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A three-minute minstrel show from 1898, the Alabama Troubadours with the Ancient City Quartette singing Because.

Alabama Troubadours - Because

Company Edison's National Phonograph Company
Cylinder # 4701
Category Minstrels
Title Alabama Troubadours - Because
Performed by Ancient City Quartette, S. H. Dudley, Billy Heins
Circa 1898-1899
Announcement "Alabama Troubadours' Original Minstrel First Part."

This recording is a fine example of the interesting selection #4701 – part of Edison's 4700 minstrel "first part" series of records.   Generally announced as the "Alabama Troubadours" (and no mention of the Edison brand name), #4701 was unique in that, as far as I know, it was the only Edison record whose content regularly changed and was updated.   Not only would the overture and jokes (in this case, joke) change, but the feature song (taking up half or more of the recording) would be updated – for example, "Good Bye Dolly Gray (1901), "Elsie From Chelsea" (ca. 1900), and "Just One Girl" (1899).   This recording may however be among the earliest versions of #4701 because it features a hit song of 1898, "Because".

Another interesting quality to the 4700 series is the Ancient City Quartette.   A somewhat mysterious quartette, probably because its members morphed according to who was available at the time.   Typically everyone heard speaking in the recording is also a quartette member.   In this recording of the quartette we hear S. H. Dudley, Billy Heins, Harry MacDonough (or maybe John Bieling), and the bass sounds to me like William F. Hooley.

Confession:   Several years ago, when I first heard the song presented in this cylinder, I thought it was a hilarious parody because, as you will hear, the lead is pining about the great love of his life then the touching chorus mentions his only regret 'is that we've never met'!   It's funny what hearing lyrics incorrectly can do to a song . . .

Sheet music to Because (1898) as sung in this recording:
Sheet music to 'Because', 1898.
Presented courtesy of the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music.

To hear Alabama Troubadours - Because  —

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It seems this pantographed copy of the recording was started just a little late, missing a bit of the opening announcement.


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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