Saturday, July 04, 2009
A portion of our herd (above) says, "HAPPY FOURTH!!"
Fourteen toe-tappin', flag-wavin', and otherwise apostrophe-inspiring selections that run the gamut from fairly loud Americana to very loud Americana. You'll love them. I mean, 'em. All were newly ripped from my 78 collection--some of the titles are repeats, but not the rips. I might do a follow-up post in which I make really interesting technical notes, such as the fact that I rescued (At a) Georgia Camp Meeting from itself by editing out the unusable first strain (which didn't track properly) and substituting the repeat of that strain. Twice. You'd never know it.
But I decided not to mention that or the other stuff--instead, let's get right to the music:
ZIP FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
ENTRY OF THE GLADIATORS--Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Band, 1930.
IDA! SWEET AS APPLE CIDER--Dance Music (Little Wonder 806), 1918.
ARKANSAS TRAVELER--Don Richardson, violin, 1916.
THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER--Prince's Band, 1916.
GEORGIA CAMP MEETING (Kerry Mills)--Band, 1901.
FOR YOUR COUNTRY AND MY COUNTRY (Berlin)--Peerless Quartette, 1917.
PAUL REVERE--Charles Hart and Shannon Four, 1918.
WAR DANCE (CHEYENNE) (Skilton)--Victor Concert Orch., 1929.
SHAWNEE INDIAN HUNTING DANCE (Charles S. Skilton)--Same.
UNCLE SAMMY'S BOYS IN CAMP (Hager)--Prince's Band, 1917.
TURKEY IN THE STRAW (A RAG-TIME FANTASIE)--Pietro, Piano-accordion, 1918.
THE STANDARD BEARER MARCH--Conway's Band, 1917.
PATRIOTIC MEDLEY MARCH NO. 2--Victor Military Band, 1917.
WAR SONGS--Victor Male Chorus, 1913.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
The wait is over--those of you dying to hear how 78s sound on my new turntable will get the chance with this post. These rips run the gamut from near-perfection (Sweet Emalina, My Gal) to near-groove-extinction (Liberty Bell), and all archival-survival points in between. And these selections relate to the Fourth of July, how? By their quality of Americana. And I've always wanted to type "by their quality of Americana." It makes for a handy label, given that I, the musical director, get to define what I mean by Americana.
The Little Wonder 78s are teeny-tiny (5" in diameter) discs whose music was provided by such artists as "Band," "Dance Music," and "Male Trio." I couldn't play these on my Dual 1229, given that turntable's tendency to either eject or start repeating halfway through these, but my Stanton T.92 has no such issues. And, so, we will get to hear the Little Wonder wonders Boomerang Rag (Band), Liberty Bell (Dance Music--not the Sousa march), and 20th Century Rag (Band, again). Just listen to that Band.
And we'll hear, from 1917, Sergeant Markel's Orch. playing the exact same arrangement of Sweet Emalina, My Gal that Earl Fuller cut for Columbia. Only the percussion comes through way better on this label, Victor. The sound is clear and solid--in a word, Stanton. Also, two 1938 sides by Andre Kostelanetz (as "Andre Kostelanetz Conducts"), and I still can't believe how good these sound. Bugle Call Rag has moments of Spike Jones, though it predates Jones' RCA Victor days by three years. The flip side, Turkey in the Straw, is equally jazzy easy listening. All that's needed is more echo and an augmented string section, and we have elevator music as we know it from supermarkets and department stores. (You thought I was going to say elevators, right?)
Young America (We're Strong for You) is a typical diversity-celebrating patriotic title of the time (1916), demonstrating that the attitude is older than the reality. We'll Never Let Our Old Flag Fall rates a 10 on the rousing-number scale, even if the singers sound like a modern barbershop quartet played at 16 rpm. The arrangement is filled with patriotic interpolations, demonstrating that the practice was old news years before Paul Whiteman, Andre Kostelanetz, and The Boston Pops. My job at this blog is to point out that nothing in pop music is remotely new AND to prove it with examples. Don't complain to me--complain to history.
Anyway, my Stanton T.92 DJ turntable turns out to be a wise 78-playing investment, though please remember that I got rid of the enclosed cartridge ASAP and replaced it with the Stanton 680 Hi-Fi. Results with the cartridge and styli provided would have been nice, but not nearly this nice.
To the 78s: ZIP FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
BOOMERANG RAG--Band (Little Wonder 473; 1916)
SWEET EMALINA, MY GAL--Sergeant Markel's Orch., 1917. (Victor)
20TH CENTURY RAG--Band, 1914. (Little Wonder 9)
BUGLE CALL RAG--Andre Kostelanetz Conducts, 1938. (Brunswick)
TURKEY IN THE STRAW--Same.
YOUNG AMERICANS (WE'RE STRONG FOR YOU)--Peerless Quartet, 1916. (Columbia)
LIBERTY BELL--Dance Music (Little Wonder 826), 1918.
WE'LL NEVER LET OUR OLD FLAG FALL--Albert Wiederhold and the Broadway Q., 1915. (Columbia)
Note: My copy of Liberty Bell is so hammered that I resorted to my MAGIX program's "DeNoiser" feature, which I normally avoid, due to the sonic "artifcacts." But it worked out pretty well here. I used a touch of it on Young Americans, too. It doesn't make its presence as obvious as I thought it would. Using this feature involves sampling a portion of the record's hiss and creating a filter from same. If not applied very, very lightly, the results sound like sonar returns played backwards. Every time you hear an mp3 of a 78 that sounds hollow, swishy, and metallic, you're hearing careless application of de-noising. At which point, the DeNoiser becomes what I've dubbed the Sound-All-Gone. If you love 78s, don't do that to them.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"Dedicated to the Space Program," reads the label to Alva Snelling's Space Race to the Moon (1966 or 1967), which happens to be famous (among obscure-music types) for its flip side, Clock on the Wall. I think I like this better, though.
