Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Christmas Fantasy--Al Goodman and His Orch., 1950

I could help myself--I had to follow up A Christmas Fantasie with A Christmas Fantasy.  With a y.  The 45 rpm edition of this single came out in 1950, so I'm giving this 12-inch 78 the same year, because I can't find dates for 12-inch RCAs from this period.  The 28 prefix doesn't show up in the two dating guides I use.  Well, actually I have three, so why don't I check the third one?

Nope, no luck.  The third guide at least lists the RCA 28 prefix, but only a single side in the series.  Why is this information being kept from us?  What foul, sinister plot is behind this?  I ask you, dear downloaders.

Meanwhile, here's Al Goodman.  I'm a fan of Goodman--he's recorded a lot of high-quality light music.  And when he ended up on junk labels, he continued to do good stuff.  He also did the all-time best version of the Pops standard, A Hunt in the Black Forest.  I used to know that piece's year of composition--1897 or so.  I think.  Anyway, to the Fantasy:

Click here to hear: Christmas Fantasy--Al Goodman and his Orch., 1950


A Christmas Fantasie--The Columbia Children's Music-Story Group (1940)

Using his imagination specs, a boy travels to the North Pole, where he meets Jack Frost, Eskimos, penguins, singing toys, the Snow Queen, the north wind, and Santa Claus.  I don't think the boy's name is mentioned anytime during the six 78 rpm sides, but I guess it's not important, because this is about the power of childhood imagination, so the child in the story could be any child.  Except we know the child is a he, because he has a male voice.  Sorry, girls.  Anyway, it's a standard kiddie-record theme: child falls asleep, meets Santa Claus.  But it's done in a delightfully old fashioned style, with the composer channeling Victor Herbert, so I give it an A.  The sound, by contrast, is about a C-plus.  I first ripped this with my standard 2.7 mil 78 stylus, and the sound lacked detail, with the surface swish nearly blocking it out at times.  My 3.5 mil stylus made night-and-day difference, turning lousy fidelity into mediocre fidelity.  It ought to--I paid enough for it.  And so we have a fairly decent rip to enjoy here.

I joined all six sides of this three-record set into a single file, because there are no actual pauses in the program, save the ones caused by having to flip over each side.  The disc order is not arranged for a changer, which is cool, because that's always a pain.  It makes ripping easy, because the flip of J 22-1 is J 22-2, and so on.  In changer order, the flip side of J 22-1 would be J 22-6.  Alexa wants to know what on earth I'm talking about.

We have Ernie to thank for this post--he asked me if I'd heard of this set, and I remembered that I have it.  I recall I was going to put it up a few years back, but I didn't have my wider 78 stylus at the time, and I'm sure the lousy 2.7 mil fidelity changed my mind.  Yet I kept the set, luckily.  And here it is:

Click here to hear: A Christmas Fantasie (1940)


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 4!--Even more 78s! Trinity Choir, Olive Kline, Thelma Gracen, Arthur Pryor

I was reading on line about a lack of cultural inclusiveness on the part of Christmas.  Let's see--celebrated around the world by billions of people.  Hm.  Yeah, that's hardly an inclusive festival.  Sounds to me like a members-only affair.  We need to fix that.

While we're fixing that, I have yet more holiday shellac to share.  And "shellac to share" is one heck of a tongue-twister, at least when I try to repeat it.  Anyway, I'm posting things our of order with the time I rip them, so I have to look at the list to see what we've got.  So, two recordings of the Trinity Choir doing the same hymns, same arrangement.  Only the first (from 1912) is acoustical and the second (1926) is electrical.  So it's a rare opportunity to listen to an acoustical side and then hear how it would have sounded with the electrical method.  Pretty cool.  They're also fine performances.

Bud Roman's Frosty the Snowman is from 1952, according to Discogs, which is two years after Gene Autry made it famous.  The flip, The Night Before Christmas, is a reissue of a Record Guild of America side.  The recording date was possibly 1948.  In fact, I think I have one of the label's picture-disc versions of it, but I recall it's badly damaged.  Somebody folded it.  Not good.

