Wednesday, October 30, 2019
It occurred to me that all my of my Halloween shellac postings were pre-Vinyl Studio, which means none of them had the proper response curves. So, working like a demon, I pulled twenty-two 78s from the racks and pyres--er, stacks and piles--and ripped them for you. And isn't "ripped" the perfect verb for the holiday (sober or no)? Anyway, here are 22 previously ghosted--er, posted--tracks, all zipped up in a handy slaylist. And I wish these were streaming tracks, because then I could use the pun "screaming." Oh, well.
A couple "new" offerings--Carl Fenton's Spike Jones-esque recordings of Animal Fair and Go 'Long, Mule, neither of which are classic Halloween titles, but their treatments are so delightfully crazy, they had to be included. Edward MacDowell's wonderful 1884 piano piece Witches' Dance (Hexentanz) starts the hearse rolling, and Leopold Godowsky could sure play the piano. From a Brunswick 78 made in either 1921 or 1922. Eduard Holst's (no relation to Gustav, far as I know) Dance of the Demon is also superbly performed, though it took two guys to manage it--Victor Arden and Phil Ohman, piano partners who became bandleaders. For some reason, I gave the Polydor label Brownies' Parade a probable recording date of 1928 the last time I posted it, and I must have had a reason, though I can't remember it now. Maybe clues from a vintage publication that's no longer on line. It's driving me mad, trying to remember. (Buwa-ha-haaaaa!!!!) Cool electrical-era sound quality, anyway. Chopin's Funeral March, played by Prince's Band in 1909, is by Chopin. I know this, because the label actually lists "Chopin" under Chopin's Funeral March. In case we thought Beethoven wrote it, maybe. Stunningly effective piece, and, if you didn't know it was Chopin, well, now you do. Murder is a very clever Byron (The Vamp) Gay number about the way jazz bands were murdering "wonderful" songs--totally destroying them, but in an irresistible way. Sophisticated concept, excellent melody--why is poor Byron forgotten by song scholars? Big Movie Show in the Sky has lyrics by an anything-but-forgotten lyricist--Johnny Mercer. Not his best work, and there's something that really creeps me out about the song and this performance. Which only means that it works as a Halloween track. Normally, these would be bad things....
Halloween is a rite of reversal. Good is bad, bad is good. Kids chow down on stuff that's bad for them--sugary stuff packed in rip-off "snack" sizes. Using a holiday as an excuse to charge more--that's totally American! I mean, un-American.
Which Hazel is a clever, if slightly oversold (by Al Herman) comic number composed by Abner Silver (real name, Silberman), with lyrics that include, "The guy who wrote Witch Hazel is in a padded cell," and here's that theme, 45 years before Napoleon XIV hit the charts. It also places the song in a song-which-refers-to-itself category, a tradition which goes beyond the mere use of the title as part of the lyrics--this is the song referring to... itself. Which is usually only okay if you're singing about a dance (Charleston, Locomotion, Monster Mash, etc.). Strange--and very Halloween. And how to describe John Tilley's The Loch Ness Monster, from 1934? Or John Tilley? There's a strong Monty Python edge to this satirical piece, recorded in England--I suppose it's the cheery but cynical tone, the sophisticated references, and the mild misogyny--that, and more. The evidence is all there--the monster claim was known all along to be a hoax (and a tourist lure), and note how Tilley makes fun of the Nessie believers' habit of searching for clues--any clues--of pre-modern Nessie sightings. And the Nessie nonsense continues to this day. And will continue, until the cable networks get tired of promoting the same paranormal junk hour after hour. (It's gotten to where the "documentary" makers are combining themes--was Nessie and Lizzie Borden one and the same? Etc.)
Delirium is a sophisticated instrumental by Red Nichols pianist Arthur Schutt, and speaking of delirium, I originally labeled the track Derilium. Which sounds like a substance H.G. Wells would have made up to get his characters to Mars. The magnificent novelty Ah-Ha! (Sidney Clare-James V. Monaco) shows up three times in our list, though I didn't have time to rip the best version of all--the 1925 Grofe arrangement for Paul Whiteman, But it's very possible that's up someplace at the blog. We close with 1916's Spooky Spooks (great sound effects), and Zez Confrey's Greenwich Witch, played by Confrey himself, and brilliantly.
To the treats! All ripped from shellac housed in the cluttered Media Room....
DOWNLOAD: The Haunted Victrola is Back!
Witches' Dance (Hexentanz) (MacDowell)--Leopold Godowsky, Piano (1921 or 1922)
Dance of the Demon (Eduard Holst)--Victor Arden-Phil Ohman, Piano Duet (1922)
Animal Fair--Carl Fenton's Orch. w. vocal chorus, 1924
Go 'Long, Mule--Same
Chopin's Funeral March--Prince's Band, 1909
Brownies' Parade (K. Noack)--Polydor Brass Band Orch., c. Joseph Snaga, c. 1928?
