Monday, October 31, 2016


Turn the lights down low, huddle closely together on this chilly Halloween night, and quiver with terror as you listen to these MY(P)WHAE classics!  Or giggle with amusement (whichever works).  These are the Halloween tracks that never die at this blog.  Maybe that's because I keep featuring them.  Yeah, that would explain it.

David Rose's wonderful Satan and the Polar Bear (Satan and the polar bear??), from 1954, is a thousand times more effective, to my ears, than the cliched dreck that functions as scary background music nowadays.  There, I said it.  It anticipates the manic, in-your-face spook-music tradition of our time, but, as originals often manage to be, it's way better than the stuff it inspired.

The two Addams Family renditions are adorable, with the vivid stereo of the De Vol version a treat for the ears.  (I think I ripped it off of my old Dual 1000-series turntable.)  And, after umpteen plays, Sinner's Train remains an astonishingly well crafted, well performed, and well recorded track--and it's from the guy (Art Mooney) who gave us the 1947 smash hit version of I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover!  That may be the scariest thing about it....

Cross-dressing British comic Douglas Byng's 1963 re-recording of I'm a Mummy is a masterpiece--not of horror, but of sophisticated wit.  Sophisticated wit doesn't happen very often at Halloween, so be grateful.  King Kong and It's About Time are two TV themes of the sixties, and the latter--a comedy about astronauts who end up back in the Stone Age--was a big hit with me and my brother when it first aired.  (Not enough to keep it on, unfortunately.)  They're Coming to Tow Me Away is a wonderful BP ad that aired during the winter of 1997.  It almost, but not quite, makes up for the BP ads to come.

John Logan's Dinner with Drac is a cheap knock-off of the 1958 John Zacherle hit, and just about as unfunny.  The late 1950s, by the way, seems to have been the period when the monsters of Universal Studios emerged as Halloween icons, and no doubt TV reruns of Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. were the reason.  Hence, horror host Zacherle scoring a hit record (and John Logan copying it, and pretty well).

Relatively recent history.  And you was there!

Lookout Mountain, with its lyrics about voodoo and corpses rising from the swampland,  remains one of the weirdest records of its type (whatever that may be).  Is this a cover of an original, I wonder?  Also, did the husband, in fact, rise from the swampland and find the hopeless lovers on Lookout Mountain?  And if they knew he was coming to Lookout Mountain, why didn't they arrange to be somewhere else?

The lyrics don't stand up to logical analysis.

The H Man is a one-sided 1958 "Theatre Lobby Spot" 78 with two bands, both identical.  I combined the best audio from both for this rip.  The narration is beyond hilarious.  The synthesizer effects in the background, on the other hand, are awesome.

Torero is Julius La Rosa's cover of an Italian novelty mega-hit by Renato Carosone, and though not nearly as quirky, it's well sung and accompanied with spirit, and it's a great addition to the Men in White genre.

Just click on the slaylist titles...



Satan and the Polar Bear (Rose)--David Rose and His Orchestra, 1954
The Addams Family (Mizzy)--Frank De Vol, 1965
Sinner's Train--Art Mooney, His Orchestra and Chorus, 1956
I'm a Mummy--Douglas Byng, 1963
King Kong--Wade Denning and the Port Washingtons, 1966
It's About Time--Wade Denning and the Port Washingtons
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane--Music By De Vol, 1962
Elemtary, My Dear Watson (Indelli)--William Indelli and His Orch., 1960
Lookout Mountain--Chuck Miller
Sittin' By Sittin' Bull (Driftwood)--Eddy Arnold, 1959
Haunted House Polka--The Cavaliers, date unknown
The H Man (Theater Lobby Spot, 1958)
They're Coming to Tow Me Away (1997 BP commercial)
Sweeney Todd the Barber--Stanley Holloway, 1956
Journey Into Space--Frank Weir and His Saxophone, w. His Chorus and Orch., 1955
The Horror Show--Sharkey Todd and His Monsters, 1959


