Friday, March 24, 2006
It's a habit I'll have to steer away from.
But, enough word humor--here's some humor in music. Circus Clowns, this one is called, and I had to do a lot of MAGIX on it--the groove portions that correspond to the upper frequencies are pretty much gone, shaved off by a needle someone forgot to replace and/or sharpen. The results aren't great, but they're better than the pre-doctored file. Because the wear toward the end is pretty bad, I reused the first half of the record, tacking a cymbal crash at the end--nothing says "Piece Over" as effectively as a cymbal crash. This is one of the reasons I love marches so much--they repeat literally, making sonic transplant surgery a relative breeze. Except that the band, on this side, started out a tad slow, which is why I waited a few bars into the second section to do my repeat--i.e., to let the tempo catch up.
You had to be there.
In effect, I've corrupted the audio document--fabricated it, even. You'll be hearing the performance as it didn't happen. And do I feel guilty? Not sure. I don't think so, but let me sleep on it. (The issue, not the record.)
Circus Clowns--Gallop, John Fischer's Band, Columbia E4173.
"International Band," the label says. A while back, I found a little bit of info about John Fischer, and I can't remember any of it. Except that he (duh) recorded circus music.
The flip side is Over the Waves, a.k.a. The Loveliest Night of the Year. It's by a group called "Accordion, Clarinet, and Guitar." If anyone's dying to hear it, I might rip it at some point, but it kind of drags, in my opinion. I expect waltzes recorded circa 1926 to rock, dude.
I'll give it another listen. It's only circus. I mean, fair.
And here's a superb one-step from 1917, a year when one-steps were big. Literally. People took bigger steps in those days (folks were used to hoofing it). Prince's Band is the flawless musical outfit on aural display here, and the sound has brightness and depth to spare (please ignore the weak grooves at the start), which is kind of weird, as the flip side is all sonic mud. I listen to late-'teens pop like this and wonder why jazz, swing, rock and roll, et al. were even necessary. I am so cutting-edge.
Hello, My Dearie (One-step; Introducing Chu Chin Chow)--Prince's Band, 1917. From 12" 78 (Columbia A5986).
Here's another great selection to arouse to--Gustav Holst's Mercury (from The Planets), conducted by Holst himself. 1926 is the year, and the sound quality is pretty awesome, considering. I paid a buck for this at a book store!
Mercury (Holst), Gustav Holst conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, 1926. From 12" Columbia 78.
We close with a charming novelty recording from 1928--Victor Arden and Phil Ohman (the Ferrante and Teicher of their day, almost) and Their Orchestra performing Nacio Herb Brown's Rag Doll (not to be confused with a much later pop hit). I masked over two brief and loud needle-damaged spots, so if you notice a couple of slight, fuzzy dips in the audio, now you know why. If you don't notice them, hooray for me:
Rag Doll (Nacio Herb Brown), Victor Arden and Phil Ohman and Their Orchestra, 1928. From Victor 78.
Still getting Western/cowboy tracks together. I've dug up a lot of fun stuff in my collection, and these should be up, oh, soon.
Have a great Friday morning!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Two more first-day-of-spring photos. By now, the snow has gone, and the temps have gone up a bit, but it's still several degrees shy of 50. Which is weird, because this morning I could swear I looked at the outdoor thermometer and saw 50, clear as snow, on the digital readout. And it felt like 50 outside. So much so, I was convinced it was 50.
But it was 44. Or so the thermometer said when I came back in the house. I don't recall ever having had this problem with analog thermometers--just the digital ones. Maybe it's that 1) digital readouts are easier to misread, or 2) digital readouts are intermittently unreliable, or 3) the temperature dropped six degrees while I was outdoors. Only God knows, and he doesn't care.
I haven't ranted for a while, so it's time for a minor rant. A low-key rant. First, the United States of 9/11. You'll recall that Helen Thomas got really rough with President 9/11--at least, according to James P. Pinkerton at Newsday. Pinkerton depicts the 85-year-old journalist as a rougher-upper of the right, and, yeah, that just about says it all. It doesn't take much to rough those folks up. Amazing that we allow such profiles in courage to send our sons and daughters off to die, no?
Hm. I think I've said it all, there. Save for, "Go, Helen!!"
All of the brave souls speaking up for the people--Helen, Jack Murtha, Lou Dobbs, Cindy Sheehan--are doing great Christian work. I think, anyway. Maybe it seems that way because I've been praying for such heroes to step forward.
Another thing--when Bush went into his pathetic "9/11 changed my life" routine, it didn't even register with me, so many times have we heard Bush connect Saddam and 9/11. Meanwhile, and pretty ironically, Nathaniel Fick (in a column printed today) points out that soldiers "near the bottom" shouldn't be taken seriously because the majority of these "junior" personnel believe that Saddam was connected with 9/11. Which Bush and Cheney and a zillion columnists have claimed, flat out, again and again. The folks in power believe it, but soldiers "near the bottom" should know better? Is that it?