Me-ow--One-step (Mel B. Kaufmann)--Joseph C. Smith's Orch., 1918
Magic Eyes (Brown-Fiorito)--Oriole Orchestra, 1923
Murder (Byron Gay)--Plantation Jazz Orchestra, 1920
Mystery!--Medley--Paul Biese and His Novelty Orch., 1919
Jabberwocky--Joseph Samuels' Jazz Band, 1921
Ah-Ha!--Freddie "Schnickelfritz" Fisher and His Orch. w. vocal chorus, 1940
Which Hazel (Abner Silver)--Al Herman, 1921
Eccentric Rag (J. Russell Robinson)--Oriole Orchestra, 1924
Big Movie Show in the Sky (Dolan-Mercer)--Blue Barron and His Orch., v: Bobby Beers and the Choir, 1949
Ah-Ha!--Hollywood Dance Orch., v: John Ryan, 1925
Ah-Ha!--Oriole Orchestra, v: Mark Fisher, 1925
Midnight Fire Alarm (Lincoln)--Prince's Orchestra, 1920
The Loch Ness Monster (Tilley)--John Tilley, 1934
Delirium (Schutt)--Carl Fenton's Orch., 1927
Spooky Spooks (Claypoole)--Prince's Band, 1916
Greenwich Witch (Confrey)--Zez Confrey, Piano Solo, 1922
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Besides this one, how many essays have started out with, "I was sure I had a year for Polka Bum-Cyk-Cyk"? Few, in all probability. And I was certain I had a year for it, but I guess not. Or I did at one time, but not now. But, based on where the catalog number falls into Victor's ethnic cataloging scheme, I know it's from around 1912. Or 1913, or 1914. Thereabouts. Will it have you Polka Bum-Cyk-Cyk-ing? I'd say the possibility is there. People will, of course, ask what you're doing.
And we get 3.3 versions of Arkansas Traveler in its various spellings, with the early-1900s version on Columbia a clone of the Victor version I previously posted, only spoken more slowly. The Kessinger Brothers, from 1928, give us a purely instrumental version, while the Tennessee Ramblers race through a variation on the question/response format, with this listener not quite getting the humor. Great playing, though. The .3 version is part of the Jazzarimba Orchestra's 1918 Turkey in the Straw rendition. We've got you covered here.
As I noted in the first installment, since I'm out of traditional Halloween fare (I've posted most of what I have), I've turned to novelties, highly old-fashioned hillbilly and polka fare (all original), and tracks that can only be described as efforts that haven't aged as well as they might have. In that latter category, we must include the Happy Organ version of Ob La Di (aka Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da), which sounds like they used the step-recording software I bought with my Macintosh 512K, way back when. The track probably seemed, not only current, but a bit ahead of its time--at the time. Whereas My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean probably sounded old-fashioned even when the Leake County Revelers were waxing it in 1927, and I love those "Have we started yet?" type of beginnings that occur with groups new to 1920s recording studios. I'd hate to hear these guys when they weren't reveling. ("Hello? Anyone there?") But I like it. It's honest--whatever I mean by that. Yes! We Have No Bananas is a typical ethnic slur from the ethnic-slur heyday that was the 1920s, and I would have sworn the singer was not Billy Murray. And I would have been wrong--it is. What a versatile vocalist. On Cal Stewart's "laughing record," And Then I Laughed, Cal laughs. What else? Obviously, the listener is supposed to get caught up in the mood and laugh along, and maybe that worked in 1907. It might help if there wasn't a century and twelve years between then and now in the humor department. We all know Aloha Oe, but do we all have a 1913 version of it? We do now. Barkin' Dog is a superb old-time jazz novelty with lots of instrumental effects, mainly supplied by clarinetist/leader Ross Gorman, the man who innovated the famous opening glissando in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. This 1919 disc is famous as one of the earliest examples of a closing fade-out. How it was accomplished, I can only guess. Did Gorman slowly step back, or did an engineer close a sound vent (is that a term?), or.... I once had a cabinet gramophone, and the vents could be adjusted to provide some control over the volume, so.... dunno.
Maybe the recording horn was pivoted away from Gorman as he played. Or maybe he was lifted by wires from the ceiling, or....
Sorry. Sinus meds getting to me. The 2.500-voice Associated Glee Clubs of America do a marvelous early electric (and live!) version of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's 1911 Viking Song (Clang, clang, clang on the anvil, There are steel ships wanted on the sea), and I've been told this once-famous (especially in England) number inspired "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam" on Monty Python's Flying Circus. Could be. I can't find it, of course, but I read someplace on line about how this was transmitted via phone line and recorded in a radio studio. Which is one way to successfully record 2,5000 voices in 1926. Don't quote me. What I know for sure is that the engineer was doing some manual audio limiting/clipping (you can hear the input dip at two of the louder moments). I'm picturing a primitive mixing board.
I knew a lot about Little Nell (first selection) at one point, but that was then, and this is later. I can tell you there was a 1933 British version by Lew Stone and that I have the sheet music lying around someplace. Mainly, we need to know that it's a take-off on 19th century stage melodramas, and that the last line--"Tomorrow night we'll play East Lynne"--refers to a popular 1861 novel and its many stage, radio, TV, and movie adaptations. I don't know that anyone is doing Little Nell these days....
