Victory Discs or V-Discs
V-Discs are a 12in., double-sided, 78 Record that contained popular songs of the day. They were distributed for free/played to soldiers serving in World War II. The sides of the record were labeled as an A-side and a B-side. Each side contained one song that was about 6 minutes. The extra two inches (as compared to 10in. for a regular 78) allow for more grooves to be cut in the record, thus increasing playing time.
The V-disc program was started as part of the Army’s Recreation and Welfare Section in 1941. Though it did not get traction until a musician strike in 1943. Designed as a morale booster for soldiers, the discs were to be played and not sold as per agreements between the artists, the American Federation of Musicians, and the Army. The program ended in May 1949 and all copies (including the master-copies) were destroyed. The V-Discs were destroyed because at the time of agreement (in 1943) the American Federation of Musicians were on strike and were not producing music for commercial purposes. The program was mutually beneficial for all involved: The musicians got to experiment with new styles and sounds without backlash, the soldiers got to listen to their favorite musicians, and the American Federation of Musicians received the patriotic benefits of supporting their country while continuing their strike. Though, some discs did escape the purge.
Music Genres: popular music sometimes in an experimental format.
Pre-1941 Label: None
Click on below to listen to the Andrew Sister’s Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B made in 10/1945 for V-Disc #526-Side B:
Now listen to the exact same song below when it was commercially released by Decca in 1941. See if you can spot the differences between the two songs.
Post WW2 Label: Same as War-time label
Numbers from label start to 1945: 1-500 series. The series would reach to 903 by 1949.
Notes: The Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey bands made a rare recording together for a V-Disc. Fats Waller’s last recording was on a V-Disc.
Fats Waller recorded Aint Misbehaving Two Sleepy People on 11/1943 for V-Disc #32-Side A
Fats Waller recorded Slightly Less Than Wonderful There’s a Gal In My Life on 11/1943 for V-Disc #32-Side B
For a complete digitized set of V-Disc records see: http://archive.org/details/V-discs1-991943-1944
-Sears, Richard. “V-Discs: A History and Discography.” Greenwood Press, 1980.
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