Percival Claude (PC) Spouse (1885-1970) was Australia's most successful harmonica player from the 1920s to the 1940s, with Anvil Chorus, released by Regal Records (G20160) in 1927, becoming his bestselling record.
In early 20th century Australia, the egalitarian harmonica - or ‘tin sandwich’ - was perhaps the closest thing to a national instrument. A sign of its significance was the various popular state and national mouth organ competitions in the 1920s and 30s.
PC Spouse was the most successful soloist of this period, a travelling shoe salesperson who entered the inaugural Australasian Boomerang Championship in Ballarat in 1925 and became the first officially crowned mouth organ champion of Australia (Boomerang was a popular mouth organ brand owned by music publisher J Albert and Sons). He returned to reclaim the title in 1927, 1928 and 1935.
Spouse enjoyed a successful recording career between 1926 and 1936 and was likely the third person in Australia to make electric recordings.
He is credited as a pioneer within the local recording industry who popularised the harmonica in Australia and New Zealand through J Albert and Sons. More recently, the Australian Harmonica Archives referred to him as ‘one of the greatest vamping style harmonica players in history’.
Spouse’s quintessential ‘vamping style’ is clearly evident in Anvil Chorus, where the melody is accompanied by a vamped chord playing in a different rhythm.