Saturday, November 26, 2011
Courtesy of The Museum of Classic Chicago Television website, a marvelous 1980 PM Magazine Chicago piece on Bonnie and Ed Gulan's Christmas Tree Story House Museum (above). It helps explain today's 45 rpm offering (below) by the Do-Gooders, released on the "Sounds of the Christmas Tree Story House" label in 1980, and featuring two songs penned by Bonnie Gulan herself, the funnest of which is Christmas Yodel. The video and the two songs have me in pop culture overload mode, but you don't hear me complaining.
Sad to say, Bonnie passed away on Dec. 14, 2003 at the age of 81. Here is her obit. Thanks, Bonnie, for making our 2011 Christmas an infinitely cooler experience.
Click here to hear:
Christmas Tree Story House.zip
CHRISTMAS YODEL (Bonnie M. Gulan)--The Do-Gooders, 1980.
CHRISTMAS IN OUR TOWN (Bonnie M. Gulan)--Same, 1980.
(Sounds of the Christmas Tree Story House 100; 1980)
To make things even more confusing, I've titled the zip file, "A Mutual Radio Networks Program." Anyway, whenever we see a busy, credit-packed label like this one, we just know the recording itself is quite cheap. And it is. But, first, let me explain this disc.
Well, something to do with a 21-day radio series called At Home with Santa, for which this disc is a "demonstration" (i.e., ad for). At Home with Santa, as awkwardly described on this disc, is a kind of public service for needy children and shut-ins who otherwise wouldn't have the chance to travel to the North Pole and meet the Big Elf and his staff. For buying (renting?) this series, ACCE members would receive customized promos for their business from the inebriated-sounding Santa, along with the daily adventures of "Reporter Rick," whose voice sounds nearly exactly like Santa's. I hope that explains everything.
You're invited to come up with your own interpretation....
Click here to experience:
ACCE Presents: At Home with Santa, Side A
ACCE Presents: At Home with Santa, Side B
Friday, November 25, 2011
Fifteen 45 and 78 rpm singles from my collection, ripped and restored by me. Getting a listenable file from my copy of the Robinettes' Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town was the biggest challenge of the bunch--this 7" Robin Hood 78 had been played half to death, if not 3/4. But darned if I didn't get a C- file out of an F+ copy.
Christmas 2011, Part 1--Singles
MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS (Ruth Lyons)--Ruby Wright, 1957.
JINGLE BELLS--Dick Byron, Sandpipers.
JUNGLE BELLS (DINGO, DONGO, DAY)--Les Paul and Mary Ford, 1953.
SLEIGH RIDE--Merv Griffin w. Freddy Martin Orch., 1950.
DING-A-LONG-DONG--THE SLEIGH BELL SONG--The Cricketones.
OLD TIMEY CHRISTMAS--Ambrose Halley, 1947.
LITTLE LOST SAX--Little Toy Band
LITTLE LOST SAX (Narration)--Same.
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING--Bob Gleason (Borken 1002)
WINTER WONDERLAND--Fran McKenna, Mulcays (Cardinal 1005)
MOTHER'S CHRISTMAS TREE--Same.
BUZZY, THE CHRISTMAS TREE--Sue and Jeff Mitchell (It's a Click 728)
SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN--Robinettes (Robin Hood 701; 7" 78)
Thursday, November 24, 2011
It's Thanksgiving, and this blog gives thanks to Kevin R. Tam for the Internet premiere we're about to hear. In four files (one per movement), we have Kevin's expert band arrangement (well, the MIDI files thereof) of Ferde Grofe's 1960 San Francisco Suite, an interesting and ingenious work from late in the composer's career.
Following are Kevin's notes and the file links for today's music you (definitely) won't hear anyplace else. Happy Thanksgiving!
(FOLLOWING NOTES BY KEVN R. TAM)
San Francisco Suite – 1 – The “Gold Rush”
The San Francisco Suite by Ferde Grofe was a commission work and premiered in SF on April 25, 1960 under the direction of then Orchestra director Enrique Jorda. It was never published and remains unheard to modern audiences. The first movement is entitled "Gold Rush" and represents the lawless frontier that was then San Francisco. The movement starts out with a play on "pop goes the weasel" and then settles into a lively layered depiction of frontier life, eventually resulting in "The Altercation" between two camp rivals, we hear gunshots, and the killer gallops away. Next, the "pop goes the weasel" theme returns and we visit a square dance at a nearby camp. Suddenly the tempo increases...the news of a "Gold Strike!" moves though camp and all hell breaks loose.
The second, "Bohemian Nights" is subtitled "The Theme of Romance" This movement is a woodwind feature and begins with an Alto Saxophone Solo, moves into a moody section, there is a nice horn and woodwind bit, and culminates with a tutti horn and woodwinds recap of the theme with a very Grofe textured layered and fading ending.
San Francisco Suite – 2 – “Bohemian Nights”
San Francisco Suite – 3 – The “Mauve Decade”
Movement #3 would be the wild ride, if we didn't know there was an earthquake about to happen. In this movement we take a trip on a cable car - perhaps the Powell-Hyde line? We make a stop in Chinatown, and up and down those hills! A Piano Solo tells us that we've arrived at "The Barbary Coast" district (a red-light district comprised of nine blocks bounded by Montgomery Street, Washington Street, Stockton Street, and Broadway). Next, we take a few more ups and downs on the Cable Car and we reach "The Opera".
The Mauve Decade
San Francisco Suite – 4 – “1906 - 1960”
The fourth movement "1906 - 1906" begins with an ethereal fog, which slowly helps to thicken the tension and buildup as instruments are added and foghorns are sounded and echoed. We feel the first tremors and then the real thing. To create a catastrophic "Boom" sound, Grofe scored three timpani players and a Bass drum to simulate the explosion of dynamite as buildings were intentionally leveled to create firebreaks. Hard to hear in this recording but these are followed up by another percussionist shaking a large box of broken glass and a fire engine's bell. Grofe uses his uncanny ability for musical narrative to recreate a major happening in the history and lore of San Francisco. This representation of the City's major catastrophe comes across as apt, able, and serious. Note the multiple iterations and finale fanfare of "Hail to California" - an old University of California song, which Grofe weaved into the work.
1906 to 1960
(END OF KEVIN R. TAM'S NOTES)
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
BIOLA=The Bible Institute of Los Angeles, Inc. A very nice collection of "old time" gospel, with Ralph Carmichael as arranger. I thrifted this years ago, mostly because the lineup includes Charles H. Gabriel's O That Will Be Glory. Glory, however, turns out to be the least interesting track, to my ear--great song, but mediocre treatment. However, the arranging and performing on other numbers, especially Wonderful Grace of Jesus and The King's Business, more than compensate for a blah Glory. And, yes, for years I've wanted to type "a blah Glory."
Besides, a blah version of Glory is way better than none.
To the music: Musical Biolans--Biola Golden Jubilee
WE'VE A STORY TO TELL TO THE NATIONS
UNDER HIS WINGS
WONDERFUL GRACE OF JESUS
DAY BY DAY
THE SOLID ROCK
THE KING'S BUSINESS
O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES
IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL
WILL JESUS FIND US WATCHING
O THAT WILL BE GLORY (Gabriel)
GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS
I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY