Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Batmaaaaannn (dudda-dudda-dudda-dudda)....

Yikes.  My follower count has gone from 212 to 210 so far in 2017.  At this rate, I'll be down to 150 by year's end.  (I'm committing the logical fallacy of assuming 1) a given trend will continue and 2) continue at the same rate.)  I shouldn't obsess over this stuff, but I do.  Give me something to obsess over, and odds are I will.  That's me.

Meanwhile, I seem to have "found" my beloved Batman ring of 1966 (the Adam West series was huge that year)--a gumball machine charm that cost me a whole quarter.  It was rubber, and it was much larger than the mundane ten-cent Batman ring that everyone, including me, owned, and I wanted it.  Once I got my hands on two bits, I ran to the drug store across from my house, stuck my coin in the machine, turned the handle, and out dropped....

At least, I think this is that.  I'm more than 90 percent sure, anyway--I'd have to see it stretched out, but it looks like the rubber ring I owned.  The big problem is the keychain (?) that comes with it--I don't remember any such adornment.  Anyway, it's very cool, but not $20 cool.  And besides, if I bought it, all I'd do is stick it someplace, where it would sit, unused and unloved, cursing eBay with its last breath for doing this to it.

Okay, there's another ad for the same thing, and this view convinces me it's the one (except for that dang keychain):

Oh, am I tempted to "Buy It Now."  But I'll save $20 and not.  Nothing is cool enough to justify an 8,000% mark-up.  (Just kidding--that's pretty conservative for a collectible Boomer toy.)

Besides, I'm sure it no longer fits.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday morning gospel:

Click here to hear: Tuesday a.m. gospel


Dreams of the Past--Frank Stamps and His All Star Quartet, 1932
His Charming Love--Vaughan Quartet, 1928
I Want to Go There, Don't You?--Same
Nearer My God to Thee (Sullivan)--Royal Military Band w. Arthur T. Braddon, 1912
Eternal Father, Strong to Save (Dykes)--Arthur T. Braddon, w. organ, 1912 (Credited to Royal Military Band)
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926
Where We'll Never Grow Old--Same
Don't You Love Your Daddy Too?--Higgins Sisters, 1930
The Old Fashioned Cabin--Same
The Meeting in the Air--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy, 1925

Cool labels, no?  Cool music, too.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I'm reading right now that Frank Stamps and His All Star Quartet, who perform Dreams of the Past for us, was the original Stamps Quartet.  They were the guys who recorded Give the World a Smile for Victor in 1927.  Since I lack the patience to even try to follow vocal group history in any genre (the endless name and personnel changes drive me nuts), I never have this stuff in my head, ready to rattle off.  Whatever you think you know about a given vocal quartet, be it jazz or R&B vocal or pop or gospel, you don't know.  Believe me.

Dreams of the Past (1932) is an almost-gospel number, as I call such numbers.  Typically, these are miss-my-mother/I-dream-of-my-old-home songs--not quite gospel, but kind of, sort of religious.  (Hope this isn't too technical.)  The flip is nice, too, but too worn to rescue.

The Vaughan Quartet?  Well, there were a number of these that traveled around in the 1910s and 1920s promoting songs published by James D. Vaughan, whose cheaply printed but awesome songbooks go back to the early 1900s (mine start in the 1920s).  That's all I know--I swear.  This quartet is awesome, much closer to the bluegrass quartet singing of Carl Story than the Stamps, who had that artsy, note-perfect style found in outfits like the Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet.  Concert gospel, I call that.  The Vaughan Q. was more, um, down home.  Along with "authentic," "down home" may be the most subjective musical adjective in use, but I use it proudly, regardless.

Almost-gospel also describes Pictures from Life's Other Side (1926), a socially-conscious number from the late 1800s which, like, Will the Circle Be Unbroken and Angel Band, became every gospel arranger and singer's original.  ("Everyone and his brother stole it" sounds a little bit harsh.)  Along with the flip--Where We'll Never Grow Old (another widely borrowed number)--it was a sacred smash for the Columbia label.  I ripped the best of my three copies, and I think it sounds fabulous.

