Memphis

Memphis (Australia) / c. 1949

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Design: A very stylish design for the time period, with bold typography. The increasing popularity of offset lithography, mandated by the U.S. government during WWII, freed commercial designers from the restrictions of hot metal, allowing for visual effects like the lowercase 'p' with its negative x-height and positive descender, and the leaning cap 'M' set at the same angle as the steamboat funnel. However, this image appears to have been printed letterpress on a flat-bed press, as there is heavier impression on the outside of the upper panel, with 'ghosting' at the centre, revealing the 'laid' pattern (seen as vertical lines) of the paper, and slurred outer edges.

History: Evidently an Australian label recording and promoting traditional jazz music (Black Forest is a suburb of the city of Adelaide, South Australia). Label scan courtesy of music researcher and collector Bill Dean-Myatt of the U.K. 'Smokey Mokes,' the song title, was a popular 'cakewalk two-step' with its origins in the minstrel show, in which black performers lampooned the affected promenading of rich white folks. The original sheet music described it as 'A song with humorous darky text.' 'Mokes' was a slang term for negroes.



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