Saturday, December 31, 2016

An 1872 Christmas, courtesy of The Little Corporal

Below: A Santa right out of Miracle on 34th St., only from 1872.  The poem is straight out of the progressive Christianity of the day.  I'm guessing the last stanza is Santa himself talking.... 

From the same issue, a comic book-style novelty ad--The Magnetic Fish.  Only 30 cents (actually, 30 cents was some money in 1872).  This predates the birth of Johnson Smith.

Magic Hoops!  "The exercise is so light that the most delicate ladies can excel in the game with pleasure."  Well, that's good to know, especially when the weather becomes too cold for croquet.  And dig the manufacturer: Milton Bradley & Co.!

An 1872 Christmas tree,  property of Bessie.

I'd set these aside to post and forgot all about them until now, with a whole hour and six minutes to go until... 2017. (Bells, party sounds, "Auld Lang Syne," balloons everywhere, cheering.)


What a year! Church, VinylStudio

I'm doing a late year-in-review series at my rarely-used Text blog, because I know people want music here (understandably!) and not the cynical musings of Lee Whatshisname.  So, I'm putting them over there.  Except I seem to have lost my first post.  (What the...?)  It's no longer there.  So much for linking to it.

Maybe I only imagined I typed it.  This is crazy.  Oh, well.

In music news, the organ--a cool Thomas electric, circa 1970--has been fixed at the church where I'm volunteering.  I can't wait to hear it in its fixed state.  It had been sitting around for something like sixteen (!!) years before I warmed it up.  Most of the keys were working, but the volume pedal had major issues.  Then the thing started humming--loudly.

The repairman found frayed wires, and he had to either replace the volume pedal or do lots of work on it.  Anyway, Thomas was the brand used on the Lawrence Welk show, so that's good enough for me.  I always loved that organ sound.  All the rhythms have been deactivated, which is fine with me.  Nothing's quite as unnerving as accidentally activating a cha-cha beat in the middle of Blessed Assurance.  ("Blessed insurance, please pay on time...")

It's a very charming old (I mean, old) country church about a 20 minute drive from here.  And I thought I had an exterior-shot photo ready to post, but I don't.  (Maybe it vanished along with the Text post.)  Here's the inside:

As you can see, it's a church.  (Not sure why the balloons.)  We have a massive congregation of about 30.  I must get an exterior shot, because the building is awesome looking.  I'll do that tomorrow, if it's not too overcast.

It was cool this year having Christmas on a Sunday--and, now, a Sunday New Year's.

Music news, Part 2: VinylStudio, my great new toy (received early from Santa) is giving me the kind of 78 rpm results I've always dreamed of.  After some practice, it's becoming almost second nature to modify playback curves to my liking--sometimes, all it involves is choosing the high and low freq. turnovers, though often it's more complicated.  But not much more.

Inverting the RIAA (LP) playback curve yields a far clearer signal, and from there it's a matter of using a preset (if one is there) or going from scratch.  It's not the time-consuming task I anticipated--I can usually rip and fix seven or eight tracks in one sitting.  Here are eight from the past few days:

I'm in Love Again (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1927

Red Hot Chicago--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1930.

Precious (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Moonlight on the Ganges (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Her Beaus Are Only Rainbows--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Bolshevik--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Wherever You Go--Whatever You Do--Nat Shilkret, Victor Orch., v: Lewis James, 1927

Collette (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1927.

Happy (almost) New Year!


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from Hemant Mehta

This man has made a shocking discovery: Santa isn't real!  No way!!  Really??

And he's still a little dazed from the revelation, it seems.

In any event, he is to be congratulated, not only for discovering the truth, but for taking the time to share it with us on YouTube.  I admire a person with a cause.

(So, let me get this straight--Santa doesn't get our letters?)

 Next week on Great Truth-Tellers of Our Time: Bunny Trails: Fact or Fiction?


Getting Ready for Christmas?

