Blues researcher Jeff Titon devoted an entire chapter of his book Early Downhome Blues to the differences in record companies' portrayals of early country music and early blues in their advertising. Advertisements for early country records (or "old-time tunes") generally featured white rural Americans in peaceful, dignified settings - listening to the phonograph in the evening or dancing with their neighbors. "Race" record advertisements, on the other hand, were often filled with cartoonish caricatures of black culture. It was as if the record companies were so out of touch with black America that they didn't realize that they were offending the very people they were trying to sell records to.
This record sleeve is different, for the most part. There is a hint of blackface in the depiction of comedians Jones and Jones in the lower right-hand corner of the front, and the clarinetist in the upper left-hand corner is a little over the top, but otherwise, the illustrations are sympathetic. Each of the pictures corresponds to a Victor record listed on the back - and how amazing it would be to have original copies of all of these records! Clockwise from the upper left, the pictures represent clarinetist Douglas Williams, Rev. F.W. McGhee, blues singer Luke Jordan, Jelly Roll Morton's band, Jones and Jones, Johnny Dodds' Washboard Band, The Memphis Jug Band, and the Pace Jubilee Singers.
I have about half of this music on CD, but none of these 78s. I selected a Victor record from the same period to keep in this wonderful sleeve - "Get Low-Down Blues"/"Kansas City Breakdown:" by Bennie Moten's Kansas City Orchestra. I have quite a few early record sleeves, but this one is by far my favorite.