Monday, January 21, 2019

Various singles, Part 2--Full of Love, Do You Wanna Ride?, Open the Door Polka

Well, it's not every post in which I get to say, "And included in this playlist is a lovely 1957 number from The Monster That Challenged the World."  So I'm saying it now.  I'll never have another chance.  The performance is credited to Bill Fontaine with Orchestra and Chorus, so Bill must be the harmonica player.  Record collector's logic, in action.  I've seen the flick, and it's much better than the title might suggest, with a couple of excellent shock moments where you know the monster is going to show up, but when and where and from what camera angle, you don't know.  I recall that the giant mollusks in the film are not full of love--quite the reverse--so we can assume this is a love theme for humans.  (Record collector's intuition, again.)  That, plus I found this page.  I'll never again get to type anything like, "Here's a lovely number from The Monster That Challenged the World."  And that's too bad.  I might even do this post over again, just so I can relive the moment.  Damn, this feels good.

And we have a cheap but excellent fake version of Johnny Ray's Cry on the Tops label, and I really made the thing sound a lot better than it does.  Not sure how I manged it, but I gave it a nice bottom and good definition in the treble without any tinny effect.  Mimi Martel does a good job, though next to Ray, she sounds like a singer on benzos.  Sherri Lynn's magnificent Tops label cover of I Want You to Be My Baby is better than the Lillian Briggs hit, and how often did Tops top an original?  It's better in every respect, and the fidelity puts the YouTube posting of Briggs' version to shame.  All of this is only my opinion, but I hold my opinion in high regard.

Then Eileen Scott shows up and sounds more like Rosemary Clooney than Rosemary Clooney on Mambo Italiano.  Was Eileen the real Rosemary?  Then the fabulous Open the Door Polka from 1949, with lyrics (I guess you could call them that) which would never go down today.  This is followed by Artie Malvin doing an okay cover of Tony Bennett's Close Your Eyes--not bad at all.  I'm searching for a pun on the title, but with no luck.  Artie again, with a good High Noon, the singer doing a perfectly decent Frankie Laine.  Sunny Gale's Come Go with Me doesn't do it for me, but it's an interesting oddity.  I think it was Prom, but one of the cheapies did a much better copy.  I just listened to another side by Gale, and Come Go with Me just didn't go with her.

Then it's Mitch Miller, with Stan Freeman on the harpsichord, followed by two sides of a Paulette Sisters single.  The 1952 sound on the Paulette sides is gorgeous, and I don't care that Sui Sin Fa is way un-PC today--I like it.  Not crazy about the flip, Glow-Worm, which copies the Mills Brothers' hit version of the same year, but here it is.  It's so synthetic in its jive element, and it fails to swing.  But the public loved it--the Mills version, anyway--so what do I know.  Just read that Johnny Mercer did the revised lyrics.  Very below par for him.

And for the weirdest offering of the bunch--it's 1954, and famed rock and roll hater Mitch Miller permits a (lousy) cover of Oop Shoop on his label, with a creepy and lewd flip made all the moreso by the fact the Hamilton Sisters are clearly not of age.  My God.  Is this record for real?  And Mitch, of all people, choosing such limited vocalists--the lead on Oop Shoop is pathetic.  Mitch usually went for singers with actual pipes.  Oddly enough, I've seen this record listed for serious money.  I would think Mitch would have paid serious money to bribe discographers not to list it.  Not to be missed.  The lyrics of Do You Wanna Ride? make so little effort to hide what they're about, I'm surprised it isn't Do You Wanna Screw?  It makes Sixty Minute Man sound like I Believe.  Anymore, everything we think we knew about Mitch is shown to be myth.  (Myth Miller?)

I dreamed this record.  I had to.  It doesn't exist.  No--just played it again.  It exists.  An alternate universe is overlapping with ours or something.

