Monday, February 08, 2016

Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926-1930--Classic country gospel!

Terrific gospel sides by the terrific Smith's Sacred Singers, a quartet from North Carolina which was led by one J. Frank Smith.  Many familiar tunes here, and I've done my best to trace them to the actual authors and years--not an easy task, since most are associated with later, big-name recording artists.  For example, Pictures from Life's Other Side tends to be associated with Hank Williams, who, under the pseudonymn Luke the Drifter, narrated the song for MGM.  I've been tracking down Picture's history for quite a while, and all I know for sure is that it's pre-1900 and that no two published melodies are identical.  That, plus the title shows up in different forms (A Picture from..., for ex.).  Here's Wikipedia's take, which seems right: Pictures from Life's Other Side.  Below are scans from a turn of the century songster of the same name (!) which features the words only, credited to Charles E. Baer and copyrighted 1896 (which may simply be that particular publisher's year).  These are (mostly) the same words we hear on the Smith recording:


Pictures' lyrics are in the same socially progressive vein as those of Only a Tramp (a.k.a. Tramp on the Street) and Father's a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead, two other late nineteenth-century pop numbers that became gospel standards.

He Will Set Your Fields on Fire (w: L.L. Brackett; m: C.M. Ballew) is associated with Bill Monroe and Carl Story, but, obviously, the song predates their recordings.  I know nothing about its year of origin, save that it was no later than 1927 (the date of this 78)!  Fabulous song.

Meet Me There (w: Fanny J. Crosby; m: William Kirkpatrick, 1885).  Camp-meeting-style "answer" chorus and Crosby lyrics!  What more could anyone want?

Where We'll Never Grow Old (a.k.a. Never Grow Old) (w/m: Jas. C. Moore).  For background, here's a typically outstanding entry from the Internet's best website, Cyber Hymnal: Never Grow Old.  I had no idea the song was a lift!

When Jesus Comes (w/m: James W. Gaines, 1923)

Shouting on the Hills (a.k.a There'll Be Shouting) (w/m: E.M. Bartlett, 1925)

I Will Sing of My Redeemer (w: Philip P. Bliss, 1876; m: James McGranahan, 1877)

I Want to Go to Heaven (w/m:?).  I can find nothing on this!

We Shall Rise (a.k.a. Hallelujah, We Shall Rise) (w/m: John E. Thomas, 1904)

Working for the Crown (w: Mrs. H.A. Mabry; m: H.A.R. Horton, 1899)

Lord I'm Coming Home (w/m: William J. Kirkpatrick, 1892)

The Church in the Wildwood (a.k.a. Little Brown Church in the Vale) (w/m: William S. Pitts, 1857).  One of the most famous sacred choruses ever.

All 78s are from my collection, and ripped and restored with MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX.  The sound quality ranges from so-so to very good.  Some of these needed a lot of work.  To the songs:

Click here to hear: Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926-1930


He Will Set Your Fields on Fire--Columbia 15144-D (1927)
Meet Me There--Columbia 15401 (1929)
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Columbia 15090-D (1926)
Where We'll Never Grow Old--Same
When Jesus Comes--Columbia 15371-D (1928)
Shouting on the Hills--Columbia 15110-D (1926)
I Will Sing of My Redeemer--Columbia 15144-D (1927)
I Want to Go to Heaven--Columbia 15230-D (1927)
We Shall Rise--Same
Working for the Crown--Columbia 15401-D (1929)
Lord I'm Coming Home--Columbia 15371-D (1928)
The Church in the Wildwood--Columbia 15551-D (1930)


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tea Cup Girl; The Vamp; more! (1919-1922)

So, I just discovered something about my Magix program that I didn't know: it exports individual WAV files as mp3s.  Previous versions didn't do this, and I swear I tried it with this version and nothing worked.  That's very possibly because my previous PC was an all-in-one model, which pretty much means a laptop.  There are all sorts of things it wouldn't do.  (Or, rather, couldn't do.  I can't ascribe intention to a machine, though I do, anyway.)

Now I have lightning-fast WAV to mp3 conversion.  You can't know how much easier this makes life.  I am very pleased.

