Saturday, December 23, 2006
Oh, and Bobby Stewart. I forgot. Here's the label:
What do you mean, "Just what the world needs--another version of Nuttin' for Christmas"?
You know, I love 7" vinyl 78s. Always have, always will. Not sure why, but I do.
Now that we've established that fact, here are seven Holiday mp3s to die for. (But, please, don't.) They will make you laugh. And they will make you learn. What, I don't know. But they will.
I was going to mention something else, but I forgot what it was.
O.K., here we go:
A Little White Mouse Called Steve--Jimmy Charles, 1961. From 45.
Christmasville U.S.A.--Jimmy Charles, 1961. From same 45.
I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas--Bobby Stewart. From 7" vinyl 78. Who snitched on Bobby??
Mary's Little Boy Chile--The Four Lads, 1956. From Columbia 45. Flip side of The Stingiest Man in Town.
Snow Flakes--Fontanna, His Orchestra and Chorus. From Palace label LP. A declicking nightmare, but it sounds so good now. Terrific tune!
We close with familiar Yuletide masterpieces by Victor Herbert and Leon Jessel--the two best Christmas instrumentals ever, in Lee's opinion (sorry, Leroy):
March of the Toys (Herbert), Ron Oliver (Renato de Oliveira) and His Orchestra, circa 1956. (Information courtesy of reader Roberto.) . From Harmony label LP.
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (Jessel)--Ray Bohr, pipe organ (1956). From RCA Victor LP.
Ah--two hours of sleep. I should be in fine shape today. (Snorrrrrrre....)
Actually, that's slightly debatable (The Chippers Sing). I guess it's singing, but I wouldn't stake my fate on it.
The Chippers are a Canadian version of the Chipmunks. That's all I know about them, along with the fact they stink.
Anyway, our final Jingle-Bells-athon features only nine selections--I thought I had more, but I guess not. That is, I thought I'd ripped and burned more than nine. With all I've been ripping this season, it's very possible I have tracks sitting on MAGIX that I forgot about. Or tucked away on a forgotten CD-R.
Btw, I mentioned last post that I'm a popular blog. Proof: my Savefile.com posts, alone, received a total of 6,000 downloads, give or take 20. (I added in my head, so the total is either a little above or a little below sixty hundred.) At least, I think that's a good d/l rate. Dunno.
Oh, come to think of it, technically there are eight selections here. My bad. One of the tracks (by Johnny Cole) has been presented in mono and stereo. The mono version comes from the cream-of-the-crop label International Award, and the stereo from Yulesong, another spare-no-expense outfit whose audio quality ran the gamut from pre-Edison to acceptable.
One of the pre-Edison-sounding tracks is Toy Soldier, which turns out to be the song version of Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. It's kind of cute, but not only is the crappy sound a minus, the clicks are many and often. So, to heck with that.
Hm. "Many and often" go together when it comes to pops and clicks, so I'm being redundant. Yet, it sounds downright poetic. Sometimes, that's all that matters.
O.K.--here, assembled in a single folder for your listening convenience, are nine versions of Jingle Bells, though the number is really eight.
Carson Robison, featuring Lawrence V. Joy (1946). This square-dance version of Bells is an earlier version of Massachusetts Mixture, which also features calls by Joy. ("Calls by Joy"??)
The Chippers. As I noted, Canada's answer to The Chipmunks. Or one of them. Worse recordings have been made. Luckily, I don't own any of them.
Johnny Cole, mono and stereo. Johnny sounds a lot like Perry Como. This is a pretty cool arrangement, and the background voices are good--on the other Cole tracks, though, the arrangements fall apart. I'm guessing there was too little time to rehearse.
Medallion Orchestra and Chorus directed by John Paul Krance. If I had my Schwann catalogs where I could get to them right now, I'd quickly cross-date this, but I don't, so I can't. I'm guessing 1965-ish.
Partridge Family. Good singing, though I read someplace that David and Shirley were the only "actual" voices on the LPs. My apologies if I'm wrong. From the 1971 classic that shows up in every thrift store in the country ten times a day, A Partridge Family Christmas Card.
Patti Page with children's chorus. The laughing at the end is completely spontaneous. You can tell. It's so obviously unplanned, there's no point in even citing that fact. I'm betting no greater than 40 takes were necessary to achieve this totally unrehearsed effect.
The Ray Conniff Singers. 1959. Columbia. From a Christmas album. (Bet you wouldn't have guessed that.)
Roger Wagner Chorale. Cool version. Very elaborate. From a Christmas album. With lots of Christmas selections on it. Pressed (rather, stamped) on vinyl. With artwork and printing on the cover.
Hope you enjoyed all of these snowy, whip-cracky trips down Jingle Bells lane. I know I did.
