The Swing Shift Shuffle is a radio program of swing, big band, jazz, boogie woogie and other popular music from the 1930's and 40's that airs every Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (US Central Time) on WEVL 89.9 FM in Memphis, Tennessee, with a live webcast at In addition to the radio show, this blog is dedicated to all aspects of the Swing Era, including art, automobiles, cartoons, comics, history, movies, music, news, science, technology, and anything else that happened during that time. It also includes announcements about events in the Memphis/Mid-South area related to the Swing Era, such as classic movies, concerts, dances, lectures, etc. If you see something that fits the description, send it to me at If you would like more information about the radio show, just go to the Radio Show FAQ page.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Flying On A V-Disc

V-Disc featuring Count Basie. Image courtesy of Stanford University Library.
The National World War II Museum posted a nice item on the origin of "V-Discs," the U.S. government issued phonograph recordings made exclusively for the military.  As the posted noted, V-Discs arose at a difficult time in the music industry.
The music industry was actually undergoing a war of its own during WWII. In 1942, two of the most prominent musician unions went on strike against all four recording companies in the U.S.. The strike then caused a shortage of music needed for troop morale. Yet, Lieutenant G. Robert Vincent had a solution to the problem. After approval of the U.S. government, he brokered a deal between the unions, recording companies, and the U.S. government. By agreeing to not distribute any records for commercial use, Vincent was able to get the recording companies to agree to record albums for the troops to listen to while at war. More amazingly, he also convinced top-name musicians in the business to record for the albums despite the strike they were involved in.
Another by-product of this venture was that artists who were under contract with different record labels could record V-Discs together, resulting in collaborations that would not have been possible under their contracts.

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