Sellos Pampa, the MAI master series and
the history of the Odeon and Columbia labels
in Argentina

1. Introduction
2. An illustrated bird's eye view of early Odeon history in Argentina
3. Pampa, Pathé, Parlophone, Columbia... and Odeon
4. The MAI master series - by performer (tango only)
5. The MAI master series - chronologically (mostly tango)
1950 - 1951 - 1952 - 1953 - 1954 - 1955 - 1956 - 1957
Appendix-1: There is more to Pampa than just MAI...

Appendix-2: The Pampa label after 1957

1. Introduction

To those interested in the history of tango recordings, the Pampa label - a subsidiary of the more famous Odeon company - will sound familiar. Their recordings were characterized by a MAI master number, MAI being an abbreviation for "Música Argentina e Internacional". However, as will be shown, the MAI master numbers were not restricted to the Pampa label only.

More than 900 recordings have been identified (and are listed). When combining the discographical data of different interpreters, a pattern emerges that may shed some light on the relation between the Columbia and Odeon labels in Argentina in the early fifties. Therefore, before getting at Pampa, I will first briefly sketch the history of Odeon in Argentina.

In English, a "label" can mean two things: the company that edited a record (in Spanish: sello ), or the printed information on a record (in Spanish: etiqueta ). I will use the single word "label" when I refer to companies  and "record label" to refer to the printed information. (This is opposite to the more general  definitions used by Wikipedia - see label and record label - but seemed more logical to me when we are restricted to records)

I don't own 78 rpm shellac records myself. Images of records - which are used abundantly throughout this article - were found on widely disparate places on the net or obtained from Argentinian friends. I didn't keep references for each and every picture, but I hope that by representing them here in a more orderly way, I have added some value to them.

Links to external pages that are available in two languages - like Todotango or Wikipedia - are given in the following way: (En - Es), En  for English, Es en Español.



2. An illustrated bird's eye view of early Odeon history in Argentina

rInternational Talking MachineInternal Talking Machine
At the beginning of the 20th century
International Talking Machine GmbH - Disco Odeon
Founded 1904, Germany
(not to be confounded with the USA-based competitor Victor Talking Machines)

Right from the beginning, the record business was very internationally oriented, with a strong interest in ethnic, or as it was called in the USA, "foreign language" music.

Artists appearing on Odeon at that time were Angel Villoldo, Arturo Navas, Eduardo Arolas, Roberto Firpo, several bandas and rondallas...
Roberto FirpoGardel-Razzano
Around 1917-1918
Disco Rob. Firpo, Disco Gardel-Razzano
Exclusividad Max Glucksmann - Buenos Aires

Instead of setting up overseas branches everywhere, it was the Odeon business model to appoint local agents. In Buenos Aires this was Max Glücksmann (1875-1946) (En - Es). One of the key elements of his succes were the long-term contracts with his artists, the naming of the records after them may have been part of that.
Finally, Odeon build a processing and pressing plant for him in Buenos Aires.

Roberto Firpo and the duo Gardel-Razzano were the most important Odeon artists at that time, and from 1919 on, also Ignacio Corsini

Disco NacionalDisco Nacional Odeon
Early 20s
Disco Nacional
Manufacturado exclusivamente para Max Glucksmann - Buenos Aires
Manufacturado exclusivamente para Max Glucksmann por la primera fabrica nacional de discos de la republica de Argentina
Manufacturado exclusivamente para Max Glucksmann por the Argentine Talking Machine Works Buenos Aires

At that time, everything in Argentina which was not imported was very often called nacional - also in the arts: cantor nacional, orquesta nacional, repertorio nacional....

Initially, the records were edited without any reference to Odeon. Later the silhouette of the Paris Odeon building (after which the label was named) is added. Eventually the name "Odeon" reappears (see next row, left).

In 1922 Francisco Lomuto, Enrique Delfino and Francisco Canaro joined Odeon, to be followed by Juan Maglio in 1923 and Osvaldo Fresedo in 1925.

