Tuesday, October 09, 2018

George Gershwin Melodies, and Other Popular Favorites (Plymouth P12-67)

If you're looking for high-end audio, you picked the wrong post.  This is a very enjoyable LP, but the recording quality is atrocious, at least on Side A, where the vocals and vocal backing take turns fading in and out.  I have no idea what was going on, but it's nothing I did while remastering.  And Side B, while it sounds considerably better, is hampered by surface noise--the type this label group is famous for.  But, personally, I think the low fidelity adds to the fun.  Maybe I' m getting too used to budget fidelity!

Excellent singer on the Side A Gershwin material--a mezzo-soprano, I assume?  No credit, of course.  (Update: the singer is Mona Paulee.  See comment by RecordHunter.)  The Viennese Symphonic Orchestra is for real, and I can believe it's them on the Cavalleria Rusticana and Tosca opera highlights, but not the three Gershwin tracks.  But who knows?  Labels like Plymouth (which was part of the Remington, Masterseal, Paris, and Merit family) always gave as little info as possible, if even that much.  Heck, it was common for the cheapies to mismatch the titles between label and jacket, and look what we have here: George Gershwin Melodies and Other Popular Favorites on the cover, and George Gershwin Favorites and Favorite Musical Gems on the A and B labels.  Told you.  For this post, I went with the jacket info, title-wise.

And I love my scanner, but it sometimes fails to reproduce colors with total accuracy.  This Plymouth label is more maroon than dark red, but I did what I could, post-scan.

The Gershwin tracks are spirited and the "Highlights" on Side B are expertly rendered, so this LP makes for very pleasant listening.  I did what I could as far as tweaking the response curve, but you can't get highs where there aren't any, and the louder portions on Side A sound tinny enough to start with, so I mostly left things alone in that regard.

As noted before, the Remington group of labels, some of which contain highly collectible material (I don't think this is one of them), are known for their surface noise--and, sure enough, this LP has lots of that.  I timed the track fade-outs to kill the in-between noise, but side two ends with a pause followed by a crescendo tonic chord, so how to fix that?  Easy: I cut out the pause portion, used MAGIX's denoiser on it, then split the mono track into two tracks, placing the filtered portion below, so I could fade into it, thus avoiding a sudden volume drop.  You can see the final chord very clearly on this screen capture:

I really enjoyed this LP, so I thought it was worth some extra work.

Click here to hear: George Gershwin Melodies

The Man I Love
Somebody Love Me
Lady Be Good
Cavalleria Rusticana and Tosca Highlights

George Gershwin Melodies and Other Popular Favrorites--Viennese Symphonic Orch. (Plymouth P12-67)



Buster said...

You wonder what led someone to buy this. Did he or she approach the record clerk and ask, "Do you have a budget LP that combines George Gershwin favorites with verismo medleys?" I swear that people bought these things without looking at them, so long as they were cheap.

Come to think of it, I have bought many records that way.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

The sad thing is, as long I've been collecting these cheapies, I never look past the main titles--I miss the "and other beloved favorites" qualifiers. Like I thought I'd get an entire LP of Gershwin? Who do I think I am??

I almost think the labels did this out of spite or something, i.e. only providing a single side of Gershwin, Herbert, Youmans, Tchaikovsky, whoever. They didn't want to spoil their customers.

Angry customer: "Hey, I want TWO sides of Gershwin!" Plymouth label: "People in hell want ice water."

Buster said...

My first acquaintance with a budget LP was the Merry Christmas Music disc on Paris records, which I am sure you have seen one million times. (Ernie has probably bought it that often.)

My parents brought it home to vary the seasonal fare from the Mitch Miller records they favored. The Paris platter was straightforward Christmas corn until they decided to fill out a side with a long, jazzy take on Jingle Bells, IIRC. It was my introduction to content stretching a la cheapo labels. I found it annoying; even then, I knew a scam when I saw (or heard) one.

Ernie said...

Hey, watch it!

A side-long jazzy version of Jingle Bells? Maybe I need to track this record down!

RecordHunter said...

The mezzo singing Gershwin is the wonderful Mona Paulee, at the time a popular star of operetta, musicals, and opera. She recorded Gershwin, Porter, Friml, Romberg songs for Remington, all on the same day in July, 1952, apparently. Recorded in the Vienna Musikverein they originally had very good sound. Remington released them in driblets over 5 LPs I believe in their twilight concerts series then on and on and on Plymouth in various combinations. It's too bad the Gershwin is poorly dubbed here, older releases are much better.
Marcel Prawly produced the sessions. Why they were issued in such weird combinations...only the obscure record label gods know for sure.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Thanks, Gary! I should have figured this was a Remington reissue (reissue of Remington; whatever!). Many thanks for the information. Yes, Mona is terrific--I was sort of wondering how they got someone so superb do to this LP, but given that it didn't originate as a Plymouth toss-off, it makes more sense. The cheap label tradition of re-re-re-reissuing stuff makes less sense, by far--could these things have been tax write-offs? You're right--only the obscure record label gods can tell us.

Mona must have signed an agreement to only receive credit on the first issues of her tracks, which I guess would mean she'd only be paid for same. Thanks for the information! I'll update ASAP.