This page is a work in progress. Additional information will be added as time allows, and as visitors see the need for additions and corrections and submit the information!


A Brief Explanation of War-time Recordings


V Discs


At the beginning of World War II, the War Department distributed thousands of shellac phonographic records known as V Discs to Army Forces throughout the world. Thousands of musicians, vocalists, movie and record company executives gave freely of their time in special recording sessions held in studios, concert halls, sound stages, military bases and nightclubs from coast to coast for the purpose of producing and distributing "music from back home" as a morale booster to American troops overseas.

Excerpts from jacket of V Disc, A Musical Contribution by America's Best for our Armed Forces Overseas, notes by "Digi" DiGiannantonio


V Discs and Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) discs were not shellac, but vinyl. Regular 78 RPM records back then were shellac, but there was a shortage of shellac during the war so they used vinyl. The V Discs were among the first vinyl records ever made. Also, the V discs were 12 inches in diameter. The AFRS discs were giant 16-inch records, and you can't play them on regular record players; they are too big.

Correction submitted by Morgan Wright


V disks were pressed in shellac and vinyl, early ones not necessarily being shellac. They were NOT amongst the earliest vinyl pressings.  RCA Victor made PVC pressings of radio transcriptions and synchronous film soundtracks (the latter for theaters not yet equipped with optical film playback) in as early as 1931.  Such pressings were soon thereafter ubiquitous amongst radio transcriptions. The primary advantages of using PVC for V-disks were greatly reduced fragility AND shipping weight. A properly manufactured and played  PVC pressing will have superior fidelity than a shellac pressed from the same source, but for V-discs, that was of secondary importance. Ironically, the urgencies of war could result in shellac pressings being preferred over PVC ones because the latter were quickly mutilated when played with steel needles: a scenario that probably happened often, if not frequently.  But however a particular disk sounded, it surely was an effective source of solace to its listener(s).  

Clarification submitted by Art Shifrin



Lang-Worth Transcriptions


My understanding of the Lang-Worth situation is that the company provided music to radio stations on a subscription basis and never released their music for purchase by the public. This service filled the gap during the musicians strike against the major record companies between 1942 - 1944, although Lang-Worth continued to do business for a number of years after WWII. It appears that the titles marked (C.S.) became the property of Lang-Worth and were not released until Lang-Worth ceased as a transcription service and their catalog of music was purchased by outside parties. These transcriptions did contain music licensed to other agencies (ASCAP, BMI, etc.), which could have released their titles after the musicians strike. Lang-Worth was a commercial venture, and I believe the musicians were paid for their services.

Submitted by Barry "Walt" Walters



Armed Forces Radio Service


The Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) provided music directly to the troops via radio transmitters around the world in an attempt to bring entertainment to servicemen in remote places. The AFRS recordings were sent only to those radio stations operated by the military. Then there were the V-Discs that were put by the Music Branch of the Special Services Division of the military. These records were sent directly to the troops where they could listen to them individually. I believe all of the AFRS and V-Disc recordings were done by the musicians as a patriotic duty and they were not paid for these sessions. Of course all of these recordings eventually came into the public domain and everyone can enjoy them now.

Submitted by Barry "Walt" Walters