1950's Christmas Symphony, by Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., with a vocal by Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, is a wonderful oddity for the season.  I have it on a pretty beat-up MGM vinyl 78, but I did some MAGIX tricks, and it sounds okay.  Gracen is a good singer--too good for the band, really.  (Not to insult Shep, but....)  Thelma went on to record for Wing and Verve.  She also sang for Jan Garber.  Near the start, where there's considerable groove damage, I substituted a portion of the repeated section.  I did quick fade-in/fade-outs, and it fools even my ears when I listen to it.  This was a major rescue job, but it worked.

Ringing the Old Year Old, from 1911, is a little early, unless we take into account that the disc is 107 years old, in which case it's pretty past due.  It was composed by Lillian Currie, who also gave us On a Christmas Morning and Children's Toy March.  No luck in finding internet info on her, unfortunately.  There's a possible newspaper mention, but I'd have to pay.  Love to know something about her, because I really love her "descriptive" pieces.  So did Charles A. Prince, apparently.

The charming numbers by Olive Kline and Elsie Baker were apparently from children's songbooks, possibly for school use.  The books, I mean.  The 78s may have been used in that fashion, too, though the sides--Victor 17869--aren't designated for school use.  I repeated Around the Christmas Tree, because it goes by so fast (another clue it may have been for classroom use).  The classroom songs of my day were nowhere near this level, musically.

The two Nutcracker selections are cool, because they're well done and very old.  Casse-Noisette is the French word for "nutcracker," hence the Overture Miniature credit.  The Victor labels use the old spelling of Tchaikovsky--"Tschaikowsky."  Arthur Pryor's musicians were extraordinary, as we hear here.  I love typing "hear here."

Two more Trinity Choir selections, speaking of excellent musicians.  And we have tenor Evan Williams singing The Star of Bethlehem on a murky-sounding disc, especially by 1923 standards.  My copy looks good, so it should sound better--it's the Victrola label, after all.  Bad day at the pressing plant, maybe.  Christmas Chimes is an oddity on the Conqueror (Sears mail order) label. and I gave it 1932 for the year, because of where it falls in the label's discography.  But darned if I can find any info on it.  There's an earlier Christmas Chimes on this label (from 1927), so maybe this is a reissue with different credits?  I did my best to silence the disc's rumble, but there's still some there.  The piece was composed by Frederick William Vandersloot, Jr. (1866-1931), whose name is all over my older pieces of sheet music.

The 1911 Victor recording of the German carol O du frohliche, o du selige is a gem.  Gorgeously sung, and to one of the most memorable tunes of its type, which, thanks to Wikipedia, I can identify as O sanctissima.  An on-line translator tells me that Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett means "Weimar MOORSIH Vocal Quaret."  Sure enough, "sches" means "MOORISH" in German-to-English, but why the all-caps, I don't know.  The Victor label keeps things simple: "Quartet German."  Works for me.  The mistimed intro is kind of amusing, with the bell player and organ on two different parts of the page.  Did the bells start too early, or the organ too late?  It's a little too late to do it over.

Joy to the World is credited to Handel and Isaac Watts on the Trinity Choir 78, though it's now the consensus that Lowell Mason wrote the tune, not Handel.  The Watts credit is correct.   FWIW, the words to Amazing Grace fit with this melody.  They also go with the theme to Gilligan's Island.  To fit words to any given melody, you need to know the number of syllables per line.  That's the purpose of the confusing Metrical Index included in hymnals.  On that note...

To the sounds: Christmas 2018, Part 4

Christmas Hymns and Carols, Nos. 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1912
Christmas Hymns and Carols, Parts 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1926
Frosty the Snow Man--Bud Roman and the Toppers w. the Hal Lomen Orch., 1952
The Night Before Christmas--The Music Hall Drama Group, 1948?
The Christmas Symphony--Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., v: Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, 1950
Ringing the Old Year Old--Descriptive (Currie)--Prince's Orch., 1911
Merry Christmas--Sleighing Song--Olive Kline, Soprano w. orchestra and Sleigh Bells, 1913
Around the Christmas Tree--Christmas Shoes--Elsie Baker, Contralto w. Orch., 1914
Overture Miniature (From Casse Noisette)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1912
Nut Cracker Ballet (Dance Characteristique)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1911
The Star of Bethlehem (Adams)--Evan Williams, Tenor, 1923
Christmas Chimes (Chimes with String Quartette, Vocal Refrain; Vandersloot)--Salon Orchestra, 1932?
Joy to the World (Watts-Handel, though it's really Watts-Mason)--Trinity Choir, 1911
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful (Oakeley-poss. King John IV of Portugal)--Same
O du frohliche, o du selige--Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett, 1911


