August 2003
Cylinder of the Month

See also the  Cylinders of the Month Archive.

A very early banjo & song recording, from 1891-1893, Saving Them All for Mary by Al Reeves.

Saving Them All for Mary
Company New Jersey Phonograph Company (?)
Cylinder # Unknown
Category Topical song with banjo
Title Saving Them All for Mary
Performed by Al Reeves
Circa 1891-1893
Announcement "The topical song called 'Saving Them All for Mary' as sung by Al Reeves, the banjoist-comedian."

Al Reeves was a popular banjo-comedian of the 1890s whose blackface stage act, named "Al Reeves' Famous Big Company", was typically adorned with beautiful women (likely absent from this recording session . . .).

[Al] Reeves, "The World's Greatest Banjoist and Comedian", as he billed himself, [. . .] was not a particularly good banjo player, but his "big finishes" brought prolonged applause.   As it faded, he would exclaim, "Give me credit, boys."

Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life. Herbert G. Goldman, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

With the stray string pluck prior to the announcement, various 'thunks', and forward sound to the banjo, this master recording packs a lot of personality.   As with most early master cylinder recordings, this is best heard through headphones.

To hear Saving Them All for Mary  —

For help playing these sounds, click here.

This recording was made on a so-called "cuff"-length cylinder.   One-half inch shorter than standard-sized cylinders, cuff-length cylinders were common in the early 1890's.   See the June 1999 Cylinder of the Month for another example of a cuff-length cylinder recording.

Many thanks to David Sager for his assistance with this cylinder of the month.

— This cylinder of the month is from the collection of  The Library of Congress —


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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