Written by Frank Philips
(First published here with the expressed permission of the Estate of Mr. Phillips. No reproduction allowed whatsoever.)
In April 1920 Carl Lindstrom AG of Berlin made an application for the registration of a Parlophon label trade mark for records to be released in Britain. This was a certain indication that the company was preparing to make a bid to re-establish itself in the British record market, but it was not until November 1921 that the British Trade Marks Journal noted the registration. Although ownership of the trade mark was later transferred to the newly formed Parlophone Company Ltd, it was never used by that company. Instead, an application was submitted in September 1925, for an anglicized form of the word, as Parlophone, for use on record labels, but this was not granted until July 1927.
In Britain, the word Parlophone had been registered to Messrs Wagner & Gerstly Limited in 1908, for use on talking machines, which may have prevented Carl Lindstrom AG from obtaining Parlophon or Parlophone as registered trade names, around that time. But by December 1910, the Lindstrom company had purchased the right to use the Parlophone name. Perhaps it was the investigation of this point, and subsequent transfer of the name to the Parlophone Company Ltd, which caused the delay in granting Parlophone’s application in the mid-1920’s. 1
In October 1923, the first British Parlophone records were issued: a 10” bright red labelled series with catalogue numbers starting at E5000; a 12” series with a violet coloured label numbered from E l0000; and the 10”, so-called Royalty records, commencing at X3000.
The E5000 series was terminated in July 1931, having reached E6428, but the E l0000 series was continued through to November 1956. There had been two periods during WWII when this series was suspended: the first occurred between July 1940 and May 1941 when just two records were issued in the series, El1450 and El1451, after which it was February 1947 before the release of the next issue in the series. Thereafter, only sixty-one records were released before the series was finally brought to an end in November 1956 with the issue of El1516.
Parlophone introduced a royal blue label series in November 1926, with the numerical sequence of its catalogue numbers taken from the 3000 series, but with a prefix letter of either ‘R’or ‘E’. It was from the advent of this series that jazz recordings began to appear on Parlophone with any regularity. Some blues and jazz records had been released on the red labelled E5000 series, and in 1927, the London music publishing company Keith Prouse sponsored the issue of eight jazz records which were released on the Parlophone label. (These are believed to be numbered ⦿ R3254, ⦿ R3255, ⦿ R3256, ⦿ R3257, ⦿ R3259, ⦿ R3260, ⦿ R3261 and ⦿ R3262). 2
The launch of the New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series was marked with a completely new label design, which was very dark blue (almost black) with gold lettering. But when the Second New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series was introduced in June 1932 yet another new label design was used. This was the first version of a ‘rococo’ design in a lighter blue, with a gold panel above the centre hole, bearing the Parlophone name. Variations of this design were to grace ‘Rhythm-Style’ records until the whole series were terminated in 1957.
It is believed that the release of ⦿ R4322, in July/August 1957, marked the end of an era – this record, as far as can be ascertained, was the final issue in Parlophone’s ‘Rhythm-Style’ series – the last record in the company’s catalogue to bear the blue ‘Rhythm-Style’ label.
The inaugural series, the “New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series” had been introduced almost twenty-eight years earlier, in November 1929, inspired by a suggestion put to the company by Edgar Jackson – if he is to be believed. (See page 443 of The Gramophone Magazine; March 1938)
Describing the eight-hundred and forty-five records collectively as the ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series is, perhaps misleading. This total is the number of records which were issued in not one, but thirty-seven separate series.
It was the company’s practice, in its general catalogue, to list two of these series apart from the remainder of the ‘Rhythm-Style’ listing; these were the Race Series (consisting of seventeen records) and the New Swing Series (of twenty-four records). Also, there was a short series of four tuition records, ‘Studies in Swing’, which was primarily intended to aid musicians at practice. Together, these three series amount to a total of forty-five records, and if this number is subtracted from the total given above, the number of genuine ‘Rhythm-Style’ issues becomes eight hundred.
A breakdown of the number of records issued in each of the series is given below and overleaf.