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 3!--More 78s (1907-1953)

More Christmas shellac, including a side that may have been quite funny in 1907, the year it was recorded, but that was 111 years ago.  I refer to the "laughing story," Uncle Josh Plays Santa Claus, a monologue performed by Cal Stewart, in which he says things and laughs during and after them.  It's one of the Christmas 78s I recently found at the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift, so I decided to toss it in, despite its awfulness.  Maybe I should toss it in the circular file.  A few other "Uncle Josh" 78s have found their way into my collection over the years, but I never listened to them, figuring they were probably as funny as a funeral procession falling into a sinkhole.  Judging by this dreadful disc, they're not even that funny.  So, enjoy!  (Wait a minute....)

Now, you'd think the internet would have biographical info on the writer of a song as once-popular as Put Christ Back Into Christmas, heard here in its 1953 Red Foley version on Decca (another St. Vincent find).  But I can find nothing about Edward Egide Unger, save the titles of some other tunes by him.  Before anyone pounces on the putting-Christ-back theme, please remember the famous line, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."  Of course, it's the one Charles Schultz used (well, actually, it was Linus) in that famous 1965 Christmas cartoon, and Schultz was beloved by hipsters (back then, anyway), so let's not pretend it's a notion invented by "those people" on the religious right.  We have to remind ourselves on a regular basis that history didn't start with us, because, for reasons known only to evolutionary biologists, our brains are wired to think that. Well, at least here in the U.S., but we're a young country, so I guess we have some semblance of an excuse, even if it's an embarrassing one.

Victor Herbert's delightful, wonderful, and brilliant March of the Toys is like Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite--it's been played to death, and it's still marvelous.  Here, Nat Shilkret conducts the International Concert Orch. in 1939, and I would have liked a bit more edge to the treble, but it's not there, and I can't add what's not there.  (I can only coax out what the engineer put int the grooves.  Well, that's a good excuse, anyway.)  The flip features tunes from Babes in Toyland, the operetta that gave us the march, and I can't figure out what the lyrics are talking about.  Guess I'd have to know the story.  The disc is from a Herbert/Shilkret 78 set that I found earlier today on line but can't find at the moment.  Dang.  All I have is the one disc.

1926's Santa Claus Polka is a Christmas tradition here, or at least has been since I got the record a few years back.  It has no Christmas sound to it whatsoever, but that's where polkas are like marches--their titles give no clue as to what you're going to hear.  French composer Emile Waldteufel's famous The Skaters (1882) is another wonderful-to-hear instrumental standard, and I love the way Emile never wasted a note.  And did I say instrumental?  Well, someone--Larry Neill--put words to it and called it The Winter Waltz, and Frankie Carle recorded it in 1950, and here it is.  And this time I've found writer info, and a lot of it: Larry Neill.  More here: Mickey Mouse Club Show.

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the light concert masterpiece by German composer Leon Jessel, was composed in 1897.  Its popularity grew over the next 20 years or so, with Paul Whiteman recording it in 1923.  The man who gave us this treasure died at the hands of the Nazis in 1942.  I love this piece, but I can't get that out of my mind.  Maybe we should think of this as beauty that survived savagery.

Country artist Ray Smith was a native of Glendale, California, born in 1918.  Not to be confused with the rockabilly Ray Smith.  The Horton credited on both sides of Ray's Columbia 78 is Vaughan Horton.  Jolly Old St. Nicholas sounds for all the world like something from the 19th century, and....  In fact, it is from the 19th century.  I just Googled it.  Music and words, both--19th century.  I'll have to do some Googling and discover how Horton got the credit.  Was it one of those "arranged by..." scams so common in music publishing?  Had it gone into the public domain and he swiped it?  Tune in tomorrow....

Christmas, 1907-1953.  Today's musical slice.

Click here to hear:  Christmas 2018, Part 3!