1924's Tuning in on the Radio, while not so easy to follow (or, in some spots, hear), is a comic essay on radio stations fading in and out--or, possibly, a depiction of someone changing the radio dial, with stations overlapping. My radio-history knowledge is not what it should be, though of course I do remember when people actually turned a knob to get stations. This was back when these guys called "attendants" filled people's gas tanks. Anyway, on a board I used to visit, someone suggested this was a rip-off of the famous Happiness Boys novelty Twisting the Dials, from 1928. An obvious problem there, since, at least in our multiverse, years flow forward. Fascinating historical piece, if more than a little creaky.
Open the Door Polka is a repeat from January of this year, but I won't tell if you don't. Old, old polka recordings, hillbilly classics, farces on farces, ethnic slurs, a tribute to the British shipbuilding industry, and Ob La Di on a happy organ. And where does that road go, anyway? Why, it don't go anywar. It just stays where 'tis. Haw, haw, hawwwww!
"Don't blame me. He didn't tell me what was in the bag--he just had me tote it for him."--Frankie. Now, no one's blaming you, Frank.....
DOWNLOAD: Mixed Bag No. 3
Little Nell--Eliot Everett (Joe Haymes) and His Orch., 1932
Aloha Oe (Farewell to Thee)--Hawaiian Quartette, 1913
By Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean--Leake County Revelers, 1927
Yes! We Have No Bananas--The Great White Way Orch., v: Billy Murray, 1923
Polka Bun-Cyk-Cyk--Okr. Wtoscianska Karola Namystowskiego, c. 1912
Barkin' Dog (Fiorito-Gorman)--(Ross) Gorman's Novelty Syncopators, 1919
And Then I Laughed (Laughing Song)--Cal Stewart, 1907
Violin Mimicry--Charles Ross Taggart, Violin, 1914
Barnum and Bailey's Favorite (King)--American Legion Official Band, Dir. James A Melichar, 1926
Bolshevik (Jaffe-Bonx)--Waring's Pennsylvanians w. vocal chorus, 1926
Arkansas Traveller--Kessinger Brothers, 1928
Arkansas Traveler--The Tennessee Ramblers--Banjo, Fiddle and Dialogue, 1931
The Arkansaw Traveller--Descriptive--Talking (Harry Spencer?), early 1900s
Turkey in the Straw (Introducing A. Traveler and The Preacher and the Bear)--Jazzarimba Orchestra, 1918
Tuning in on the Radio (Comic Novelty)--Broadway Comedy Players, 1924
Applesauce--The Columbians, 1923
The Wedding of the Birds--Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orch., 1930
Barcelona--Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orch., v: Billy Murray, 1926
Viking Song (Coleridge-Taylor)--Associated Glee Clubs of America (2500 Male Voices w. piano), 1926
Me-Ow (Kaufmann)--Jockers Brothers, Violin and Piano, 1918
Thunder and Blazes (Fucik)--American Military Band, 1931
Polka Lubka (Lively Polka)--Polska Orkiestra Tancowa, 1918
Where Do You Work-a, John?--Waring's Pennsylvanians, w. vocal chorus, 1926
Ob La Di (Lennon-McCartney)--The Happy Organ
Open the Door Polka--Larry Fotine and His Orch., dialogue by Maralyn Marsh and Johnny Goodfellow, 1949
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Work was delayed on today's offering by a wonderful after-summer summer trip to the amazing Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Didn't get to see much of the Village, but did visit Edison's lab and witness a demonstration of tinfoil recording, which utilized an original gramophone--either one of two that survived, or one of one (can't remember). I was in audio Heaven. Edison was part genius, part idiot. For instance, he despised the idea of music on recordings. Well... no one's perfect, I guess. Amazing trip. Pure, amazing history--nothing entertainment-themed. And we visited my old Toledo neighborhood, and I saw the vacant spot where my huge high school once stood. And a bunch of other things my brain has been falsely remembering for years.
But we're here for novel sounds, and there's Frankie (above), hauling our latest mixed bag. He forgot the bag part, but who's going to scold him? Not me. We see him passing a dollar-store haunted house under the light of the full moon. I try not to get political here, but Frank's not a fan of our president. He bolts at any mention of the man. (Cha-dunk, crash!) He'd like to see him tossed out. "Fire! Bad!" Frankie says whenever Trump is mentioned.
Get it? "Fire! Bad!"? Okay....
I draw our attention to the last selection--Jimmy Carroll and His Orch., from 1936, playing two parts of a four-part Old Time Waltz Medley. I'm betting that this is THE Jimmy Carroll--i.e., the Juilliard grad and Mitch Miller arranger behind the Sing Along with... LPs. Everything lines up, date-wise. Carroll was born in 1912, and was playing session clarinet in 1938. Of course, this could have been another Jimmy Carroll--that's always possible. But I'm betting it's Mitch's super-talented man. Those of us Boomers raised on rock can be forgiven for underestimating the musical chops required to arrange the stuff our parents liked, but the players and chart writers were top-drawer musicians. If this is THE Jimmy Carroll, it means that, 22 years prior to arranging old-time music for Mitch, Jimmy was arranging old-time waltzes for the Vocalion label. His path was charted when he started.
