Monday, March 27, 2017

Sunday morning 78s (delayed)--General William Booth, Mark Love, Manhattan Quartett

Some 100-plus-year-old 78s survive in superb condition.  Others (see above) don't.  In fact, the crack on this 1905 disc was an overlapping one until I made both sides flush and taped the rim.  ("So, what are you doing?" "Making both sides flush and taping the rim."  "Is that so?")

And, as you can see, the grooves got a lot of gramophone play back in the day.  Yet, for all that, this thrift store find sounds pretty darn good.  That'll happen sometimes.  The solo tenor lead still rings out 112 years later.  Well worth the buck or two I paid.

The rest of these are in less dire shape--in fact, the two 1907 addresses by Salvation Army founder General William Booth are practically mint, though the dubs themselves are filled with lots of rumble and turntable noise (maybe they were badly transferred from cylinders?).  I left all the lower frequency muck in there for authenticity's sake.  (Eliminating the noise only made Booth's addresses harder to make out.)  At the end of Through Jordan, it may sound like Booth is saying, "Fire abolished!" but he's actually saying "Fire a volley!"  Which means, "Everyone say 'Amen.'"  Or so I read online.

Elsewhere, the conditions range from decent to highly decent, with Mark Love's two sides (who was this great singer?) awesome in both the engineering and singing department.  I could only find two Mark Love sides at the invaluable Online Discographical Project, so maybe that's all he ever did.  A darned shame, if so.

The rest are quartets (including a German "Quartett"), choirs (including "A Church Choir"--the actual name on the label), and, possibly, a trio (Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan).  Hard to tell on Jerusalem, since the singing's a tad ragged.  Which is exactly how 1926 hillbilly gospel should sound.  Great side.

Nearer My God to Thee, by the way, is not the tune familiar to U.S. ears.  Haven't researched it yet.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Sunday morning 78s, delayed

Blessed Assurance--Mark Love, 1925.
Ring the Bells of Heaven--Same
Ein' Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott--Manhattan Quartett (Year unknown; pre-electric)
Ehre Sei Gott In Der Hohe--Same
Sun of My Soul--A Church Choir, 1926
Abide with Me--Same
The Church's One Foundation--A Church Choir, 1910
Nearer My God to Thee--Same
Wayside Cross--Criterion Quartet, 1921
Some Blessed Day--Same
He Will Set Your Fields on Fire--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1927
I Will Sing of My Redeemer--Same
Through Jordan--General Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army, 1907
Please Sir, Save Me--Same
Hold the Fort (Bliss)--The Chautaugua Preachers' Quartette, 1914
Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan--Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers w. Riley Puckett, 1926
The Glory Song (O, That Will Be Glory)--Haydn Quartet, 1905

Sunday morning on a Monday evening.  Only at... MY(P)WHAE!


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kosty speaks! The voice behind the baton.

A treat for us Kosty fans, courtesy of FOTB (friend of the blog) Kevin Tam--a 1955 or 1956 interview with Andre Kostelanetz, in which Andre discusses the inspiration behind the suite (I either didn't know or had forgotten the suite was Kosty's idea), shares some Ferde Grofe details, and, starting with band 6, discusses the other selections on Columbia CL 763.

He had a charming Russian accent--a little thicker than I might have guessed, but of course I had no evidence to go by.  I did, however, watch a Kosty appearance on I've Got a Secret, which is (or at least was) up on YouTube.

The voice behind the baton.  Thanks, Kevin!

Link: Kosty Speaks 

You can listen at or download the file (upper right-hand corner).


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Morton Gould--Elliot Everett and His Orch. (Varsity VLP6041)

Another Record Corp. of America classic, only this time in very acceptable sound.  In fact, the sound quality is pretty astonishing for Royale/Varsity.  (Note that the jacket says Varsity, and the label says Royale.  Typical fake-RCA attention to detail.)