March of the Toys (Victor Herbert)--Victor Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1939
The Skaters--Waltz (Waldteufel)--International Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1926
The Winter Waltz--Frankie Carle and His Orch., w. vocal, 1950
Good Christian Men Rejoice--Temple Quartet, 1927 (England)
Babes in Toyland--Medley (Herbert)--Victor Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1939
Santa Claus Polka--Ottar Argee's Quintette, 1926
Uncle Josh Plays Santa Claus--Cal Stewart, 1907
Put Christ Back Into Christmas (Unger)--Red Foley w. the Anita Kerr Singers, 1953
Jolly Old St. Nicholas (Horton)--Ray Smith, 1949
An Old Christmas Card (Horton)--Ray Smith, 1949
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers--International Concert Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1928
Hallelujah Chorus (Handel)--Trinity Choir, 1926
Gloria from "Twelfth Mass" (Mozart)--Trinity Choir, 1926
On a Good Old-Time Sleigh-Ride--Peerless Quaretette, 1913
The New Born King--Hamilton Hill, Baritone w. Orch., 1909

Friday, November 23, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 2!--Prince's Band and Orch., Cornet Quartet, Mark Andrews, more!

NOTE: If your copy of this file contains cut-off beginnings, please download again--the track markers were off on some of the tracks, so I corrected them, re-exported the files, then redid the zip.  The fixed zip is now at MEGA.  I've always wanted to type "The fixed zip is now at MEGA."

Holiday shellac for 2018.  And I've tried in vain to come up with any Christmas word play that goes with "shellac," "platter," or "seventy-eights."  "Shivery shellac," for instance, could describe the cold weather of the season, but it sounds much more like Halloween, so....

Festive phonograph records?  No, no.  Gramophone greetings?  Um, for the season?  No, forget it.

Anyway,  I put these sides up last year, but the links expired long ago, and I wanted to make new rips, as I've gotten a lot better at using VinylStudio, the software I use to select the proper response curves for these things.  Ironically, VinylStudio, despite the "Vinyl," is ideal for 78s, but the company apparently couldn't decide if it was selling to 78 fans or Boomers digitizing their rock vinyl.  All I know is that no Eric Clapton or Yes LPs reside in my collection.  Yet I use VS nonstop.  So there.

Five of the files contain two sides of a disc--I did this wherever there was a Part 1 and Part 2.  Hence, Paul Whiteman's Silent Night, Holy Night (arranged by Bill Challis) and Christmas Melodies (arranged by Ferde Grofe) are combined.  Ditto for the Brunswick Concert Band, Gilbert Girard, and the Regimental Band of H.M. Grenadier Units numbers, plus Prince's Orch.'s Memories of Christmas.  All but five sides are pre-electric, so, if they sound like they were recorded acoustically by large horns, that's because they were.  We open with Mark Andrews' pipe organ solo version of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, and the fidelity is downright incredible--the first year for commercial microphone recordings, no less.  Apologies for the loud rumble at the start--I don't know if that's the result of a small record warp or if it was something happening in the studio.  It quickly passes.  The "descriptive" sides (all acoustical) are delightful, with the sound effects ringing through loudly and clearly.  Less delightful, to my ears anyway, is Gilbert Girard's "Children's Story with Imitations," Santa Claus Tells of Mother Goose Land.  I'm not sure which I find more grating--his horrible rolled r's or his awful vocal sound effects.  Surely, someone in this era had talent in the latter area--how else would radio dramas have evolved so quickly?  I realize this is for kiddies (or was for kiddies), but I listen to this guy and I want to shoot him.  The pre-Revelers Shannon Quartet does a terrific job on Jingle Bells, though the sound engineering has issues.  Not only are the voices too tinny, there's machine noise at the start that really comes through with a modern pick-up.  I isolated that small section and clipped the bass.  But, like the Mark Andrews side, this was 1925, so no doubt they were still solving mic-placement problems, and the like, and in studios designed for horn recording.  So I forgive the audio issues.

Children's Toy March is a slower rendition of the main air of On a Christmas Morning.  Just in case it sounds familiar.  Why the singers sound so muffled on Around the Christmas Tree, I do not know--maybe they were too far off to the side or something.  But the Spike Jones-esque sound effects are the real point of the side, so no matter.  If I were a kid in the 1910s, I'd be playing the Prince's Orch. sides until the grooves were gone, and I'd use the Girard side as a proto-frisbee.

