Decca Preface

The Decca Labels: A Discography - compiled by Michel Ruppli.

This six-volume set is a discographical listing of all recordings made or issued by the Decca label and its subsidiaries (Brunswick, Champion, Coral, and Vocation), including leased and purchased material (from such labels as Gennett, Brunswick, Signature, World and European English Decca, and Deutsche Grammophon).

Most of the set is devoted to recording session listings with available details on personnel and recording dates, as well as master and issue numbers for each track. Known foreign issues have been included when they are not straight reissues of original Decca records.

The listings are in numerical master number order, with each track being assigned a number. Each of the six volumes is devoted to a master number series or a given location.

Volume 1 details all recordings made in California between 1934 and 1973 and includes recordings made in Hawaii that were assigned master numbers in the California series. Additional sections cover recordings made in California but without Decca master numbers and material from World Transcriptions.

Volume 2 lists recordings made between 1934 and 1942 in the Eastern and Southern parts of the country, including sections devoted to Chicago, New York, annual Country field recordings made in the South, and Caribbean recordings. A special section is devoted to recordings made earlier for other labels and purchased by Decca (from Gennett, Brunswick, and Columbia).

Volume 3 is devoted to Eastern U.S. recording sessions between 1943 and 1956 (master numbers 71317 to 89999). It also includes recordings from World Transcriptions (which were owned by Decca in that era) and from the Signature label. Although not fully used by Decca, the recordings on the Signature label have all been listed, thanks to a preliminary listing by Bob Porter in Record Research magazine.

Volume 4 includes Eastern U.S. recording sessions between 1956 and 1973 (master numbers 100000 through 124300). Additional sections describe Decca recordings issued without individual master numbers, including plays, poetry/readings, and film soundtracks.

Volume 5 consists of three different parts. The first is devoted to Country recordngs made between 1946 and 1973, most of which were done in Nashville's Owen Bradley Studios, using a special NA master number series. These numbers were later transferred to the New York master series (74000-89000 and 100000-124000). Both numbers are listed for each title. Since a complete NA master file was not available, those numbers marked with a ? have been deducted from the New York master listing and the recording dates.

The second part is devoted to Classical recordings. Since exact recording dates are not generally known for classical material, this section uses alphabetical composer order as a reference. Special sections list recitals and material leased from foreign labels (mainly Deutsche Grammophon). A composer index has been included at the end of the volume to summarize and help locate classical composers.

The third part of the volume lists foreign recordings that have been reissued on the U.S. Decca label. These come from various countries, but mainly from Europe (England/U.K., France, and Germany).

Volumes 1 through 5 include an artist index covering all names and relevant page numbers appearing in the session listings. Pages are listed in parentheses when artists appear only as sidemen. 

Volume 6 is made up of the numerical listings and artist indexes. The first part lists all records issued on Decca and subsidiary labels in the various formats: 78 rpm and 45 rpm Singles; 45 rpm Extended Plays; 10-inch Long Play 33 rpm Albums; 12-inch Albums; and Compact Discs. All records are mentioned briefly with artist name and number, indicating volume(s) and page(s) corresponding to the session listings. Album and CD listings also show album/CD title.

All singles and albums sections include comprehensive lists of foreign issues (European, Australian, and Japanese). However, it was impossible to trace and document all reissues and compilation albums/CDs that appear monthly around the world. Since vintage material for reissue now belongs to the public domain, and detailed information on CD issues is no longer generally available in magazines as it once was during the LP era, such research would be impossible. For some artists, like Bill Haley and Buddy Holly, reissues and compilations of their "Big Hits" records are so numerous that they are not all mentioned in the session listing or referenced in the record listing.

Volume 6 also includes a composer index, made up of the index from Volume 5 with additional references to pages from previous volumes, including classical sessions and others containing composer names.

Volume 6 concludes with a general artist index that includes all names from Volumes 1 through 5, relevant volume and page numbers, and bracketed page numbers for sidemen.

Although I have attempted to make this set as complete as possible, there are still many areas that would benefit from further information. Any effort in this regard would be welcomed by the author.