Thursday, August 16, 2018

Non-stop idocy

Anymore, I get stupidity like this two or three times a day in the comment section:

"you're in reality a just right webmaster.
The web site loading pace is amazing. It kind of feels that you're doing any distinctive trick.
Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you have done a fantastic task on this subject

Is this stuff generated on Mars?  Is it Martian to English?  And what is it supposed to accomplish?  It's clearly spam, but it includes no links.  Maybe it's coming from a mental institution.

Anyone have any idea what this stuff is?  I mean, if it is another planet someplace trying to make contact with our world, I should be notifying NASA.  Or the SETI Institute.


Thursday, August 02, 2018

Early fake hits (before rock and roll gained its foothold), 1949-1954

Sixteen tracks today--all fake hits, but all dating from before rock and roll became a regular presence in the pop charts, which I consider to be from 1956 on.  Feel free to argue that point (some would name 1955), because I'm no record-charts expert.  Rock and roll sides were making it into the pop charts prior to 1955/56, but not routinely.  We need to remember, too, that in the popular press rock and roll and rhythm and blues were used interchangeably, so using charts to trace the progress of rock and roll isn't a foolproof way.

The only number in this list that I consider rock and roll is Leiber and Stoller's I Need Your Lovin', as it is credited here on the Parade label, though the proper title is Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin').  You'd think Parade would have stuck with Bazoom, to save space and ink.  I guess they were cheapskates, not logicians.

Otherwise, I've kept to "pop" versions of "pop" hits, since the purpose of this post is to demonstrate that the postwar fake-hits boom (how's that for a phrase?) predates the rock era as we know it.  I've traced the boom back to the late '40s with Tops and the Royale/Varsity/etc. family (and a fascinating graveyard of Tops/Royale wannabes), and I don't know of any earlier flood-the-market-with-cheap-copies period.  The famous Depression-era "Hit of the Week" 78s were short-lived, and from approximately 1900-1940 (but more like the mid-'30s), there was a big market in budget-label re-pressings of major label sides (Silvertone, anyone?), so the notion of catering to a budget market was nothing new, but the postwar period seemed ideal for the surrogate-hit practice to invade the market--and flourish.  Fake hits kept on coming through the 1960s, but not at anything like the same rate--I'm guessing that all the Beatles knock-off LPs helped create a mass distaste for sound-alikes.  But that's only a guess--other factors (copyright issues, for one) were surely involved.  Perhaps drug and grocery stores stopped displaying these things.  Maybe the junk labels had to depend more and more on mail-order sales, which would remove the advantage of rack display and the resultant impulse purchases.

This playlist of sixteen titles was meant to cover the years 1948-1954, but I somehow forgot to add my 1948 Varsity label version of Buttons and Bows, so it starts with 1949.  The recording years lean toward (and match) 1954 much moreso than I'd intended, but this is partly because I was working with 78s, and my earlier fake-hit 78s sound awful.  And, come to think of it, there were likely far fewer of these in the earliest years, meaning far fewer survivors, especially on shellac.  Anyway, a decent sampling, regardless, I think.

Thanks to the amazing website 45worlds, I have definite release years for most of these.  No sure year for the Music Club Hit Tunes 78, though Come On-a My House, and My Truly, Truly Fair were two huge 1951 hits.  So 1951 it probably is.  The presence of Elliott Everett and His Orch. almost certainly makes this a Royale or Varsity reissue, or both.  I may have the Royale 78, so stay tuned--its catalog number would tell me.  Then again, there was no rhyme or reason to Varsity's numbering system, so....

A few of these were 45 rpm rips--I've noted them as such in the label info.

Click hear to hear: Early fake hits (1949-1954)

Dragnet--Enoch Light and His Orch. (Prom 1056; 1953)
The Creep (Instr. and Vocal)--Larry Clinton and His Orch., v. The Carillons (Bell 1022; 1954)
Rags to Riches--Bud Roman w. Lew Raymond and His Orch. (Tops 380--45 rpm; 1953)
Kaw Liga--"Hap" Williams (Victory Extended Play Records BG1020; prob. 1953)
The Story of Three Loves--The Magic Strings (Bell 1015; 1954)
I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts--Jimmie Livingston Orch., v. "Skeets" Morris (1949 or 1950)
Underneath the Arches--The Blenders (Tops 106; 1949)
Till Then--Anne Lloyd, Carillons, w. Larry Clinton Orch. (Bell 1034; 1954)
Mambo Italiano--Mimi Martel w. The Four Rhythmaires (Tops R 249-49--45 rpm EP; 1954)
Come On-a My House--Elliott Everett and His Orch., no vocal credit (Music Club Hit Tunes 2; prob. 1951)
Cross Over the Bridge--Earl Sheldon/Hits a Poppin' Orch. (Parade 4501--45 rpm EP; prob. 1954)
I Need Your Lovin'--The Four Rhythmaires, Lew Raymond O. (Tops R 249-49--45 rpm EP; 1954)
Lover--Mimi Martel w. the Hal Loman Orch. (Tops 334; 1952)
I Get So Lonely--Hits a Poppin' Orch. w. Stars of Radio and Television (Parade 7802--78 rpm EP; prob. 1954)
My Truly, Truly Fair--Elliott Everett and His Orch., no vocal credit (Music Club Hit Tunes 2; prob. 1951)


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Artti Records 120--Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie

There's no justice in this world.  The top image is my scan of Artti Records 120 (Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie for tap dancing class--what else?).  The bottom image is the slightly out of focus digital image featured in the eBay ad.  Notice how it looks twenty times better than the scan, possibly because the light is hitting the label from an angle, not head-on.  The difference is astonishing, really.  Remind me why scanners were invented?

I swear that a good 15 to 20 percent of my scanned record labels come out looking like a shadowy blob, forcing me to change the color curve, which typically results in too much contrast and a grainy look to otherwise smooth paper.  Instead of documenting history, I'm distorting it.  But this is a tap dancing 78, so I need to calm down, read a book, meditate, drink a beer, pet a cat, recite the Serenity Prayer, take deep breaths, listen to some Jim Florentine prank phone calls, and just generally chill.  I can do it--but only if I don't think about it too hard first.  Darn.  Too late.

Maybe next time.

Rock-a-beatin' Boogie was a big hit for Bill Haley in 1955.  Other artists had recorded it previously, starting with the Esquire Boys (with Danny Cedrone) in 1952.

I have no idea what's up with "Artti."  Maybe it's a cute misspelling of "Arty," which would be a weird word choice, since arty means "showily or pretentiously artistic" (Merriam-Webster).  Or maybe it's Finnish, Artti being a Finnish variant form of the name Arttu.  Found that out on Google.  The truth is, I have no idea.  The parent label for Artti was Velmo, which also gave us Abor and Dookie.  Abor is the name of certain hill tribes in the Assam Valley.  As an acronym, it can mean Accounting Book of Record (not to be confused with Investment Book of Record, or IBOR).  Among other things, "dookie" is slang for excrement.  (I suspected something along that line.)  Not something you want to smoke, obviously.

