featuring Fats Waller and His Rhythm
Recorded in Hollywood, California
Fats Waller - piano,vocal
Paul Campbell - trumpet
Caughey Roberts - clarinet, alto sax
Ceele Burke - guitar, steel guitar
Al Morgan - banjo
Lee Young - drums
These are Victor record sample pressings (as opposed to TEST pressings -- though they're largely the same thing), recorded on one side only, the back sides being blank with almost a mirror finish.
Though the labels on regular issue Victor records did not say "RCA" until about 1945, the corporate name in 1937 was "RCA Manufacturing Co.". The name was changed from "RCA Victor Company, Inc." to "RCA Manufacturing Co., Inc." in the Summer of 1935. These labels reading "RCA Victor Company, Inc." on 1937 recordings just means some old-stock sample labels were being used up, but basically, this sample label's style is virtually unchanged from the very earliest Victor sample labels from the turn of the 20th Century.
These records are large enough that the handwritten matrix number and selection name are partially visible around the edges of each record. I don't know when Victor began to put the handwritten matrix information at the rim instead of under the label. Test pressings from the 1920s and earlier have it under the label. These 1937 recordings have it at the rim. These 5 pressings have been trimmed but it's interesting that they weren't trimmed to the standard 10-inch size, which would have left off the matrix data outside the run-in grooves.
Note that 4 of the records come with unmarked paper sleeves that fit the oversized records. I believe they are original to these records.
I've done some research and haven't found any other oversized sample records from this period, all the ones I could find being trimmed to the standard 10" size. I would be happy to hear of any others.
Here is an excerpt of a review of a "Best Of" album of Fats Waller tunes released in 1996:
It is December 1937, Fats Waller has landed in Hollywood. Five musicians have been rounded up to form a sort of West Coast rhythm band. Waller plays the introduction to a pretty love song, one with enough merit that he will savor its nuances rather than ripping it to shreds. The very title, "Am I in Another World?," obviously appeals to the pianist's poetic sensibilities, and he handles the melody gently as the tune unfolds. Then, it happens. Ceele Burke moves his hands over the strings of a steel guitar, lazily sending ripples up through the simple structure of the song. Among hundreds of three-minute Fats Waller recordings, these are the only ones that feature steel guitar.
Apparently, the sides from this Dec 16, 1937 recording session are important in the Waller library. Cool!