Sunday, May 13, 2018

A near-legit collection of TV themes from SPC

Diplomat was a Synthetic Plastics Co. label, which makes The Themes from Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare and Other Great TV Shows a fairly extraordinary issue--for SPC, I mean.  First off, despite the typically lousy pressing, the sound quality is mostly very good.  Second, there's amazingly little fakery going on, selection-wise.  That is to say, most of these really are the TV themes in question.  (Helps that several are public-domain pieces.)  Exceptions: Victory at Sea (while a clever arrangement, this is not the VAS theme), The French Review and The Hawaiian Spectacular--the last two, because I can find no record of any such TV shows having ever existed.

Plus, there was no Alfred Hitchcock TV Show.  There were Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, however.  And it was The Danny Thomas Show--no "TV." Minor points, but still....

The p.d. selections are Tales from the Vienna Woods (Arthur Murray), Danny Boy (Danny Thomas), and Funeral March of a Marionette (Hitchcock).  No doubt, SPC had recordings of these sitting around in their vast, cheap library.

The Late Show theme is, of course, Leroy Anderson's wonderful The Syncopated Clock.

Anyway, a whopping seven out of ten of these TV themes are the real McCoy, making this a near-legit collection in that regard.  Most astonishingly, the titles on the back jacket are listed in the actual order they appear on the disc.  And the cover is rather nice.  Maybe I dreamed the whole thing.

(Bear with the lethargic Ben Casey rendition--it gets much better.)

Click here to hear: The Themes from...

Theme from Ben Casey
Theme from Cheyenne
Theme from the Late Show
Theme from Arthur Murray's TV Party
Theme from the French Review
Theme from Dr. Kildare
Theme from Victory at Sea
Theme from the Danny Thomas TV Show
Theme from the Alfred Hitchcock TV Show
Theme from the Hawaiian Spectacular

(No artists credited; Diplomat 2269; 1962)

Sorry about the Zippshare shenanigans--just close the fake page that comes up when you first press the donwload button, then try again.  Should work second time.  And, of course, choose "block" for notifications.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

An easy-listening LP of current hits from just BEFORE the Beatles

My reason for buying this LP?  The colorful cover?  No, it had more to do with the track line-up, a very unusual one for an easy-listening LP.  Surfer Girl My Boy Friend's BackThen He Kissed Me?  Not tracks you expect on an LP of this type.

There's a simple reason for that, I think--this LP is pre-Beatles, chart-wise.  Barely (late 1963), but it's pre-Beatles (as in, before the Beatles hit the American shores).  I have a theory that, post-Beatles, it was easier for the big bands, Ray Charles Singers-type groups, and individual pop singers to do LPs of current hits in pretty much the same style from track to track, simply because the Top 40 lost a measure of diversity during the Invasion.  A big measure.  (Nothing against the B. Invasion--I love a lot of it.)  Plus, post-Beatles, labels seem to have developed a sense of keeping the adult stuff separate from the teen stuff.  No More and My Boyfriend's Back on the same collection.  That would be like Satisfaction and People on the same 1965 easy-listening disc.  Not likely.  (Now, watch me find such an LP in my next thrift trip.)  So this LP is an important relic.

This LP is also fascinating in the variety of approaches employed.  And in the attempts to achieve something like the sounds of the originals in the rock numbers My Boyfriend's Back/Then He Kissed me, Candy Girl, and Wait 'Til My Babby Gets Home.  A very pleasant surprise.

And how could I not have bought an easy-listening LP that includes Surfer Girl?  Impossible.

A classic, for its weird line-up and the completely unexpected diversity of approaches to the big hits being covered.  However, while writing this post, I spot-listened to the 1961 "Living Stereo" LP,  Ray Ellis Plays the Top 20, which has a rock and roll sound throughout, plus a line-up of songs that are mostly in the same vein.  Kind of blasts my pre-Beatles/post-Beatles theories out of the water!  So, uh, just disregard my previous speculations.

Oh, well.  Some nights are like that.  Enjoy:

Click here to hear:  Leroy Holmes Singers--14 Big Hits

If I Had a Hammer
Blue Velvet
My Boyfriend's Back
Then He Kissed Me
Hey Girl
Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home
Treat My Baby Good
Green, Green
Cry Baby
Danke Schoen
Candy Girl
Blowin' in the Wind ("Originally made famous by Peter, Paul & Mary"--from jacket)
Surfer Girl

Above is the track listing as presented on LP's rear, but at least a couple tracks feature two titles in one cut.  No accounting for the typos "Then He Kissed Me Mother" on the front jacket or "Wait 'Til My Baby Gets Home" on the label.  (It's "Bobby")

14 Big Hits--The Leroy Holmes Singers (United Artists UAL 3306, 1963)


Saturday, April 21, 2018

A record for Christmas in 1948

What do you do when you find a marvelous home-recorded Christmas disc (78 rpm) in a thrift store in late April?  You put it up at your blog pronto, of course.  (No, my blog isn't named "pronto.")

Once upon a time, people used disc-cutting machines to cut their own discs.  Eventually (during the 50s?), people switched to magnetic tape for home recording.  That's the history as I know it--it's probably a bit more complicated than that.  But here's a home-made Christmas disc by a very young man named Billy.  I know this, because on the second side Billy introduces a piano piece (nothing I recognize; sounds like a by-ear number) with the words, "This is Billy, making you a record for Christmas of (in?) 1948."  Thus I know the recording year.  Of course, Billy could have simply been the engineer, but I suspect he's the ivory tinkler, at least on side 2.  He's a decent player for a kid.