Tokyo Boogie Woogie, from 1946, is pretty well known to collectors, I think, but it's a great side, and I got nice sound out of it.  It's a 1953 issue on U.S. Columbia.  And a lively Square Dance Polka by Carson Robison, with me doing a last-minute removal of its flip, Promenade Indian Style, on account of a certain viral video of the moment.  The Robison is actually harmless fun, but 1952-style fun, and this is 2019.   Statler was a dance class record label, and I'm guessing the Statler version of Rock Around the Clock is from the early 1970s, when the tune became famous again in its function as the Happy Days opening theme.  Or whatever I just typed.  I remember that time period pretty vividly--early rock and roll was out, and progressive rock was in, with FM the coolest thing in town (they played entire LP sides!), and this is why I grew up with little knowledge of anything pre-Manfred Mann.  I swear I never heard anything beyond snippets by Elvis until I met John and Bev--there was a greatest hits commercial on TV, but that was it.  I don't remember when malt shop nostalgia started, though I remember when the Beach Boys were suddenly in again, with Endless Summer.  People seem to gloss over the whole period of rock disowning its early days, but I sure remember it.  Anyway, you'll notice that the singer on this dance-class Rock Around the Clock disc clearly doesn't know the melody, meaning that, yes, there was a time when the early classics were as ancient to Boomers as Tommy Dorsey's Song of India.  Real rock was serious; none of this silly early stuff.

Update: Buster reminded me that the Boomer period was pretty broad and that Boomers before me experienced early r&r.  I keep forgetting I was born about the middle of the generation span (1957).  The early-rock blackout happened on my watch.  I didn't properly qualify things....

We close with Pat Patterson doing That's All Right, but he's copying Marty Robbins, not Elvis.  Sorry.  I have no idea what's with the very heavy rumble during the piano solo--probably a poorly placed microphone.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  Various singles, Part 2

Cry--Mimi Martel and the Toppers (Tops 317; 1952)
I Want You to Be My Baby--Sherri Lynn w. Nat Charles and His Orch. (Tops)
Mambo Italiano--Eileen Scott w. the Four Jacks and Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1097; 1954)
Open the Door Polka--Larry Fotine and His Orch. (Decca 24647, 1949)
Close Your Eyes--Artie Malvin w. Vincent Lopez Orch. (18 Top Hits 148)
High Noon--Artie Malvin w, the Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus (Waldorf Record Corp. P 111)
Come Go with Me--Sunny Gale w. Orch. Dir. by Sid Bass (Decca 9-30231; 1957)
Full of Love (From "The Monster That Challenged the World")--Bill Fontaine, 1957
Bolero Gaucho--Mitch Miller and His Orch., w. Stan Freeman, harpsichord (Columbia 4-40655, 1956)
Sui Sin Fa--The Paulette Sisters w. Larry Clinton Orch., 1952
The Glow-Worm--The Paulette Sisters and Dick Style w. Larry Clinton Orch.
Tell Your Tale, Nightingale--Toni Arden w. Percy Faith and his Orch., 1952
Oop Shoop--The Hamilton Sisters (Columbia 4-40319; 1954)
Do You Wanna Ride--The Hamilton Sisters (Columbia 40319; 1954)
Maybellene--Jack Daniels w. Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1135; 1955)
Square Dance Polka (Robison)--Carson Robison and his Pleasant Valley Boys, 1952
Tokyo Boogie Woogie--Shizuko Kasagi w. Columbia Tokyo Orch. (1946)
House of Blue Lights--Artie Malvin w. the Light Brigade (Waldorf, 1955)
Rock Around the Clock--Unknown (Statler 933)
That's All Right--Pat Patterson with the Texas Wranglers (Tops R255; 1954)


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: Blackwood Brothers, Taylor Mountain Boys, Singspiration Quartet, The Smith Brothers

