.

The data on authors should not be overestimated when coming from the record companies themselves. Then suddenly the arranger or the producer appears as an author on the record label, or completely wrong authors are given. We had a particularly curious case recently. A user of our site from Texas wrote us that he met the daughter of T-Bone Walker at an event. She complained about the fact that her father's song "Stormy Monday Blues" is credited on many records as Eckstine, Crowder and Hines who also wrote a song with that name. We checked this immediately for the entries in our database and of course a lot of songs were wrongly assigned. T-Bone Walker's work is actually called "Call It Stormy Monday But Tuesday Is Just As Bad", but as many artists simply shortened it to "Stormy Monday Blues" for their cover versions, this confusion is the result.

You can write a lot more about this topic, but we want to let it end for the moment with this little look into the engine room of our website. Over the next few months, we'd like to give you an insight into special areas of music here on the blog and show you how we do research there. And finally our request is: be attentive and if you find any mistakes, please let us know!