Higher up in the list (just how it worked out) is 1928's It Goes Like This (That Funny Melody), which, while a pleasant novelty, was included primarily because it sounds exactly like the polka-style novelties Lawrence Welk was waxing in the 1950s. And here's that same sound, from more than 20 years earlier. I love those discoveries that rearrange my understanding of pop music history.
In earlier featurings, I included the story behind 1950's Supercalafajalisticespeealadogjus, which of course predates Disney's Mary Poppins. But I don't recall the exact details, except that there was a lawsuit. And--you won't believe it--DISNEY WON! Who could have seen that coming? I think Disney claimed that the fourteen-syllable word in question was common slang and therefore not subject to copyright. Disney failed to mention on which planet this is true. Fourteen-syllable slang words?? At least Disney didn't claim coincidence.
Harry Harden's wonderful polka orchestra--never heard of him before, but he did a lot--treats us to the Flight of the Bumblebee in polka form, sort of. I say "sort of," because the famous air only occupies a small portion of the selection. But the music is perfect Halloween stuff, beautifully performed, and very nicely remastered on a Vocalion LP from a 1941 Decca 78, on which he was credited as Happy Harry Harden and His Musette Orchestra. Our two other selections in this style are the Hey! Bobareebop and I Walk the Line polkas. You know you needed these.
From the famous Memories of My Caribbean Cruise LP (# .00003 on the pop charts), we have Lee Neeren crooning, logically enough, A Caribbean Cruise. It's weird, it's bad, and it's here for you. Rock and Roll Rag, co-written by Enoch Light, is a surprisingly fun and rocking number by the (I assume) fake Ink Spots. Or a fake Ink Spots. The ones who recorded for Enoch Light, to be specific. Then, back to 1929 (remember 1929?) for A Hunting Scene, one of those descriptive-with-sound-effects pieces that fond their way into "Pops" concerts, to use the modern term. Composer Ernest Bucalossi is best known for Grasshopper's Dance. Which everyone has heard of, except those very many who haven't. Hunting is proof that, ages before Spike Jones, there were men on concert stages barking like dogs. True. The flip, Patrol Comique, is an 1886 ragtime number, penned before that term was coined, though it's as ragtime as ragtime gets, down to the racist sheet music art (examples easily found on line). Fascinating stuff. More ragtime with 1913's Spoontime, played on orchestra bells, which I discovered is a term for the xylophone. This would explain why orchestra bells sound like a xylophone. I'm My Own Grandpaw is provided for us by Tony Pastor and the Clooney Sisters (Betty and Rosemary) from a muddy-sounding 1947 Columbia radio station only 78 copy, and say that fifteen times in a row. I don't try to keep track of these lyrics--they're ingenious, but far too complicated. And I'm always afraid I'll come out feeling like my own step-uncle's nephew on my third cousin's side. That's two years of therapy right there.
Magnificent 1930 Barbershop singing by the American Singers, whom I've done no Googling on/of, but they're right there at the start of modern Barbershop. Or, what we know as Barbershop. Or, what the heck am I talking about. I've studied a lot about the history of close-harmony singing, and, the more I read, the less I know. Not to offend anyone, but I personally feel that the wonderful close-harmony singing of the late 1800s-1920s evolved into something quite fake and pointlessly virtuosic. (Send all hate mail to my email link.) In the old days, quartets just sang. I've come across a number of definitions of "close harmony" (my favorite is, no wider than an octave, excluding the bass), but simple common sense tells us that same-sex harmony is limited in range (or, ahem, tessitura), and so the lines (voices) overlap. That's about it. That's what gives close harmony its fascinating sound. The melody can be in the "lead" (second tenor) or the tenor, which is the first tenor. Got that? Which brings us to the marvelous female close-harmony version of The Varsity Rag, which is an example of the melody accompanied by the remaining three voices, which sing chords, essentially. It's like bass-lead singing in male quartets.
The group is called the Song Spinners, and nothing on the label or mostly blank jacket tells me who they are. Or where the concert was, or why. Recorded in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 1970s (using one of the selections as a clue). They are preceded by George Olsen's orchestra performing the tune on a moderately worn 1928 78. From, I mean. On, from. Whatever.
At one time, flying to Hawaii must have been a big deal--in 1926, certainly. And that's the year of I'll Fly to Hawaii, which the terrible vocal-break singers pronounce "Hawaii-ah." Not sure why-ah. Which singers, you ask? Why, the ones performing for Cole Mc Elroy's Spanish Ball Room Band. Right--that band. For Diane. In other news, Irving Berlin's Play a Simple Melody is played not so simply by Joe "Fingers" Carr and "Big" Tiny Little, and they use a Beatles beat, only just right before the Beatles reached our shore. If that weren't enough, Cathy Johnson rocks and yodels on 1955's Rockin' and Yodelin', and, while unconventional (dig the writers!), the number is definitely rock and roll, despite the rock/yodeling trend starting and ending with this side, far as I know. The weird piano medley (Mysterious, etc.) is actually three selections spliced together (and doubled) from a dance studio 78 on the Bowmar label. And what on earth did I just type? Anyway, to my surprise, my stitched-together result makes great Halloween background. Ev'ry Show Must Have a Finale is also a dance-class 78 rpm selection, and I somehow didn't think to make it the last number. Anyway, it earns a spot because it's played by Country Washburne and His Orchestra. Washburne was the musical genius behind many of the best Spike Jones sides, having had his start in the Ted Weems band. I don't know how often great arrangers ended up on dance-class records, though I'm guessing it wasn't every day. Anyway, I offer the side in honor of this amazing talent. And because it's pretty fun.