To the shellac: Christmas 2018, Part 2!--More 78s

Messiah--Hallelujah Chorus--Mark Andrews, Pipe Organ Solo, 1925
On a Christmas Morning--Descriptive (Currie)--Prince's Orch., 1911
Kiddies' Patrol (Christmas Eve)--Kiddies' Dance (Christmas Morning)--Brunswick Concert Band, 1920
Santa Claus' Workshop--Yuletide Orch. (Prince's Orch.), 1910
Fra himlen hoit kom budskap her (Vom Himmel hoch)--Cornet Quartet w. ogan and bells--Norwegian, 1904
Children's Toy March (Currie)--Prince's Band, 1912
Around the Christmas Tree--Descriptive (Prince)--Prince's Orch., 1913
Santa Claus Tells of Mother Goose Land--Pts. 1 and 2--Gilbert Girard, 1922
Jingle Bells--Shannon Quartet, 1925
Snow Time--Columbia Quartette, 1911
Silent Night, Holy Night (A: Challis)--Christmas Melodies (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1928
Children's Symphony (Haydn)--Prince's Orch., 1913
Memories of Christmas--Parts 1 and 2 (R.H. Bowers)--Prince's Orch., w. Contralto Solo and Male Quartette, 1918
Angelus (Massenet)--Charles O'Connell, Pipe Organ Solo, 1925
Christmas Time in Merrie England, Parts 1 and 2--Regimental Band of H.M. Grenadier Units, c. Lieut. Geo. Miller, 1922


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Christmas 2018, Part 1!--Royal Choral Society, John McCormack, Richard Crooks, Robert Stephens

I've been using Blogger for thirteen years or so, yet when I go to write a post, I always hit "View blog" instead of "Make post."  Good grief.  Well, at least I'm consistent!

I can't blame my vision, because I just had a VA eye test, and my eyes are fine.  I can't be drunk, because I haven't been drinking.  I know--it's the cats.  They're driving me crazy.  So I'm hitting the wrong buttons.  Yeah, that's it.  Always nice to figure things out.

So, I wasn't going to holiday-post (is that a verb?) until maybe after Thanksgiving, but I came across some wonderful Christmas 78s at the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift, and they demand I post them now.  (Now my records are talking to me.  Hoo, boy.)  They're in terrific shape, and I have the recording dates, but a quick Google search didn't bring up any pages showing the evolution of the Red Seal label design, so I have to go with the image at Wikipedia's Red Seal page, which they identify as "circa 1940."  This appears to be that design.

All I know about Handel's Messiah is that it's in three parts and that the famous "Chorus" happens in Part 2.  (For some reason, Gramophone magazine hasn't offered me any reviewing gigs.)  This is an extraordinarily good rendition, and the 1935 fidelity is phenomenal.  And the Glory of the Lord almost sounds like Hallelujah Chorus, Part 2, but it occurs earlier.  Well, in the piece, not on this disc.

Then we have two phenomenally great tenors, Ireland's John McCormack and America's Richard Crooks.  I misspelled "Fideles" on the McCormack file, apparently thinking of "Semper Fidelis."  John's side is from 1926, and the two by Richard are 1934, according to my 78 dating guide.  At YouTube, it says 1935, but that's not my problem.  1892's The Holy City was composed by Michael Maybrick under the alias "Stephen Adams."  I imagine it would be rated as middlebrow by highbrows, but it's a killer concert piece.  The flip, also by "Adams," had me thinking I was hearing The Holy City.  I was only half-listening, but it fooled me.  Sound quality and performance are stunning.  For a fun time, Google James Maybrick, Michael's brother.

I end things with the junk label Varsity, because it's a Christmas number and it was in the same album with the 12-inchers.  Sound quality is about par for the Eli Oberstein course.  Nice playing, though I way prefer the Bach/Gounod setting.  (This is the Schubert Ave Maria.)

To the sounds....