Urban Dictionary defines velmo as "The end result of two adult males kissing so affectionately that their mustaches become intertwined with one another."  (I get it--"Velcro" shortened and combined with, er... never mind.)  Meanwhile, Velmo USA, LLC is "a provider of comprehensive product sourcing solutions."  Boy, the information superhighway is sure earning its name today.

A lot of dance class records have survived the ravages of classroom record players, it seems--enough, probably, to make possible a blog devoted to these things.  But don't look at me.  I'm too busy Googling "dookie."

Click here to tap dance to: Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie. (Artti 120; 78 rpm)

1. Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie (Children's Novelty, Song and Dance)

4 Bar Entrance, 36 Bar Song--36 Bar Dance.
2 Bar Into.--12 Bars.

2. Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie (Swing and Boogie--4/4 Time)

4 Bar Intro.--72 Bars.
4 Bar Intro.--36 Bars.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes

The flying saucer in question must have been either small or tightly packed--it only brought us ten tracks.  But what the heck--this is probably best cheap-label LP jacket ever.  It's so effectively designed, it doesn't matter that it's kind of chintzy in its execution.  There are more professionally done jackets that aren't a tenth as cool.  You know this is true.

So, I Google-searched for info on the "Today's Records" label, pretty much prepared to find nothing,  but... rhythm and blues authority Marv Goldberg to the rescue!  This Goldberg page tells us that Today's Records was owned by Maurice Wolsky, who recorded the R'n'B vocal group The Limelighters (not to be confused with the Limeliters), their recordings ending up on a host of budget labels under different credits, including as the Four Angels on Today's Records.

Not much, but more than I ever knew about Today's Records, save for the fact that Wolsky's wife Anne took over the label in 1957 after her husband's death in November, 1956 (Billboard, Feb. 9, 1957).

What's cool is that I've finally found evidence of someone leasing masters to multiple budget labels.  I think this happened all the time, but this is the first solid proof I've uncovered in that direction.

All very fascinating, you say, but what about this collection?  Well, it has a cool cover.  And the vinyl is that thick, cheap stuff that would likely shatter with a hammer blow (no, I don't plan to test it).  Exactly what vinyl (or vinyl-like) formulation this is, I know not, but hard-vinyl grooves don't hold up very well.  I'm pretty sure this is due to their lack of give, plus the heavy-tracking tonearms of the time.  Instead of the gradual wearing away of grooves, there's chipping happening after a handful of plays.  (That's called getting your $1.49 worth.)  But I used all my restoration tricks to get this sounding significantly less awful, I think.  Mono can come in handy.

The music?  Superb renditions of Standing on the Corner (were the Four Lads moonlighting?) and Que Sera Sera, to my amazement.  If only the rest of the tracks were remotely on par.  I mean, they're fun, but on the lower end of mediocre.  We hear singers who are no Como, Damone, Chordettes, Page, or Presley badly mimicking all five, BUT, in their defense, the moments of off-key singing on these tracks suggest a poor studio set-up.  (We'll not mention Born to Be with You, which is just poor.)

Hop on board:

Click here to hear: Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes--Jerry Rudolph and His Radio and TV Orch.

Standing on the Corner
Wayward Wind
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Somebody Up There Likes Me
On the Street Where You Live
Que Sera
Born to Be With You
Allegheny Moon
My Prayer

Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes (Today's Records FS X-1; probably 1956)


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Proof that anything is possible: A professionally done cheap-label LP cover!

Discogs lists the year for Mission: Impossible and Other Action Themes as 1967 for the Canadian issue, and 1968 for the U.S. issue.  Note that the cover contains the mono prefix "DLP," but with "Stereo" at the very top, which saved the label, Design, from having to print "SDLP."  (A triumph of ink-saving.)  Meanwhile, in its Design discography, Both Sides Now assigns this catalog number to Richard Hyman's Genuine Electric Latin Love Machine  (the what?), which is a typo, of course, because Hyman's LP came out on Command, not Design.

At the time, that all seemed interesting and worth sharing.  I have no idea why.

Anyway, today we have the Secret Agents (yeah, sure) performing the M:I theme, plus "other action themes," which include renamed versions of Sabre Dance. Gliding Dance of the Maidens (a.k.a. Stranger in Paradise),  Funeral March of a Marionette (a.k.a. Alfred Hitchcock Presents), and Dance Macabre. Theses have been re-titled Under Cover Agent Theme; The Saboteur; Win, Lose or Sp;, and Majorca Express.  Action themes.  Ohhhh-kay.

After all, what is a cheap label to do?  Use legit action themes for the filler tracks?  Actually, for once, the genuine titles outnumber the cheats--a full five of this album's eight tracks are actual TV or movie themes.  How did that happen?  Was Design's quality control slipping?

The musical results are much better than we can logically expect, in large part because the Secret Agents are first-rate musicians, despite some shaky arranging,  abrupt and awkward fade-outs, and a total playing time of under 21 minutes (!).  Everything sounds under-rehearsed, though there are some superbly performed moments (e.g., the closing of Majorca Express, which makes up for the rest of the track).  And the discotheque version of Star Trek is far out--groovy, even.  This collection has its moments, and then some.  Even the sound quality is good.  Someone got fired; I just feel it.

Actually, the most amazing thing of all would have to be the jacket--a cheap-label cover that looks like some love went into it, and which actually relates to the material!  But they did one thing right--they printed the jacket titles in the wrong order.  Whew.  So it's not the end of life as we know it.

Click below to hear:

Mission: Impossible, and Other Action Themes--The Secret Agents

Mission: Impossible
Theme from Star Trek
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Win, Lose or Spy
Theme from Mannix
Under Cover Agent Theme
The Saboteur
Majorca Express

(Design SDLP-237, 1968)


Friday, July 13, 2018

Hurrah! label 78 rpm from 1962!

This record was overpriced and on eBay.  (Coincidence?)  But I knew I needed to have it--I'm a fake-hits addict.  In other words, nuts.  As a rule, I spend as little as I can manage (short of stealing), but for this I was willing to part with more dough than it's worth--and it wasn't that overpriced by the standards of the venue.  eBay is where many a dealer grabs a Fair-minus-condition Goodwill LP and puts it up for $49 or more.  If you think I'm kidding, go record hunting on eBay.  Have smelling salts on hand.

In fact, I could make a case that, given the almost nonexistent general demand for hyper-obscure items like this, the value here is about forty-nine cents, practically speaking, and you're lucky to get that.  But convincing the dealer?  Right.  So I paid the bread.  Deed done.

Humorously (ha, ha!), this was graded at VG, which it is hardly.  When the tonearm jumps all through the first track (Let's Go), it's maybe G+, but be aware that the dealer in question rates his or her records on (not by) "visual qualities"--managing, in this case, to miss seeing the considerable groove wear I spotted on first sight.  Luckily, in addition to magic eyes, I have styli and software ready to deal with massacred tracks, as long as they aren't Let's Go.  I'm kind of complaining, but not really, because I wouldn't miss having this kooky artifact in my grubby paws.  Or spinning on my turntable, even.

