Saturday, June 11, 2011


A 1929 Columbia Artist Picture Label
Hans Koert

Potato-Head (English) Het Columbia Potato-Head label (Nederlands)
I'm not a record collector pur sang, but I love to share with you rare record labels, or labels with a certain history. Last months I posted a blog about a 100 year Disque Pathé and recently Desirée Muis pointed me to some rare prints to be used for the rare Illustra-record label.
Today I love to share with you a great Columbia label, better known as the Paul Whiteman Potato-Head label.

Great Day 149124-3 - Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. Recorded in New York City the 9th of October, 1929 and released as Columbia 2023-D ( Hans Koert collection)
Promo picture of Paul Whiteman (1890-1967) for NBC-networks (1930s)
These colourful record label was used by Columbia records from 1928 up to 1930. Paul Whiteman had left, after ten years, the Victor Record Company and signed a contract for Columbia records - a remarkable and lucrative transfer for this relatively small Columbia label as Paul Whiteman was an extreme popular artist in those day.
Paul Whiteman kidding with some of his musicians (1930s)

The first Columbia recording with Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, were released May 1928 and this series lasted up to September 1930, before he returned to Victor. During those two years Columbia gave its Paul Whiteman's record a colourful blue-black-orange-green-blue label with the caricature of Paul Whiteman, which beard a resemblance to a potato and became known as the Potato-Head label.
Artist picture labels were the latest thing in this field and Columbia also made a special label for vocalist / bandleaders like Ted Lewis and Rudy Vallée, but never as colourful as the Potato-Head labels for Whiteman.
Without a Song - 149125-3 - Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. Recorded in New York City the 9th of October, 1929 and released as Columbia 2023-D ( Hans Koert collection)
Bix Beiderbecke ( 1903-1931) had left definitvely Paul Whiteman's band
When Paul Whiteman recorded these records, Bix Beiderbecke, his popular cornet player, was no longer part of the orchestra. His health was bad and as he was addicted to alcohol so he wasn't able to keep his appointments anymore. Bix last recordings with Paul Whiteman where the 13th of September, 1929, almost a month before the one I have in my hands here, but he couldn't finish the set and during this set he could only be heard in one unissued take of When You Counting the Stars Alone and a few bars in the final chorus of Waiting At The End of the Road. Paul Whiteman and Kurt Dieterle, one of the violists of the band, accompanied Bix to the train that would bring him to Davenport, his hometown. On the 14th of October, he is accepted as a patient at the Keeley Institute in Dwight, Ill. where he stayed for one month.
Andy Secrets (photo: Andy Secrets archive)

Andy Secrets. a 22 year young cornet player, originally from the Jean Goldkette band, had become Bix's stand-in since early 1929 and can be heard in the record. The vocals in The Great Day are by Jack Fulton and The Rhythm Boys, featuring Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker. The song The Great Day was composed by Vincent Youmans. Andy Secrets is doing a rather good job on Bix chair, but nearly at the end, he spoils the tune with his growling effects on the cornet. When the composer Vincent Youmans heard this he even tried to let Columbia cancel the record, but ....... that didn't happen. The Rhythm Boys, featuring Harry Barris (on the ground), Al Rinker at the piano and Bing Crosby with cymbals and baton ( Mickey Kapp collection)(source:Bing Crosby - A Pocketful of Dreams (1903-1940)

Love to share with you this song: The Great Day as played by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra ( New york, 8th of October, 1929)
This tune became rather popular and seems to have been the number one during nine weeks. The flip side, Without a Song, is played a bit at a peppy tempo , that displeased its composer too ( Bing Crosby- a pocket full of dreams ) (p. 204) and has Bing Crosby as the only vocalist, after a lengthy introduction by the band.
A great colourful more then 80 years old relic from the Roaring Twenties.
Hans Koert
Even is you're not a record collector, you'll admit that the Potato-Head Columbia record is great stuff to have in your collection. Paul Whiteman adopted this Potato-Head caricature in the 1920s and you can find it on photos with his orchestra, on the 1928 - 1930 Whiteman Columbia record labels, in promo advertisements or gimmicks, like buttons and even the spare wheel in his Fords, used for his band members, had this funny Potato-Head. A few months ago I found one of this great Potato-Head Columbia records. Keep swinging loves to share it with you. Follow it at Twitter (#keepswinging) or Facebook (Keep Swinging blog newsletter) or ask for its newsletter (
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