Hooray, Hooray, I'm Goin' Away (S. Skylar)--Beatrice Kay, w. Mitchell Ayres O., 1947
I Love Him So Much (I Could Scream)--Peggy Lloyd w. Nick and His Gang, 1950
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte--Lawrence Welk
Mr. Ghost Goes to Town--Five Jones Boys (1936)
Addams Family--Lawrence Welk and His Orch., 1965
Torero--Julius La Rosa, 1958
The Merry Ghost from Chatham Square--Henry Rene Musette Orch., w. vocal, 1942
Dinner with Drac--John Logan (Promenade 34)
The Cool Gool--Sharkey Todd and His Monsters, 1959
I Died All Over You--Bud Messner and His Sky Line Boys, v: Bill Franklin, 1950
Robot Man--Jamie Horton (Gayla Peevey), 1960
Little Monster--The Baker Sisters w. Hugo Peretti O.
Hypnotized--Ted Fio Rito and His Orch, v: Fuzzy Marcellino, 1936
It's Witchery (Tobias)--Charles Spivak and His Orch., v: Tommy Mercer, 1947
Big Bad Wolf (Bartel)--Don Cherry w. Ray Conniff Orch., 1958



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Males from the Crypt present: Halloween Instrumentals, Part Two!!

From the crypt they crept: Left) Frankie, looking as green as ever; (right) some grave-looking dude in a less hairy state than we last saw him; and (middle) the toothy Brit Braincase III, who has had enough of people calling him "Yorick."  "Call me Bonehead, call me whatever you like, but the 'Yorick' stuff stopped being funny after the first couple hundred times," he says.

Together, they are Males from the Crypt.  No one knows what their act consists of.  "Neither do we, actually," reports the trio's leader (right).

It's always a problem when you get a line-up and snazzy name, but you forgot to form an act.  (Awkward Segue Alert): But now we'll be hearing from twelve artists who, um... who certainly had their acts together, yes sir.  And, lucky for us, they had recording contracts.

Here's the link: Halloween Instrumentals, Part 2, and line-up:

(All ripped from shellac and vinyl in my collection)

Devil's March (von Suppe)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1910.
Swamp Fire (Mooney)--Andre Kostelanetz Conducts, 1938.
Heinzelmannchens Wachtparade (Kurt Noack)--Polydor Brass Band Orch., prob. 1928.
Dance of the Potted Puppet (Morant)--Ambrose and His Orch., 1947.
The Haunted Ballroom (Toye)--Kingsway Symphony Orch., c. Camarata, 1947,
The Ghost of the Violin--Two-Step--Prince's Band, 1913.
Polka from "The Age of Gold" (Shostakovich)--RCA Symphony Orch., c. Fred Fradkin
Grand Canyon Suite (Grofe)--Cloudburst--Paul Whiteman Concert Orch., 1932.
March of the Gnomes (Rebikoff)--RCA Victor Orch., c. Ardon Cornwell
Theme from Man of a Thousand Faces--Wayne King Orch., 1958.
Snake Hips (Spencer Williams)--The Original Memphis Five, 1923.
Spellbound (Rozsa)--Lewis Davies and His Orch., 1961

Devil's March has a great Halloween-sounding title, even if the music itself is less spooky than the theme to Hogan's Heroes.  Catchy side, though!  Swamp Fire is more like it--sinister, though in a swingy way.  (Swingy way?)  Kurt Noack's cheerful 1912 hit, Brownies' Guard Parade, is still being performed--on YouTube, at least--and it's a lot of fun, even if it suggests Halloween less than, say, Devil's March.  And, as I listen to it, I hear that I failed to edit out all the clicks--something for me to obsess over.  Anyway, fabulous Polydor/Deutsche Grammophon label fidelity for 1928, which I'm guessing was the recording year.

Ghost of the Violin is a repeat from last year's "Haunted Gramophone" posts, but this is a new, better rip, while The Haunted Ballroom (sorry for the rough spots in an otherwise great pressing) is taking its first bow.  Very charming number, though only about as Halloween in sound as, say, Brownie's Grand Parade.  (Is a pattern emerging here?)