Getting ready for Christmas?  I hope not--it's here.  Amazing how quickly it sneaks up on us, no?

However, if you need presents in a hurry and have a time machine that'll take you back to 1899, here are some items you might want to fetch for your return trip, all scanned by me from the Youth's Companion issue shown above.  How I'd love one of those Stafford's X RAY things--just one of the many precursors to the X-Ray Specs of comic book-ad fame.  Grab me one if you're going, o.k.?:

"If your dealer hasn't it, send us a mail order."

Here's 1899 Santa, looking pretty much like the 2016 model....

Can't miss with this gift!  (Chortle, guffaw.)

Darn.  Nobody ever gets me a patented scissors sharpener for Christmas.

I need one of these!  This 1899 Stafford's X RAY ad is astonishingly similar to the X-Ray Specs ads featured in Boomer-era comic books (below):

(See my Lee's Comic Rack posts on the history of X-ray novelties: Here and here.)

Every child's dream gift....


Saturday, December 24, 2016


Apologies for the false links on Zippyshare--they're a major pain.  I refer to the way that, the moment we so much as tap our mouse, Z. takes us to another page, one containing a download we didn't ask for.  Anymore, this is standard internet practice.  Sometimes, of course, it's simply blackmail to get us to "upgrade" to spam-free service.

However, I've found a way to get around the page hijack.  It doesn't always work (it's failed me once so far), but clicking within the  arrow circle on "DOWNLOAD NOW" (instead of the rectangle itself) should get the proper download started:

My browser is Google Chrome.  I haven't tried this on IE or Firefox.  Malware scans reveal nothing on my PC that could be doing the page-hijacking, but scans aren't perfect....


Tom & Ann and the Family--A Discount Disc Christmas!

Click here to experience: Christmas Family Album

No, I don't want to create a Christmas "blook"!  Oh, sorry--just talking back to my email.

So, let's face it--Christmas without Tom & Ann and the Family just isn't Christmas.  This should go without saying.  Nor do we need to note that Discount Disc was a Pickwick label, because they put "Pickwick International, Inc." right under "Discount Disc" up topside, just so we'd know that.

Naturally, we expect chintziness in the extreme from a Pickwick Christmas EP, and that's exactly what we get here.  Pickwick always came through.  Pickwick was... Pickwick.

By the way, on some LPs (I'm thinking International Award) Pickwick gave its company name as K and M, or something like that (KM, maybe).  I'll have to look at some labels to verify.  The internet isn't helping.

Pickwick put out a lot of kiddie stuff, so I'm guessing this EP consists of tracks they had lying around.  Unless, that is, there really was a Tom & Ann And The Family, hired specially for this gig.  In all probability, though, these tracks are from two different sources.  Who knows?  (What do you mean, who cares?)

White Christmas is rendered here as Painfully Flat Christmas, and the Family(?)'s version of The (Little) Drummer Boy has me wondering if the leads were instructed to sing as off-key as possible, since the kids sound just fine on the two following tracks.   Love the organ.

And Ann, while she has a nice voice, gives us a pretty drab Away in a Manger, with the bland accompaniment maybe to blame.

This six-track EP format can be found on other cheapie labels of the time, including Tops, Song Hits/Hit Parader, and Gilmar, and I've often wondered if Pickwick was the main force behind many of the sound-alikes of the 1960s--even the ones put out by Synthetic Plastics Co.  Were they providing masters for their own, and other, labels?  Were they pressing stuff for other outfits?  These questions cry out to be answered.

I don't know what "Set K" is all about, unless there were more Christmas Family Album EPs.  Good grief--an A-K of these?


Friday, December 23, 2016

Last of the Christmas 2016 78s!!--David Rose, Louise Wilcher, Master Ernest Lough

And we get to the last of the Christmas 2016 78s, featuring discs restored with the amazing VinylStudio (that program I almost abandoned over a glitch in the export function!).  To control the playback curve is to rule the world!!  Buwa-ha-haaa!  I mean, is to control the audio results.  This is the funnest early Christmas toy I've ever received.

