Friday, September 07, 2018

Moods for Pleasure Time--Royale Concert Orch. (Allegro-Royale 1506)

Gilmarvinyl asked if I have any background or showtune albums on the Eli Oberstein budget labels, and yes, I do.  This is one of them--and it's terrific. Even the recording quality is mostly quite decent, and that's often anything but the case with this family of discs.  My copy may very well have been unplayed prior to me placing a stylus in the grooves--no way to be sure, since cheap label pressings are never the best.  But the occasional clicks and pops--all removed--sounded to my ears like imperfections in the vinyl.  So I'm guessing that, when this arrived in my collection, it was fresh as the day it was born--if we don't count the sixty or so years it spent sitting around (or standing up, if it was properly stored).

Over the years, I've formed all kinds of elaborate theories about the evolution of mood music/easy listening.  I had it starting with light concert works (some of them novelties) of the late 19th and early 20th century--A Hunt in the Black Forest, Lotus Land, etc.  But nowadays I think of it simply as a specific treatment of song standards.  And I just typed two paragraphs in which I tried to describe that treatment in detail, but I failed completely, so I deleted them.  Let's forget it ever happened.

Easy listening/mood music is best described as, um, something.  Yes.  As a... kind of music.  That's it.

Whatever it is, it has coexisted with light concert music ("Pops") for decades--hence, Andre Kostelanetz and other "beautiful music" conductors made LPs of both the more salon-type works of Debussy, Ravel, Schubert, et al. and collections of tunes by Arlen, Berlin, and Youmans.  The two strains ended up on concert stages together, and eventually "Pops" came to include... anything.  Nowadays, "Pops" means, "There's an orchestra, yes, but nothing serious is going to happen, so don't worry."

The charming Every Little Movement is from 1910, so I don't know how it became a mood/easy standard (Meredith Willson did a version in that mode, too), but I'm all right with that.  Except for the piano sides (good, but not the "Royale Concert Orchestra"), these all have a heavily 1940s feeling, which means they could well be repackaged material by a name conductor or bandleader, despite the "Recorded in Europe" claim on the cover and the "Royale Concert Orchestra" credit.  Not that these covers would lie, except most of the time.

Is Limehouse Blues a mood standard, you ask?  To the best of my knowledge no.  The tempo's too fast, but Allegro-Royale doesn't care what I think.  It's another mood track of many moods, like Every Little Movement.  It reminds me of the Paul Whiteman "concert" arrangements, all of which featured four or five approaches to a given song in the space of a single twelve-inch 78 rpm side.  The over-the-top track on this LP, though, is Temptation, which starts out like King Kong waking up from a nap and finding Ann gone.

Before I close, here is the alternate version of this LP's cover (I think it's more common).  I swiped the image from Discogs.

Personally, I don't associate pleasure with an arrow in the, um, chest, but this is certainly way more interesting than my version.

Click here to hear: Moods for Pleasure Time--Allegro-Royale 1506

Linger Awhile
I'm in the Mood for Love
Body and Soul
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
All of Me
Every Little Movement
I've Got Five Dollars
April in Paris
I Can't Give You Anything but Love
Limehouse Blues
Just Friends
Penthouse Serenade

Moods for Pleasure Time--Royale Concert Orchestra (Allegro-Royale 1506)



Buster said...

I for one enjoy reading your thoughts on the origins of easy listening music and associated genres, so I wish you had not deleted the relevant paragraphs!

Thanks for this - contrary to your experience, I have seen the top cover many times, but never the arrow-in-heart version.

Gilmarvinyl said...

I love this album! You posted this album years ago, so I downloaded it and has remained a favorite of mine ever since.

Ernie said...

I, too, have only ever seen the top version of the cover. But the girl with the arrow through her chest, that's a keeper if I ever spot a copy!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Actually, I've never seen the arrow-in-heart cover in real life--just at Discogs. They treat it like the main cover, so I'm assuming it is. Like Ernie, I'd snap it up in a, um, heartbeat.

I'm still stumped over how to describe this brand of easy/mood music. I consider easy listening, mood, semi-classical, "Pops," etc. all branches of light music, keeping in mind that these labels weren't (and still aren't) used in a remotely consistent way. The stuff on this LP is a branch of light music that goes back at least to Whiteman and Kostelanetz and the more or less symphonic sound they created on records, but mostly on radio. This style of mood/easy is clearly based on dance music, and it sounds like dance music, except it's designed for listening. And the mood and tempi shifts would make dancing a challenge.

Since light music commands little respect, its various branches get little individual attention, so very few people realize how amazing its history is. Think about it--the "Pops" fare of Pryor and Sousa (then Fiedler), "symphonic" jazz, Robert Russell Bennett-style showtune medleys, Leroy Anderson, salon and parlor pieces, the 35-piano arrangements of Gottschalk, 19th-century variations on (insert name of traditional American tune), light classics with hummable tunes (Traumerei, Orientale, Minuet in G), borderline-serious pieces (Two Guitars, Amapola, Misirlou), LPs of "dinner music." All of them varieties of light music.


I'm not surprised I already put this up--I wish I hadn't deleted so much of my blog, but the past posts contained "broken" links and I was getting swamped with re-up requests, and I have everything burned to CD-R, and out of order. Anyway, glad you love this LP, and this new rip may be better, so be sure to compare them.


There may be a copy in the Hall of Album Covers You Won't Believe, so maybe we can sneak in sometime and try to swipe it.

Buster said...


Sorry - I was confused about the cover.

Thanks for the thoughts about light music. I just love the stuff!

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Hope my thoughts made some sense. And I'm just catching up with all the Grofe at your blog! Missed David Ferderman's limited-time shares, but I have the records in question, so.... Just been too occupied with non-cyber life. I hate that! Anyway, many thanks for helping get Ferde out there.

I was going to link to Kevin Tam's Grofe page, in case you didn't know about it, but it seems to no longer exist. (Yup-just checked my link--it goes nowhere.) But Kevin's arrangement of Grofe's San Francisco Suite is still up at YouTube:

So is his arrangement of Grofe's Valley of the Sun Suite--cool!

And the Beau Hunk's excellent recording of FG's wonderful Broadway at Night is here: 1924--Grofe's first orchestral work.

Buster said...

If you want anything, let me know. I might have downloaded it myself.

Diane said...

The arrow in the chest is okay-weird, but that first one with the smiling notes is the one for me.