And I hope you'll be very pleased by today's dance band 78s, most of them from the early 1920s, and ripped with care and skill by your blogger (he thinks so, anyway).  Lots of fascinating changes happening in dance music of the late 1910s and early 1920s, not the least of which is the fairly sudden appearance of four-beat pulses (thanks, in large part, to the banjoists' time-keeping) versus the usual two-beat.  The tracks to listen for in that regard: Ruby, Birdie, My Sunny Tennessee, and Who'll Be the Next One.  None of these swings in the 4/4 style of 1932 Duke Ellington, but they're an important evolution beyond the (as much as I love them) one-steps and slow fox-trots of Joseph C. Smith and others.  There's just a whole new rhythmic feel in these particular sides--smooth and streamlined, swingier.

On the other hand, though not four-beat in feel, the Waldorf-Astoria Orch.'s lightning fast one-step on The Vamp is unusually potent, so maybe I'm underestimating the power of 2/2.  Just don't try to make out the bizarre and clunky lyrics--it's not worth the effort, and it distracts from the (for its time) progressive arrangement.  Waldorf-Astoria leader Joseph Knecht, born in 1864 in Austria, is better known for his fabulous B.F. Goodrich Silvertown Cord Orch. recordings on Victor.

And yes, you're hearing Puccini in The Vamp chorus.

The Kentucky Serenaders' 1920 Venetian Moon, after a sluggish start, gets nice and swingy, and two familiar strains pop up: the one used by Elvis Presley on Surrender, and a tune that sounds uncannily like the first half of the huge 1922 hit, Hot Lips.  And if you think you're hearing Tchaikovsky in Where the Volga Flows, you are correct.  And that's a bit from Rachmaninoff's C-sharp minor prelude at the end, possibly the most quoted piece of the early 1920s.

To the music:  Tea Cup Girl, The Vamp, more!


Tea Cup Girl--Eddie Elkins Orch., 1921
Breeze (Blow My Baby Back to Me)--The Synco Jazz Band, 1919
Tell me--Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orch., vocal: Irving Kaufman, 1919
Ruby--Medley--Vincent Lopez Orch., 1921
Where the Volga Flows--Frank Westphal and His Rainbo Orch., 1922
Birdie--Frank Westphal and His Rainbo Orch., 1922
The Vamp--One-Step (Byron Gay)--Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orch., 1919
Venetian Moon--Kentucky Serenaders, 1920
My Sunny Tennessee--The Columbians, Dance Orch. De Luxe, 1921
Who'll Be the Next One (To Cry Over You)--The Happy Six, 1921
Oriental Stars--One-Step (James Monaco)--Prince's Dance Orch., 1920
Bound in Morocco--Princ'es Dance Orch, 1920


Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Gesundheit!" and other greats from the acoustical era! (1907-1922)

A playlist of mostly novelty 78s--some of my favorites from my overflowing collection.  Two of out titles--Me-ow and Taxi--are by novelty master Mel B. Kaufman, who also wrote More Candy, Muslin Rag, Umbrellas to Mend, Ouch! and Step on It.  Oddly enough, he did not write Gesundheit!, our last selection--its author was J. Fred Helf, who--wouldn't you know it--has a Wikipedia entry.

Hezekiah was written by Don Richardson, and of course I'm dying to know whether or not he's the Don Richardson who made country fiddle recordings for Columbia.  I wouldn't be surprised--he was a versatile guy.

The orchestra on Japanese Moon is led by Nathan Glantz, but the British label credits the Continental Dance Orchestra.  Which is fine, because the Imperial Record label can credit whoever it wants, I suppose.  Speaking of labels, I almost gave up on fixing the scan for this one--only when I hiked up the saturation did I get the proper light-hitting-the-label-from-the-side effect I was seeking.  Otherwise, the label is barely readable.  But it's an awesome design, so I tried a multitude of effects until I got it right.  Thank you, PhotoPad Image Editor.

Oh, and the Gorman of "Gorman's Novelty Syncopators" is the justly famous Ross Gorman (think Paul Whiteman Orch., Rhapsody in Blue).  Very fun side, and you have to wonder--is this the first fade-out ending ever recorded?  (Probably not.)

At what other blog are you going to find a zip file titled "Gesundheit!--VA"?  I pride myself on such things.