Like Audacity, VS features an inverse RIAA curve plus any number of presets (including 78 rpm)--or you can just start from scratch, tweaking the playback curve by ear, which is what I end up doing fairly often.  I curve-corrected the famous 1926 Hear My Prayer (Master Ernest Lough) purely by ear, and I like the results--getting the boy soprano's voice to ring out without high end distortion was almost as hard as covering up the needle-wear moments (louder freq.'s were often the first to be harmed by the old gramophone needles).  It's such a gorgeous performance (very famous in its day), the hard work of restoring it didn't seem like work.

In distinct contrast, getting the David Rose 78 to speed was a simple matter of using VS's MGM curve and removing some clicks.  The presets proved handy for the rest, though I did some treble tweaking and low frequency taming.  (Always wanted to type that.)

Download without delay.  And here's an awesome four-part video on Master Ernest Lough:

Ernest Lough--The First Famous Choirboy, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Click here to hear:  Last of the Christmas 2016 78s

A Christmas Medley--David Rose and His Orch. (MGM 30211; 1949 or 1950)
Sleigh Ride--Ethel Smith, Organ w. Orch. (Decca 24902; 1950)
The Skaters--Louise Wilcher, Harry Campell, Hammond organ and Novachord (Col. 36304; 1941)
Christmas Fantasy--Part 1 (Arr: Al Goodman)--Al Goodman and His O. (RCA Victor 28-0427; 1950)
Christmas Fantasy--Part 2 (Same)
Hear My Prayer/O For the Wings of a Dove (Mendelssohn)--Choir of the Temple Church, London; Soloist: Master Ernest Lough (His Master's Voice 35856; 1926)


Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Value Hit Parade Tunes, Tops, and Record PAK Christmas!

Click here to hear: Value Hit Parade Tunes Christmas

And what better Christmas than a Value Hit Parade Tunes, Tops, and Record PAK one?  And that's why you'll get with this download.

We start with two 78s on Value Hit Parade Tunes, both part of a four-record set that I have on 45 rpm.  A really neat picture sleeve/envelope came with them, but I don't have it.  (And I'm almost sure there was a 12-inch Hollywood label LP release.  Ernie?)  Here Comes Santa Claus --here credited to that great, massively underrated ensemble,"Vocals and Orch. By Popular Artists"--is the same recording that the Royale label credited to John "Santa" Claus.  It also shows up on the 10" LP, Merry Christmas Songs (Varsity 6905), where it is credited to... no one.  An excellent cover version, anyway, whoever sang it.  (If John Claus is reading this, please leave a note.)

I love All Around the Christmas Tree more than I can say.  I don't know how something so elaborately well done ended up on VHPT.

And... we have Record PAK, pretty much the cheapest of the cheap fake-hits labels, though some dealers charge through the roof on the things, for reasons unknown to me.  You'll be hearing three of the four tracks from the 78 rpm EP Record PAK I-539, and I would have ripped the fourth, but there's a scary-looking glitch on the surface where that track resides, and I've put my 78 stylus through enough without asking it to plow through whatever that is.

The Tops 78 (Rosemary Page w. the Yuletide Chorus and Orch.) is delightful.  I only wish it had some lower end, frequency-wise.  Maybe killing the bass frequencies was some kind of money-saving thing (were thinner grooves cheaper to press?). Or maybe it came from another label originally, and the freq.'s got lost in the transfer.  Great minds will puzzle over this for centuries.  Or at least decades.

To the music:  Value Hit Parade Tunes, etc.