Fick was a Captain in the Marines, and he's not happy with the recent Zogby International poll--the one that reveals the average soldier wants out of Iraq. The poll, says the headline, was "fatally flawed." Why? Not because it lied, but because "the opinions of junior troops on the ground matter little in crafting national policy, and rightly so." And for a bunch of other reasons Fick tosses in for good effect, er, measure.
"The troops have no control over the broader strategy directing policy in Iraq, so they are suspicious of it," explains Fick. I see. So, let's use a little bit of logic here. Fick was a Captain. Do you think that the policy-makers spent much, if any, time listening to Fick? Did Rumsfeld ever say "Wait--let's find out what Fick thinks?" I'm guessing no.
According to Fick, average soldiers ought not to be listened to because they have no ability to shape policy. Right. Well, neither did Fick, so why the hell are we listening to him? I'm not.
Sorry I wasted five paragraphs on nothing. I'll try not to let it happen again. (Column? What column?)
And that's life today, March 23, 2006, in the United States of 9/11. Since we're on the subject of Bush' leadership, why not listen to a 1948 hit by Carson Robison which describes, decades before the fact, Bush's philosophy of leadership?
Life Gets Teejus, Don't It, Carson Robison, 1948. From MGM LP.
At the moment, I'm getting cowboy music together for the blog, but it's pretty grueling work ("Hyaaaa!! Move 'em out!!"). Besides, riding herd on MP3s in the present weather is downright unhealthy. Take a look at the spring we're getting here:
Tiny UFOs? Nope--snow. Luckily, we didn't get a lot of it, but there's still something very wrong about a low of 18 on the first day of spring. ("Wah, wah, wah," you say?) On the other hand, we enjoyed a very mild winter. And we lucked out in getting so little of the recent storm. So, it could be worse. And, on TV, they're promising warmer temperatures next week. 50s, maybe.
And snow on the first day of spring is a folk tradition. It's "ironic," in the popular (and incorrect) sense of that term. In the latest edition of How People Actually Use Words, "irony" is defined as "When things turn out differently than one expected." Of course, true irony is when things go wrong in an ironic way.
I hope that helped.
Anyway, it was snowing. Now it's not. Now it's just cold. Damn it.
Hopefully, the Polish wedding we're about to hear (I've always wanted to type "Polish wedding we're about to hear") was carried out in happier weather than (see above). According to the label, this union took place in the country, which means it might have happened outdoors. Anyway, these two sides really put the "won't hear anyplace else" in my blog title. Don't say I didn't warn you:
Polish Wedding in the Country, Orkiestra Narodowa . From 78.
Polish Wedding in the Country (Conclusion), Orkiestra Narodowa . From 78.
Did I warn you?
B. Sure did, and I should have listened.
C. A and B.
D. All of the above.
E. Most of the above.
So, I warned you. And we follow Polish Wedding in the Country with a slightly more conventional polka, except that no polka is conventional when it's the (dum-dah-dump-dah!) Dragnet Polka:
Dragnet Polka (Walter Schumann), Kenny Bass and His Polka Poppers, 1953. From Coral 45.
And, while I'm riding herd on Western MP3s, here's one of same to tie us up. I mean, over. This is much better known as a cigarette-ad jingle, but, then, so was Ferde Grofe's On the Trail at one point, and it survived the association. I have no idea what I just typed, so let's just go on like nothing happened:
The Magnificent Seven (Elmer Bernstein), Al Caiola, 1961. From a United Artists LP.
I'd call that the kick-ass Western movie theme of all time, but there's The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and The Big Country, to name two other kick-ass Western movie themes. So, it's a tough call.
You know (he said, typing out loud), I ought to put up Merv Griffin's The Lord's Riding with Me Tonight, a Ghost Riders-esque number. Along with a bunch of other stuff.
Gotta herd these MP3s. Later, folks. (Hyaaaaa!! SNAP! Hyaaaaaaa!!)
Monday, March 20, 2006
Anyhow, click on the friendly images for the friendly (and loud) files:
Better wake-up music you (possibly) won't find anyplace else.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The sound resorationist, trying to restore a 78 to life. When hand gestures and Bela-Lugosi-style pleas of "Commmmme baaaack!" fail to work, there's always the 31-band equalizer (as a last resort):
And we have three more restored discs to share, beginning with two classics by Prince's Dance Orchestra. I'm very pleased with the results--the sound is detailed, balanced, and smooth, and the percussion (by acoustical standards, at least) is clear and sharp. There was a good deal of surface noise on these, and I'm surprised by how much of it I was able to filter out without hurting the music:
Bound in Morocco (Herscher), Prince's Dance Orchestra, 1920. From Columbia 78.
Oriental Stars (One-Step; Monaco), Prince's Dance Orchestra, 1920. From Columbia 78.
And we close with a "party" record from 1947, the sort of thing I find as funny (and interesting) as a needle stuck in the run-off groove. However, there's a big to-do about censorship right now, what with the FCC fining everyone left and right (but mostly left, if you know what I mean), so I guess this is timely. The Elevator Song is all about an older man who "can't get it up anymore," and the words ain't referrin' to an elevator, if'n you knows what I mean. Wink, wink. Hint, hint. Snort, guffaw.
