The advent of the LP recording provided a new medium to remaster and reissue previously recording contents from older 78-rpm recordings. Similarly, the advent of the CD with its digital fidelity offered a new medium to remaster and reissue contents from both LP and 78-rpm recordings.
Reissues make out-of-print recordings available, enabling fan to connect with artists long after their careers have ended. So this post will offer an overview of the major series of reissues. Subsequent posts will offer more detailed commentary on each enterprise.
1. U.S.-based folk-music labels
LP reissues of contents originally issued on 78-rpm recordings began appearing in the 1970s on three labels associated with U.S. folk music: Rounder Records, Yazoo, and Arhoolie. Selections were drawn from 1920s recordings issued on mainland U.S. labels, in particular Brunswick, Columbia, Edison, Victor.
2. Tantalus Records
Radio personality Harry B, Soria, Jr., a leading collector of Hawaiian music recordings, was the impetus behind two LP and cassette issues of contents issued on Honolulu-based Bell Records in the 1940s. .
California-based record executive Michael Cord began purchasing the catalogs of 1970s Hawai‘i-based independent record companies, in an effort to keep the recordings of local talent such as Country Comfort and songwriter Billy Kau‘i available. Cord‘s acquisition of the rights and recordings of the historically important 49th State Records from owner George Ching, and his strategic collaboration with Harry B. Soria, Jr., launched one of the leading initiatives to reissue Hawai‘i-produced Hawaiian music from the 1940s and 1950s.
4. Harlequin Records
On Harlequin Records, a label based in the United Kingdom, the presence of Hawaiian music among the label‘s focus on European folk music owes much to the efforts of collector John Marsden. His extensive collection and encyclopedic knowledge of discography are the foundation for the excellent liner notes that accompany the restored tracks.
The Melbourne, Australia-based Cumquat Records was launched by guitarist Bruce Clarke, a tireless performer and promoter of Australian performers of Hawaiian music. His love of steel guitar led to his remastering recordings, unreleased tracks and radio transcriptions by the major stars of the 1930s and 1940s—Andy Iona, Dick McIntire, and Lani McIntire; then branched out to Ray Kinney, the Los Angeles-based Polynesians, and Hal Aloha, as well as Sol Ho‘opi‘i and other early Hawaiian guitarists. Regrettably, no discographic information was included with the recordings, a situation addressed in part by the welcome arrival of Malcolm Rockwell‘s magisterial Hawaiian & Hawaiian Guitar Music 1891-1960.