S. Claus Is Coming to Town--Vocal and Orch. By Popular Artists (Value Hit Parade Tunes V-2012)
Poppy the Puppy--Same
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus--Same
All Around the Christmas Tree--Same
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer--(Value Hit Parade Tunes V-2013)
Frosty the Snowman--Same
Here Comes Santa Claus--Same
Jingle Bells--Same
Jingle Bells--Deck the Halls--Rosemary Page w. Yuletide Chorus and Orch. (Tops 308)
The First Noel--Joy to the World--Same
Blue Christmas--Jeri Shannon w. Ralph Berger Orch. (Record PAK I-539)
I'll Be Home for Christmas--Jerry Smith w. Ralph Berger Orch. (Same)
Adeste Fidelis (sic)--Jerry Smith w. Ralph Berger Orch. (Same)
Jingle Bells--Dick Byron and the Sandpiper Chorus, Dir. Mitch Miller (Little Golden FF35)
Deck the Halls--Same
Up on the Housetop--Same


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

All Christmas posts are now at Zippyshare

The downloading bandwidth at my account has been maxed out, so I moved The Macy Singers (previous post) to Zippyshare:   Macy Singers--Songs of Christmas

I'll be migrating the rest of the Christmas 2016 shares soon.

UPDATE: All shares, except one, have been migrated.  About twelve in all.  Not sure, because I uploaded most of them before creating a Zippyshare account, hence no record.

Can't find "Christmas Shellac, Part 1," but I can easily recreate it.  So, check back over the last bunch of posts for great Christmas music, now at Zippyshare.  All my life, I've wanted to type, "Now at Zippyshare."

Bev and I have had fabulous luck in our Christmas shopping--a fake tree that looks uncannily real (maybe we'll have to water it?), a convection oven, and I actually forgot what else.  Hmm.  Oh, got my glasses repaired for free.  They needed a new screw.  Found out I could have bought two better frames for less than I paid for this one cheapo VA item.

My brain is fuzzy (and kind of mushy, too, which is why we have those natural helmets called skulls), so maybe I'm in a post-shopping daze.  I have no excuse to be, really, since mostly we've shopped locally, with mostly sane driving and a couple of surprisingly unbusy stores.  The only notable insane-driving moment came tonight when four or five cars raced left past the turn arrow while I sat there with the green light and the right of way but no desire to get clipped by the, um, little darlings breaking the law in front of us.  (I guess it was their very last chance, forever and ever, to make a left turn.)  As I made my right turn, a copycat red light-ignoring pickup nearly rear-ended me.  He was about five seconds after the others, and I guess his driving instructor--assuming he had one--forgot to tell him to look for, you know, other vehicles.  Sometimes the road contains same.  No, really.

None of this sort of driving can possibly be spurred on by all the car ads depicting people speeding down the road with nary another vehicle in sight.  At any rate, it's totally worth it to risk a wreck if it means saving a few seconds.  Remember this as you drive on this Christmas season.  ("But, but... the light's red!"  "Oh, red, schmed."  VRRRROOOOMM)


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Songs of Christmas by the Macy Singers (Benida A-1021; 1955)

Click here to hear: Songs of Christmas--Macy Singers

The First Noel
Silent Night
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Adeste Fideles
Rudolph, the Red-Nose (sic) Reindeer
White Christmas
Jingle Bells
Reprise--White Christmas

The Macy Singers
Directed by Dick Rogers, Conducted and Arranged by Jimmy Leyden
(Benida A-1021; 1955)

You'll be a regular Macy's customer after hearing these singers.  I got this 10" LP for a buck (!) on eBay.  It was "Buy It Now," and I bought it now.  Got here very quickly, and for G/VG condition vinyl, it yielded a very good file.  After I removed most of the clicks, anyway.

The mono sound is tremendous, though I decided to tweak the upper end a bit on VinylStudio.  One look at the track titles, and I figured this would be a fairly dull listen, but it's mostly delightful.  Dick (Harlem Nocturne, et al.) Rodgers is the director, and I was surprised by his considerable arranging skills--and then I noticed the Jimmy Leyden (Bell, Decca, RCA) credit on the back jacket.  It was Jimmy, all along.  That explained it.