Friday, December 22, 2006
"They" are Andy and Rudy (after Andy Williams and Rudy Vallee), two three-month-old brothers Santa got us from a wondefrul outfit called Cat Welfare. That's Andy, in the first photo, watching Brian Williams. The adorable red and white guy is Rudy:
They're both adorable, in fact. Beyond adorable. These guys are rambunctious, affectionate, keen to explore, and happy to have a home (though maybe not as happy as we are to have them). Bev and I both thought the same thought when we spotted them snoozing together in their Cat Welfare cage: "They're the ones."
And they're camera-friendly, to boot. First, we see Andy as he explores our tree--a tree that, minutes before, had been covered in ornaments. And we see Rudy as he watches with great interest the Japanese Ladybugs that live in the dining room's ceiling light. Ironically, he's sitting on the freshly-repacked ornament containers:
Actually, in that shot Rudy is looking elsewhere--his concentration had been broken by something or another for a nanosecond or two. Then he was back to studying the Ladybugs in the light fixture, wishing he were the size of a tiger so he could leap up and... eat them?
Of course, if he were the size of a tiger, Japanese Ladybugs would not make an adequate sneak, let alone meal.
Anyhow, I have Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey singing Brothers (their take on Irving Berlin's Sisters from White Christmas), and I'm going to rip and post it in honor of our new kittens.
What a pair. They slept most of the way home in their carrier, snuggled together in "Awww" fashion. I said to Bev, "Would life have any meaning or purpose without kittens?" "No," she answered. "None at all."
Our Christmas tree might disagree, but who cares what it thinks?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Nothing has been posted since August. I hope Burt returns at some point. He writes very well, and his views are nice and liberal. (Apologies to my conservative readers.)
I recently said some sarcastic things about the Huffington Post's concept of humor, but that's nothing compared to their non-stop get-rid-of-religion posts. I was a regular HP reader for a while until they started that nonsense. I stopped reading The Skeptical Enquirer for the same reason. The Enquirer is a journal dedicated to debunking paranormal hooey--I was a subscriber for three or four years. The religion-bashing wasn't the only reason I left, though. It's also because they were repeating themselves too much. They need more James Randis on their staff--people who can write entertainingly about crazy beliefs and claims. Who go into the funny details. And who have genuine affection for the folks they're calling out.
Speaking of magician/skeptic Randi (whom I have great regard for), his views on religion are very Huffington Post. And I like him anyway. I got his autograph years ago at Ohio State University's Newark campus, where he gave the most entertaining presentation I've ever seen anywhere, anytime. I talked to him for a few minutes following a fun question-and-answer session, and I can report that he's one of the friendliest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. If Randi thinks us religious folks are fools, oh, well. He's such a nice guy and he's doing great work. Though I wish he'd consider the possibility that the Bible is not a series of do-as-I-command directives or a book pretending to contain All The Answers. It was never meant to be these things. As I'm always pointing out, if the Bible were meant to function as a car-parts manual or How to Build a Tool Shed in Two Days, it wouldn't be packed with metaphor, for one thing. It wouldn't leave itself so open to endless interpretation.
Then again, I've read some instruction manuals that leave themselves open to endless interpretation. Such as, "How am I supposed to put a screw in K, when there isn't any K? Is this company on drugs???" That's the kind of thing I yell at instruction booklets.
I promised music, and here I am, babbling away. To the work.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Actually, that subject line isn't snappy enough to qualify. It should be more like, Downloading bandwidth vs. site-visit rate; possible causes and proposed solutions. Something like that.
Heck, I don't know. I'm in the middle of the worst sinus headache of the century (and the century is still young), and I've got Claritin and a narcotic painkiller in my system. I probably shouldn't be sitting her e and tpynig tihs er tyrnig to tpye tish i mane
No, really, I'm fine. In fact, I'm feeling pretty relieved. Remember my post about how my files are being downloaded like crazy but my site counter isn't anywhere near where it should be, considering same? My best guess was that people are swiping my files and linking directly to Box. What else could it be?
Well, Ned has another, better-sounding theory. He left a comment that seems to explain the whole thing. I quote:
hi lee, i've been a follower of yours for about two years now... i don't think people are actually stealing your links.
in the past two years RSS readers (like bloglines and google reader) have become extremely popular ways to keep up with blogs. most everyone that reads more than a couple blogs likely uses one, as it lets you know when the site has been updated and lets you read all your sites in one place without having to click on a million links to see if there's a new post.
so what's happening is people that use rss readers just click on your download links from there and since your entire site is never loaded, your stat counter never sees it.
That would explain what the site is experiencing, no? I knew (more or less) what RSS feeds are, but I hadn't thought about how the technology would bypass the (for want of a better term) hands-on (clicks-on?) blogging experience. That is, that people would be remotely linking to my stuff. My computer literacy is still pre-Middle-School at this point.
