Saturday, January 10, 2009
MUZAK versions of Burt Bacharach from 1969? Got them. A Reader's Digest label version of The Look of Love? Check. A repeat of Jim Richards' The Story of My Life, as covered for the Waldorf label? Oh, sure. Paul Rich making like Gene McDaniels for the Woolworth's cover label Embassy? Of course.
The MUZAK Burt sides come from the MUZAK "functional work music" LP, New Dimensions, Vol. 2. Oh, and we've got Roger Williams and Peter Nero performing, respectively, Lost Horizon and I Say a Little Prayer. Interestingly, Perry Como's own Nick Perito was the arranger for both the RCA Victor Nero side and the MUZAK version of What the World Needs Now. (Oops. I've been corrected by Mr. Nero himself, who comments: "The arranging credits for the Peter Nero recordings attributed to Nick Perito are incorrect. Nick conducted the sessions. He did not arrange those tunes. While Nick was a fine arranger and a great guy, the arrangements were done by Peter Nero. I should know; I was at the recording sessions." My embarrassed apologies!) Just how the playlist happened to work out. The Nero arrangement (BY Peter Nero) is striking. I wish I could write like that.
By the way, Merv Griffin's own Charles Grean is credited with two of the New Dimensions MUZAK arrangements, including Mrs. Robinson. The same year (1969) he had a huge hit with Quentin's Theme from Dark Shadows. Now you know, if you didn't before.
I ripped all of these from vinyl sources in my collection. As opposed to sources for vinyl. Hopefully, vinyl will never go the way of copper.
Download without delay: FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
TOWER OF STRENGTH--Paul Rich, Acc. James Wright, 1961.
THE STORY OF MY LIFE--Jim Richards, 1958.
THE LOOK OF LOVE--Nelson Riddle and His Orch., 1968.
I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER (Arr: Nero)--Peter Nero, Nick Perito, 1968.
LOST HORIZON--Roger Williams, w. Orch. arranged by Al Capps, 1973.
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW--Nick Perito, MUZAK, 1969.
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE--Denny Vaughan, MUZAK, 1969.
THE LOOK OF LOVE--Phil Bodner, MUZAK, 1969.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
The Burt Bacharach posts around this place get pretty strange, which--if you're a new visitor--you are about to discover. What we have, to start with, is the 1958 Embassy label cover of Burt and Hal's The Story of My Life. This U.K. label was sold exclusively at Woolworth's (a.k.a. Woolie's), and it provided for U.K. customers what Tops, Waldorf, Gateway Top Tune, Prom/Promenade, Parade, and a host of other knock-off labels offered American customers. I.e., fake (and cheaper than the original) hits. For all that, it's a pretty decent version.
I ripped this from a 78 copy that--as you can hear--has had some play over the years.
Then things get a little off the Burt-en trail, courtesy of three tracks from the Bernie Knee and Max Conrad LP, Flight Inspired Music (Flight Records N-123-LF), which I found today at our local Goodwill. And here are two other cool Max Conrad links: 1 2.
Nee, a.k.a. Knee, may be best known as five-fifths of the Five Blobs, who gave Burt and
The last of the three Knee/Conrad tracks puts John Gillespie Magee, Jr.'s famous poem High Flight to music. You know it--"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings...." That High Flight.
Neither Burt nor Hal were involved in these, but Knee is an important associate from their early days, so these tracks--besides being interesting in their own right--have a lot of Burt interest. I think, anyway.
I'm still trying to soak in all the information I just Googled. Maybe I'll wake up and discover I dreamed all this.
Yes. A dream. It was all... a dream. (Or was it?)
Click here to hear this strange playlist: The Story of My Life; High Flight; more
THE STORY OF MY LIFE (Hal David-Burt Bacharach)--Gerry Grant, Acc. by Ken Jones, 1958. From Embassy 78.
LET'S FLY (Max Conrad)--Bernie (Five Blobs) Knee w. Al Wagner and His Symphonic Strings.
THE STORM (Max Conrad)--Same.
HIGH FLIGHT (John G. Magee, Jr.-Max Conrad)--Same.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Tuesday evening Pops concert--doesn't that have a cultured ring to it? It's the "evening" part, maybe. If I added a cultured-sounding announcement, things would really get artsy: "Good auv-ening, and welcome to Tuesday Auv-ening Pops concert." Actually, you can listen to these any day or auv-ening you wish. Of course.
Now, you know how much I hate to contradict Wikipedia, but I have to disagree with their description of easy listening music--as in, "a style of popular music and radio format that emerged in the mid-20th century, evolving out of swing and big band music, and related to Beautiful music and Light music."