"This is the first industrial choral group to be signed to a major company for international distribution," note the  notes.  (Not sure about the "major company" part.)  Interesting.  And the group itself?  A spirited, beautifully rehearsed semi-professional outfit which produces some fine sounds, along with some painful ones (esp. on Silent Night).  They won't make you forget Robert Shaw on the arty numbers or Lawrence Welk on the poppy tracks, but they're several cuts above the norm for this kind of group.

The notes call The Macy Singers the "new Miracle on 34th Street"--very clever.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Santa's Sleigh--Bob Ellis and Bob Ellis, Jr. (1955)

Click here to hear:  Santa's Sleigh--Bob Ellis (Side A); Bob Ellis Jr. (Side B)

(Merry Christmas/Ellector 1000; 1955)

Where to start?  Well, Bob Ellis was the stage name of Raymond Asserson, Jr., the great-grandson of Rear Admiral Peter Christian Asserson.  His son, recording here as Bob Ellis, Jr., was actually Peter Elgin Asserson.  Raymond was the fourth husband of Christine "Cee Cee" Cromwell, daughter of American diplomat James H.R. Cromwell and Dodge Motor Company heiress Delphine Ione Dodge.

Christine got none of the Dodge fortune when her mother Delphine died in 1943, whereupon it was discovered Delphine had disinherited James H.R. Cromwell (after their divorce, I'm guessing) and anyone related to him, which meant "Cee Cee" and her half-sister Anna Ray "Yvonne" (Baker) Ranger.  But it doesn't sound like Christine was without dough....

In 1970. Christine survived a plane crash.  Get the whole story here.  (Many thanks to that page, the source of most of my info.)

This record was made during Bob's (Raymond's) marriage to Christine. when he was co-managing her night club in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands--hence, the label address.  The sleeve essay mentions Ellector Records, but the label says "Merry Christmas" (this was a special Ellector issue, I guess), so I'm dubbing the disc Merry Christmas/Elector.  (In the unlikely event you were wondering.)

The record itself?  Ummmmmmm....

It's Christmas, so I'll withhold my review!


Saturday, December 17, 2016

July 18, 1921 – December 8, 2016

Have a Spear Records Christmas!!

Nothing says "high budget" quite like a set of seven-inch  red vinyl 78s with the same Santa Claus art on each side.  So I was shocked when I placed the needle on these grooves and beheld totally lousy fidelity.  I got things sounding much better with VinylStudio, though some bad spots remain, thanks to someone having played these with a heavy tonearm at some point.  I'm picturing a portable vinyl torture outfit from 1954 or so.

The music's not bad, and we get a chance to hear the lovely voice of the recently deceased "Lady in Blue," June Winters.  Read about her here and here.  The second piece notes that she was married totrumpet player and songwriter Hugo Peretti.  Meanwhile, we see a "Hugh E. Perette" on this label ("Choral Direction By...").  Verrry interesting.

You'll hear three of the four Spear Records sides.  (Did Wrigley's ever talk to this company about its label design?  Funny--I'm in the mood for gum.)  You would be hearing all four discs, but I somehow messed up the first rip and didn't feel like redoing it.  Nothing exciting on the missing disc--I swear.

Click here to hear:Spear Records

Jingle Bells/Jolly Old St. Nicholas--Choral Direction by Hugh E. Perette (Spear 108)
Noel/Come All Ye Faithful--Choral Direction by Hugh E. Perette (Spear 108)
Oh Holy Night--June Winters w. Hugh E. Perette (Spear 110)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen--Choral Direction by Hugh E. Perette (Spear 110)
'Twas the Night Before Christmas--Narrator: Merrill Laub (Spear 111)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Merry Christmas from Homer Rodeheaver (1955)

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Merry Christmas from Homer Rodeheaver, 1955

Homer Rodeheaver (pronounced "Rode-hay-ver"!) had a great voice, wrote some nice gospel songs, promoted some great ones (including Brighten the Corner Where You Are), and pretty much set the world's record for total corn with his old-fashioned recitations.  (To use the old cliche, I suspect they were old-fashioned when they were new.)