You know, this essay is sounding more and more like a Claritin- and painkiller-inspired post. Before long, I'll be in that SOHIO ad I just posted ("I'm floatingggggggg...."). If I start hearing a harp, I'll try not to be alarmed. And if I hear an alarm, I'll try not to be... um....
That didn't work.
Anyway, thanks, Ned, for explaining the mystery. Which is now no longer a mystery, because it's been explained. Which reminds me--few terms get on my nerves as much as "unsolved mysteries" or the equivalent. Because what could be more redundant? If a mystery were solved, it wouldn't be a mystery, would it?
I used to type up my own tabloid called The Lee H. News, and one of the issues contained an ad for Non-Mysteries of the Known or something like that. It was a parody of those Time-Life ads of the 1980s ("FACT: A woman had a vision of her Uncle Alphonse dying; five minutes later, she received a phone call that her Uncle Alphonse had died!!!!"). Oh, and she later realized that phone call was from Uncle Alphonse. (Oooo-wee-oooooo!)
In my parody, a woman has a vision that something awful will happen the next day. The next day arrives, and everything is fine. Also, a man walks into a room and remembers having been there before. He does some research and finds out that, in fact, he was in that room before.
Ha, ha, ha!
I can't believe that no one has commented on Get Off of My Roof (last post). Let me see how many downloads it's enjoyed to date. (Check, check) 205! Far out.
And my very own Christmas Is Coming... has been d/l'd 100 times. Godzilla Vs. Christmas, 284!
At 386 downloads (and who knows how many listens?), Bobby Vinton's Peppermint Stick Parade is the top d/l in the individual-file category. ("And, in the Individual-File Category....") Far out. Well, it's a great XMas track, so I'm not surprised.
Anyway, my apologies to all who aren't stealing my links. I think Ned has supplied the answer to this situation. I'd much rather see all the visits reflected by the site counter, but that's life in the Whatever Age We're in Right Now.
More music to come. I might put up some harp music.
Silent Night--The Ravens, 1948. From Savoy LP.
Get Off of My Roof--Jerry and the Landslides, 1965. From 45 reissue.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Burt isn't as prominent on this one, but it's a terrific side, nonetheless. Very Ebb Tide in feel (and sound effects). An undiscovered classic, Leethinks:
Searching Wind (Edward Heyman-Victor Young), from film of same name. Burt Bacharach, piano; Orch. under direction of Marion Evans, 1957.
I need to keep a can of Clorox wipes in this room, in the interests of saving my record labels! The appearance thereof, I mean. (Obsessive? Me?)
Not so much Christmas- as winter-related, this radio station acetate is definitely not in "HiFidelity," as the label promises, though the sound isn't too shabby. In fact, the disc is in surprisingly good condition for what it is--which is to say, it's playable. I did some MAGIX magic to make it moreso. I had to do some volume-leveling to make up for the record's lack of same.
Found this 12" gem in a Volunteers of America store five or six years back--I reckon I paid 90 cents. These ads are soooo old-fashioned--I'm guessing early Sixties because of the Boron references. It wasn't that awfully long ago, true, but advertisements age faster than just about anything else in pop culture. They're as ephemeral as candy bar wrappers, almost.
I edited out the noisy spaces between bands, which consist of a combination wooshing and clanking sound. We're talking about a way-pre-CD "noise floor."
Enjoy. And remember to fill up with BORON (echo chamber). After you've registered your hubcaps.
Come to think of it, I'm always writing stuff like that. Never mind. He who lives by sarcastic prose....
Serves me right.
To date, Godzilla vs. Christmas has gotten 281 downloads! Wow. That's a lot, especially for a self-recorded file. Meanwhile, Christmas Is Coming Again, Ha-Haaa!! has been d/l'd 83 times. Many thanks for listening to my stuff.
They're Coming to Tow Me Away has been d/l'd 133 times. Not to be missed. One of the funniest commercials ever made, and by BP, of all people.
It's great to see Box.net's Sharing page back in action. For a little while, it hadn't been giving the correct (or, in some cases, any) figures. Box is very good about fixing its occasional glitches.
But enough about me and my blog. Four XMas files are sitting at Box, crying out to be played. You'll be glad you listened to their cries.
Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep (Berlin), Tammy Wynette, 1969. From multi-record XMas comp.
Humbug, Basil Rathbone, 1956. From the TV special, The Stingiest Man in Town. From Columbia label soundtrack LP.
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Rosemary Clooney. From V.A. Christmas LP on Reprise.
Peace on Earth and Silent Night, Dean Martin. From same Reprise collection.
