9 episodes

The Sound of the Hound is a podcast series about the people and the technology that brought recorded music to the masses in Victorian London and beyond. In it, journalist and author James Hall and music industry executive Dave Holley chronicle the adventures of the early sound pioneers as they risked life and limb to capture sound and launch the music business as we know it today. In particular, the series focuses on a genius called Fred Gaisberg. The world’s first A&R man, Fred was a nineteenth century amalgam of Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell and Indiana Jones. He travelled by cart, cargo ship and camel – from London to Italy and from Japan to India – in search of intriguing music. His – and others’ – stories have to be heard to be believed. The Sound of the Hound is brought to you by EMI Archive Trust.
James Hall is a music journalist and author. As well as being one of The Daily Telegraph’s rock and pop critics, he has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The FT and The Observer. James’s novel about the birth of the recorded music industry in 1890s London — The Industry of Human Happiness— was published in 2018. James’s prize possession is a very battered, very loud gramophone-in-a-suitcase from the 1920s. His neighbours are equally enamoured of it.
Dave Holley is a music business suit. He ran EMI's recording studios, including Abbey Road and Capitol Studios, and remains a trustee of The EMI Archive Trust. He is currently CEO of Wise Music Group one of the world's leading independent music publishers. If you hear a dog in the background of the podcast that is Dave's labrador Leo who joins us for the recordings, dozing as we speak. He occassionally talks in his sleep.

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The Sound Of The Hound Dave Holley and James Hall

    • History
    • 5.0, 7 Ratings

The Sound of the Hound is a podcast series about the people and the technology that brought recorded music to the masses in Victorian London and beyond. In it, journalist and author James Hall and music industry executive Dave Holley chronicle the adventures of the early sound pioneers as they risked life and limb to capture sound and launch the music business as we know it today. In particular, the series focuses on a genius called Fred Gaisberg. The world’s first A&R man, Fred was a nineteenth century amalgam of Steve Jobs, Simon Cowell and Indiana Jones. He travelled by cart, cargo ship and camel – from London to Italy and from Japan to India – in search of intriguing music. His – and others’ – stories have to be heard to be believed. The Sound of the Hound is brought to you by EMI Archive Trust.
James Hall is a music journalist and author. As well as being one of The Daily Telegraph’s rock and pop critics, he has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The FT and The Observer. James’s novel about the birth of the recorded music industry in 1890s London — The Industry of Human Happiness— was published in 2018. James’s prize possession is a very battered, very loud gramophone-in-a-suitcase from the 1920s. His neighbours are equally enamoured of it.
Dave Holley is a music business suit. He ran EMI's recording studios, including Abbey Road and Capitol Studios, and remains a trustee of The EMI Archive Trust. He is currently CEO of Wise Music Group one of the world's leading independent music publishers. If you hear a dog in the background of the podcast that is Dave's labrador Leo who joins us for the recordings, dozing as we speak. He occassionally talks in his sleep.

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    Interview with Joe Boyd

    Interview with Joe Boyd

    The first series of Sound of the Hound wraps up with something a bit different: an interview with legendary Pink Floyd and Nick Drake producer Joe Boyd. Just like Fred, Joe is an American who moved to London in his twenties to establish an overseas office for a record company. And just like Fred, he became a recording pioneer. Immersing himself in London life, Joe founded the famous UFO club in the 1960s. He talks about the music that shaped him, tells us about the recording industry in the 1960s, gives an overview of a career that has seen him working with everyone from The Incredible String Band to REM, and shares his thoughts on modern recording technology. This episode is effectively the history of recorded sound and production techniques in a one hour-long programme. We’re possibly a bit biased, but it’s an essential listen for music fans!
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    James Hall on The Industry of Human Happiness

    James Hall on The Industry of Human Happiness

    Dave interviews James about his novel on the early days of recorded sound, The Industry of Human Happiness. James tells how he chanced upon the adventures of Fred Gaisberg and Sinkler Darby in the sleeve notes of a CD that he bought outside a concert, and how they inspired him to write a fictional account of those heady days of format wars, skulduggery and breath-taking invention. James also talks about his campaign to have a commemorative plaque erected on the Maiden Lane building where the industry started (a plaque that was unveiled by Queen drummer Roger Taylor in December 2019).
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    • 31 min
    The Caruso breakthrough

    The Caruso breakthrough

    It’s the spring of 1902. Italian tenor Enrico Caruso is due to sing in Covent Garden later in the year, and Fred and Will are still in Milan desperate to record him. Their plan – in what predates the now-ubiquitous music industry ‘360’ marketing deal by over 100 years – is to print the master discs onto shellac and release the records in London in time for Caruso’s Opera House appearance, thereby capitalising on his huge popularity. Fred wants to pay him £100 for ten records, but his bosses in London balk at the cost. But Fred does it anyway. It’s a huge gamble. But Fred’s risk is vindicated: his Caruso recordings kick-start the music industry in a way he could only have dreamed of. Overnight, the public are hooked. Finally, the record industry comes alive.
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    • 35 min
    The last castrato

    The last castrato

    Fred and his brother William travel to Milan in 1902 with the aim of convincing opera superstar Enrico Caruso to record for them. However Caruso is busy and non-committal, so the men seek out other forms of sound to record while they wait for an answer. Aiming high, they approach the Pope to ask if he’d be up for recording something (as you would). The pontiff declines but invites them to record the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Vatican instead. And so, by lucky happenstance and perhaps unwittingly, the brothers find themselves capturing the extraordinary voice of Alessandro Moreschi, one of the last castratos ever to sing before a ban on the practice comes into force…
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    • 21 min
    Russian revolutions (part two)

    Russian revolutions (part two)

    After the mixed success of the recording trip to Russia in 1900, it is a curious decision of Fred’s to return to the country the following year. But back he goes – twice ­– with a point to prove. Still waiting for that elusive breakthrough, The Gramophone Company has diversified into typewriters and Fred’s not happy. He needs good music, fast. He records opera stars and fine musicians before making one of the more curious decisions of his career. Finding himself dumped by letter by his London-based girlfriend, Fred heads inland to record music from the Russian steppes. He becomes obsessed with Tatar music, a decision that he comes to rue once he hears what the genre actually has to offer.
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    • 34 min
    Russian revolutions (part one)

    Russian revolutions (part one)

    The first of two episodes following Fred on recording expeditions to Russia. In early 1900, with their bosses dissatisfied with what they’ve recorded to date, Fred and his colleague Sinker Darby are under pressure to find fascinating sounds. Their agents in St Petersburg, charged with finding singers and musicians, are useless and corrupt so Fred and Sinkler go it alone. They scour the city’s streets and theatres by sleigh, recording what they can. But their new-fangled gramophone invention piques the interest of the court of Tsar Nicholas II, and the men are summoned to his palace. Will they succeed in capturing the voice of the most famous man in Russia? And will they survive an equipment-related disaster that strikes on their way home?
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    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
7 Ratings

7 Ratings

Jimlefevre ,

Really great stuff

I’ve hugely enjoyed listening to these podcasts.

James and Dave are incredibly well versed in the history of the birth of the record industry with fantastic (bizarre, hilarious, dark, sad) stories from the late 1800/early 1900’s. And what’s so good is that both hosts still operate in the record industry and show that in some cases nothing much has changed!

Highly recommended for ultimately 2 and a bit hours (over 5 eps) of amusing and gentle music-related history-joy.

tonyw56 ,

Entertaining and informative

Brings dusty old music history to life in an informal and amusing style. James and david pitch it just right. Great lockdown listening.

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