Here's Homer's idea of a Christmas record--a recitation about 1) death, 2) a little boy making a speech by randomly stringing together memorized phrases, and 3) "an old Negro friend" and his brand of positive thinking.  The fake dialect in the last one is... embarrassing.  Almost hard to believe we're hearing such a thing from 1955, but remember that minstrel shows didn't go out completely until some time in the 1960s.  So, use that as perspective.

Anyway, what could possibly say "Christmas" more than those three items?

This, by the way, is the ranch (link) he keeps mentioning.

Homer's half-sister Ruth was a very good singer, and Paul Mickelson was a highly skilled organist and arranger, so, while these sides may be corn, they're beautifully done corn.  (Word play is needed here, but I can't think of any.  Three hours sleep....)

As a kid, I loved Homer's 1920 recording of Old Rugged Cross (and its superb flip side, Forgive Me Lord), one of my first-ever 78s.  My Dad thought considerably less of it, explaining that Old Rugged Cross is the sort of tune ordinary people like--i.e. his definition of total crap.  This was my cue not to like it, but I made my own decisions in that regard.  Anyway, decades later, when I heard my first electrically recorded Rodeheaver 78, it was like hearing a new singer.  I wouldn't have guessed his voice was so very fine.  Rodeheaver is not generally loved by shellac collectors ("Two hours of searching and nothing but Homer Rodeheaver records!"), possibly in part because 1) he was hugely popular (a no-no for some), and 2) he sang religious songs.  At least he didn't record kiddie material.

I mean, a highly popular singer who waxed gospel numbers and kiddie songs?  Not acceptable--unless you're, say, Bing.  Then it's cool.

Anyway, a fascinating relic here--too corny for words, but so very expertly done.


Me, cats, winter

 Sergeant (top), who owns Daddy.  Plus Savio (l) and Tommy (r), who co-own Daddy.

 Sergeant, going in for her close-up, plus Savio, Tommy, and Daddy.  No, my chair is not a prop from Jack and the Beanstalk.

Our newest feline, Mingo, who lived in our yard for six months while Daddy bonded with him.  Now he's an indoor/outdoor cat, with an emphasis on the former during this cold, cold weather.

Mingo, looking adorable.  Cats have evolved to do that.  That's why they snuggle up in boxes.  (It's science, I tell you.)

Mingo again, looking imperious in front of the new cat window.  ("It's mine.  MINE!")  Mingo has an inverted eyelid condition but is otherwise quite healthy.   And quite smart.  Meet my best buddy.

In our back yard--subtle signs that winter is approaching. When you've lived in the country for a while, you can sort of sense these things.

Arlo in a "His Master's Voice" pose next to our ceramic tree atop the TV stand.  (Actually, the TV's up on the wall, safe from, um, territorial marking.)


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas shellac, Part 2!!

Click here to hear!  Christmas Shellac, Part 2

People have been asking, "Lee, why don't you put three versions of Parade of the Wooden Soldiers in one post?"  "Okay," I replied.  "I will."  And I have.  You'll hear Nat Shilkret's wonderful International Novelty Orch. recording, plus Paul Whiteman's pre-electric (1923) and electric (1928) versions, both arranged by Ferde Grofe, whose Christmas Eve we heard earlier.

All selections are new rips created with VinylStudio and MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX, and boy, what a difference it makes when the treble and bass rolloff points can be clearly and precisely designated (along with the lower freq. cutoff).  Crisp, clean sound--the best kind.  I picked the rolloff points by ear, using 250 Hz as a starting point for the "bass" and fine-tuning from there.  If the lowest end sounds muddy, I go lower.  If it lacks punch, I go higher.  (No, I don't think that explanation qualifies as circular.)

