Columbia (U.K.)

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Unlike HMV, Columbia did not have a single 'International Celebrity' series with the same letter prefix for all countries of origin.  Furthermore, whereas around 1932 I HMV merged their 'intermediate' or 'domestic' Black Label with the Red Label series, Columbia discontinued their more expensive Purple Label  series (although existing issues were still pressed with this label) in favour of the Light Blue Label series, which had corresponded to HMV's black.  The letter prefixes for Great In became LB for 10" and LX for 12".  A few early LX records may be found marked LBX, conforming with the practice for other countries,  e.g.  LP and LPX for France,  LW and LWX for Germany. It is for this reason that one will search in vain in this volume for many records by  'international1  artists which were on general sale in other countries, but only 'to special order' in Britain. 

Earlier 'Light Blue' records were numbered from L 1000 for 10". Columbia seem to have had a penchant for D as a prefix letter:  D followed by five digits was used for various 12" series; there was a D 5500 Brown Label series for operatic records of foreign origin, and a short D 8000 series as alternative to certain 10" 'A' numbers, about which more later. 

It will be noticed that Purple Label list is relatively short, and that the names included constitute a rather odd collection. The most worthy of inclusion was Ysaye, described in the catalogue, with some justification, as "The World's Greatest Violinist' Casals'  earliest records also appeared in this series. The singers include some whose fame was short-lived (e.g. Elsa Stralia) or mostly local (e.g.  Tom Burke). Of greater consequence were Maria Barrientos, and Riccardo Stracciari, announced as 'One of the Pew Great Operatic Baritones'  - a curious claim when one considers that Battistini, Ruffo, Amato and Sammarco were active at the time, but of course recording for other companies.  But the star attraction was of course Clara Butt, dozens of whose records will be seen to be listed. Also included in this volume are the few Columbia 'Society' issues.  These have RO numbers.  No attempt has been made to list the complete series with these prefixes, which were used also for 'private' issues about which little is known. 

A case in point is a set of Quilter songs sung by Mark Raphael, with accompaniment by or under the direction of the composer, which were later transferred to the regular inexpensive DB series. 

Not included are records in the A 5000 (12") and A 1200 (10") series. These were all, I believe, of American origin,  with singers of repute.  Some of these were recently dubbed on a CBS LP devoted to the Boston Opera (BRG 72379). The records appeared with, successively, Pink and White ('Grand Opera') Red and Light Blue Labels, and some persisted in the catalogue for a very long time. Since many other records in these series were issued in America only a listing would have left numerous Perhaps Messrs Smith and Cosens (or some other dedicated discographers) will get around to these some time, along with the still earlier series reissued on BRG 72144-5.  Meantime we welcome the present volume and congratulate the compilers on their achievement. 

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