Why is this so special?  Because it's a vinyl 78 from 1962!  I didn't know 1962 78s happened in the U.S., but obviously they did.  What compelled Bravo! (Pickwick) to put out such a thing is the mystery of the week, but they must have figured some of their buyers lacked access to 45 rpm playback, when they could have been pondering why anyone was buying their stuff in any format.  (I should talk, after spending good money for this.  But I'm a collector, so it's okay.)

Anyway, by 1962, Pickwick was pretty much in charge of the fake-hits field, though of course not exclusively (SPC, for one, was still in the biz, appearing under any number of label names), but putting them on 78s?  No way.  But way.  We have the proof before us.  Plus my word.

Tried three styli before concluding that a conical LP needle worked best (you never know).  The tracks, minus the obliterated Let's Go, and the folks who actually got them on the charts:

Go Away Little Girl (Carole King)--original by Steve Lawrence.
Release Me--original by "Little Esther" Phillips. 
Keep Your Hands off My Baby (Carole again)--orig. by Little Eva (Beatles, 1963, for radio.)
You Are My Sunshine--orig. Ray Charles.
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah--orig.  Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans.  (Rated S for Stupid.)

Save for the backing vocals on Release Me, all very fine cheapies.

Click here to hear: Hurrah! label 78 from 1962.


Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orchestra (1958)

This is an LP I've had for many years and love to death.  (Scan-n-Stitch Deluxe worked this time on the cover.  We dispose of failed experiments in the back of the lab.)  Gorgeous easy listening, though my last couple plays, the effect had dimmed from too much familiarity.  Hopefully, this is new to you.  If so, I envy you!

Chief liability: the cruddy sound on Side 2, not to mention the unequal volume between the two sides.  The first one sounds more recently recorded--and very well for 1957--while side 2 is compressed and over-EQ'd (I cut some treble, and it helped, but the bass is still flabby and out of balance with the rest).  I had to normalize the volume on the Savinos, but it's a valid move, because normalizing, of course, simply maxes the volume--it doesn't compress.  That would be adding injury to injury.  (Oh, and please bear with the annoying hum throughout.  RCA Camden, remember.)

The Domenico Savino selections are as good as mood music gets, and seem to have comprised a suite (was Stars Over Manhattan the title?).  If it was a suite, why didn't RCA Camden provide the title?  Because they were cheap?  Okay, I answered my own question.

No liner notes--just the shameful cheap-label bit of listing other titles on the same label.  ("6 Record Deluxe Packages"??  Come again?)

Anyway, I'm sure the Savino tracks qualify as fluff, but masterfully composed fluff, so I dig them.  Savino wrote pop songs during the 1920s, like Burning Sands, and sometimes spelled his name backwards on the record label (and, I presume, sheet music): Onivas.  I'm sure there was a reason.  Anyway, LP collectors have likely encountered his RCA Camden LPs, and he arranged for Paul Whiteman, and arranged for piano all of Ferde Grofe's orchestral pieces for Robbins Music Corp., and you get the picture.  He even arranged Grofe's once-hyper-famous On the Trail for two pianos.  The man had talent.  Whitehall's orchestra is terrific, too.

A ten-stars-out-of-ten light music classic, and if my ears have become too used to the tracks, it's only because they're so good, I've felt compelled to play them over and over through the years.  (Thank the stars for light-tracking tonearms.)  I didn't anticipate dulling the thrill, but these things happen.  Great stuff.  (Update: Dawn still moves me like crazy.)

Click here to hear:  Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orch. (1958)

Manhattan Serenade
Love Is the Sweetest Thing
Song of the Flame
Stairway to the Stars
Song of the Vagabonds
Stars Over Manhattan (Savino)
Album Leaf (Savino)
Intermezzo (Savino)
Pretty Cinderella (Savino)
Central Park Casino (Savino)
Lovely Lady (Savino)
Dawn (Savino)

Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orch. (RCA Camden 324; 1958)

I won't mention the fact that this LP contains thirteen tracks.  (Theremin wail.)  Oh, I just did.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Scan-n-Stitch goes wrong. Or, Oops.

I could swear I did this correctly.  Apparently not, though.

Yes, I'm preparing the next post.  If I can get the scan right, anyway.

Maybe I can do a series of these, frame them, and sell them on eBay.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ten Pop Hits--Juke Box Hits of the Week (Colortone 49103; probably 1958)

And we're back with another Pop Hits LP from the Waldorf family of labels--Colortone, this time.  The year seems to be the same (1958) as last post.  There's a less colorful (and less campy) cover, and some surprisingly bad vocalizing in spots.  Was Enoch losing his touch?  (I was going to type "his Light touch," but that's lame.)

"Juke Box Hits of the Week" this time, "starring" the Richard Redding Orchestra and Chorus.  On the label, the tracks get individual credits (so we know who to blame on this go-round).  One of the guilty parties, and a budget label regular, is Jerry Duane, who turns out to have had a very significant career.  (Hope you don't get the "SUBSCRIBE NOW" box.)

Jerry sang in vocal groups--with Stan Kenton, and behind Johnny Ray, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and other Columbia vocalists.  Plus, he was the whistler on the Andy Griffith Show theme!

Correction (cue the red font): As Ernie notes in the comments, the Andy Griffith Theme whistler was actually the composer of same, Earle (Harlem Nocturne) Hagen.  Until and if someone can prove otherwise, that is.  In fact, I already knew it was Hagen, so apologies for my brain fart.  It's possible Duane remembered it otherwise, but he must have been mistaken.  The multiple claims, which include Fred Lowery and "Toots" Thielemans, are entertaining but most likely part of a made-up mystery.

Ahem.  Anyway, so why does Jerry sound so awful as one half of the duet on Forget Me Not?  It's not just that the Kalin Brothers original is significantly better, it's that Duane and Jack Brown sound like a drunken Homer and Jethro.  Were they cutting up?  Anyway, Duane is better on Queen of the Hop, though his singing is still nothing special.  Being a good whistler and part-singer doesn't necessarily make someone a good soloist, I reckon.  Take the Lettermen--amazing blend (even if augmented on certain tracks), unmemorable lead vocals.

In this playlist, we get high-quality covers of the Kingston Trio's Tom Dooley, Elvis' I Got Stung, and Ricky Nelson's Lonesome Town.  And lousy covers of The Teddy Bears' To Know Him Is to Love Him, The Big Bopper's Chantilly Lace (how could anyone make such a thing worse?), Ricky Nelson's I Got a Feeling (no pitch correction software in 1958, please remember), and Jimmy Clanton's A Letter to an Angel (I wonder if the songwriter had ever heard Pledging My Love?).  For all its faults, though, this collection is fun--and, by dollar-bin standards, pretty good.

Click here to experience: Ten Pop Hits (Colortone 49103, probably 1958)

Tom Dooley--The Tennessee Trio
I Got a Feeling--Johnny Hines
Chantilly Lace--Al Garner
Queen of the Hop--Jerry Duane
To Know Him Is to Love Him--June Dale w. Richard Redding Orch. and Chorus
I Got Stung--Dick Penrose
Lonesome Town--Loren Becker w. Richard Redding Orch. and Chorus
It's Only Make Believe--Johnny Hines
Forget Me Not--Jack Brown and Jerry Duane
A Letter to an Angel--Johnny Hines


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Pop Hits--This Week's Hits, 1958

Audition was part of the Grand Award Records family of labels, which included Waldorf Music Hall, Colortone, 18 Top Hits, and other, um, winners.  Actually, the fake hits on these labels were pretty decent, with some amazing musicianship at times (Tea for Two Cha Cha and Guaglione, for instance).  After all, Enoch Light ran the show.  The productions are much better than the dollar-bin LP norm.

I don't recall hearing any absolute duds from this budget label group, which is more than I can say for outfits like Tops, Prom, and the Record Corp. of America (not the RCA, of course), for whom botched takes were no rarity.  Enoch Light apparently considered lost keys, ruined intros, and off-key singing cause for extra takes--the result: cheap-label fake hits with heart.  That's what I'm talking about.

Some excellent fidelity, too, despite my copy's fairly worn grooves.  (The type that look great in low light, not so great in good light.)  I imagine most collectors would grab this for the cover--and who could blame them?--but the vinyl is nothing to pitch, either, despite the stereotype that these things are a thrifter's nightmare.  Not to me, certainly.

I'd list the original artists being copied, but frankly I'm too lazy.  They're found on line easily enough, as all tracks here were big 1958 hits.  The "59" in the catalog number (33-59-502) could very well mean 1959, which is possible if these are Grand Award singles assembled on LP after the fact (as I suspect).   But I'll go with 1958, since I'm guessing, anyway.

Click here to hear:  Pop Hits--Audition Studio Orch. and Chorus

It's All in the Game
Tea for Two Cha Cha
For My Good Fortune
Rock-in' Robin
Tears on My Pillow
Near You
How the Time Flies
Susie Darlin'

Pop Hits--This Week's Hits, According to Leading National Surveys, Starring the Audition Studio Orchestra and Chorus, with Loren Becker, Jerry Duane, and many of TV's Most Popular Singers (Audition 33-59-502, 1958).

Or, Pop Hits.


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Twenty Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists (Custom RB-1)

Even without looking at the list of performers, you know this is going to be a great blues LP, because Custom was part of the Crown label family, which included Kent, United, and Modern.  Cream of the crop.

The problem, however, happens when twenty tracks are jammed onto a single LP--you know that some of them have been edited, and at least one has (and drastically)--Howlling Wolf's RPM label classic Riding in the Moonlight, which contains none of the fabulous instrumental sections.  Auggh!  Skillful scissors work, but still....

If you haven't experienced the original, please do so: Riding in the Moonlight.  Youtube also has the demo version(s) of the tune.

I'm not familiar enough with the rest of the tracks to know what's been clipped and what hasn't, but I have my suspicions--John Lee Hooker's Boogie Children, for example, seems to go by too quickly.  Not sure.  But, with the exception of the Wolf track, clipped classics are better than none.  And these budget LPs were typically found in dollar bins, and as far as blues for a buck go, no complaints.

The artists are all terrific, and, with the exception of Smokey Hogg, they know where they're at in the chord scheme and are able to count four to a bar.  (Lightning Hopkins' quirky counting is okay, because he's self-accompanied.)   I feel for the musicians who attempt to accompany Mr. Hogg on his two numbers.  Until I heard Smokey, I thought John Lee Hooker held the patent to keeping his musical partners at least two beats ahead (or behind) of wherever he happened to be going.  Listen to John leaving the band utterly lost on this Shake, Rattle and Roll rip-off: Shake, Holler and Run.  Jump ahead, hang behind, call it a wrap.

But we're here to hear twenty greatest blues jammed onto a single cheap LP:

Twenty Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists

Sweet Sixteen--B.B. King
Ain't Nobody's Business--Jimmy Witherspoon
Dust My Blues--Elmore James
Gone with the Wind--Roosevelt Sykes
My Mother Say's (sic)--Jimmy McCrackliln
Blues After Hours--Pee Wee Crayton
Three O'Clock Blues--B.B. King
Riding in the Moonlight--Howling Wolf
S.K. Blues--Part 1--Saunders King
S.K. Blues--Part 2--Saunders King
Worried Mind--Smokey Hogg
Too Many Drivers--Lowell Fulsom
Boogie Children--John Lee Hooker
Standing at the Crossroads--Elmore James
My Own Fault Baby--B.B. King
Don't Keep My Baby Long--Lightning Hopkins
Good Morning Little School Girl--Smokey Hogg
No More Doggin'--Roscoe Gordon
T-99 Blues--Jimmy Nelson
Don't Feel Sorry for Me--Jimmy Beasley

20 Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists (Custom RB-1)


Sunday, July 01, 2018

As of 5/31...

...the Blogger team is aware of the notification problem and is working on it.

Must be one whale of a problem.


Came this close

Well, I was on the verge of saying "F. it all" and shutting down the blog.  No comments, little traffic, so why put the work into it?  Luckily, Buster mentioned (on Ernie's blog) that Blogger has for some reason stopped sending comment notifications to bloggers.  Turns out I have comments.  Someone's visiting.

Sweet.  Well, I guess I'll stay on, then.  I'm glad, as it would be just more depression I do not need at this point....

(Bad day?  Me?)

Update: Had my contact email in my profile--Blogger took it off.  I don't suppose there's any "why?" to be asked here.  Just the usual internet dysfunction--changes without cause.  Imagine if real life were like cyberspace.  You'd be driving along, and your car would vanish on you.  Your house would have its rooms rearranged when you came home.  Your friends wouldn't recognize you.  ("Please reenter your username."  "Damn it, I'm Lee!" "Name not recognized.")


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Omantic Piano: Pietro Dero and His Orchestra

After Dark Piano Favorites, no less.  My kind of easy listening, and I love the wide, lush Somerset/Stereo-Fidelity stereo, but something about the title confuses me: "Omantic" Piano?  What's that?  A make?  Reference to a country?  What?

Wait a minute....  Maybe there was a letter in the torn upper-left portion of the cover.  Hm.  Looks like part of a... K?  No, no, an R.  An R.  Hm.

I got it!  "Romantic" Piano!!  Whew.  Glad I figured that one out.

Minus the magic of MAGIX, this would be a collection of clicks and pops, with some music on top of it.  The filters on my MAGIX software mostly took care of that, though I had to do some very precise track splicing--twice at the very start of the last track.  There's something about doing two quick fade-ins and -outs in a section that lasts 1/20 or so of a second.  And I used the click pencil.  You don't have to worry about these things--just enjoy a VG-- disc that sounds M-, and enjoy the excellent playing of Pietro Dero, assuming that is/was his actual moniker.  Well worth the listen, even if the campy suggest would suggest otherwise.

Click here to hear:  Romantic Piano--Pietro Dero and His Orch.

Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody to Rittenhouse Square
Starlight Rhapsody
Claire de Lune
Lonestar Concerto
Sunset Boulevard Concerto
Meditation from Thais

Romantic Piano, w. Pietro Dero and His Orch. (Stereo-Fidelity SF-27900)


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Twenty-four Top Hits (Tops L1510)

Yes, 24 "Top Hits"--actually, two 12 Top Hits LPs.  You'll notice that both have the same label and catalog number--Tops L1510--but sport different tracks.  You may notice in addition that the second LP (which I've numbered 3 on the zip file) features the exact same Mary Tyler Moore (?) photo from two posts ago, with a different track line-up (in the reusable white rectangle).  How to tell these things apart, then, issue-wise?  My best guess would be the numbers that appear on the L1510 labels--e.g., L1510-A-8 and L1510 B-7 on the first disc above.  Meanwhile, we see "A8" on the front cover track listing.  On the second LP above, we see 1510-G.  This doesn't suggest a consistent system of cataloging on Tops' part, and I don't even know if these digits and letters actually tell us where a given L1510 falls in the L1510 catalog.  And you thought record collecting was a piece of cake.

There may be some way of determining in what order these things were released, and I may figure it out sometime.

And I just noticed that the torn label on the second LP is a paste-over--we can see part of the originally printed track listing where the tear occurs.  Cheap labels took great pride in product quality.

These fake versions of then-current hits are a lot of fun and well worth listening to--even the misfires are entertaining, if only because the duds tend to be fascinatingly off the mark.  I'm thinking mainly of Peggy Sue and Great Balls of Fire, and maybe Rock-a-Billy, the last title featuring a singer who was no Guy Mitchell.  And the Peggy Sue vocalist's attempts to emulate Buddy Holly's style have me wondering why even a five-cent label would considering keeping the take.

However, the rest of the tracks range in quality from pretty good to astonishing so (Waitin' in School, At the Hop, The Stroll, Almost Paradise).  Get a Job is an amazing track, too, if only because the vocalists (The Toppers, yet again) were able to keep up with the tempo.  Slowed down a little, this would have been a terrific cover.  Come Go with Me is a let-down, though no disaster.  Dark Moon is quite affecting, though I haven't heard the Bonnie Guitar or Gale Storm originals for comparison.  It's certainly done with unusual care for a cheap knock-off.

Enjoy the two Tops L1510s.  More where these came from....

Click here to hear:  12 Top Hits 2 (Tops L1510)

Get a Job--Wally Karmin and the Toppers
Waitin' in School--Andy Thomas
Dede Dinah--Johnny Bennett and the Toppers
Stood Up--Andy Thomas and the Toppers
Jo-Ann--Buddy Clark and the Toppers
The Stroll--Jimmy Priddy and the Toppers
April Love--Sandy Glass and the Toppers
At the Hop--Bones Howe and the Toppers
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine--Eddie Jones and the Toppers
Peggy Lee--Jack Sheldon
Great Balls of Fire--Pat Thorne and the Toppers

Click here to hear:  12 Top Hits 3 (Tops L1510)

12 Top Hits (Tops L1510)

Rock-a-Billy--Neil Hunt
Come Go with Me--Maurice Washington
Dark Moon--Sylvia Reid
School Day--Maurice Washington
I'm Sorry--Neil Hunt
A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation)--Dave Burgess
Gone--No artist credited
Why Baby Why?--No artist credited
Almost Paradise--Ernie Hughes at Piano
Party Doll--No artist credited
Mama Look-a-Boo-Boo--No artist credited
I'm Walking--Scat man Crothers

12 Top Hits (Top L1510)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Symphony of the Blues--The Vienna World Pops Symphony Orch., c. Hans Hagen (1958)

A cool thrift find on the Crown label.  Not in the best condition, but I did my usual obsessive de-clicking (most of it with MAGIX's "Draw Wave Shape" tool, which allows the user to manually remove clicks and pops), so it sounds pretty good.  Time-consuming, and I could have simply left in the noise, but I'm obsessive.  What can I say?  And I'd rather restore a 50-cent copy than buy one on eBay for $18 plus postage (the lone copy presently at the joint).  And given the wildly inaccurate vinyl grading that happens at eBay, how do I know I'd get a better copy?  I just tossed out a "near mint" copy of a 12 Top Hits disc so littered with scratches, I gave up trying to restore it.  The dealer has 100 percent positive feedback, somehow, despite his or her inability to see long and deep tone-arm trails on a vinyl surface.  Astounding.  Apparently, it takes a specialized eye to spot such things, and a specialized knowledge of playback to know that long scratches produce noise.

I don't bother contacting dealers about small-ticket items, since I'd end up spending more to return a disc than I paid for it.  There's always the chance of a refund (vice return), but buying records on eBay is a roll of the dice, and when I get a lemon, I simply avoid the dealer from then on.  So there.

I'm supposed to be describing this record, not writing an essay on eBay.  But let me add that I take it easy on record graders given that most of them have nothing to play vinyl with.  (A handy, but legit, excuse.)  In which case, they'd hear the clicks, snaps, pops, etc.  That is, unless their hearing was as challenged as their vision....

But this is a thrift, not an eBay, buy, and being a person with the remarkable ability to actually see marks on a record surface, I knew right off this would be a MAGIX workout.  The Vienna World Pops Symphony Orch. (doesn't that sound completely made up, and badly?) is directed by Hans Hagen, who is a professor of computer science at the University of Kaiserslautern in, of course, Germany.  No, wait--that can't be the same guy.  Let's see--Hans Hagen Homes?  No, no.  Okay, here we are: Hans Hagen.  He looks a little like Danny Kaye in the picture.  How did he end up on Crown, I wonder?  I mean, this guy was on some genuine labels.

Amazingly, all but one of these are actual Tin Pan Alley classics, meaning royalties had to be paid.  Highly atypical for a junk label (save for the "Top Hits" type of collections).  Unless it skipped the royalties-paying part.

I love the music on this disc.  Love the cover, too, despite the cheapjack photo quality.  (I'm assuming it's a professionally done pic badly reproduced.)  Very 101 Strings but less gimmicky.  Pretty much what we'd expect from Pops renditions of blues (and "blues"-in-the-title) numbers, but with terrific stereo sound and highly competent arranging and playing.  A pleasant surprise.

Should be an apostrophe after "Nothin" in the sixth title, but I'm repeating Crown's typo.  Proper archiving and all.

Click here to experience: Symphony of the Blues

Basin Street Blues
Things Ain't What They Used to Be
Stormy Weather
Heartache Blues
Shades of Blues
I Ain't Got Nothin but the Blues
St. Louis Blues
Prelude to the Blues
Goodbye Blues
Vienna Blues

Symphony of the Blues--Vienna World Pops Symphony Orch., c. Hans Hagen
Crown CST 118 (1958)


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Twelve Top Hits (Tops L1510)

From the Tops label, twelve fun cover versions of current (1958) hits, and I'm almost sure that's Mary Tyler Moore on the cover, but I'm trying to confirm this on line in case I'm wrong.  She appeared on some other Tops jackets, anyway.  Sure looks like her.  This particular cover photo was reused several times in the 12 Top Hits series, each one bearing the same catalog number (1510) but with different track listings in the handy white rectangle.  These cheapo labels always went the path of least labor.