Race's lyrics go all over the place--first, they condemn the idea of landing on the Moon, then they declare the task impossible, and finally they predict that the race will be won by the Land of the Free, as "God meant it to be." Maybe it's just me, but there's a Jonathan Richman character to this weird but delightful side. The Mysterians-style organ is terrific.
A perfect mood-setter for July 4.
Space Race to the Moon (A. Snelling) Alva Starr (Snelling), 1966 or 1967.
Monday, June 29, 2009
This is sort of a companion post to the sort-of companion post to the Rock Around the Clock post of a week or so ago. Around this place, we're nothing if not more or less organized.
These are songs associated with Bill Haley, but not necessarily numbers that he had first dibs on. All are budget "cover" versions, except for Buddy Morrow's version of Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie and Ralph Marterie's version of Crazy Man, Crazy, both of which came out on Mercury; Dinah Shore's Thirteen Men, which came out on RCA; Tommy Oliver's excellent big band rendition of Rock Around the Clock (Warner Bros.); and the Esquire Boys' Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie, which came out on the Guyden label and which features Danny Cedrone on lead guitar.
Otherwise, it's Cheap Label City, U.S.A. all the way--Tops, Prom, Bell, Waldorf, Gateway, and the dance-class labels Velmo and Statler. The Statler label version of Rock Around the Clock obviously dates from around the time of the Happy Days revival of the tune--observe how the lead singer botches the melody, suggesting that, for some, the song wasn't even a vague musical memory circa 1974. I can picture the recording director holding up a sign reading "Faster! Faster!"
My favorite of the bunch? Gabe Drake's terrific Clock cover on Prom.
Click here to hear: ZIP FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
BURN THAT CANDLE--Jerry Parker w. Maury Laws Orch. (Prom)
DIM, DIM THE LIGHTS--Mary Colby w. Gil Stevens Orch. (Bell), 1953.
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK--Gabe Drake w. Maury Laws O. (Prom)
DIM, DIM THE LIGHTS--Bob La Mont w. Lewis Everette's Orch. (Gateway), 1954.
THE SAINTS ROCK AND ROLL (Haley-Gabler)--Artie Malvin and the Zig Zags (Waldorf).
DON'T KNOCK THE ROCK--Artie Malvin and the Rhythm Rockets (Waldorf).
R-O-C-K (Haley-Keefer-Keefer)--The Four Jacks w. Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway), 1956.
THIRTEEN MEN--Dinah Shore w. Harry Zimmerman's Orch. and Cho. (RCA), 1958.
ROCK-A-BEATIN' BOOGIE (Haley)--Johnny Curtis w. the Toppers (Tops).
RAZZLE DAZZLE--Velmo Records 1009.
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK--Tommy Olvier Orch. (Warner Bros.), 1958.
ROCK-A-BEATIN' BOOGIE (Haley)--Esqure Boys feat. Danny Cedrone (Guyden label), 1954.
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK--Statler Records 933.
CRAZY MAN, CRAZY (Haley)--Ralph Materie Orch., Vocal: Larry Regan, Smarty-Airs (Mercury), 1953.
ROCK-A-BEATIN' BOOGIE (Haley)--Buddy Morrow Orch.; Vocal: Jerry Mercer (Mercury), 1954.
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK--The Four Bells w. Jimmy Carroll Orch. (Bell), 1955.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
A gorgeous collection of gospel standards, though the original 1959 Decca LP (Let's All Sing to Him) contained seven more tracks. Along with the usual track-cheating, this Pickwick label reissue is guilty of second-rate pressing quality and crappy cover design, but it wouldn't be Pickwick, otherwise. It's the music that matters, anyway, and Foley brings the kind of deep feeling and relaxed soul to these numbers that Eddy Arnold brought to the Fanny Crosby playlist of the 1959 RCA Victor classic, Praise Him, Praise Him.
Allmusic.com, though, disagrees with me a lot, calling this production "fetid." To Allmusic's reviewer, in fact, the LP "epitomizes the saccharine strain of gospel production featuring an overdone backing choir and wailing organ." Oh, my God! An organ and choir! What did Decca think they were putting out? Church music??
Anyway, lovely material, and with most of the pressing flaws edited out or minimized by MAGIX and Lee.
Oh--as a cool bonus track, we have The Browns, from 1967, with a mellow, Chet-Atkins-produced version of He Will Set Your Fields on Fire, straight from the RCA Victor 45. We're good to our listeners here.
Click here to hear: ZIP FILE NO LONGER AVAILABLE
THE CHURCH IN THE WILDWOOD (Pitts)
IN THE SWEET BYE AND BYE (Bennett-Webster)
LOVE LIFTED ME (Rowe-Smith)
WORK FOR THE NIGHT IS COMING (Coghill-Mason)
LET THE LOWER LIGHTS BE BURNING (Philip B. Bliss)
BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE (Gabriel-Ogden)
ROCK OF AGES (Toplady-Hastings)
SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER (Robert Lowry)
THE OLD RUGGED CROSS (Rev. Geo. Bennard)
HE WILL SET YOUR FIELDS ON FIRE--The Browns (Producer: Chet Atkins), 1967.