The William Booth Columbia Recordings - February 1907
Founder of the Salvation Army
William Booth, founder and first general of The Salvation Army was considered to be one of the most up-to-date men of his generation, who used all available means to
spread the Gospel and publicise the aims of the Army. One example of this progressiveness was the making of gramophone or talking machine records. His first commercial recording was made during February 1898 by the Berliner Company in Washington D.C. and later that same year was included in the first batch of records shipped to the newly founded Gramophone Company in London. Today copies of this record are extremely rare.
In January 1907, after protracted negotiations over royalty payments with the Columbia Gramophone Company Ltd, William Booth recorded four speeches: "Don't Forget", "Rope wanted", "Please Sir, Save me", and "Through Jordan".
These speeches were issued as both single sided disc records and phonographic cylinders, however despite good initial sales they were soon withdrawn from the catalogue. It is interesting to note that two of these records end with Booth requesting the taking up of a collection for the Army's work, which, according to the War Cry, was something many Salvationists did after playing the records to their friends.
Columbia record 2074
An address by the late General Booth
A year after William Booth's death in 1912, all four speeches were re-issued on the Columbia Rena label as double sided records 2074 and 2075. These records were later incorporated into the Columbia catalogue, with the same series number and both sold well for a number of years.
"Through Jordan - The Founder's Poem" was also issued as REGAL Zonophone MF258. This appears to be a straight transfer of the acoustic recording onto an electric matrix, the motor of the phonograph being audible throughout.
Subtitled "An appeal in verse" it describes the Christian's hope of eternal life through Christ Jesus and ends with a resounding "Fire a Volley" a Salvationist term requesting the congregation to shout "Amen!". "O Boundless Salvation - The Founder's Song" is performed on the reverse side by the Assurance Songsters and S . P. & S. Band.
Columbia record 2075
More recently the four speeches have been transferred to cassette tape format.
Despite being recorded almost 100 years ago, the message contained in these, the most historic of all Army recordings, remains as relevant now as when William Booth entered the studio and spoke earnestly into the horn of the recording equipment.
(Colin R. Waller, GB)