Almost-gospel, again, with Don't You Love Your Daddy Too? which I fully expected to be a vaudeville type of number with circle-of-fifths harmony a la Alabama Jubilee.  Nope--pure gospel, beautifully sung a cappella by the Higgins Sisters quartet, best described as a reverent, far less jazzy Brox Sisters, if the latter were a foursome.  I'm not sure what I just typed.

Here is an image of Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy, swiped from here.  Once, I had some info about them, but I'm too worn out (third week of a flu/cold bug) to re-find it.  Here they are:

We'll be hearing them from 1925 (the ultra-fundie classic, Meeting in the Air)--luckily, my 78 dating guide includes catalog no.'s for private recordings on Columbia, which is what this is.  I think I put this up before, and I recall someone describing the Lacy's style in less than glowing terms.  But it works for me.

Oh, and Arthur T. Braddon, from 1912: nothing about him on line, but what a gorgeous voice.  He appears on both sides of this Coliseum 78 (Nearer My God; Eternal Father), but only gets label credit for the first.  This Nearer My God is the less familiar Arthur Sullivan (of "Gilbert and..." fame) tune, while Eternal Father is the timeless and magnificent John B. Dykes tune we all know and love (or should).  I was in the Navy, so every listen to Eternal Father is an emotional one for me--and this version, despite the cut-rate label and production, is an absolute gem.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

Andre Kostelanetz, 1934-1946

Andre Kostelanetz 78s for our January 5th--what could be better?  We have Andre's two 12-inchers for RCA Victor--Chant of the Weed/Rumba Fantasy (1935) and Revenge with Music (1934).  And I may be the only person in the world--and a Boomer, no less--who doesn't think the "weed" in Don Redman's Chant of the Weed means marijuana.  I think it's one of the many back-to-Africa songs of the period--otherwise, what is the "Come home" stuff about?  It's a joint calling out to the smoker?  Seems like a stretch.

I mean, when your joints are calling you to "come home," it's voluntary rehab time.

And we have six V-Disc sides, most of which cut off abruptly at their close (I didn't do it).  The most glaring example is the clipped closing kettledrum on Warsaw Concerto, and I think I just originated a phrase ("clipped closing kettledrum").  Not sure.

The 1938 Brunswick sides--Turkey in the Straw and Bugle Call Rag--are even further than the two RCA sides from the Kostelanetz sound we're used to, with Rag sounding in places like Spike Jones before Spike Jones.  And the V-Disc recordings, though they date from Andre's Columbia period, don't have quite the same soupy, distantly miked sound.  It's what Kosty might have sounded like had he stayed at RCA.

The Kostelanetz original, Impressions of Basie (Count Basie, of course), is fun, even if it's the usual orchestrated boogie-woogie masquerading as concert jazz.  Listen to the Rock Around the Clock phrases at the start!

All have been carefully processed by me with VinylStudio.  I created the playback curves mostly from scratch--the Columbia presets were little help.  Interestingly the V-Disc Warsaw Concerto sounds as muddy and murky as the Columbia release, though they're different recordings.  Maybe the engineers erred on the side of emphasizing the lower frequencies, afraid they'd lose the percussion or something.  They didn't.