Number of Records issued for each ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series
- New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 60 issues
- Second New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 103
- 1934 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 11
- 1935 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 8
- 1936 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 10
- 1937 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 10
- 1938 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 16
- 1939 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 34
- 1940 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 32
- 1941 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series. – 26
- 1942 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 29
- 1943 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 32
- 1944 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 30
- 1945 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 25
- 1946 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 26
- 1947 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 32
- 1948 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 34
- 1949 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 26
- 1950 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 13
- 1951 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 22
- 1952 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 28
- 1953 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 28
- 1954 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 28
- 1955 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 23
- 1956 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 17
- 1957 Super ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – 12
Total for twenty-six different series = 725 records
Bessie Smith Memorial Album – 8 issues
Miscellany Series – 4
British Artists Series – 7
Jazz Classics Series – 16
Boogie Woogie Series – 2
Swing Series – 31
Super Rhythm Stars – 6
Black and White Series – 1
Studies in Swing – 4
Total for nine separate series = 78 records
New Swing Series – 4 issues
Race Series – 17
Grand Total for thirty-seven different series = 845 records (If excluding ‘Race Series’, then the ‘Rhythm-Style’ total amounts = 828 records)
(The 1st) New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series – List of Bands
Louis Armstrong – 37 recordings
Boswell Sisters – 2 recordings
Casa Loma Orchestra – 5 recordings
Chocolate Dandies (Don Redman/Benny Carter) – 1 recordings
Cornell (Smelser) – 1 recordings
Jimmy Dorsey – 2 recordings
Tommy Dorsey – 2 recordings
Dorsey Brothers – 2 recordings
Duke Ellington – 8 recordings
Seger Ellis – 2 recordings
Earl Hines – 3 recordings
Jimmy Johnson – 1 recordings
Eddie Lang – 6 recordings
Red McKenzie (with Eddie Condon) – 5 recordings
Emmett Miller – 2 recordings
Frankie Trumbauer – 8 recordings
JoeVenuti – 15 recordings
Total number of recordings = 120 recordings
If the Dorsey Brothers combination, Jimmy Dorsey, and Tommy Dorsey, are considered as three separate entities then the series involved twenty-one individual recording units (bands and solo artists).
Of the one-hundred and twenty recordings which make up the “New ‘Rhythm- Style’ Series” sixty-two were made by the fifteen white groups, and fifty- eight by the six coloured units. Nine of the twenty-one combinations named had appeared on Parlophone’s pre- ‘Rhythm-Style’ labels, but only two of these featured bands were coloured.
The sixty records of the New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series were released between November 1929 and April 1932 which averages out at just two records per month.
In total, one-hundred and seventy-seven recording units, (bands and solo performers), were involved in the thirty-seven different series which made up the PARLOPHONE RHYTHM-STYLE SERIES as a whole.
The repertoire of music issued in the “New ‘Rhythm-Style’ Series” was derived not only from the jazz and blues lists, but also from the fields of popular music and contemporary show tunes.
These works were produced by writers as varied as: Milton Ager, Harry Arkst, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Arodin, Irving Berlin, Rube Bloom, Lew Brown, Hoagland Carmichael, Henry Creamer, Ford Dabney, Jimmy Dorsey, Edward K. Ellington, Seger Ellis, Dorothy Fields, W.C. Handy, Lorenz Hart, Earl Hines, William Jerome, James P. Johnson, Eddie Lang, Nick La Rocca, Turner Layton, Cecil Mack, Joseph Mannone, Jimmy McHugh, Joseph Oliver, Jack Pettis, Jack Purvis, Andy Razaf, Donald M. Redman, Richard Rodgers, Vincent Rose, Luis Russell, Elmer Schoebel, Jean Schwartz, Frank Trumbauer, Guiseppe Venuti, Thomas Waller, Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams, and Jack Yellen.
1 Before WWI, Lyrophone were pressing Disque Parlophone for distribution in France.
2 See page 116 of the June 2015 edition of our Discographer Magazine for an outline of these records [-Editor]