Saturday, May 26, 2012
An Hour (actually, 40 minutes) of Stardust
I hope the cover image isn't too dark. If so, I did my best. Thing is, the brightness is set too low on my HP monitor (except for several hours, recently, when it went the other way), and so I figure that overdoing the darkness will get an image just right. Meanwhile, the HP on-line instructions insist that the monitor can be manually adjusted for contrast, but I've searched every inch of same with no luck. I almost think the PC is taunting me with its occasional, inexplicable contrast shifts.
And so, at last, a copy of An Hour of Star Dust in acceptable-plus condition. This is one of those easy-to-find albums that's nevertheless hard to find in playable condition, like The Eddy Duchin Story or Como's Golden Records. I've celebrated by ripping the entire LP, and not just half of it, like last time.
Royale, of course, was a junk label supreme, and this one is junky even by Royale, um, standards--not the music or the orchestra, which are great, but the sound quality, which is fairly pathetic. My theory is that the material was recorded off the radio, probably overseas, and then mastered from reel to reel tape. The latter would explain the machine shut-off sound that follows each track, which I've edited out for your convenience. (The shut-off noise, not the tracks.) I also edited out numerous pops and tape drop-outs (or are they broadcast drops?) and just generally balanced the two channels to minimize distortion and create the illusion that someone actually engineered this.
Some all-time great Pops novelties, all beautifully done--Dizzy Fingers, Kitten on the Keys, The Syncopated Clock, Stringcopation--and lush, gloriously over-arranged standards like, well, Star Dust. How over-arranged? Well, I can picture Mantovani paring down the Star Dust orchestration and halving the running time. Not a problem for me--I love such over the top easy listening, in part because it makes for such a wonderful contradiction (easy/over the top).
The two-part Hollywood Concerto has nothing to do with Hollywood or concertos, which makes for a nothing ending to this set, but I love it, anyway. It's probably my favorite junk-label album of all time.
An Hour of Star Dust--Royale Concert Orch.
Those Foolish Things
Kitten on the Keys
Hollywood Concerto, Pt. 1
Hollywood Concerto, Pt. 2
An Hour of Star Dust--Royale Concert Orch. (Royale 1274)