Part 1  Andre Kostelanetz Part 1

Part 2  Andre Kostelanetz Part 2

Chant of the Weed (Donald Redman)--Andre Kostelanetz Presents (Victor 36161; 1935)
Rumba Fantasy--Same
Oklahoma! Medley--AK and His Orch. (Columbia 7417-M; 1944)
Medley from Snow White and Pinocchio--AK and His Orch. (V-Disc 609; 1946)
Saint Louis Blues--Same
Impressions of Basie (Kostelanetz)--AK and His Orch. (V-Disc 147; 1944)
Malaguena (Lecuone)--Same
Fire Dance (De Falla)--AK and His Orch. (V-Disc 639; 1946)
Turkey in the Straw--AK Conducts (Brunswick 8214; 1938)
Bugle Call Rag--Same
Revenge with Music--AK Presents (Victor 36142; 1934)
Warsaw Concerto (Addinsell)--AK and His Orch. (V-Disc 549; 1945)


Saturday, December 31, 2016

An 1872 Christmas, courtesy of The Little Corporal

Below: A Santa right out of Miracle on 34th St., only from 1872.  The poem is straight out of the progressive Christianity of the day.  I'm guessing the last stanza is Santa himself talking.... 

From the same issue, a comic book-style novelty ad--The Magnetic Fish.  Only 30 cents (actually, 30 cents was some money in 1872).  This predates the birth of Johnson Smith.

Magic Hoops!  "The exercise is so light that the most delicate ladies can excel in the game with pleasure."  Well, that's good to know, especially when the weather becomes too cold for croquet.  And dig the manufacturer: Milton Bradley & Co.!

An 1872 Christmas tree,  property of Bessie.

I'd set these aside to post and forgot all about them until now, with a whole hour and six minutes to go until... 2017. (Bells, party sounds, "Auld Lang Syne," balloons everywhere, cheering.)


What a year! Church, VinylStudio

I'm doing a late year-in-review series at my rarely-used Text blog, because I know people want music here (understandably!) and not the cynical musings of Lee Whatshisname.  So, I'm putting them over there.  Except I seem to have lost my first post.  (What the...?)  It's no longer there.  So much for linking to it.

Maybe I only imagined I typed it.  This is crazy.  Oh, well.

In music news, the organ--a cool Thomas electric, circa 1970--has been fixed at the church where I'm volunteering.  I can't wait to hear it in its fixed state.  It had been sitting around for something like sixteen (!!) years before I warmed it up.  Most of the keys were working, but the volume pedal had major issues.  Then the thing started humming--loudly.

The repairman found frayed wires, and he had to either replace the volume pedal or do lots of work on it.  Anyway, Thomas was the brand used on the Lawrence Welk show, so that's good enough for me.  I always loved that organ sound.  All the rhythms have been deactivated, which is fine with me.  Nothing's quite as unnerving as accidentally activating a cha-cha beat in the middle of Blessed Assurance.  ("Blessed insurance, please pay on time...")

It's a very charming old (I mean, old) country church about a 20 minute drive from here.  And I thought I had an exterior-shot photo ready to post, but I don't.  (Maybe it vanished along with the Text post.)  Here's the inside:

As you can see, it's a church.  (Not sure why the balloons.)  We have a massive congregation of about 30.  I must get an exterior shot, because the building is awesome looking.  I'll do that tomorrow, if it's not too overcast.

It was cool this year having Christmas on a Sunday--and, now, a Sunday New Year's.

Music news, Part 2: VinylStudio, my great new toy (received early from Santa) is giving me the kind of 78 rpm results I've always dreamed of.  After some practice, it's becoming almost second nature to modify playback curves to my liking--sometimes, all it involves is choosing the high and low freq. turnovers, though often it's more complicated.  But not much more.

Inverting the RIAA (LP) playback curve yields a far clearer signal, and from there it's a matter of using a preset (if one is there) or going from scratch.  It's not the time-consuming task I anticipated--I can usually rip and fix seven or eight tracks in one sitting.  Here are eight from the past few days:

I'm in Love Again (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1927

Red Hot Chicago--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1930.

Precious (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Moonlight on the Ganges (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Her Beaus Are Only Rainbows--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Bolshevik--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Wherever You Go--Whatever You Do--Nat Shilkret, Victor Orch., v: Lewis James, 1927

Collette (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1927.

Happy (almost) New Year!