Disco Nacional OdeonDisco Nacional Odeon acustica
Around 1926, the space which was until now reserved for the artist's name (like a sublabel, reminiscent of the earlier Disco Firpo and Disco Gardel-Razzano) is used for a larger version of the Odeon reference.

DN or DNO (Disco Nacional Odeon) is an abbreviation that you will often find in discographies.

Disco Nacional Odeon ElectricoDisco Nacional Odeon Electrico
A silent revolution: the switch from acoustical  to electrical recording (end of 1926).
In order not to compromize the value of their stocks of acoustical records, the companies (Odeon and Victor) had agreed (En - Es) to introduce this technological novelty without specific marketing. The record nr. 4234 on the left, one of the first electrically recorded Canaro editions (November 1926, master nr.8) is - by its record label alone - indiscernable from its acoustically recorded predecessors, like nr. 4216 (row above - October 1926, master nr. 4530).

After a few months - and very modestly - the term procedimiento electrico is added to the record label, eventually to be replaced by the more common term ...
Disco Nacional Odeon ElectricoDisco Nacional Odeon new

... grabación eléctrica.

Early 1928, the transition is finalized with a new record label design, characterized by

- the term grabación eléctrica and the Veroton logo (which was the trademark for the new recording technology)
- addition of the master number, preceeded by "E" or "e", meaning eléctrica (great help for identifying recordings across different editions)
- the Odeon rays now emanating from the Odeon building logo

Variations were used in a few special series, like the blue "Serie sinfónica" and the festive "Carnaval de 1930"



Disco Nacional lastDisco Criollo
In the meantime, and far away (UK, 1931) a new company was formed, Electrical Music Industries (EMI) (En - Es) in which several other labels were merged: Columbia, Electrola, HMV, Odeon, Pathé‚ and Parlophone (remember those names, some of them will return when we get at the Pampa label).
Argentina was one of the few countries where the name Odeon (now in fact an EMI subsidiary) remained in use for the decades to come. The Argentinian branch of Columbia on the other hand (host for Pedro Maffia, Anselmo Aieta, Enrique Di Cicco, Antonio Bonavena...) disappeared from the scene.

It was Argentinian legislation that caused a change: the word "nacional" became reserved  for matters of state and therefore - between 1934 and 1936 - the Odeon records appeared as "Disco Criollo". At the same time the small footprint related to Max Glucksmann disappeared from the record label.

OdeonOdeon red

From 1936 on, the first Odeon records appear without any local reference like "Disco Nacional" or "Disco Criollo", ironically, at a time when Odeon no longer existed as an independent label (being engulfed by EMI).
The small footprint (formerly related to the "Argentine Talking Machine Works") is replaced by "Industrias eléctricas y musicales Odeon" (which is easily interpreted as a Spanish version of EMI)

The design wasn't brand new but very similar to the one used in Europe in the late twenties.
With little variation, it remains in use until 1942.

Odeon UK, ca. 1926

ColorColorColorColor From 1943 on, Odeon breaks away from the traditional red to reddish (or bordeaux) color.
After some variations, among them a black record label until ca. 1949, white-and-black or white-and-blue ca 1950, white (from 1951 on ?), a uniform blue color becomes the new standard around 1955.

Odeon 1959Odeon 45 rpm
Around 1959, we see one last design change, but it will not appear much on 78 rpm shellac records: we are approaching the end of its era.  45 rpm vinyl records and - of course - long play records are the new thing.
LP OdeonLP EMI-Odeon
The first LP editions shared at least one feature with the traditional 78 rpm records: a prominent Odeon logo (with in smaller print "Industrias eléctricas y musicales Odeon").

From the early seventies on - and this for the first time, 40 years after its creation - the trademark EMI apears.


Sellos - Pampa
(First 08-2012, 09-09-2012)


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