I have written about my love for barbershop music on this blog many times over the years. As one could imagine, this is largely an 'underground' genre...while it has a large and devoted following, you don't hear of the relevant quartets in the mainstream media, ever. So 99% of the releases out there are private press, they were paid for (studio time, pressing, etc) by the members of the quartet. But there is one exception.
Chord was a record label out of San Antonio Texas in the early 60s. The man behind the curtain was Mike McCord, who was a lifetime barbershopper himself, active in many quartets and choruses. He selected some of the biggest and his most favorite quartets and released full length LPs for a number of years. There are a total of 18 releases across two 'series', I discovered and researched these through countless eBay deep dives. After a long period, I was finally able to acquire all 18 myself via that method. It was rewarding to finally get them all, this huge piece of barbershop history.
I was contacted by none other than by his son (also named Mike) through discogs when he saw I was the person who added most of these releases to the database. We had a likely conversation through a number of messages and he mentioned that he had access to some old releases that were part of his father's estate!
I didn't hear from him for a number of weeks and thought it was a dead end until one night (I was in a hotel in Louisana) when I got a discogs message with his phone number asking me to call him. I didn't hesitate and we talked for quite a spell. He apologized for the delay and said the box would soon be on it's way. He told me mostly what I should expect, then he insisted on sending me the load for free and even refused to let me pay for shipping! A short time later, an expertly wrapped parcel arrived!
As expected, I got a motherlode!
- I got a number of Sweet Adelines competition albums I was missing: 1956, 1957, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1973, 1984. I already had a couple but this was huge. 1963 I had never even seen before so that had to be added to the DB
- Got a sealed copy of the Golden Staters album I had seen so many times before (but did not own)
- Got a reissue/comp I had seen before but did not own, quite a rarity (I already own the original issues, on Chord, of course)
- Got a spare copy of a Gaynotes album I already had, but never hurts to have two for something this rare! (Ironically I already owned two copies of the other album for the same reason!)
- Speaking of the Gaynotes (Mike said he thought of Mo Rector as his uncle when he was growing up - wow!), I also got the original private press issue of their first album, this is a holy grail and probably the biggest score of the box.
- Got a few more SPEBSQSA competition albums I didnt have ('56, '58, '59)
- From the same era, got the Play Tonics album
- A previously unknown Saints LP!
- Got duplicate copies for 14 of the 18 Chord releases (again, I already had the entire discography). Why would I want duplicates? BECAUSE THESE WERE PERSONAL COPIES OF THE PERSON WHO OWNED THE LABEL!!!
But probably the greatest score of all was a previously unknown Chord release! It is unique in a few ways: it is a 10" (everything else was an LP) and it is actually a regional Sweet Adelines album! How many of these were ever pressed I do not know, but I'd bet pretty few. What an unbelievable score!
Just goes to show you: networking is key! Discogs has netted me some cool stuff before but nothing like this. However I almost treasure even more the chance to have a long telephone conversation with the son of the founder of a historic record label - I am very fortunate. Thank you Mike!