I'm designating the piano solo (which features a false start, followed by some Charles Ives harmonies, before it gets going) as side 2 because it contains no label writing; the flip (above) lists White Christmas and Jingle Bells as the pieces, and what looks like "Billy Four" as the artists.  So I'm assigning it side-1 status.  Problem is, there are only two musicians--tenor (?) sax and piano, so maybe "Four" (or "Lour"?) is Billy's last name.  Will we ever know?

Condition isn't very good (Maybe I should have employed some hiss filtering), but I used the curve marked "AFRS Transcriptions #1" in my VinylStudio program, and it brings the music out loud and clear over the disc noise.  AFRS, of course, is Armed Forces Radio Service, which eventually became Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), or "A-farts," as we called it in the Navy.  AFRTS would send my first ship videos to play over the closed-circuit system, and one night I was showing a program for the crew while watching a tape on another machine.  Meaning to fast-forward the other tape, I accidentally fast-forwarded the AFRTS program.  Knock on the door--a crewmember.  "Could you please reshow the last five minutes or so?" he asked.  Oops.

AFRTS programs always included Navy recruiting spots, and you can imagine the responses they received in our TV lounges.  Anyway, of course this disc has nothing to do with AFRS, but the curve sure matches up beautifully.

To Billy and the Billy Four: A Record for Christmas of 1948.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Dorsey Touch (Hollywood LPH-136; 1957)

So, why did I buy this Goodwill album?  Well, after going through eight or nine boxes, I'd picked a small group of LPs and 45s.  My brother-in-law was standing next to me.  I thought this jacket was kind of cool (it is--surprisingly so for a cheapo label), so I held it up and said, "Do I want this?"  "Yes, you want this," he replied.  So I bought it.

The label is Hollywood, and here Hollywood is pulling the standard budget-label read-the-smaller-print scam: a big (colorized?) picture of the famous artists being exploited, the artists' name in big letters ("Dorsey"), and no Tommy or Jimmy Dorsey present on the disc.  Surprise!!  Just Maury Laws' Orchestra and Chorus, which does a surprisingly decent job recreating the Tommy Dorsey sound (7 to 8 on a scale of 10).  (I don't think any of these were originally Jimmy Dorsey sides, but correct me if I'm wrong.)  Surprisingly decent, because the budget couldn't have been very sky-high.  In all, a fun LP with a few outstanding performances.  My only complaint: some truncated arrangements, including my two all-time favorite TD tracks: Marie and Sunny Side of the Street.  How could they?  But there's an excellent Opus No. 1, so maybe I can forgive this lapse in $1.98-LP wisdom.  This junk-label album far exceeded my low expectations, so I'll give it an A.  Besides, the cover rocks.

Biggest surprise: the very decent sound.  I combined left and right for fabulous results.  Not usually, but sometimes the poverty-row record companies get it right.  Well, except for putting the jacket's track listings in the correct order, but that's a proud budget label tradition.  These folks have standards to uphold.

Click here to hear: The Dorsey Touch--Maury Laws' Chorus and Orch.

Getting Sentimental Over You
Royal Garden Blues
Boogie Woogie
Song of India
Swanee River
Will You Still Be Mine/Once in a While
Yes Indeed (Sy Oliver)
Sunny Side of the Street
I'll Never Smile Again
Opus No. 1 (Sy Oliver)
This Love of Mine/Embraceable You/There Are Such Things
Quiet Please (Sy Oliver)
Getting Sentimental Over You

Prepared and Directed by Maury Laws (Hollywood LPH-136, 1957)


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Teen-age Favorites (a.k.a. Teenage All-Time Favorites) (Broadway 1038)

The couple (above) looks like it's being tortured.  In the Hall of Bad Poses, this jacket cover probably has its own special room.

Now, when you see an album cover this banged up (I cloned out some of the worst of it, save for the pose itself), you can only assume the disc is toast, but in fact it's a solid average.  So I got good sound out of all nine (yes, nine) of the tracks.  Oh, and in typical zero-budget label fashion, the jacket title listings are out of sync with the actual order, and the label sports a different title than the front (Teenage All-Time Favorites).  Yup, everything checks out.

Despite the 1958-style art, this collection of sound-alike hits dates from 1963!  And what a group of  1963 "Teen-age Favorites" (keeping in mind these are all "fake" versions)--the 1954 Kay Starr hit, Rock and Roll Waltz; the 1957 Jim Reeves hit Four Walls; Sal Mineo's Start Movin' (In My Direction), same year; two Fats Domino numbers (Be My Guest, My Girl Josephine--1959 and 1960); and the then-current Sam Cooke classic, Another Saturday Night.  I guess none of the teens surveyed by the Broadway label were into the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore, Stevie Wonder, or Bobby Vinton.

Anyway, this very strange worth-it-for-the-cover-pose-alone album is actually pretty fun listening.  Find out for yourself.  You'll thank me (or not).

Click here to hear: Teen-age Favorites

TEEN-AGE FAVORITES--Vocals & Orch. by Popular Radio & TV Artists (Broadway 1038)

Another Saturday Night
Rock & Roll Waltz
My Girl Josephine
My Heart Is an Open Book
Stood Up
She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)
Be My Guest
Four Walls
Start Movin' (In My Direction)