Click here to hear:  Christmas 2018, Part 1

The Messiah--Hallelujah Chorus--Royal Choral Society and London Philharmonic Orch., c. Malcolm Sargent (Victor Red Seal 11825, 1935)
The Messiah--And the Glory of the Lord (Handel)--Same
Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)--John McCormack and Trinity Choir (Victor Red Seal 6607, 1926)
The Star of Bethlehem (Adams)--Richard Crooks, Tenor, Orch. conducted by John Barbirolli  (Victor Red Seal 7854, 1934)
The Holy City (Adams)--Same
Ave Maria (Schubert)--Robert Stephens at the Grand Organ (Varsity 576)


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Raftero" and "Carioca"--Nat Finston and Max Steiner (1934)

This 78 was sitting there, and I said, "I ought to rip and post this."  I'd been planning to for years and never did, and there's nothing like the present.  Unless it's another gaudy sweater no sane person would wear past December 25.

Very cool sides here, and the two on-line rips I heard are dreadful, so hopefully I've done my good sound-restoration deed for the day.  Please, people, stop turning perfectly good-sounding 78s into mush.  When filtering, less is more, or whatever the expression is.  If you want your 78s to "sound like" LPs, buy LPs and pretend they're 78s.  You'll get a vinyl-era noise floor and you won't have to spring for a 78 stylus.

To the music.  Carioca is by Vincent (Tea for Two) Youmans, in case you didn't know.

Click here to hear: Carioca-Rumba (1934)

Raftero--Nat Finston and the Paramount Studio Orch,, piano: Ralph Rainger, 1934.
Carioca-Rumba (Youmans)--RKO Studio Orch., Direction of Max Steiner, 1934.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day 2018

Happy Veterans Day!  Here are some 78s from my collection, newly ripped by me.  I've never been sure why the sound is so lousy on the Will Bradley/Ray McKinley/Freddie Slack sides, but that's how they were pressed, so....  Perry Como, my all-time favorite pop singer, hit it huge when he left the Ted Weems orchestra and joined RCA in 1943.  I've ripped Perry's first two RCA sides, Goodbye, Sue and There'll Soon Be a Rainbow, both featuring choral backings, since the 1942-1944 AFM recording ban was in effect.  There's a weird and, to my ears, charming sound to such sides.  Temptation and I'll Always Be With You, two of my favorite Como tracks, are post-ban (1945) and feature Ted Steele's orchestra.  Como seemed to be reaching into the Russ Columbo catalog, since he also recorded Prisoner of Love (great side, but not in this list).  Also taking us back to WWII--two highly un-PC 1942 Carl Hoff sides, You're a Sap, Mr. Jap; and We Did It Before (And We Can Do It Again).  Pop music history as it happened.  And three huge Will Bradley hits of the period, which I've already mentioned but haven't named yet.  They are Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar) and Down the Road a Piece, neither of them the first pop-chart boogie-woogie numbers, but they did tons to establish the style as an official branch of swing and a song folio genre.  Both are from 1940, as is the third, Celery Stalks at Midnight, which sounds a little ahead of its time, stylistically, to my ears.  Maybe that's just because it follows two helpings of eight-to-the-bar.

Good Bye Dolly Gray goes back to the Second Boer War, and this 1902 recording by the Columbia Quartette is one of my favorite (and noisiest) 78s.  Of course Hugo Frey's charming One-step My Dough Boy is from WWI--it's played by the terrific Joseph C. Smith orchestra, Smith having been the Victor label's Paul Whiteman before it had Paul Whiteman.  And once again I'm featuring Raymond Newell and Ion Swinley's elaborate 1929 rendition (with sound effects and actors) of the 1904 anti-war art song, The Trumpeter (J. Francis Barron-J. Airlie Dix) in a brand new rip.  It remains a superb number and recording.  The side closes with the 1861 hymn, O God of Love, O King of Peace.

"It is our duty to make war, for all time, impossible."  True, but I think it'll be a while yet....

Click here to hear: Veterans Day 2018


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Paul Whiteman, Part Five!--1920-1934

My own Paul Whiteman sketch, from around 1981.  The lettering is new, of course.  And this is Part 5 of my Paul Whiteman series, which means three more are on their way.  Yup, three.  Part 8 will focus on Whiteman-related solo sides, with numbers by Ramona, Roy Bargy, Chester Hazlett, and the jazzy Whiteman orchestra subgroup, The Virginians (the first of its kind, claims AllMusic).  So... stay tuned.  And enjoy today's mix, covering the years 1920 to 1934, during which the Whiteman sound changed considerably, of course.  Incredibly might be the better word.