Well, this isn't listed anywhere as being one of Mary's LP jackets, but I could swear it's her.  The hair, the big teeth.... Then again, her eyebrow mascara isn't thick, as in the other Tops MTM jackets.  'Tis a mystery.

I could swear it's her.

Some flat singing (as in the interval) on Everybody Loves a Lover, and some all-around-the-pitch singing on Fever, plus some awful harmonizing on Just a Dream (though the Jimmy Clanton original had pretty off-key backing vocals).  The rest of the tracks, however, are well done, or at least better.  The copy-cat tracks on Tops were pretty hit or miss, ranging all the way from memorable to ouch!  And, speaking of Fever, somewhere Merv Griffin claimed he was offered the song but passed, and then Peggy Lee got it.  God's honest truth.  But, of course, I can find no confirmation on line.  This is not my night for on line confirmation.  I do know that Merv made a Fever-style number in 1963 called Hey Pretty Baby (Cameo 266).

Best track?  By far, Scott Otis' Hard Headed Woman.  Not sure there was an actual "Scott Otis"--probably not.  This version is familiar, showing up on (among other cheapie collections) the Halo label Tops in Pops series.  Why was Tops trading tracks with the Record Corporation of America?  Or was there a common source for both labels?  Questions like this keep me up at night.

That's got to be Mary on the cover....

Click here to hear: Twelve Top Hits

Everybody Loves a Lover--Connie Miller and the Toppes
Volare--Antonio Paladino
Fever--Connie Miller
Bird Dog--Sandy Beaumont and the Toppers
Just a Dream--Timmy Harrison and the Toppers
Stupid Cupid==Francis Deegan and the Toppers
Little Star--Jerry Case and the Toppers
Rebel 'Rouser--The Toppers
Splish Splash--Bobby Thompson
Poor Little Fool--Johnny Evans and the Toppers
Patricia--The Toppers
Hard Headed Woman--Scott Otis

12 Top Hits (Tops L1510, probably 1958), featuring great Hollywood vocalists and orchestras.


Saturday, June 02, 2018

Francis Scott and His Orchestra--Moods for Candlelight (1952)

I found this during a recent thrift visit--the cover was too cool to pass on.  Disc is in solid shape, so I gave it a spin and decided it merits a post.  This is beautifully arranged and performed mood music/easy listening, perfect for background sounds. The orchestra belongs to Francis Scott (no Key), who was Artists and Repertoire man for Capitol, among other duties.

As I noted, this is elegant, first-rate EZ (think Tommy Dorsey meets Andre Kostelanetz), but don't expect the tracks to remain in memory--none have in mine, anyway, even after three plays.  They are background selections, after all.  They set the mood, then they leave the room.

This is a 12" reissue of the eight tracks from the 10" LP of the same name, with four tracks added from Moods for Twilight, Capitol L-331 (same year-1952).  The label design on my disc identifies it as a 1960-1962 pressing.

Click here to hear:  Moods for Candlelight

(Tracks reissued from 10" LP Moods for Candlelight on Capitol T-304, 1952.  Tracks marked with * from 10" LP Moods for Twilight, Capitol L-331, 1952)

The Touch of Your Lips
I'll Get By (As Long as I Have You)
It's a Blue World
It Had to Be You
How Deep Is the Ocean (How High Is the Sky)
*My Heart Stood Still
*Just a Memory
I Hadn't Anyone Till You
*Dream a Little Dream of Me
More Than You Know
This Love of Mine

Moods for Candlelight--Francis Scott and His Orchestra (Capitol T-304, reissue of 1952 material.)


Sunday, May 13, 2018

A near-legit collection of TV themes from SPC

Diplomat was a Synthetic Plastics Co. label, which makes The Themes from Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare and Other Great TV Shows a fairly extraordinary issue--for SPC, I mean.  First off, despite the typically lousy pressing, the sound quality is mostly very good.  Second, there's amazingly little fakery going on, selection-wise.  That is to say, most of these really are the TV themes in question.  (Helps that several are public-domain pieces.)  Exceptions: Victory at Sea (while a clever arrangement, this is not the VAS theme), The French Review and The Hawaiian Spectacular--the last two, because I can find no record of any such TV shows having ever existed.

Plus, there was no Alfred Hitchcock TV Show.  There were Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, however.  And it was The Danny Thomas Show--no "TV." Minor points, but still....

The p.d. selections are Tales from the Vienna Woods (Arthur Murray), Danny Boy (Danny Thomas), and Funeral March of a Marionette (Hitchcock).  No doubt, SPC had recordings of these sitting around in their vast, cheap library.

The Late Show theme is, of course, Leroy Anderson's wonderful The Syncopated Clock.

Anyway, a whopping seven out of ten of these TV themes are the real McCoy, making this a near-legit collection in that regard.  Most astonishingly, the titles on the back jacket are listed in the actual order they appear on the disc.  And the cover is rather nice.  Maybe I dreamed the whole thing.

(Bear with the lethargic Ben Casey rendition--it gets much better.)

Click here to hear: The Themes from...

Theme from Ben Casey
Theme from Cheyenne
Theme from the Late Show
Theme from Arthur Murray's TV Party
Theme from the French Review
Theme from Dr. Kildare
Theme from Victory at Sea
Theme from the Danny Thomas TV Show
Theme from the Alfred Hitchcock TV Show
Theme from the Hawaiian Spectacular

(No artists credited; Diplomat 2269; 1962)

Sorry about the Zippshare shenanigans--just close the fake page that comes up when you first press the donwload button, then try again.  Should work second time.  And, of course, choose "block" for notifications.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

An easy-listening LP of current hits from just BEFORE the Beatles

My reason for buying this LP?  The colorful cover?  No, it had more to do with the track line-up, a very unusual one for an easy-listening LP.  Surfer Girl My Boy Friend's BackThen He Kissed Me?  Not tracks you expect on an LP of this type.

There's a simple reason for that, I think--this LP is pre-Beatles, chart-wise.  Barely (late 1963), but it's pre-Beatles (as in, before the Beatles hit the American shores).  I have a theory that, post-Beatles, it was easier for the big bands, Ray Charles Singers-type groups, and individual pop singers to do LPs of current hits in pretty much the same style from track to track, simply because the Top 40 lost a measure of diversity during the Invasion.  A big measure.  (Nothing against the B. Invasion--I love a lot of it.)  Plus, post-Beatles, labels seem to have developed a sense of keeping the adult stuff separate from the teen stuff.  No More and My Boyfriend's Back on the same collection.  That would be like Satisfaction and People on the same 1965 easy-listening disc.  Not likely.  (Now, watch me find such an LP in my next thrift trip.)  So this LP is an important relic.

