Back in the late 1990s, Robert Millis and Jefferey Taylor, of the experimental music outfit Climax Golden Twins, put out a series of limited-edition cassettes called Victrola Favorites, which contained music from around the globe originally released on old 78 rpm records in the early 20th century. A decade later, the cream of this crop was released to a much wider audience as a gorgeous art book and 2-CD set. Faithfully reproduced with the sonic murk of crackles and hiss left intact, the raw-as-hell recordings unfurl over the course of two hours in a most pleasing and perfect manner.
Ranging from the 1920s to the ’50s, the songs veer all over the musical map. Disc one kicks off with some abrupt call and response singing from the Congo, followed by opera from China, fado from Portugal and some sublime drone-based raga from India. The United States weighs in with shining examples of orchestral jazz blues, feral guitar / vocal blues, hillbilly country ballads, unbelievable solo slide guitar shredding, jug band jazz, insane country yodeling and big band swing jazz. Finishing up the disc is a dramatic Greek folk song, exotic Egyptian belly dance music, entrancing solo oud from Turkey and a side of Korean bamboo flute.