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Arthur Collins

Phonograph records existed for less than half of this artist's life, but he certainly made the most of the technology when it came along. Arthur Collins may have been the most widely recorded vocalist of the early 20th century, for the eager Edison engineers alone concocting some 200 solo sides as well as another 100 releases as part of the popular duo Collins & Harlan. Collins had the kind of physical heft which is said to be ideal for vocalists in the baritone or bass range, and, in fact, the combination with the equally portly Harlan quickly led to a nickname of "the Half-Ton Duo." Two years of prime career time was lost by Collins recovering from a 1929 backstage accident that happened when his blubber caused him to plummet through a trap door all the way down into the basement.

A listener with a collection of antique recordings by this artist stuffed under their shirt might look equally corpulent. The effect could also be created with reissue collections on both cassette and compact disc, of which there are many, some of dubious legal status due to the erosion of copyright from this period. Over the course of so many recordings, Collins became well-known for a variety of styles, including sentimental ballads, ragtime, and novelty songs. In these early days of American song publishing, just about any subject might be considered novel; Collins particularly liked tributes to the South, regularly cutting ditties such as "There's a Lump of Sugar in Dixie," "I Miss the Mississippi Miss," and "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam." One southern tradition that some listeners may find offensive is traditional minstrel material such as "Coon, Coon" or "There's a Dark Man Coming with a Bundle," to mention just a few of these sorts of titles that Collins recorded either in solo or in duo with Harlan. Whatever he sang, having him sing became a mark of quality in itself, evidenced by a popular expression of the era meant to denote superiority: "as sung by Collins & Harlan." ~ Eugene Chadbourne
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The King Of The Ragtime Singers - The Best Of Arthur Collins

1. 1529 - Row, Row, Row

2. 1560 - The Preacher And The Bear

3. 1719 - When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam’

4. Alexander's Ragtime Band

5. And The Great Big World Went Round And Round (Edison, 1916)

6. Any Rags

7. Bake Dat Chicken Pie

8. Bill Bailey

9. Camp Meeting Time (Edison, 1906)

10. Celebratin' Day In Tennessee (Edison, 1914)

11. Down Among The Sugar Cane (Edison, 1909)

12. Everybody's Crazy 'Bout The Doggone Blues (Edison, 1918)

13. From Here To Shanghai (Edison, 1917)

14. Gone, Gone, Gone (Edison, 1904)

15. Hitchy Coo (Edison, 1912)

16. How Do You Do, Miss Josephine? (Edison, 1909)

17. I Miss That Mississippi Miss That Misses Me (Edison, 1918)

18. I'm Afraid To Come Home In The Dark

19. I'm Going Back To Dixie (Feat. Byron G Harlan)

20. It Looks Like A Big Night Tonight (Edison, 1908)

21. Oh! How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo (That's Love In Honolulu)

22. Steamboat Bill

23. The Aba Daba Honeymoon

24. The Aba Daba Honeymoon (Edison, 1914)

25. When Mose With His Nose Leads The Band

26. When Uncle Joe Plays A Rag On His Old Banjo

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