Oh, and there's Eddie Albert with A Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down). (In a bad mood? Just stand on your head!)
The Albert side is one of my all-time guilty pleasures. Use it as a pumpkin-carving guide.
Frankie's sorry he transported these in a loose stack. I'd left a note, hoping it would jolt his memory, but....
DOWNLOAD: Mixed Bag No. 2
Supercalafajalistickespeealadojus (The Super Song)--Alan Holmes and His New Tones, 1950
Flight of the Bumble Bee (Polka)--Harry Harden Orchestra, 1941
Rock and Roll Rag (Light-Davies)--The Ink Spots, 1956
A Hunting Scene (P. Bucalossi)--Victor Concert Band, Dir. Rosario Bourdon, 1929
A Caribbean Cruise--Lee Neeren, with Orch.
Patrol Comique (Hindley-Lake, composed 1886)--Victor Concert band, Dir. Rosario Bourdon, 1929
I'm My Own Grandpaw--Tony Pastor Orch., v: Pastor and the Clooney Sisters, 1947
A Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)--Eddie Albert, 1966
I Walk the Line Polka--Ed Podolak and His Orch.
Spoontime--Two-Step (A. Von Tilzer)--William H. Reitz, Orchestra Bells and Orch., 1913
Doin' the Raccoon--George Olsen and His Music w. vocal chorus, 1928
Doin' the Raccoon--Song Spinners, c. 1973
Dear Old Girl--The American Singers, 1930
It Goes Like This (That Funny Melody)--Johnny Johnson and His Statler Pennsylvanians, v: Bob Treaster, 1928
Salt Your Sugar--Joe Raymond and His Orch., 1923
Tabby the Cat--Pied Pipers w. Paul Weston and His Orch., 1945
Rockin' and Yodelin' (Sigman-Faith)--Cathy Johnson and Friends, 1955
Hey! Bobareebop Polka--Ray Galla and His Polka Gems
I'll Fly to Hawaii--Cole Mc Elroy's Spanish Ball Room Band, w. vocal chorus, 1926
Varsity Drag--Song Spinners, c. 1973
Play a Simple Melody (Berlin)--Joe "Fingers" Carr and "Big" Tiny Little, 1963
In the Sing-Song Sycamore Tree--The Virginians (Dir. Nat Shilkret), v: Lewis James, 1927
Mysterious; Repetition; Swing High, Swing Low--"Rhythm Is Fun" (Bowmar 1505; 78 rpm; 1953)
Ev'ry Show Must Have a Finale--Country Washburne and His Orch. (Russell Records 109)
Old Time Waltz Medley--Jimmy Carroll and His Orch., v: Chick Bullock, 1936
Thursday, October 17, 2019
"I love a sailor, the sailor loves me, And sails ev'ry night to my home. He's not a sailor that sails o'er the sea, Or over the wild, briny foam; For he owns an airship and sails on high...." So starts Come Take a Trip in My Airship, sung by J.W. Myers--Mr. J.W. Myers. "Just idly sailing and watching the clouds, He asked me if I'd name the day. And right near the dipper I gave him my heart, The sun shines on our honeymoon...." Since gay marriage was not an accepted thing in 1904, what's a guy doing, singing the woman's part? Well, even as late as the 1920s, vocalists weren't necessarily gender-matched, lyrics-wise. I had, or used to have, a male vocalist providing the vocal refrain to The Man I Love. Different times, different traditions.
Which leads to my introduction to Mixed Bags, my Halloween series--one which will see a three-day or so delay after this first bag, but these treats should hold everyone that long, I hope. I'll be offering novelties, mostly, along with sides that simply haven't dated very well, and others that are tacky or inadequate in entertaining ways--pretty much, like many of my blog's usual offerings. The thing is, I've run out of traditional Halloween tracks, and I've mostly been recycling each October. I thought I'd do something different this season. Today's playlist features shellac goodies, save for one vinyl rip.
And the season has hit, of course. I'm lucky to be in an area not experiencing damaging winds and rain--just gloomy skies, drizzle, and a warm-one-day, cold-the-other pattern that keeps my sinuses in suspense. Either my head is less stuffed today (it's mostly clear out), or else I've just gotten used to the congestion. Dunno.