Some toe-tappin' gospel singles to start your Sunday morning, or afternoon, or evening.  Doesn't have to be Sunday, of course.  But it helps put one in the mood.  We start with two numbers I put up in 2017, but they're worth the repeat.  Both are by Charles H. Gabriel (four of his numbers grace this list) and are done with gusto by the Lee College (Cleveland, Tennessee) Choir, with Gabriel's once-famous Awakening Chorus taken at a very fast clip.  From a 45 rpm EP made by/for the choir, and one of my favorite singles, in fact.  The excellent Singspiration Quartet gives us Gottschalk's famous Holy Ghost with Light Divine (one of several similar titles given to this tune), the melody adapted from the once-standard parlor music classic The Last Hope.  And I'm not using "parlor music" in the standard sense (fluff)--the original is a lovely light piano work, and it works beautifully as a hymn tune.  Army of the Lord is by the once-household-name Stuart Hamblen, whose material was often corny and folksy in that fabricated '50s fashion, but who possessed a great deal of songwriting ability, so I can just shut my yap.  I do like his stuff, by the way.  I don't run across Word label 45s very often, and the one in this post may be my sole example--the Imperial Quartet singing Rain, Rain, Rain and Someday, Somewhere, both excellent sides.  At the moment, I don't remember the history behind Gloryland Jubilee, featured here in a superb version by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, but it's awfully close to A Wonderful Time Up There, a.k.a. Gospel Boogie.  Occasionally, you'll have two gospel numbers that are so close, it's hard to pry them apart in memory.  There are two resurrection-morning numbers that fall into that category, and I spent years finding songbook versions of both.  Time for a paragraph break.

The Statesmen's killer 1959 Get Thee Behind Me, Satan has to be heard to be believed--it pretty much sets the bar for lively Southern gospel.  My copy sounds slightly distorted, but the music is so fabulous, it doesn't matter.  Looking at the disc right now, I can't see much, if any, groove wear--maybe it needs a cleaning?  Looks clean, though.  I'll clean it and tell you what I discover.  Stay tuned.  The Cathedral Quartet's 1970 Laughing Song (in stereo, no less!) is actually Ticklish Reuben, which Wikipedia tells us is "a folk song written by Cal Stewart in 1900."  Stewart was known for his laughing songs, a tradition which, far as I know, started in England.  Or so I was told, back when I was collecting 78s in Scotland.  Anyway, a folk song, by definition, is a song with no known authorship, so this is just Wikipedia being stupid.  And my guess would a minstrel show origin for the number--so much was stolen from African Americans, and while "Reuben" of course goes hand in hand with the standard slang for mountain/rural folks ("rubes"), there's no reason an entertainment form awash in class stereotypes would shy away from "rube" or "Reuben."

Why a gospel group recorded this, I don't know.  Why did I put it up?  Um....

Deliverance Will Come is also known as Palms of Victory, and was written by the Reverend John B. Matthias in 1836, and, despite the fact that its authorship is known, Wikipedia doesn't term it a folk song.  Consistency, please, Wiki.  It's a gospel masterpiece--one of those unbelievably simple things that shouldn't work so beautifully but does.  As for the two measures that sound like O Susanna, be advised that Foster's song was published twelve years after this, in 1848.  The bluegrass-times-ten version of Amazing Grace, by the Taylor Mountain Boys, was recorded right here--well, sort of.  It's on the Columbus, Ohio B&4 label, and I'm metro Columbus, so....  To my astonishment, a B&4 discography is out there, and so I'm able to inform you that this is from 1966.  Since we're talking tune history, no one knows when the standard Amazing Grace tune was written, or by whom.  (We know all about the words, of course.)  My sitting-at-the-PC-desk memory tells me that there were three tunes floating around the American tunebooks of the 19th century--Harmony Grove and New Britain were two of them.  Over the many decades, the text has been matched to any number of tunes (I stopped counting after I found the 20th), but just when it became glued to this one, I know not.  A fun musical game is to think of all the tunes that the lyrics fit.  There is Antioch, for instance, the standard tune for Joy to the World.  Try it.  It can also be sung to "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle," i.e. the theme to Gilligan's Island.  You can use the tune to Just As I Am.  A friend and I discovered it goes with the OSU fight song.  It's a crazy world, and we humans are the reason.

The Smith Brothers' highly entertaining Working in God's Factory is "literal" Christianity taken to surreal levels....