This LP is also fascinating in the variety of approaches employed.  And in the attempts to achieve something like the sounds of the originals in the rock numbers My Boyfriend's Back/Then He Kissed me, Candy Girl, and Wait 'Til My Babby Gets Home.  A very pleasant surprise.

And how could I not have bought an easy-listening LP that includes Surfer Girl?  Impossible.

A classic, for its weird line-up and the completely unexpected diversity of approaches to the big hits being covered.  However, while writing this post, I spot-listened to the 1961 "Living Stereo" LP,  Ray Ellis Plays the Top 20, which has a rock and roll sound throughout, plus a line-up of songs that are mostly in the same vein.  Kind of blasts my pre-Beatles/post-Beatles theories out of the water!  So, uh, just disregard my previous speculations.

Oh, well.  Some nights are like that.  Enjoy:

Click here to hear:  Leroy Holmes Singers--14 Big Hits

If I Had a Hammer
Blue Velvet
My Boyfriend's Back
Then He Kissed Me
Hey Girl
Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home
Treat My Baby Good
Green, Green
Cry Baby
Danke Schoen
Candy Girl
Blowin' in the Wind ("Originally made famous by Peter, Paul & Mary"--from jacket)
Surfer Girl

Above is the track listing as presented on LP's rear, but at least a couple tracks feature two titles in one cut.  No accounting for the typos "Then He Kissed Me Mother" on the front jacket or "Wait 'Til My Baby Gets Home" on the label.  (It's "Bobby")

14 Big Hits--The Leroy Holmes Singers (United Artists UAL 3306, 1963)


Saturday, April 21, 2018

A record for Christmas in 1948

What do you do when you find a marvelous home-recorded Christmas disc (78 rpm) in a thrift store in late April?  You put it up at your blog pronto, of course.  (No, my blog isn't named "pronto.")

Once upon a time, people used disc-cutting machines to cut their own discs.  Eventually (during the 50s?), people switched to magnetic tape for home recording.  That's the history as I know it--it's probably a bit more complicated than that.  But here's a home-made Christmas disc by a very young man named Billy.  I know this, because on the second side Billy introduces a piano piece (nothing I recognize; sounds like a by-ear number) with the words, "This is Billy, making you a record for Christmas of (in?) 1948."  Thus I know the recording year.  Of course, Billy could have simply been the engineer, but I suspect he's the ivory tinkler, at least on side 2.  He's a decent player for a kid.

I'm designating the piano solo (which features a false start, followed by some Charles Ives harmonies, before it gets going) as side 2 because it contains no label writing; the flip (above) lists White Christmas and Jingle Bells as the pieces, and what looks like "Billy Four" as the artists.  So I'm assigning it side-1 status.  Problem is, there are only two musicians--tenor (?) sax and piano, so maybe "Four" (or "Lour"?) is Billy's last name.  Will we ever know?

Condition isn't very good (Maybe I should have employed some hiss filtering), but I used the curve marked "AFRS Transcriptions #1" in my VinylStudio program, and it brings the music out loud and clear over the disc noise.  AFRS, of course, is Armed Forces Radio Service, which eventually became Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), or "A-farts," as we called it in the Navy.  AFRTS would send my first ship videos to play over the closed-circuit system, and one night I was showing a program for the crew while watching a tape on another machine.  Meaning to fast-forward the other tape, I accidentally fast-forwarded the AFRTS program.  Knock on the door--a crewmember.  "Could you please reshow the last five minutes or so?" he asked.  Oops.

AFRTS programs always included Navy recruiting spots, and you can imagine the responses they received in our TV lounges.  Anyway, of course this disc has nothing to do with AFRS, but the curve sure matches up beautifully.

To Billy and the Billy Four: A Record for Christmas of 1948.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Dorsey Touch (Hollywood LPH-136; 1957)

So, why did I buy this Goodwill album?  Well, after going through eight or nine boxes, I'd picked a small group of LPs and 45s.  My brother-in-law was standing next to me.  I thought this jacket was kind of cool (it is--surprisingly so for a cheapo label), so I held it up and said, "Do I want this?"  "Yes, you want this," he replied.  So I bought it.

The label is Hollywood, and here Hollywood is pulling the standard budget-label read-the-smaller-print scam: a big (colorized?) picture of the famous artists being exploited, the artists' name in big letters ("Dorsey"), and no Tommy or Jimmy Dorsey present on the disc.  Surprise!!  Just Maury Laws' Orchestra and Chorus, which does a surprisingly decent job recreating the Tommy Dorsey sound (7 to 8 on a scale of 10).  (I don't think any of these were originally Jimmy Dorsey sides, but correct me if I'm wrong.)  Surprisingly decent, because the budget couldn't have been very sky-high.  In all, a fun LP with a few outstanding performances.  My only complaint: some truncated arrangements, including my two all-time favorite TD tracks: Marie and Sunny Side of the Street.  How could they?  But there's an excellent Opus No. 1, so maybe I can forgive this lapse in $1.98-LP wisdom.  This junk-label album far exceeded my low expectations, so I'll give it an A.  Besides, the cover rocks.

Biggest surprise: the very decent sound.  I combined left and right for fabulous results.  Not usually, but sometimes the poverty-row record companies get it right.  Well, except for putting the jacket's track listings in the correct order, but that's a proud budget label tradition.  These folks have standards to uphold.

Click here to hear: The Dorsey Touch--Maury Laws' Chorus and Orch.

Getting Sentimental Over You
Royal Garden Blues
Boogie Woogie
Song of India
Swanee River
Will You Still Be Mine/Once in a While
Yes Indeed (Sy Oliver)
Sunny Side of the Street
I'll Never Smile Again
Opus No. 1 (Sy Oliver)
This Love of Mine/Embraceable You/There Are Such Things
Quiet Please (Sy Oliver)
Getting Sentimental Over You

Prepared and Directed by Maury Laws (Hollywood LPH-136, 1957)


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Teen-age Favorites (a.k.a. Teenage All-Time Favorites) (Broadway 1038)

The couple (above) looks like it's being tortured.  In the Hall of Bad Poses, this jacket cover probably has its own special room.

Now, when you see an album cover this banged up (I cloned out some of the worst of it, save for the pose itself), you can only assume the disc is toast, but in fact it's a solid average.  So I got good sound out of all nine (yes, nine) of the tracks.  Oh, and in typical zero-budget label fashion, the jacket title listings are out of sync with the actual order, and the label sports a different title than the front (Teenage All-Time Favorites).  Yup, everything checks out.

Despite the 1958-style art, this collection of sound-alike hits dates from 1963!  And what a group of  1963 "Teen-age Favorites" (keeping in mind these are all "fake" versions)--the 1954 Kay Starr hit, Rock and Roll Waltz; the 1957 Jim Reeves hit Four Walls; Sal Mineo's Start Movin' (In My Direction), same year; two Fats Domino numbers (Be My Guest, My Girl Josephine--1959 and 1960); and the then-current Sam Cooke classic, Another Saturday Night.  I guess none of the teens surveyed by the Broadway label were into the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore, Stevie Wonder, or Bobby Vinton.