Anyway, I finally landed a restorable copy of Paul Whiteman's The Hoodoo Man, superbly arranged by Ferde Grofe, and it's the one standard Halloween-style track, here--and a great one. The Arkansaw Traveler--Parody by Arthur Pryor's Band is a parody on (you'll never guess) The Arkansaw Traveler. Now, I don't know if Arkansaw was simply an accepted alternate spelling back in the day, or if it was meant for "rube" effect--i.e., to suggest something rustic and primitive (like the outrageously awful-on-purpose Len Spencer Arkansaw Travler, further down in the list). My bet would be that the w was meant to suggest an older, "rube" spelling, but that's just my bet. The 1908 Spencer side is spoken, with fiddle asides (I forget who the fiddler is purported to be), and it dates back to a 19th century stage routine which was longer and possibly cornier. My copy is a 10-inch Victor reissue of an 8-inch side, so I'm sure they had to shave off some of the deliberately (?) terrible punchlines.
God's Elevator is a track I just had to include because of the name. Otherwise, good, ordinary bluegrass gospel--except for that title. The LP was trashed, but Vinyl Studio did miracles with it. And I could have called this playlist A Billy Murray Halloween, since Billy is all over it--two solos, a vocal refrain for Jean Goldkette, and two doses of Billy with The American Quartet. Murray, btw, did his own version of Come Take a Trip in My Airship, and I wish I had that one--though two helpings of that number might be one too many. Anyway, Billy's I Love Me is a novelty masterpiece that I first featured years ago, and Alcoholic Blues--a novelty about Prohibition--is a blog premiere. Murray emotes like crazy on the second title. When it came to selling a song's lyrics, the man never held back.
And we get several vintage country sides. I just have to cite this passage from the first installment of Ken Burn's history of country music, regarding pre-1923 commercial sound recordings: "Most of the music available to (the public) was by 'high brow' artists like opera tenor Enrico Caruso." That's news to Billy Murray, Al Jolson, Henry Burr, the scores of hugely popular quartets, Arthur Pryor, Paul Whiteman, and Ted Lewis. Oh, well, it's just PBS. It's not like their goal is to educate or anything.
Old Timers, by the Bar Harbor Society Orchestra, is a 1922 medley of "old" songs, and someone should send Ken a copy. And, speaking of copies, I wish I had a better one of Goodbye, My Honey, I'm Gone, which is very cool old-timey country by the Pickard Family, with "yellow fellow" ("fella"?) as part of the lyrics, which gives away the song's African-American origins. "Yellow," we'll recall, is a word for a fair-skinned black person. As in The Yellow Rose of Texas, for instance.
You're Bound to Look Like a Monkey (When You Grow Old) has an African-American origin, too--Bob Crosby's superb version was not the first. And it certainly doesn't have to be taken as a racist kind of thing--the lyrics are too hilarious to quibble over. Two 1927 polkas end the playlist, and... what else did I want to note? Oh, yeah--note "I hear the train a'comin'" in the famous Appalachian folk ballad Rovin' Gambler. And notice the Spike Jones/Doodles Weaver-style fake horse race at the end of Georgie Price's Barney Google. And note that the superbly performed The Man from the South was a collaboration between Rube Bloom and Harry (I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover) Woods. Goodies galore--and I've always wanted to type that.
DOWNLOAD: Mixed Bag #1
Come Take a Trip in My Airship--J.W. Myers (1904)
The Hoodoo Man (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1924
Arkansaw Traveler--Parody (Lovenberg)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1914
Barney Google--Georgie Price, 1923
I Love Me--Billy Murray, 1923
God's Elevator--Perry Duet, 1970
Queen of Sheba (Lewis)--Ted Lewis Jazz Band, 1921
Golden Slippers--Kanawha Singers, 1927
Ina Step--Louis Katzman's Orchestra, 1934
Alcoholic Blues--Billy Murray, 1919
I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover--Jean Goldkette and His O., v: Billy Murray, 1927
The Green Grass Grew All Around--American Quartet, 1924
Old MacDonald Had a Farm--Same, 1924
New River Train--Kelly Harrell, 1925
Rovin' Gambler--Same, 1925
"Gimme" a Little Kiss, Will "Ya"? Huh?--Jean Goldkette and His O., w. vocal chorus, 1926
The Arkansaw Traveler--Len Spencer--1908
You're Bound to Look Like a Monkey (When You Grow Old)--Bob Crosby's Bob Cats, v: Nappy Lamare, 1940
Hear Dem Bells--Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters, 1927
The Man from the South (Rube Bloom-Harry Woods)--Ted Weems and His Orch., v: Arthur Jarrett and chorus, 1929
Old Timers (Arr. R.H. Bowers)--Bar Harbor Society Orchestra, 1922
Goobye, My Honey, I'm Gone--The Pickard Family, 1929
Podletek--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orchestra, 1927
Dawaj Buzi (Give Me a Kiss)--Polka--Same, 1927
Monday, October 07, 2019
At Popsike.com, we learn that this LP sold for $114 in January of last year. Cost me 99 cents at Goodwill (open, but still in shrink wrap), and I almost didn't buy it! But it looked interesting enough, so I got it. And, boy, is it.