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Sunday morning gospel 1-20-19

Reapers Are Needed (Gabriel)--A.T. Humphries and Lee College Choir
Awakening Chorus (Gabriel)--Same
Deliverance Will Come (Matthias)--Masters Trio
Get Thee Behind Me, Satan
Amazing Grace--The Taylor Mountain Boys (B&4 817B-3999; 1966)
Gloryland Jubilee (Buford Abner), 1953
One Step (Toward the Lord), 1953
I'm Gonna Shout--The Smith Brothers, 1955
Working in God's Factory--Same
When Morning Comes--Masters Trio
Holy Ghost with Light Divine (Gottschalk)--Singspiration Quartet, early 1950s
The World Is Not My Home (Brumley)--Same
I'm Gonna Sail Away--The Smith Brothers w. the Gospel Singers, 1953
Rain, Rain, Rain--Imperial Quartet
Someday, Somewhere--Same
Army of the Lord (Hamblen)--The Prairie Choir w. Darol Rice's Orch., 1955
The Church in the Wildwood--Terry Pillow Singers (Royale EP112)
Jesus, Rose of Sharon (Gabriel)--Tops R1003-49)
Brighten the Corner Where You Are (Ogden-Gabriel)--The Browns, feat. Jim Edward Brown, 1960
Laughing Song--The Cathedral Quartet (Eternal 701108; 1970)


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lawrence Welk, featuring Larry Hooper (Coral 57260; 1959)

One of this LP's previous owners decided Lawrence needed a beard, so he or she drew one.  ArcSoft MediaImpression to the rescue.  Whoever defaced Lawrence decided to leave Larry clean-shaven.  Less work for me....

Twelve very entertaining Lawrence Welk sides featuring basso profondo Larry Hooper, and I guess I'm now officially a Welk and Hooper fan.  Of course, if you tell someone you're a "Welk and Hooper" fan, they're likely to say, "What?"  Or "Was that some old vaudeville act?"

The biggest hit in this collection is almost certainly Hooper's 1953 cover version of Don Howard Koplow's Oh, Happy Day, an unbelievably simple number in the standard doo-wop I-vi-ii-V form, with no bridge.  Koplow's version has a lot of historical significance--you might be as amazed as I initially was to discover that a rock and roll number (and that's all it can be called) hit it big on the charts in 1952 and 1953, and (in Koplow's case) in such a raw version.  Elvis invented rock, huh?  But Rolling Stone-style journalists have evolved an amazing and highly effective strategy when it comes to dodging the truth about pop music history--they simply ignore it.

I've included my copy of Koplow's 1952 Oh Happy Day original (no comma in his case), and it sounds awful.  It wasn't all that well recorded to start with, but my edition/pressing (on Essex, but with a label color I haven't seen elsewhere) has plenty of distortion and almost no high end.  Since my disc, despite the cruddy fidelity, is in near-perfect shape, I have to wonder if it's a bootleg.  It's also a semi-tone below every other posting I've heard.  For a while, I was afraid my turntable was running at the wrong speed, but I did some track-comparing, and my table is fine.  It's my copy that was, for some unknown reason, mastered a half-step too low.  Anyway, Koplow didn't have much of a voice--he makes Hooper sound like Jerome Hines.  The three fake-hit versions I've included are also embarrassingly better, mainly because they're professionally done.  A quick check tells me nothing, but I strongly suspect the Your Hits label went along with Your Hit Parade.  Discogs won't tell me, though.  And when the fidelity on a six-selection Waldorf EP is twenty times better than the disc it's copying... what can be said?

Prior to checking the years for these recordings, I figured that Ball of Fire and Falling Star were Welk-Hooper attempts to cash in on the success of Day, but they're too removed, time-wise.  But who knows?  Hooper's precise diction doesn't quite go with Ball of Fire, imo, but there isn't a lame track in this bunch, and Hooper's naturally fine voice is one I could listen to all day.  Or half a day.  For hours, certainly.  Oddly enough, and this is just my opinion, the Welk-Hooper Oh, Happy Day sounds more rock-and-roll than the original, at least after all these decades.  Yes, there's the Welk orchestra chirping along, but it's a bare-bones arrangement, and Hooper respects the material (what material there is) and does it straight, and since he has an infinitely better voice than Don Howard Koplow, and perhaps because of the way the Welk band emphasizes the triplets, there's a genuine r&r sound to Hooper's disc.  As for the original, shouldn't they have redone the take after Koplow messed up the beat at the beginning?