And my VinylStudio program remains the most amazing software taking up space on my PC, next to my MAGIX editing program--it is responsible, as I've been noting every post, for keeping the response curves honest.  The eq'ing and track splicing remain the duties of MAGIX.  Put it all together and you have very, very old sounds, but not sounding old in the traditional sense of old, when it comes to audio.  The established meaning of "old" in audio is lousy, but I've tried to get these 78s sounding as un-lousy (and, therefore, nontraditional) as possible, with Chicago presenting the most demanding restoration feat, given its "beater" condition.  (Record collector term.)  But it's not an easy one to find, at least in my price range, so I went all-out, and it sounds pretty not bad.  It's an essential PW side, as it features none other than Ferde Grofe on a terrific piano solo.


Click here to hear: Paul Whiteman, Part 5!  !920-1934

Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere--1920
Magnolia--v: Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Harris Barris, 1927
Steppin' Out--1923
Underneath Hawaiian Skies--Medley--1921
So This is Venice!--v: Ed Smalle, 1924
Villa (Lehar)--1931
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans--1923
Star Dust--v. John Hauser and the King's Men, 1934
In a Little Spanish Town--v: Jack Fulton, 1926 (A: Grofe)
Grieving for You--Feather Your Nest--1920
Where Is My Sweetie Hiding?--1924
Whispering (A: Grofe)--1920
There's Yes! Yes! In Your Eyes (A: Grofe)--1924
You Forgot to Remember--Waltz (Berlin)--v: Elliott Shaw, 1925
Cheerie Beerie Bee--Waltz--v: Auston Young, 1927 (A: Grofe)
Do You Ever Think of Me?--1921
It's Up to You (J'en ai Marre!)--1922


Friday, November 09, 2018

Tschaikowskiana--Paul Whiteman and His Orch. (1928)--second rip

Every rip deserves a second chance.  I wasn't happy with my first job on this disc, so I ripped it again, this time using my 2.7 mil needle instead of the 3.5.  I think it did the trick.  This file sounds much better.  Hope you agree.

Click here to hear: Tchaikowskiana, Pts. 1 and 2 (1928)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch.


Wednesday, November 07, 2018

George Gershwin, Fred and Adele Astaire--"Fascinating Rhythm," The Half of It Dearie, Blues" (1926)

This 78 was recorded in the UK in 1926, and it features George Gershwin plus Fred and Adele Astaire in two selections from Gershwin's Lady Be Good.  I was thrilled to find this copy in Scotland circa 1980 (while I was stationed in that country), and I paid a mere five pounds, or about $12.  Fred and sister Adele sing as George Gershwin hammers the ivories on Fascinating Rhythm, and it's just an amazing side.  Life-altering, if you ask me.  Prior to finding this in the now-closed Gramophone Emporium in Edinburgh, I'd heard a snatch of it on the radio (BBC Four, I think), and of course I was dying to hear the rest.  As you'll notice, the designated speed is 80 rpm, and I adjusted my turntable as close to that speed as possible.  It's close enough.  The music really moves at 80 compared to 78 rpm--much moreso than I would have expected.  I think I'll feature both speeds so you can hear the difference.  Interestingly, that difference amounts to approximately a semitone.  (Helps to have a synth keyboard next to the PC desk.)

The flip is fluff (always wanted to type that) by comparison, though I am right now revising my take on it.  I originally described Gershwin's piano work as clunky on this number (Half of It Dearie, Blues), but, at least at 80 rpm, it's not only not clunky, it's impressively fast..  And I talked about too many Rhapsody in Blue quotes--specifically, the double-time chords George throws in a few times too often--but now I'm not positive they're actual RIB quotes.  They're standard parallel "big city" chords of the type we expect from George.  Maybe they're meant to evoke RIB, maybe not.

And Astaire's singing on the Dearie number, which I described as pretty bad, is actually perfectly adequate.  The song is silly, but that's the job of novelties.  It's not the dud side I judged it to be, unless we're comparing the song and its performance to the magnificent flip, and that would be setting an unfair bar.