Really, the only scary-sounding number in this set is Miklos Rozsa's Spellbound, and it's only eerie in patches.  I guess we can consider this post music for a cheery Halloween....


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Frankenstein Brothers Present... Halloween Instrumentals, Part One!

I heard a rumor that Halloween is coming.  So did the Frankenstein Brothers (pictured above).  Don't they look like they're out to avenge someone or something?  They have that going-to-the-showdown look.  Well, except for the guy in the bib (a finger puppet, for people with raccoon-sized digits).

Maybe we can send them over to Windstream headquarters to get some action going on this on/off, off/on connection thing.  No, no, just kidding.  Never threaten your ISP, even in jest.  Of course, should these guys decide to march on over there, it's not within my power to prevent them.  First, they'd have to find out where Windstream headquarters are.  That would help.

Frankie 1: Must find Windstream headquarters.  By the way, where is it?  Frankie 3:  I was wondering that, myself.  Frankie 2: Shut up and keep hulking.

For this slaylist, I've resurrected Sammy Kaye's extremely space-age-pop recording of the theme from William Castle's The Night Walker (1964), plus Mantovani's marvelous 1955 recording of Morton Gould's Deserted Ballroom--the best-ever version, imo.  The Sundowners are back, in a new rip, with Charles R. Grean's The Thing.

New, much better rips on Earl Fuller's Graveyard Blues (1918) and Mummy Mine (1919), and an improved Greenwich Witch, with composer Zez Confrey on the piano.  Hal Herzon's rendering of Morton Gould's Robot comes from a genuinely weird LP, one which gives the buyer zero idea what to expect, unless multiple poses of an attractive bikinied model with too much makeup shouts "concert jazz by Morton Gould."   It's not the same bandleader's 1948 MGM recording, as far as I know.  Just to clear that up.

Ferde Grofe's Rip Van Winkle is from the composer's Hudson River Suite, and this is an edited-down version of Andre Kostelanetz' 1955 recording.  Grofe's 1963 Trick or Treat is Kostelanetz again, from the two-record Spirit of '76 set.  Recorded in 1976, of course.

What can I say about John Arthur Meale's The Storm (recorded by the composer in 1926)?  Well, first off, it may have originated as an organ improvisation, and it doesn't appear to have been published.  It existed as early as 1905, and appears to have originally been called Storm at Sea (which would explain the stanza of Eternal Father, Strong to Save).  The sections (quoted from a 1906 recital announcement) are:

Calm at Sea--Distant Thunder--Rising Wind--Hooting of Sirens in the distance--Hymn, "Eternal Father, strong to save"--Tempestuous Sea (theme on the Pedal Organ during the storm)--Thunder rolls away--Thanksgiving Hymn, "O God, our help in ages past," etc.

To my ears, perfect Lon Chaney, Sr. silent film background music.  Gramophone magazine called The Storm "a ludicrous piece of theatricalism," and "a demonstration of the worst excesses of which the organ is capable."  Hm.  But did they like it, otherwise?

To the sounds:  Halloween Instrumentals, Part One!


Prelude  (Rachmaninoff, Arr. C. Morena)--Marek Weber, 1928
In the Hall of the Mountain King--Bill Bell, Tuba, 1958
The Storm (Meale)--1926 (from 1928 Victor pressing)
The Thing--The Sundowners Band, 1951
Greenwich Witch (Confrey)--Zez Confrey, piano solo, 1922
Rip Van Winkle (Grofe)--Andre Kostelanetz, 1955 (edited 45-rpm version)
Deserted Ballroom (Gould)--Mantovani, 1955
Graveyard Blues--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch.,, 1918
Mummy Mine--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1919
Robot (Gould)--Hal Herzon and His Orch.
Theme from the Night Walker (V. Mizzy)
Trick or Treat (Grofe)--Andre Kostelanetz