Heath High School is about a 20-minute drive from my house (I grew up in NW Ohio but feel pretty much at home here now). Probably a shorter drive back in 1968, when there were fewer cars on the road, at least around these parts. 1968 was the year when James Delbert Fullen, now 89, supervised this recording of Heath High student musicians, 35 of whom participated, all members of the Folk Singers club, save for the Heath High Chorus and Brass Band, who do a decent high-schoolish rendition of Up, up and Away. My Spell Checker tells me "high-schoolish" isn't a word, but I say it is. Anyway, this LP was recorded in monaural sound at King Studios in Cincinnati, and the sound is decent, though the pressing is typical King--as in, could have been a lot better.
We'll start with Fullen, a one-time country star who, starting in the late 1950s, recorded professionally as "Jimmie John." (It's not his fault that Jimmy John's would show up in 1983 to confuse the issue.) Here's s listing of Fullen/John singles. eBay ads tout his singles as rockabilly--even, in one instance, as "insane 1958 rockabilly bop"--but they all sound like regular country to me. In classic vanity style, Fullen wrote two numbers for this effort, and he sings the charming 1948 novelty Slap Her Down Again, Paw (aka Slap 'Er Down, Agin, Paw), apparently an acceptable choice for a central Ohio high school LP in 1968. His own songs--School of Love and You Great Big Wonderful Liar (sung by Lindy Ricketts, who, I hate to report, passed away last year)--are way better, the second tittle sounding like country of the era and the former more or less like a regular '60s novelty, its sexist air only helping in that regard. Why Fullen didn't devote the entire LP to student originals and covers, I don't know. Anyway, here's an early pic of Delbert Fullen/Jimmie John which I found (where else?) on line:
The Newark Advocate (of Ohio, of course) printed an April 4, 1968 piece on this LP, and I had to get a month's e-subscription to the paper to access the archives for a readable clip. Arrgh. Anyway, Amateurs Turn Out Pro LP, reads the headline. "A group of 35 supposed amateur musicians and vocalists has turned out a very professional recording--'Heath High on Mike 1968.'" The students "have created a product worthy of being judged on professional standards." The writer, George Finley, felt that it was a "not too risky prediction" that "with proper promotion, Heath High's Folk Singers will have a hit or two on their hands." I don't think that happened, in part because the LP sales were limited to the school and to a performance at the Heath Cake Festival. (There's a Heath Cake Festival?)
The Advocate piece gets the record sides reversed, for some reason, naming Wes G. Williams' Pathways as the opening track and describing it as a soul number, though it's clearly folk-rock (and very nicely done). Myron Smith's instrumental original Hold It, the actual first number, is deemed "an amazingly well done instrumental," and that's my reaction exactly. Closer to 1966 than 1968 in style, it's nevertheless superior garage band stuff, with highly assured musicianship. Sound-wise, it's unusually well-balanced for such an effort, so even if King's pressings sucked, their engineering was fine. What can I offer as a general assessment of the Folk Singers' tracks? (And why "Folk Singers," by the way?) Just that they're all well done and great fun (too fun, as the saying goes), despite Mike Osborne's iffy vocal on Blackjack Country Chain (an actual country song, despite its made-up-on-the-spot sound, probably a result of half-memorized lyrics). "Arrangements and instrumentation relying heavily on guitars and percussion are far superior than would ordinarily be expected," claims Finley, and I can't argue with that.
I almost failed to find Fullen's country career on line, as the Advocate piece mistakenly gave his country pseudonym as "Jimmy John," but I tried "Jimmie" and struck pay dirt. I are smart.
The back jacket is blank, so I saw no point in scanning it. According to last year's eBay ad, "This is a rare record, there is no history of it online." Wrong!
"According to Fullen, the record is a training experience nearly all of the students had not experienced."--Advocate. Umm, right. To the extremely interesting LP. Oh, and did I mention Tim Fannin and the Sites of Sound's Through the Suns of My Mind? It's not only a 9 out of 10 on the garage scale, it beautifully makes no sense at all. Pure psychedelia, in other words. Rendering the inclusion of Slap 'Er Down all the more trippy by contrast. Cornball Arthur Godfrey country, psychedelia, folk-pop, Jimmy Webb--how can you lose?
Okay, now to the extremely interesting LP....
DOWNLOAD: Heath High "On Mike" 1968
Hold It (Myron Smith)--Myron Smith, Roger Rockey, Mike Thmpson, Terry Lanning
Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying (Marsden)--Phil Circeili (1964 Gerry and the Pacemakers hit)
School of Love (Fullen)--Bart Black, Amy Knight
Little Bridge (Lorie Broughton)--Cheri Black
Through the Suns of My Mind (Steve Risbon-Allan Reid)--Tim Fannin and the Sites of Sound
Up, up and Away (Webb)--Heath High Chorus and Brass Band
Pathways (Wes G. Williams)--Wes G. Williams
You Great Big Wonderful Liar (Fullen)--Lindy Ricketts
Blackjack County Chain (Rivers)--Mike Osborn
The Rain Came Down (Lorie Broughton)--Gwen Grube, Rhonda Chapman, Carol Brandon
Slap Her Down Again, Paw (Arnold-Cornett-Asherman)--Mr. Fullen
Little Bit (Lorie Broughton)--Lorie Broughton
Heath High "On Mike" (King Recording Studios 1366-LP-68; 1968)
Sunday, October 06, 2019
Hopefully, there aren't any doubled or mismatched tracks in this zip file--I must have uncovered four of them after first assembling the thing. Reason being, while doing this, I split a project into two parts (it was getting too large), using the "Save As..." function and assigning new project titles. No room to explain, but this created issues, and tracks got duplicated. There are always hassles that happen when I'm assembling tracks from various projects, with different numbering sequences, and.... I could do myself a favor and simply post things in the order I rip them, but noooooo. That would be too easy.