This is no time to mention that I'm not a Dean Martin fan, so I won't. (Oops.)
Dang it. Me and my big keyboard.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I mentioned recently that a very nice man from Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. asked me if I'd be willing to share my early-Burt recordings with Burt himself. To which I replied (after I recovered from my shock), Sure! Thanks for all the nice comments at that post.
James Roach asked if I'll be posting the early Burt tracks at my blog, and I'll definitely be posting some of them, if not all. I haven't decided yet. Reason being, a few of the titles (like Underneath the Overpass) have seen the light of blog twice already. Not sure. It depends on whether I'm in a completist mode or not.
I have no idea what I just typed.
And tomorrow, or at least sometime during the upcoming week, Burt's manager will be receiving the CDs. Of course, I'm hoping he enjoys them. 48 early Burts in all.
And yesterday I went to the terrific Columbus, Ohio record shop Colleen's Collectables to brag about my Burt assignment and to find more early Burt sides. And, with Colleen's kind help, I found a number of them. At this point, I'm putting together a third Burt CD containing more early Burts and--what would be a good term?--odd Burt, maybe? (No, I'd better work on that.) Anyway, offbeat Burt sides, such as a dance class version of What's New Pussycat I found in a thrift store. I don't imagine regular visitors to MY(P)WHAE are surprised to hear I have a few off-the-wall Bacharachs.
In fact, people can be forgiven for assuming my entire collection is made up of off-the-wall discs. They may be right.
Anyway, I'd be cruel to write about finding "new" early-Burts without linking to a couple. Which is precisely what I've done. We have a terrific 1961 Burt and Hal number recorded by Frankie Avalon AND a 1957 piano-with-orchestra number featuring Burt on the ivories, AND doing an extraordinary job of it. Burt is scary-good on the piano. I know he's considered a songwriter first and an ivory-ticker maybe second, but the man is a great pianist. Burt's an understated sort of artist, and maybe that's why more people don't realize what fabulous fingers he has. (Duke Ellington suffered a similar fate.)
If I ever met the great songwriter, I'd probably turn into a Typical Fan and stammer something like, "You're my favorite songwriter, and that GEICO commercial is awesome, and... and... wow! I'm talking to Burt Bacharach!" That would be me, probably.
What I'd really want to do (Burt already knows he's the coolest guy on the planet, so he doesn't need me to confirm this) is ask him technical questions I'm dying to know about. Questions about chord construction and song form. It's obvious, from listening to his earliest titles, that he was impatient with regularized phrases and such from the beginning, which would explain the occasional truncated A section and things like AABA/ABA forms (straight out of 1950s R&B, leading me to believe Burt was listening to Rudolph Toombs and the great Jessie Stone).
Burt and Hal's Gotta Get a Girl, from 1961, is the perfect example of an AABA song that loses its second A on the repeat. The first thing I'd ask Burt is whether he elected to shorten same or whether the publisher advised him to. That would make a difference. Anyway, this might be my favorite pop-song bridge of all, and I've only known this song for about a day:
Gotta Get a Girl (Bacharach-David), Frankie Avalon, 1961. From Chancellor label 45.
As far as this next gem (Rosanne) is concerned, I'd beg Burt to let me watch him play the chords so I could (at least try to) analyze them. To play piano like Burt is one of my dreams. It'll never happen, but dreams are all about things that never transpire. This might sound like typical "easy" tinkling, but Burt's technique and the sheer soul of his playing sets it above millions of other examples. Step aside, Peter Nero:
Rosanne (Manning-Osser-Osser), Burt Bacharach, piano, with Marion Evans, orch. From 1957 45 on Cabot.
Those places are:
Falalalala.com, where a fun "Christmas countdown" is presently counting down,
A Christmas Yuleblog, where some great XMas LPs are being shared in their entire entirety, along with a Canadian version of the 1961 Line Material single Santa's Factoree! It's mostly the same as the U.S. version I posted, save for a different jingle and an edit here or there. Well worth downloading.
Ernie (Not Bert), where Ernie (not Bert) is setting the world's record for mp3 posting with an incredibly diverse Yuletide sampling. Great scans, too.
Ernie is either dedicated to XMas posting like no one else on the Internet, or he's nuts. No offense meant--when it comes to mp3 posting, nuts is good, because you've got to be mad to do this gig. Visit Ernie's place before the elves in white come and take him away.
Senses Working Overtime, of course. An especially good place to go if you want a nice change from my minimalist page layouts.
In fact, for a longer and far more detailed guide to currently available Yuletide mp3s, check out PCL Linkdump's "Crazy Christmas" lists .
And just think--if you link to this post, you'll be linking to a link to a list of links. Links which, in turn, contain other links, some of which lead to the places that linked them in the first place.