Bottom line is, this version of Fascinating Rhythm changed the way I hear Twenties pop music, and Twenties pop is my favorite pop.  So it's awesome to have it in my collection.

First up, the sides at the proper 80 rpm.  Then, for comparison, my two 78 rpm rips.  Enjoy!

Fascinating Rhythm/The Half of It...--Fred and Adele Astaire, then Fred only, with piano by George Gershwin, at 80 rpm.

Fascinating Rhythm/The Half of It...--78 rpm Lee

UPDATE: Buster and I both agreed that 80 rpm is way too fast a playback speed, despite the label indication--namely, that, for some reason, the label sped things up by recording at a slower speed, as American Columbia accidentally did with Bing Crosby and Al Rinker's I've Got the Girl of the same year.  It could have been accidental in the case of UK Columbia, too, or the label may have done it deliberately to alter the sound of Astaire's singing or George's piano tinkling--to make things sound brighter and, to use a period term, snappier.  Tho knows?  Anyway, Buster took my 78 rpm rips and slowed them down about 1/4 tone, and here are the results: GG, FA, Corrected speed.  I agree with Buster that his speed corrections sound just right.  What do your ears think?

Thanks, Buster!


Saturday, November 03, 2018

Paul Whiteman, Part Four! (1921-1931)

In this Paul Whiteman-athon, a number of famous songsmiths: George Gershwin (I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise, Do It Again!),  Irving Berlin (Lazy, What'll I Do),  Rudolf Friml (March of the Musketeers), Rodgers and Hart (Do I Hear You Saying), George M. Cohan (You Remind Me of Your Mother), and Domenico Savino (Burning Sands; credited to D. Onivas), with Savino also acting as arranger for O, Ya Ya.  And there's a two-sided 12-inch Columbia disc called Tschaikowskiana, arranged by Herman Hand, which is exactly what it sounds like.  It's not the most exciting medley, but it does show a great deal more respect for Tschaikowsky/kovsky than Spike Jones ever did.  A number of big Whiteman hits here, including the million-selling 1923 Linger Awhile, which revives the Whispering slide whistle, only with clever syncopated horn punctuation, making this almost definitely a Ferde Grofe arrangement, though it's not listed as such at the William College page.  It's him, though.  Has to be.

The two Gershwin numbers are, of course, pre-Rhapsody in Blue, and I'm 99 percent sure these are Grofe charts, too.

The singers include Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Charles Gaylord, Austin "Skin" Young, Billy Murray, John Sperzel, Fritz Zimmerman (yodeling), The King's Jesters, and Jack Fulton (during the March of the Musketeers vocal refrain).  These were all ripped and edited by me from 78s in my collection, and it looks like I have enough sides ripped for three more parts.  We'll see.  I mean, we'll hear.

To the Whiteman....

Click here to hear: Paul Whiteman, Part 4! (1921-1931)

I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise (Gershwin)--1922
You Remind Me of My Mother (Cohan)--1922 (A: Grofe)
O, Ya Ya--1928 (A: D. Savino)
I Miss My Swiss (My Swiss Miss Misses Me)--v: John Sperzel, yodeling: Fritz Zimmerman, 1925 (A:Grofe)
Tchaikovskiana--1928 (A: Herman Hand)
Burning Sands (D. Savino)--1923 (A: Grofe)
Linger Awhile--1923
March of the Musketeers (Friml)--vocal: Bing Crosby, others, 1928 (A: Tom Satterfield)
Do It Again! (Gershwin)--1922
Lazy (Berlin)--1924 (A: Grofe)
What'll I Do--Waltz (Berlin)--1924 (A: Grofe)
Just a Little Love Song--1921 (A: Grofe)
Love and Kisses (From Baby to You (A: Grofe)
Do I Hear You Saying (I Love You)--v: Bing Crosby, Al Rinker, Charles Gaylord, 1928 (A: Satterfield)
Dance of the Little Dutch Dolls--vocal: The King's Jesters, 1931 (A: Grofe)
Down in Old Havana Town--v: Austin "Skin" Young, 1928 (A: Grofe)
Mister Gallagher and Mr. Shean--v: Billy Murray, 1923 (A: Grofe)
By the Waters of the Minnetonka--1924 (A: Grofe)
Meditation from Thais--1924 (A: Grofe)