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)



Buster said...

The cover is cool. I don't get why it is labeled "SAMPLER," though. It doesn't seem to be a sampler of anything.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

That's exactly what I'm wondering, too. Maybe they put out fifty "flying saucer" albums, and these are ten tracks culled from that series. That must be it!

I have no idea, unless they're being really illiterate and presenting these as samples of how authentic their fake versions sound--"each equal in performance and quality to the top selling hit records." So, after the listener hears this "sampler" of cheap imitations, he or she will never go back to the top selling hit records. In which case, the top selling labels go out of business, leaving the cheapo outfits with nothing to copy, and....

I think I'll stick with I have no idea.

Buster said...

My wild guess is that they were trying to emulate the majors who were putting out samplers at about the same time (e.g., RCA), with the hope that someone would think their product was comparable in quality. Seems like a stretch, though.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Good a theory as any. And, dang! I totally forgot to mention my take on the "Flying Saucer" motif--they were obviously exploiting the popularity of Buchanan and Goodman's "The Flying Saucer." Which would definitely make this 1956. Cheapo labels, of course, had to operate within the chart span of a given hit. (Is chart span a term?)

I have actual junk label samplers, one on Allegro or Royale (or both?) and the other on the Paris label. I suspect Paris was in the same family as Masterseal and Palace.

Buster said...

I'm sure you must be right about Flying Saucers. Too bad they didn't cover the Buchanan and Goodman record, if that was even possible.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

There were a lot of copies, of course, and some unauthorized follow-ups (though "unauthorized" doesn't have a lot of meaning in this case!). I'm 99.9 percent sure the Crown label put out a copy-cat single using Crown label hit covers, so that's kind of close. Had it in my collection at one point; trying to find it on eBay (one of my primary research tools).

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Found it--"Out of This World with Flying Saucers," by Dave Barry with Sara Berner, RPM 469. Crown was in the Modern/RPM family, of course.

Ernie said...

That is a great cover!!