1-CD deluxe album with 72-page booklet, 27 tracks. Playing time approx. 77 mns.
It was a cataclysmic year. As 1945 dawned, the Second World War was still ongoing in Europe and Asia; yet by year's end, it was over. Many musicians were in uniform, and even those that had avoided the draft saw their activities curtailed by gasoline and tire rationing. The record business was in deep turmoil, too. In March and April 1942, the War Production Board prohibited the manufacture of all phonographs and radios. At the same time, shellac (the key ingredient in manufacturing records), was reserved for munitions. Record companies could only manufacture to 1940 levels (around 50 million units) using mostly reground records. And then, on August 1, 1942, the American Federation of Musicians called a strike against recording and transcription companies (transcriptions were syndicated radio shows featuring major artists that went out on discs to subscriber stations). Decca settled with the union on September 30, 1943, but Columbia and RCA Victor held out until November 11, 1944. Columbia and RCA Victor had been pressuring President Roosevelt to end the ban on anti-trust grounds, and only capitulated when the War Production Board lifted some restrictions on record manufacture. Decca was already recording new songs that RCA and Columbia couldn't touch, and the two older companies were concerned that increased pressing capacity and newer songs would catapult Decca to the top spot.
As shellac became available again, the field opened up to independent labels. Capitol had been incorporated on April 8, 1942 and launched on June 12, just weeks before the ban started. Running out of repertoire, Capitol settled with the union in September 1943. A few other labels had started during the war (we have recordings from ARA Records that started in 1943, and National Records in 1944), but the floodgate opened in 1945. One hundred and three companies registered with the AFM as record manufacturers, and some of the parent companies were big players. In February, Majestic Radio & Television launched a record division with former New York mayor, Jimmy Walker, as president. Mercury Records (co-owned by Irving Green, the son of Albert Green who owned National) was launched in October, and MGM Pictures announced plans to start a label. The majors were still very much in control, though. Sales in 1945 totalled $89 million equating to 350 million 78 RPM records, and all but 50 million of those were produced by the big three.
Country music recordings were controlled by very few men. At RCA, Steve Sholes took over after Frank Walker left to start MGM Records. At Columbia, all specialty recordings were made by Art Satherley, who was based in California but spent most of the year on the road. At Decca, Paul Cohen was taking over from Dave Kapp, while Capitol's country releases were A&R'd by Lee Gillette. None of these country A&R men was southern, although Satherley liked to point out that he was from southwest England.
Seeing that the majors were concentrating upon pop, the independent labels largely focused on country and R&B. To promote their records, they serviced small 250-watt stations that couldn't afford to subscribe to the transcription services, like World and C.P. MacGregor. There were only a few independent distributors at war's end, so most indies could only hope for local sales, especially as the majors would cover fast-breaking indie tunes. If the indie owned the music publishing, it would benefit from a major label cover version; if not, it was well and truly scooped.