I didn't intend for this essay to be all about Oh, Happy Day, but it is the stand-out number, if only because of its importance to pop music history--and because Hooper's version is so very good.  Hooper made a good deal out of a song that barely qualifies as one.  Roger Boom is a track I wish I'd discovered years ago--it would have been a regular on my Halloween sleighlist.  I won't try to describe it--just listen.  And keep in mind that the writer, Bob Hilliard, also gave us the words to Dear Hearts and Gentle People, Our Day Will Come, Civilization (Bingo Bango Bongo), In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, plus Any Day Now and Please Stay with Burt Bacharach.

Click here to hear: Lawrence Welk feat. Larry Hooper

Oh, Happy Day (Don H. Koplow), 1953
Minnie the Mermaid, 1953
With a Little Bit of Luck, 1956
Falling Star, 1957
The 4th "R" (Religion), 1956
Saw Your Eyes, 1954
Ball of Fire, 1956
It Was That Kiss, 1957
Roger Boom (Bob Hilliard), 1956
Mutual Admiration Society, 1957
Lola O'Brien the Irish Hawaiian, 1955
Hallelujah! Brother, 1953


Oh Happy Day--Don Howard (Essex 311; 1952)
Oh Happy Day--Honey Dreamers (Your Hits 7015; 78  rpm EP)
Oh Happy Day--Dolph Dixon (Waldorf A 114; 45 rpm EP)


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Various singles--Marais, Miranda, Miller; Don Cornell, Eddie Kirk, Carl Story, Harry James

The slow 1957 rock and roll ballad, A Face in the Crowd, refers to (or is literally from?) the famous  Elia Kazan movie of the same name starring Andy Griffith.  The lyrics are by Budd Schulberg, the film's screenwriter, though they're the usual love ballad with no relationship to the picture (far as I can tell).  I didn't see the entire picture, so I can't be sure it isn't in there, but I doubt it.  The music is by Tom Glazer.

The flip, Mama Guitar, is in the picture, at least briefly.  It's also by Schulberg and Glazer.

Next, the you-haven't-lived-until-you-heard-it selection of the playlist, the Mitch Miller-produced version of Josef Marais' The Zulu Warrior.  This is followed by the Waldorf fake-hit version of At the Hop, which I made longer with editing, since it was so short.  All Nite Long is an alternate title for the Jimmy Forrest classic, Night Train--this 1959 45 by Billy Vaughn rocks to a surprising degree, and it's in stereo, which couldn't have been typical of 1959 45s.  Eddie Kirk's Freight Train Breakdown, which showed up for me in a box of thrift store LPs many years ago, is one of my favorite singles ever--jazzy country, and it's a pre-Chuck Berry version of Ida Red.  Skipping ahead a little, we have "T" Texas Tyler's 1948 version of Red, using the actual title, and Tyler's version is also very country-jazzy.  Meanwhile, Ray Anthony's Brother Fats of 1951 is close enough to rock and roll to be rock and roll, imo.

Richard Hayes' version of Come On-a My House will not remind you of Rosemary Clooney's hit, and not just because it's a gender-switch version, but because it has a long verse and a considerably more elaborate arrangement.  The two versions are night and day.  Then, a gorgeous version of Richard Rodger's March of Siamese Children from The King and I, followed by a cheap but effective Tops label fake version of The Little White Cloud That Cried.  And... an incredible prepared piano version of Caravan by Ferrante and Teicher from 1952; the Ray Conniff composition (and arrangement of?) Easy, superbly performed by Harry James and his Orch. (and ripped from my 78 copy); Tony Bennett's rocking Close Your Eyes, from 1955, and the charming Music Box Tango, courtesy of Morton Gould conducting the Rochester "Pops" Orch., 1953.  From a Columbia Entre 45.

