The three great names associated with Malta's early recordings were:
1. Fortunato Habib (Polyphon label)
2. Antonio D'Amato (HMV, Zonophone)
3. P. Carabott (Odeon, Pathe)
These first recordings on shellac records captured the various facets of Malta's music scene in the early 1930s. D'Amato re-released several of his own early recordings again in the 1960s on Vinyl records (45s) and then also on cassette tapes.
The Ghanja bejn tnejn, for example, was first recorded in Milan on shellac records by the renowned Manuel Cilia ta' Zabbett and Karmnu Cardona it-tapp, but was re-released in 1964 on a 45rpm blue label.
Several ballads of Manuel Cilia were also re-released on 45s and cassettes - such as Arturo u Maria, Genoveffa, Toni Bajada, Lucia ta' Lammermur….
It may come as a surprise that the young Carmelo Pace, aged 24, was also among the first to record in the 1930s. However, these were not what we came to associate with Pace's works and I believe they are not included in his extensive catalogue of works (Carmelo Pace - A Maltese composer, Marcel De Gabriele and Georgette Caffari, 1991). At this early stage Pace was composing light music, dance music and songs for singers such as the baritone Watty Cachia and tenor A. Castelletti, together with the Carabott Orchestra under the baton of Mro Cirillo. Among these is 'Carnival', 'Nghannu lil kwiekeb', 'Rivali ta Imhabba' and 'Stedina ghas-sfin'.
At this point, the young composer was in close contact with the ghannejja and guitarists who were recording at the same time. This must surely have had a strong impact on Pace who was composing his Maltesina in 1931. This was followed by other works with a Maltese flavour. The well loved L-Imnarja composed in 1960 was recorded on a 45 record, Maltadisk, in 1968 together with the flip side 'Fejn it-tieqa tal-fanal', composed in 1963. The record sleeve beautifully captures ghannejja and guitarists in action surrounded by attentive listeners.