Friday, May 07, 2010
Eight Top Tunes X 2=Sixteen Top Tunes. (I knew my college math would prove useful someday.) This is the usual assortment of "cover" versions (sound-alike copies of big hits), covers of covers, and mismatched titles and playlists. Not only do the tracks appear in a different order than listed on the covers, the main titles on both discs differ from the jackets' versions--Hit Parade of Eight Top Hits vs. Hit Parade of Eight Tunes, and Pop' (sic) Parade Eight Top Tunes vs. Parade of Eight Top Tunes. Then there's the same photo used on both. The usual loving, get-'em-out-quick attention to detail that cheap-label collectors live for. Then again, the label credits are the same for disc and jacket--that's noteworthy by cheap-label standards.
To give things an even cheaper touch, some (possibly many) of the tracks are edited, K-Tel style, to allow the squeezing of four titles per 7" 45 rpm side. Rock Around the Clock (a version which shows up on a number of other labels, but I've lost track) has two cuts, and Razzle Dazzle lacks a guitar solo. Then again, the edits are very expertly done. So, we have two things going for these, really--properly-matched label credits and expert track shortening.
"Cover" quality ranges from excellent--The Longest Walk--to pretty good--Maybellene, Yellow Rose of Texas, Gum Drop--to not so great--Heart, Something's Gotta Give. All, however, are better than the packaging (or lack of it) may suggest.
One more detail: Long story, but low-volume hum of unknown cause (in my stereo set-up) was driving me crazy, so I took my vintage Sony amplifier out of the picture, figuring it was the culprit. However, my preamp seems to be the bad guy--it's clearly the source of the hum. However, with the Sony gone, that hum is much less present. Still there, but not nearly as noticeable--leading me to believe I was overamplifying. I'm now using the preamp's output alone, and (to my surprise) all sounds fine. Let me know what you think. Not having to get a new amp is a good thing for my wallet. Plus, in the modern, post-turntable reality of 2010, there aren't a lot of modern amps that feature phono input or even aux.
To the cheap covers: Sixteen Top Tunes
THE LONGEST WALK (Cover of Jaye P. Morgan)
MAYBELLENE (Cover of Chuck Berry)
THE KENTUCKIAN SONG (Cover of Eddy Arnold)
RAZZLE DAZZLE (Cover of Bill Haley)
GUM DROP (Cover of Crew-Cuts covering Otis Williams & the Charms)
YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS (Cover of Mitch Miller)
MOMENTS TO REMEMBER (Cover of the Four Lads)
SONG OF THE DREAMER (Cover of Eddie Fisher)
HEART (Unknown--from musical Damn Yankees)
DON'T BE ANGRY--(Cover of Crew-Cuts covering Nappy Brown)
HONEY BABE (Cover of Art Mooney)
A BLOSSOM FELL (Cover of Nat King Cole)
LEARNIN' THE BLUES (Cover of Frank Sinatra)
ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK (Cover of Bill Haley)
HEY MR. BANJO (Cover of the Sunnysiders)
SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (Cover of McGuire Sisters)
Jerry Rudolph and his Radio & TV Orchestra--The Four Angels, featuing Judy Lynn and Paul Bean (Today's Records 1204 & 1206) 1955-ish.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
We'll be hearing the 1966 Everest label issue of Ethel LeVane and Ferde Grofe's "symphonic narrative," Atlantic Crossing, which originally came out in 1950 on British Decca (and, for the U.S., on London). This was saved to cassette by me, oh, about 30 years ago--and it sounds quite good, considering, Dolby and all. It helps a lot that I used a TDK SA tape. The only audio issue is some bleed-through during some of the pauses (a common magnetic-tape storage problem), and I was able to cut most of that. In all, I trimmed about four seconds, and they are not missed. Well, unless you've memorized this recording, and how many of us have done that?
The image above, which I swiped from the Net, shows the 1966 mono issue--ours, however, is the fake stereo edition. Now, I don't know if the Everest engineers added the annoying reverb or whether it came with the 1950 recording, but Anton Dolin's hammy narration sure could have done without it. Ethel LeVane's mundane text might have worked with an actor who sounded less like a higher-pitched Richard Burton on thirty cups of Espresso--but, as it is, we're stuck with the combo of LeVane and Dolin vs. Grofe. Luckily, Grofe's music is more than worth the journey, though it really should have been recorded by itself.
Anyway, according to Grofe, LeVane was not to be crossed--it was her way or the seaway. Any suggestions on his part remained just that. Grofe reports a similarly bossy attitude from Andre Kostelanetz, who had him change a number of things in his Hudson River Suite. Personally, I can't imagine telling Grofe how to write program music. Kind of like telling John Cleese how to do comedy.
To the music (and narration):
Atlantic Crossing, Part 1
Atlantic Crossing, Part 2
Ferde Grofe conducting the New Symphony Orchestra and the George Mitchell Choir. Anton Dolin and Ethel LeVane, narrators. 1966 Everest reissue.