The Canadian band Illustration gives us Upon the Earth, from 1969, and it's interesting to hear something this Christian-fundamentalist coming from a progressive rock band--shows how times have changed.  Things end (no pun intended) with Percy Faith performing his very own Goin' Home Train.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Various Singles 1


A Face in the Crowd (Schulberg-Glazer)--Don Cornell, Orch. Dick Jacobs, 1957
Mama Guitar--Same
The Zulu Warrior--Marais, Miranda, Miller, 1952
Shot Gun Boggie (E. Ford)--Rosemary Clooney w. Orch. Dir. by Mitch Miller, 1951
At the Hop--Hal Willis and the Woodchuckers, 1957 (18 Top Hits; Waldorf)
All Nite Long--Billy Vaughn and his Orch., 1959
Freight Train Breakdown--Eddie Kirk, 1951
Brother Fats--Ray Anthony and his Orch., v: Gloria Craig and the Skyliners, 1951
Come On-a My House--Richard Hayes w, vocal group, Orch. c. George Bassman, 1951
The March of Siamese Children (Rodgers)--Norman Leyden Child's World Orch., 1959
The Little White Cloud That Cried--Nancy Brookes and the Toppers (Tops 312, 1952)
Caravan--Ferrante and Teicher, Two-pianos, 1952
Easy (Conniff-James)--Harry James and His Orch., 1946
Close Your Eyes--Tony Bennett, 1955
Music Box Tango--Morton Gould, c. the Rochester "Pops," 1953
Ida Red--"T" Texas Tyler and his Oklahoma Melody Boys, 1948
Tamboo (Cavez)--American Symphonic Band of the Air, 1955
Mocking Banjo--Carl Story and His Rambling Mountaineers, 1957
Upon the Earth--Illustration (1969)
Goin' Home Train (Faith)--Percy Faith and His Orch., 1959


Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Monarchs of Melody--All My Love (Waldorf Music-Hall 33-194; 1958)

Oddly enough, despite the intensity of the Christmas posting, I have two or three projects going, and almost ready to put up.  Weird.  Anyway, this is the kind of LP--10-incher in this case--that you just have to buy because of the cover.  Doesn't matter what the music sounds like--the cover is just classic.  And I almost didn't bother with the music.  I set the needle down, and this ultra-slow quartet stuff started, and I thought to myself, "No.  No way."  But there was something nice about the sound, and it quickly became apparent these were expert musicians, and, once I got used to the movement-of-the-minute-hand pace of the tracks, I started to like them.  And their version of  Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me is absolutely perfect. because... um....  Well, I'm not sure why.  It just captures the essence of that tune, which is nothing more than the Heart and Soul chords that 90 percent of the slow early rock and roll ballads consisted of.  Find keyboard.  In root positions, play C Major, A minor, D minor, G7 in second position, lather, rinse, repeat.  And the melody is so amazingly simple that it works for that reason, not despite it.  It's perfection in song form.

Sound quality is very good, and the only condition issues are in the last track--ironically, the one track that moves.  I took most of the noise out that track, but some residue remains.  No matter.  Give this one a chance.  Let it pull you along.  It's slower than a sleep-walking turtle, but somehow the effect is not soporific.  Not on me, anyway.  You quickly realize these are musicians who like slow tempos, and perhaps the main point is that playing fast isn't the only way to play things well or right.  Best of all, it relays its era in a you-are-there sort of way, and I love records like that.  Glad I got this one, even if it was mostly for the cover.  The tracks are like an added benefit.

There's a 12-inch edition of this (with extra tracks, of course), and I'm going with the year for the 12-incher: 1958.

To the Monarchs of Melody: All My Love--The Monarchs of Melody

I Surrender Dear
I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You
Hold Me, Thrill me, Kiss Me
Ill Wind
All My Love

All My Love--The Monarchs of Melody (Waldorf Music-Hall 33-194, 1958)  Discogs identifies the musicians as: Accordion--Dominic Cortese and Nick Periro; Bass--Sandy Block; Guitar--Don Amone, and Hammond Ogran--Richard Lawrence.