With Dance Characteristique (next to last selection), I really had to creatively EQ to keep things from sounding too flat.  I'd already de-RIAA'd the playback curve and adjusted the rolloff points, but the sound was too pinched.  So I raised the faders and freed the sound, crying, "You're free!  FREEEEE!!"

I need to get out more.  (Wait--it's in the teens.  Never mind.)



Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas shellac, Part 1!!

Click here to enjoy: Christmas Shellac, Part 1

Four Christmas 78s to start off this year's holiday shellac.  And doubtless you know which of the zillions of huge, planet-wide December festivals I refer to.  That's right--Toenail Awareness Day.  Google will be doing a 70-part animated Doodle honoring it.

No, actually, I refer to that other holiday (rhymes with "Listmoss").  Now, all four of these 78s are repeats, but this time they were ripped, curve-corrected, and treble and bass turnover-ized with my new, incredibly amazing toy, VinylStudio.  It's designed to handle vinyl and shellac, but of course the software writers decided to set everything up for people ripping their favorite Beatles albums.  Said Beatles fans might get a tad confused at the huge selection of response curves.  ("Wow!  I can make Tomorrow Never Knows sound even spacier!")

I bought this software because I wanted response-curve control but don't like Audio Audacity, which I previewed years ago and passed on (even at the low, low price of free).  This software is great beyond my wildest dreams, though I came close to ditching it early on.  Three reasons: the "My Albums" folder that turns out not to be the "My Albums" folder which contains the saved, "corrected" files (two days work down the tubes messing with raw files); the instruction to "split" tracks, when in fact all you have to do is place track markers at the end of each track (even VS admits they're not asking the user to split when they tell him/her to "split"); the inexplicable need to delete the album folder in question whenever track "splitting" (actually, marking) has been modified.  (Luckily, I was able to figure this out on my own.  Deleting the folder allows VS to generate a new one.  Don't ask me.)

Hence, I was close to tossing the program.  I can only take so much of this communication-deficit stuff, even when the program is this great.

Then I remembered that it's a download, which means I'd have to toss my PC.  That brought me back to reason.

More early shellac to come....


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Adventures in cheap-label Christmas EPs: Gilmar Holiday Favorites

I used to know something about Gilmar, but I forgot.  Oh, yes--mail order, hit knockoffs.  See this excellent blog page: Gilmar

No connection to the Gilmar Girls TV series.  (Ha-yuk-yuk!)  I have bunches of Gilmars, and they featured the same tracks as Tops and Value Hit Parade.  There must have been a few outfits devoted to making the masters for the cheap labels, that's all I can guess.

And these sixteen selections--crammed onto a single 45 rpm disc, with surprisingly good sound!--are all Tops/Rondo-Lette/whatever re-reissues.  Luckily, they're highly enjoyable (and highly edited!), with the Kostelanetz-style tracks (Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Jingle Bells) especially cool.  One always has to wonder how the cheapo labels managed the occasionally excellent track.  I do, anyway.  Maybe some ambitious label folds, and they buy the masters?

Gilmar did good with this one.  Maybe the best cheap-EP Christmas carol mishmash ever.

Click here to hear:  Gilmar Holiday Favorites, Sides 1 and 2



"Another wish that's wished really hard will be heard by you when you play this card"--Hawthorne House Record Cards

If you're still sending out Christmas/holiday/Solstice/Logic'n'Reason Day/Honk If You Love Darwin/Crank-Creche-mas/Newton's Birthday, etc., etc. cards, here are two Hawthorne House Record Cards--Jingle Bells and Joy to the World.  The first is dated 1948, the second (credited to the Pickwick Carol Group)...?  The jury's still out on that one.  In fact, they've been out for at least three hours.  Where's the jury??

