During the 78 era the object was to capture a recording in one take, but all sorts of factors conspired against its achievement. Sometimes by happy chance test pressings of the unissued takes were preserved, and this compilation gathers together an assortment of two dozen. As Chris Ellis candidly writes in his liner note, some of the tracks were issued on LP, and it's possible that a few may have been included on CD, but none were ever issued on 78, and quite a lot are seeing the light of day for the very first time.
It begins with two New Orleans recordings, which are not thick on the ground, and John Hyman & his Bayou Stompers cut just two sides for Victor in March 1927. Takes 2 & 4 were issued, and here are takes1 & 3, the quality of which makes you wonder why they needed the alternates. Bearing in mind that this was a field trip by the recording engineers, it's possible they were added as insurance. In any case, both numbers show great attention to detail, and are noteworthy not least for the inclusion of a harmonica player, and guitarist Nappy Lamare's recording debut.
Other so-called territory bands to be featured are Slim Lamar & his Southerners, recorded by Victor in Memphis, and Sunny Clapp & his Band o' Sunshine, who hailed from San Antonio but came to New York in 1931. Lamar plays a spirited version of "Goofus", which has overtones of Western Swing, as has "Sadness Will be Gladness" which is also shown as by Lamar, but was in fact recorded a week later under the leadership of Mart Britt. One of the two Sonny Clapp numbers features a vocal by Hoagy Carmichael.
Jack Pettis & his Pets recorded four numbers in May 1929, three of which were rejected, but the third take of each was subsequently located. It's a mystery why they were withheld in the first place, given the quality of musicianship by a studio group that included Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Matty Malneck, Lennie Hayton and Dick McDonough.
Miff Mole & his Little Molers made a series of well-known recordings between 1927 and 1930; the final session for the Okeh label saw them cut two numbers with vocals by Scrappy Lambert, then record them again as instrumentals. The first take of both was issued, and Chris Ellis came across the unissued second takes many years ago. These are stellar performances, not least for the presence of Adrian Rollini, undisputed master of the bass saxophone. He crops up also on a 1928 recording by Fred Elizalde & his Music, of which only one take appears to have been made, and never issued except in a limited edition CD. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the inclusion of an alternate take of a 1930 recording of "Deep Down South" by Bix Beiderbecke & his Orchestra.
It would be a truism to say that this is a collection of extreme rarities. Any one of these test pressings would set you back many times the price of this CD, and sound quality would be markedly inferior, thanks to Harry Coster, whose audio restoration is impeccable.