To the sounds: Gesundheit!--VA (Various Artists)


Me-ow (One-Step; Mel B. Kaufman)--Joseph C. Smith's Orch., 1918
Happy (One-Step; Hugo Frey)--Joseph C. Smith's Orch., 1919
"O" (Oh!) (Byron Gay)--Ted Lewis Jazz Band, 1919
Barkin' Dog (Fiorito and Gorman)--(Ross) Gorman's Novelty Syncopators, 1919
Hezekiah (One-Step; Don Richardson)--Conway's Band, 1915
Japanese Moon--Continental Dance Orch. (Nathan Glanz), 1922
Chinese Fox Trot--Victor Military Band, 1916
Taxi (One-Step, Mel B. Kaufman)--Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orch., Dir. Joseph Knecht, 1919
College Life March (Henry Frantzen)--Victor Orch., cond. Walter R. Rogers, 1909
Gesundheit! (To Your Health) (Helf)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1907

Ripped and restored by Lee Hartsfeld with Magix Audio Cleaning Lab MX


Monday, January 11, 2016

Two "authentic" RATC versions

Two "authentic" Rock Around the Clock versions--and I use quotes because neither of them sticks completely to the song as originally written.  But they're close enough.

Last post, I wrote about how the originally published version of RATC differs in significant ways from most of the recorded versions, including Haley's.  Music scholars have been passionately discussing this fact in great detail for many centuries--which is funny, since RATC is only decades old.  Anyway, I said that the chorus starts with mi, fa, sol, when in fact it starts with do, re, mi (I checked the original sheet music version).  I apologize for any confusion or controversy this may have caused.

Last time, I linked to a recording of Artie Malvin's 1955 Waldorf Music Hall version of RATC, which, despite starting with mi, fa, sol on the chorus, is close enough to rate as "authentic."

Today, three more mostly authentic versions of RATC: 1) a dance-class recording in two different tempos, 2) a polka (!), 3) an organ version on the never-heard-of-it-before Maple Records label.  The organ version includes the minor-mode verse, and it maintains a tick-tock rhythm throughout, so, out of all the versions I've heard, it's probably the closest thing to the song as written.  Would the song have gone anywhere without Haley's Rock The Joint-style reworking?  Probably not, seeing as how Haley's version, without the help of Blackboard Jungle, may never have become more than a minor hit.

The polka version, because it's a polka, includes strains unrelated to RATC, but it does feature the verse in minor mode, AND it gets the melody right.  And it polkas out like crazy!  At MY(P)WHAE, polkas get respect.

To the music: Authentic RATC versions

Rock Around the Clock--Bill Coates at the Console (Maple Records 101)
Rock Around the Clock (Medium tempo)--Band not identified (Velmo 1009, LP)
Rock Around the Clock (Fast tempo)--Same guys! (Artii 104, EP)
Rock Around the Clock Polka--Adam Nowicki and His Polka Band


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Yes, it's Artie Malvin

Themes from Hollywood Films (1957?) was your usual cheap-label "theme" LP--namely, a carelessly tossed together collection of whatever previously released tracks happened to satisfy the title.  The cover consisted of a still from a current movie (in this case, 1957's No Down Payment)--a ploy intended to conceal the fact that 1) most of the tracks weren't recent, and 2) none were from actual soundtracks.

How did Tony Randall and Sheree North feel about showing up on this cover?  Did they even know they were on it?  The answer is lost is the mists of Newsweek.  I mean, Time.

Anyway, I bought this LP because it contains Rock Around the Clock, which I figured would be the version by the Waldorf Music Hall label's Artie Malvin, who had sung for Glenn Miller in an earlier era.  I figured this because Audition is an Enoch Light label.  But I had to be sure.  Well, I was right--it's Malvin.  I was sort of hoping it would be an instrumental, but no such luck.  Note that the cover cites the 1956 Rock Around the Clock movie instead of the film that made the song such a huge hit--i.e., 1955's Blackboard Jungle.

The Malvin version is interesting because it is one of a small number of Clock recordings which presents the song as originally written (as opposed to Bill Haley's 1954 reworking), meaning that the verse ("One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock rock....") is in minor mode, and that the chorus starts out mi, fa, sol instead of do, mi, sol, like we're used to.  It means that Enoch Light and Malvin were working from the sheet music, not copying Haley's Louis Jordan-esque recording.  Most, if not all, of the other cheap-label knock-offs of the day imitated Haley--even, in a couple of instances, down to the tricky Danny Cedrone guitar solo.  (Check out Jack Richard's Broadway label version.)

Also interesting: Instead of (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, the label reads, "We Gonna":

And, sure enough, that's what Artie sings: "We gonna rock...."  That's cool.  I don't know why, but it is.

And this is why I collect records--for exciting, hold-the-phone discoveries like this one.  I'd post the track, but the tune's a tad too famous.  Artie's version is not at YouTube--I checked.  Yes, it's on YouTube: RATC.  Thanks, DonHo57!