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Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World’s Music

Excavated Shellac: An Alternate History of the World’s Music includes 100 recordings and 100 stories in an extensive, illustrated book with detailed, contextual mini-histories about both musical origins and the beginnings of the recording industry, touching on the complexities of colonialism, economic agendas, and cultural tourism.

With almost all of the tracks never before reissued, this collection expands upon and acts as a companion to Jonathan Ward’s Excavated Shellac website, a unique repository of music, history, and data on 78 rpm recordings from around the world, rarely heard and seldom seen.

Featuring music and musical styles from six continents and 89 different countries and regions, recorded between 1907-1967.

100 audio recordings + a 186-page book with essays and annotations by Jonathan Ward. This box set was nominated for the Best Historical Album GRAMMY AWARD for 2022.

Jonathan Ward who also produced Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM, Excavated Shellac: Reeds, and Excavated Shellac: Strings is setting a new bar for listening, enjoying, and understanding vintage recordings made around the world.

Hear Jonathan Ward discuss Excavated Shellac on NPR's All Things Considered.

“For listeners who love to travel via music, 'An Alternate History' is the perfect project for our current confinement: here, it says, is humanity at its most creative and playful.” 

— Garth Cartwright, The Guardian

“Jonathan Ward and his ‘Excavated Shellac’ project, in collaboration with Dust-to-Digital, have produced a collection that transports us to every continent during the formative years of the world’s history of recorded music… Extraordinarily detailed research plus exquisite photos and reproductions make each track an adventure. Like all Dust-to-Digital releases, it is impeccably mastered and produced.”

— Joe Boyd, record producer and author

Click here for tracklist