V-Disc Armed Forces Program
At the beginning of World War II, the War department, through the Army Services Forces — Special Services Division, distributed thousands of shellac phonograph records (V DISCS) to Army Forces throughout the world. Shortly after the Army's program started, the U.S. Navy became involved in the program, appointing E.P. DiGiannantonio to run the Navy, Marine and Coast Guard programs.
These historic recordings were the only music recorded during the 1940's American Federation of Musicians (AFM) recording ban. As their contribution to the war effort, AFM President James C. Petrillo, as well as all the movie and recording studios, issued a carte blanche strike clearance to the War Department for the sole purpose of producing and distributing "music from back home" as a morale booster to American troops overseas. This clearance allowed many musical stars, who were under contract to different studios, to perform together for the first, and in some cases, the only time.
Thanks to the thousands of musicians, vocalists, movie and record company executives, and other individuals who contributed their time to this program, more than eight million V DISCS were produced and distributed from 1943 to 1949. Most of the top musical talents of the time, including Perry Como, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Bing Crosby, Fats Waller, Jo Stafford, The Three Suns, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and many others, gave freely of their time in special recording sessions held in studios, concert halls, sound stages, military bases, and nightclubs from coast to coast. The sessions occurred at any time of day or night, based on the availability of the performers. Many of these sessions began at 2:00 A.M. or 3:00 A.M. after nightclub and concert performances.
One problem to overcome in the production and distribution of V DISCS was the extremely high rate of breakage of the shellac records during trans-shipment. Research in this error eventually led to the development of phonographic record pressings made from a vinylite process which solved the breakage problem. However, use of vinylite was soon prohibited because the material was also used extensively by the military for electrical insulation , life rafts etc. . . and was classified for urgent military purposes only. After a lengthy search for non-critical materials, Formvar was discovered. A Canadian polyvinyl acetyl resin developed in early 1943, Formvar was not only as flexible as vinylite, it resulted in higher fidelity records which to this day have not deteriorated in sound quality.
V DISCS were shipped to military units around the world on a monthly basis, throughout the life of the program. Each V DISC kit contained 100 Duotone or Microphonic steel needles and 20 records with about 45 to 40 tunes.
Approval has been granted to E.P. "Digi" DiGiannantonio, the Navy Lieutenant who was in charge of the Navy V DISC program, to publicly release the V DISC recordings in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of World War II. For more than four decades, Digi has housed the original V DISCS in his record library awaiting the appropriate time to share these historic recordings with the public.
The sound heard on the V DISC is the unaltered recording of 78 RPM acetates. These recordings have not been artificially enhanced nor rechanneled for stereo effect. Even with the most advanced technology, occasional imperfections will be noted by the listener. The imperfections remain as a result of the producer's conviction that historical reissues must strive to duplicate the sound of the original recordings made during this period.
Liner Notes by Bruce ElrodChief Engineer / Re-Mastering — Gary Bolton Engineer — Michael Smith Research — Chris Elrod, E.P. DiGiannantonio, William Welch, David Custis Original Producer — "Digi" DiGiannantonio Executive Producer — Bruce Elrod, E.P. DiGiannantonio Re-Mixed and Re-Mastered at Strawberry Skys Recording Studio, W. Columbia S.C. from the original acetates.
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