Being a left-winger, I ought to be one of these no-censorship-no-way people, but I'm not. My problem with the anti-censorship folks is that they seem to place far more significance on someone getting to yell "Fuck!" on TV than, say, the average citizen getting to cast a vote and have it counted. I'm almost tempted to suggest that, while everyone is fighting for the right to hear nonstop penis jokes on network sitcoms, the free flow of information is becoming less free. And that, by the time the truly important things have been censored, propaganda-style, from our reach, we'll wonder why we gave so much of a fuck about "fuck." Just a thought.
Anyway, this record showed up in my pile, and, like most double-entendre humor, it's vapid but very well-done. If you like this sort of thing, it's being reissued like crazy on CD.
The Elevator Song, Nan Blakstone with Artie Fields and His Orchestra, 1947. From Gala label 78.
O.K., we've done our bit for anti-censorship. I feel so... free. I hope you do, too.
But don't simply take my fevered word for it. Listen! (After that build-up, these had better be good.)
We start with my redone files for/of Easy and Kasbah. I used a double-burn method for these. That is, I ripped the recording to my MAGIX software, got the best sound possible, and then burned the results to disc. At which point I re-ripped the track and doctored it further. With this method, my initial "project" becomes the reference EQ, which I can then tweak to order. In this case, I was able to add body to the midrange and bite to the brass with just a few slide adjustments. You're hearing a 78 that was, initially, nothing but mud in the brass (mud in the brass?):
Easy (James-Conniff), Harry James and His Orchestra, 1946. From VG-- Columbia 78.
Using the double-burn method, I restored bass and brass-bite to my original file of Kasbah. (Brass-bite?)
Kasbah (Conniff), Artie Shaw and His Orch., 1946. From RCA Victor 78 that has seen better days. (Amazingly, box.net is allowing me to store all three Kasbah files without a complaint!)
And here are two easy (where have we heard that word?) jobs--two 78 sides in VG+ condition. There are collectors who don't bother with anything below VG+, and it's not as if I can't see where they're coming from. Jan Garber's band was not one of the hep, swinging orchestras, and that's O.K. by me. I like the sappy-saxophone sound of these. Remember that, in the late 1910s and early 1920s, saxophones (in chorused form, at least) were a new, exciting, and jazzy addition to pop music. By 1939, maybe not so. Lee Bennett's singing-in-the-throat style wasn't uncommon to the period; more Russ Columbo than Bing Crosby:
There's Only One in Love--Jan Garber, with Lee Bennett, vocal. 1939. From Vocalion 78 in great condition.
By an Ivy Covered Wall--Jan Garber, with Lee Bennett, vocal. 1939. From Vocalion 78 in just-as-excellent shape.
And here's a Garber/Bennett side in lesser shape, but still listenable--and fun, to boot. Nothing wrong with slow, tuneful waltzes, especially ones with such cute wordplay:
Shabby Old Cabby--Jan Garber Orch., with Lee Bennett, vocal. 1939. From Vocalion 78 in not-so-good shape.
I can't help it--I like that stuff. The cornier big band records don't get no respect, but they should. They're as much a part of the era as anything in swing mode, and they can be just as enjoyable. (Garber, by the way, had one of the hotter "hot" dance bands of the 1920s....)
Will Osborne had a wonderfully smooth dance orchestra, as you will hear here (hear, hear!). And the song is unusually good--it's a semi-famous Ferde Grofe number from the Jimmy Durante movie Palooka. I say "semi-famous," because it's sort of a standard. An almost-standard. Will Osborne supplies the excellent, Rudy-Vallee-style crooning. This one will stick with you:
Count Your Blessings (Guest-Caesar-Grofe), Will Osborne and His Orchestra, vocal by Osborne. 1933. From G+ Vocalion 78.
A lovely little record, that. Oddly enough, it's the first time I've heard the song, though I've been a Grofe fan forever, and even though I've been waiting all that time for it to turn up. Actually, I ran into a copy at a collector's shop about six years ago, but it never made it to the final pile. It might still be lying where I left it (that place was quite a mess--i.e., the best kind of record shop). I hate it when that happens.
More to come!
Perpetual Notion (Faith), Percy Faith and His Orchestra, 1949. From RCA Victor EP Percy Faith Favorites.
And here's Mantovani with a big version of The Big Country, from the movie of the same name. For years, I heard this theme on Toledo TV (a local station used it for the afternoon movie) but had no idea what it was. A late-night network showing of the movie solved the mystery. Though I heard only the final music (which uses the opening arpeggio), I knew right away what I was hearing. And, um....
Well, it was exciting for me.
The Big Country (Morross), Mantovani and His Orchestra, 1962. From London LP.
We close with an excellent pre-Battle of New Orleans selection by Johnny Horton from that singer's Mercury period:
Big Wheels Rollin', Johnny Horton, 1955. From Mercury various-artists LP.
Did you notice how much the tune sounds like I Saw the Light? Me, too.
Start your mornings with MY(P)WHAE, where waking up was never so fun!