So, I give you the front and back art and the sound files--this way, you can send cyber Record Cards to friends and family.  Restoring these is no picnic, believe me.  They're simply paper cards with a very thin plastic (vinyl?) wafer glued onto the front in four small spots, which makes for really good tracking.  Well, to the extent that a tonearm skipping and sliding across the surface can be described as "really good tracking."

So, to even play these things, one must remove the wafer (as you can see, the first scan is post-removal), tape the wafer securely to a solid disc (one you no longer want, preferably), then use crazy tracking force on your new, expensive 78 stylus.  I, your fearless blogger, am willing to do this.  I never run away from a challenge, unless I figure I can't meet it.  Then I run like heck.

Joy to the World has a tiny fold at the start, but I got that part to track, anyway.  It took several minutes of "You can do it"-style self-help talk, but I finally convinced my tonearm that, yes, it could stay seated during the starting grooves.  Must have been like riding a bull. In case you've ever wondered what "flutter" means, this rip will answer that and then some.

These were de-RIAA curve-ized, with the bass and treble rolloffs adjusted on VinylStudio.

Click here to hear:

   Jingle Bells, 1948.

   Joy to the World

The Massed Miners Choirs Sing the Carols (1961)

I could have sworn I fixed the glitch in that album scan (lower left-hand section), but looks like I didn't.  The lower right-hand corner curled up during the its scan is what happened.  An exacting art, this scan-and-stitch stuff.  I remember some of my first efforts in which I got the scanning order wrong, and everything joined together like a Picasso put through a blender.

But the scanning glitch shouldn't affect the sound, which is in mono and from 1961.  I bought this album for its novel title, not knowing what to expect.  What I got were twelve gorgeous performances by (to quote the liner notes) "Miners' choirs which are representative of the Yorkshire coalfield."  Yorkshire, of course, is a huge county in Northern England (the biggest in the UK, says Wikipedia), and its miners sure can sing.  This is male choral singing as it was meant to sound, from the part of the world that does it best.  By the way, the oldest group on the LP--the Sharlston Male Voice Choir--dates back to 1910.

Any carol LP which includes Ding Dong!  Merrily on High (even if it misspells "Merrily") is worth the whole price, I always say.  Or I just did, anyway.

Click here to download:   Massed Minters Chorus

Hark The Harold Angels Sing
Once in Royal David's City
Fanfare (Gloria in Excelsis Deo)
God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Silent Night, Holy Night
The First Nowell
I Saw Three Ships
Good King Wenceslas
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Ding Dong!  Merilly (sic) on High
Coventry Carol

The Massed Miners Choirs, conducted by Rae Jenkins; Organist: E. Taylor.

Fontana TFL 5154, 1961.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

John "Santa" Claus presents... Joey the Christmas Choir Boy, Santa's Christmas Party, more!

Click here to hear:  Joey the Christmas Choir Boy, more!

Jingle Bells--Art Mooney Orch. and Choir, 1949
Frosty the Snow Man--The Sandpipers, Mitchell Miller and Orch., 1951
Here Comes Santa Claus--John "Santa" Claus (Royale 4574)
I Want Christ Back in Christmas (Sister Cecilia)--Sister Cecilia w. Ursuline Sisters, 1962
Joey the Christmas Choir Boy (Sister Cecilia)--Same, 1962
Santa's Christmas Party/Activity Songs for Christmas (Ruth White)--Kathryn Hume, Narrator, Sung by Grace Lynne Martin, 1962

Here's a page from a terrific site devoted to Ruth White, composer of the last two selections.


Merry Christmas--Concordia Singing Picture Book

Click here to hear:  Merry Christmas

In a Little Stable/We Wish You a Merry Christmas--Russ David and Barbara BensonSilent Night!/Hear the Church Bells Ring--Russ David and Barbara Benson

Concordia Childrens Singing Picture Book 12761 (78 rpm)

Grofe: Christmas Eve (1934)

Click here to hear:  Christmas Eve (Grofe)--Barron Smith, Organ, 1958