Anyway, this very strange worth-it-for-the-cover-pose-alone album is actually pretty fun listening.  Find out for yourself.  You'll thank me (or not).

Click here to hear: Teen-age Favorites

TEEN-AGE FAVORITES--Vocals & Orch. by Popular Radio & TV Artists (Broadway 1038)

Another Saturday Night
Rock & Roll Waltz
My Girl Josephine
My Heart Is an Open Book
Stood Up
She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)
Be My Guest
Four Walls
Start Movin' (In My Direction)


Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Compiled According to Radio, Record and Music Surveys

An astonishingly good set of "fake" hits, considering it's from the cheapest of all cheapo record companies of the Fifties: Record Corp. of America, not to be confused with RCA.

Some wear on this disc, but decent sound overall.  Some of the performances border on quite good (Rock Around the Clock, for instance, the best cheap-label copycat version of the classic tune anywhere).  De-clicking this was a chore, but a happy one, because these tracks were worth rescuing from the ravages of needle drops, digs, and general turntable mistracking.  I take this stuff seriously, Lord help me.

Notice the ripped-off portion of the cover, which was likely a track listing.  Whoever did it could have done it a little more gracefully, but it's cool, campy cover anyway.

Best guess on the release year: 1955, because all of these are 1955 hits.  The LP cover says 1954, but do you trust Record Corp. of America?


Click here to hear: An Hour of Tops in Pops (Royale 1389)

Rock Around the Clock
Learnin' the Blues
Hard to Get
Sweet and Gentle
Love Me or Leave Me
Unchained Melody
A Blossom Fell
Something's Gotta Give
Don't Be Angry
Two Hearts, Two Kisses

(No artists credited, Allegro/Royale 1389, prob. 1955)


Friday, March 16, 2018

Rock N' Roll (Promenade High Fidelity 45 r.p.m. extended play; $1.89 value)

Well, the Variety label called it "rock 'n roll," and Promenade (this release, by the famous Synthetic Plastics Co.) called it "rock n' roll."  Of course, it's "rock 'n' roll," but that still leaves a couple questions unanswered--namely, what are April Love and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine doing here?  Besides taking up track space?

I think of myself as anything but a purist, but those two titles are about as rock n'/'n/'n' roll as, oh, Al Di La (the best version of which was waxed by the Ray Charles Singers.  Not that Ray, of course.)

And I *like* Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, ironically.  Even this version.

These are all fakes, of course--sound-alikes, back when you could swipe an arrangement and not get sued.  Some fine tracks--Jo Ann, The Stroll, Don'tKeep a Knockin', and, especially, Great Balls of Fire.  The passable copies include Diana, April Love, and Whole Lotta Shakin'.

Shed a tear for Jail House (sic) Rock, whose fabulous backing would have been infinitely better served by a singer who sounded remotely like Elvis.  And who put a little life into the proceedings.  Given a decent vocal, this would have been an all-time great fake.  Thanks a lot, "Eli Whitney."

And genuine thanks to the declicker filter on my MAGIX program, and to some tool-removed pops (mega-pops too big for the declicker to declick, these terrible pressings sound totally acceptable.

Rock n' roll!!!   


Jo Ann--Promineers
The Stroll--Promineers
Keep a Knockin'--Little Bobby
Jail House Rock--Eli Whitney
Diana--Bob Robbins
April Love--Michael Reed
Don't--Jimmie Aires
Kisses Sweeter Than Wine--Johnny Logan
Great Balls of Fire--Billie Case
Why Don't They Understand--Johnny Logan
Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On--Allan Freed
Only Because--The Wright Bros.

(Rock n' Roll--Promenade RR 23 and RR 24, 45 rpm EPs)

Click here to hear: Rock N' Roll (Promenade RR 23/24)


Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Sutera Twins--The "Happy Day" Express Song

More fake hits coming up, but, in the meantime, here's a perfect Sunday morning track--found it at Goodwill today, and I just knew from that title alone that it had to have a place here.

I guess the label, if there is one, would have to be "The Sutera Twins"--Ralph and Louis Sutera, to be exact.  (Self-produced, ya think?)  And here they are on YouTube, from 2008 (way after this recording, I'm pretty sure), talking about their Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ministry!  Sutera Twins

And here's the track:  The "Happy Day" Express Song (Engine Song)--Ralph & Louis Sutera

If this doesn't put you in Sunday morning mode, nothing will!


Sunday, January 28, 2018

18 Big Rock 'n' Roll Hits (Variety EPV-1801)

This gets complicated.  This 45 rpm three-EP set on the Variety label--18 Big Rock 'n Roll Hits--was also issued (earlier, I'm assuming) as a 12-inch LP on the mega-cheap Hollywood label.  That Hollywood LP was a reissue of an earlier Hollywood LP from 1957 called The Nation's Favorite Rock 'N Roll Hits.  My copy of the Hollywood LP (the reissue) is worn to death, so I'm using this set.

Well, I guess that wasn't too complicated.  Sound quality, predictably, is awful, making the above "Examination Certificate for Full Fidelity Response Recordings with Live Sound" (back cover of box) especially hilarious, since these have about a 9,000 Hz high end.  I doubt they top off at 15000 Hz, as claimed.  I got these to sound acceptable, and, in the process of ripping the final disc, I discovered that my Stanton 680 HiFi cartridge navigates warped vinyl effortlessly, in contrast to my 500 cart, which wants to bounce.

For lowest-quality EPs, these restored pretty well (with a good amount of de-clicking).  The performances are better than we have a right to expect, and some are even genuinely good.  And the version of Rock Around the Clock is my all-time favorite cheap-label version, despite the off-the-beat intro.  It found its way around the cheapo labels and may have originated on Gateway.  (Update: Nope, not the same version as Gateway Top Tune.  It's Gabe Drake on Prom 1118, poss. 1955)  Why it was included, I don't know, because the rest of the tracks are copies of 1956 hits, whereas RATC hit it big in 1955 (as a re-release).  But I don't complain--it's the perfect starter track.

"Reg. $16.00 value."  They wish. 

Click here to hear: 18 Big Rock 'n Roll Hits

1. Rock Around the Clock
2.  Long Tall Sally
3.  Blue Suede Shoes
4.  Ain't That a Shame
5.  Hound Dog
6.  See You Later Alligator
7.  Blueberry Hill
8.  Rip It Up
9.  I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
10.  Let the Good Times Roll
11.  The Fool
12.  Every Day
13.  When My Dreamboat Comes Home
14,  Why Do Fools Fall in Love
15.  Love, Love, Love
16.  Don't Be Cruel
17.  Ready Teddy
18.  I'm in Love Again

Vocal Stars of Radio & Television with Famous Orchestras (Variety EPV-1801, 3-EP, 45 rpm set, 1957?  Discs themselves are EPV-6025/26/27)

Above: label scan.  Suddenly, the set's name is "Rock n Roll," with half of the "n" missing.  Such loving care these guys took.