Five excellent compositions by American composer and conductor Morton Gould, plus two filler tracks not by him--Brazilian Boogie and Third-Man (sic) Theme.  A perfectly good ten-inch LP, which makes it superb by Royale standards.  "Recorded in Europe," says the label.  Elliot Everett is a pseudonym.

I used my 3.5 elliptical LP stylus, and it was the right choice.

To the Gould: Morton Gould--Elliot Everett and his Orch. (Varsity/Royale 6041)


Sunday, March 19, 2017

An Hour of Lousy Sound Star Dust--Royale Concert Orchestra

The back jacket promises "full fidelity," which would normally be a good thing, but not when the label is Royale.

Royale, of course, was a member of the Record Corporation of America's stable of ultra-cheap labels, and An Hour of Star Dust is one of the least competently recorded and engineered fake-RCA releases of all--a horrifying charge, but true.  It also contains some of the funnest music anywhere in the company's catalog, so there's that.

By the way, I wrote "fake-RCA" to distinguish RCA from, for instance, RCA.

Did I say incompetently engineered?  Well, on top of the substandard (but full!) fidelity, we have the loud sound of a machine turning on and off between the tracks--a noise I graciously eliminated for you (am I a great guy or what?).  Where these recordings came from, I can't venture to guess--radio broadcasts, maybe?  I'm picturing a hand-held microphone, a tape recorder, and a radio.  That would explain the extremely low fidelity here.

Have I insulted the sound sufficiently?  Probably not.  But, as I noted, this is highly fun stuff, and it's one heck of a cheap-label relic. Note that Hollywood Concerto is actually a male chorus singing sea songs.  Possibly Royale had intended to include something by that name (Hollywood Concerto) but their clerk grabbed the wrong masters or something.  Not worth puzzling over.  It was just the RCA (not to be confused with RCA) way.

To the fun sounds:  An Hour of Star Dust

(See LP front for track listing.)


Friday, March 17, 2017

Ten-inch Kosty: Kostelanetz Strings (1950)

What can I say about this LP?  Well, for one, that I hope I didn't overdo the bass in my restoration.  After inverting the RIAA LP curve (my favorite thing to do!), I set the bass rollover frequency at 500, which might be too boomy (so to speak).  Let me know.

What else can I say about this LP?  Well, it's totally superb, and nobody else--repeat, nobody else--had Kosty's ability to give a fresh feel to music we've (possibly) heard a thousand times.  For instance, dig the angels-in-the-clouds opening to Londonderry Air (which I used to think was about a type of oxygen), and dig the brilliant work on Pizzicato Polka, Hungarian Dance No. 5, and the played-to-death Flight of the Bumble Bee.  This is music so beautifully performed and recorded, your ears don't care that they're on their umpteenth go-round.

I'll have to ask, though--is Schubert's The Bee a standard?  Unlike all the other titles, The Bee doesn't buzz a bell, so maybe it's not a Pops perennial.  If not, why not?  It's great.  I was going to try to make a "ring a bell" pun, but "sting like hell" is the best I could do, so I'll let it bee.  (Get it?  Let it bee???)

Somewhere, I read a review which used the term "Kostelanetized" (can't remember the spelling) to describe what Kosty (or his arrangers, more precisely) did.  Maybe it referred to all the added-sixth and I 6/9 chords. (On the piano, starting on the C below middle C, play C-G-C-E-A-D.  Transpose as needed per key.)  Add in a B under the D for flavor.

 For a more Bacharach-style chord, play C-E-G-B-D-E-G-B. This ends today's music lesson.

To the ten-inch Kosty: Kostelanetz Strings


Humoresque (Dvorak)
Hora Staccato (Dinicu-Heifetz)
Traumerei (Schumann)
The Bee (Shubert)
Flight of the Bumble Bee (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Lullaby (Brahms)
Pizzicato Polka (Johann and Josef Strauss)
Londonderry Air (Traditional)
Hungarian Dance No. 5 in F-Sharp Minor (Brahms)

(Columbia ML 2100; 1950)