As it actually goes, we have examples here going back to 1905, and they're all the type of light music variously labeled mood, semi-Classical, easy listening, Pops, and like that. Labels for light music come and go, but there's no reason to get stuck on labels, especially when they've proven to be so inflexible. To wit, in popular music, once a tag is slapped on, an act of Congress can't change it. We take our labels literally and puzzle over such mysteries as why, for instance, some early "rhythm and blues" sounds like "rock and roll," and vice versa. It never occurs to anyone that names are always somewhat arbitrary. And secondary to the things they describe. Yes, you may quote this brilliant observation word for word. I know you want to.
Let's move on to the history of the Florentine Quartet. Well, let's not--a quick Google search didn't tell me much. There was a famous 19th-century string quartet by that title, but I doubt these guys are related. I'll keep looking, though--and if you have any info to offer, don't hold back. All we need to know now is their make-up: violin, flute, cello (or "'cello"), and harp (and a celesta added for Star of the Sea). Their version of Edward McDowell's To a Water-Lily is one of the loveliest light concert/salon recordings ever made. The sound is quite vivid for an acoustical recording, too, in this 78 restorer's opinion.
The brilliant MacDowell is represented by two more terrific numbers: Love Song (from the great Indian Suite) and From an Indian Lodge (from Woodland Sketches). These two works, from the 1890s, are the definition of mood music. In their quiet way, they pound home the point that quiet, thoughtful music can be as brilliant as anything else. Unusually quiet surfaces for a 1926 recording (the second year of electrically-recorded discs), but am I complaining? For once, no.
Nat Shilkret's Nola and The Glow-Worm (1925) come from a much noisier 78, but their quiet charm soothes the savage surface noise. The soft-to-loud Brunswick Concert Orch. renditions of Goin' Home and Song of the Volga Boatman (1926) push the dynamic-range limits of their day, and the results are more distortion- and hiss-free than I'm used to with this label--thanks, Brunswick, for getting this pressing right. (Late praise being better than none.)
The mega-oldies in the list--1911's Fascination and 1905's Dance California--are a study in contrasts. Whereas Fascination sounds very much like a hi-fi-era arrangement replayed through an acoustical horn, California is very much of its day. Of course, a number of Pops staples--from The Whistler and His Dog to A Hunt in the Black Forest--are in the same concert-in-the-park style as California. And I'm suddenly wondering how I'd get by without hyphens. That's a get-you-considering sort of thing.
As for Fascination, maybe it sounds modern simply because it's so familiar--the piece, for one thing, is all over YouTube. And I just noticed something odd and interesting--a number of sources, including Wikipedia, give its date of composition as 1932. Which of course doesn't explain how it managed to get recorded 21 years earlier, and under the same title, no less. I'll have to check into this. A time-travel puzzle? Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, the playlist you're about to download is a file to be cherished as long as hard drives are being forged. (Wrong word--I mean, made.) And I say this only partly because of the hours I spent editing, filtering, and EQing these gems from my shellac stash.
You may not be a better person after you hear these, but you won't be a worse one. Shouldn't be, anyway. But I can only guarantee so much.
Click here to reach zip file: FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
TO A WATER-LILY (MacDowell)--Florentine Quartet, 1917.
FROM AN INDIAN LODGE (MacDowell)--Victor Concert O., Rossario Bourdon, 1926.
LOVE SONG (From Indian Suite--MacDowell)--Same, 1926.
STAR OF THE SEA--REVERIE (A. Kennedy)--Same, 1917.
NIGHTS IN THE WOODS (Harold De Bozi)--David H. Silverman Orch., 1923.
ONE HOUR OF LOVE (Anatol Friedland)--same, 1923.
NOLA (Arndt)--Victor Salon O., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1925.
THE GLOW-WORM--IDYLL (Paul Lincke)--Same, 1925.
GOIN' HOME (Dvorak-Fisher)--Brunswick Concert O., w. male chorus, 1926.
SONG OF THE VOLGA BOATMAN--Same, 1926.
FASCINATION WALTZ--Guido Gialdini; Whistling solo w. Orch., 1911.
DANCE CALIFORNIA (George W. Gregory)--Bells solo, with Orch., 1905.
Bev's brother and sister-in-law John and Sue gave me this cool stuffed Navy dude for Christmas. Dress blues, black tie, sailor cap--all there. The pine-cone nose, I'm not sure about, but it sure looks cool. I don't remember having one during my Navy days, though....
Photo number two shows present-day Lee with the Navy-doll body, which makes a cute image, I think. Or maybe something off of Night Gallery. Depends on how much ChillerTV you watch in a day. (Me? Too much.)
Meanwhile, a dear Navy buddy has taken to selling strange things on eBay. Actually, it looks like a perfectly fine pet, but, with twenty felines and a mystery cat who looks like he wants to join the herd, we're kind of full up with animals right now. But you might discover within yourself a strong desire to own a fuzzy pet who/which requires zero care and gives zero fuss. Looking after this critter is a breeze, so long as you keep him/her/it away from same. And clear of fans, open windows, frisky cats, and in-use vacuum hoses.
The Navy does strange things to already strange folks. Of course, I'm not talking about me or my friend. We're normal.