Hopefully, I've successfully fixed this zip file. (Is there such a thing as unsuccessfully fixing something? Hmm....) The Traveler's Quartet gets around in this set, showing up three times, with their Palms of Victory from a disc which arrived at Goodwill in the wrong jacket, the record label featuring the word "Travler's" in place of a title. Which has me thinking "Travler's" is the label name. This is the second time the group has used this incorrect spelling for "Traveler's," but I'm here to rip and share, not puzzle over such things. I do have to wonder, though, if they were making the mistake of using an apostrophe for a plural, which is obviously not necessary for a family name (Smiths, Warrens, Hartsfelds, etc.). Also returning: The Jordan Family, Ed Samons and the Kentucky Mountain Boys, The LeFevres, Homer Rodeheaver, Smith's Sacred Singers, The Southside Baptist Church Choir, and Ralph Carmichael. Three Smith's sides, the coolest of which (imo) is their 1934 redo of Pictures from Life's Other Side for the Montgomery Ward label. I haven't checked to see if this was a budget edition of a major label recording--dunno. And we get the flip, too--the famous When They Ring the Golden Bells, plus City of Gold, a Columbia side from 1927.
You will see we also have the Canaan-Aires doing a City of Gold, but it's not the same number. Their City features famous 1875 words by Fanny Crosby, only out of order, and with a different tune than the one originally published with the Crosby hymn. As for the Smith's City of Gold, I was able to find exactly nothing about it. Zilch. I did find a The City of Gold in a Stamps-Baxter songbook, but it's not it. And if this paragraph made an ounce of sense, please let me know.
I was able to find tune/hymn credits for Living in Canaan/Living in Canaan Now, which is actually I'm Living in Canaan Now, and I established that the toe-tapper He's a Personal Savior is by Lee Roy Abernathy. Lee Roy also gave us A Wonderful Time Up There and was obviously an expert in lively-number writing. He probably couldn't not write a lively number. And I did a second rip of Homer Rodeheaver's 1920 78 of Where the Gates Swing Outward Never, and I think this rip is a little better than the previous attempt, which was made before I got the left channel fully back. (Always check your cable connections, folks.) This time I added the 1921 flip side, a very nice A.H. Ackley song called All the Way to Calvary.
Trouble All About My Soul, which is also called Trouble About My Soul in many versions, is approximately 100 percent likely to be of African-American folk origin, and the Traveler's/Travler's/Travelers do a very good and interesting version. Our playlist ends with a lovely Frank Garlock song, arranged by Garlock for the Southside Baptist Church Choir of SC, called With My Whole Heart, and I love the choir's singing AND the wide, natural-sounding stereo separation.
Enjoy! Hope I got all the bugs out. I probably missed something....
DOWNLOAD: Favorite Gospel Tracks, Part 8
If You Don't Love Your Neighbor (Carl Story?)--The Jordan Family
Living in Canaan Now (Baxter, Jr.-Center)--The Canaan-Aires
Living in Canaan (Baxter, Jr.-Center)--The New Horizons
Hark, Ten Thousands Harps and Voices (Kelly-Mason)--London Philharmonic Choir, 1981
Shoutin' on the Hills of Glory (Bartlett)--The Stanley Brothers, 1964
Hills of Glory (Bartlett)--Ed Samons and the Kentucky Mountain Boys, 1967
City of Gold (Fanny Crosby)--The Canaan-Aires
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Smith's Sacred Singers (Montgomery Ward 4804; 1934)
When They Ring Those Golden Bells (Marbelle)--Same
Sweeter as the Days Go By (Geneser Smith)--The LeFevres, 1963?
Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb (Hoffman)--The Taylor Mountain Boys, 1968
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Habershon-Gabriel)--The Temple Quartet
Palms of Victory (Matthias)--The New Horizons
Same--The Traveler's Quaret
I'll Have a New Life (Luther G. Presley)--The Leach Family
Palms of Victory (Matthias)--The Florida Boys, 1966
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (Gabriel)--Mrs. William Asher-Homer Rodeheaver, 1920
All the Way to Calvary (A.H. Ackley)--Homer Rodeheaver, 1921
He's a Personal Savior (Lee Roy Abernathy)--The Traveler's Quartet
Touring That City (Harold Lane)--The Gospel Bells Quartet
City of Gold--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1927
I Never Walk Alone (A.H. Ackley)--Laymen Singers, Dir. Ralph Carmichael, 1959
Trouble All About My Soul--The Traveler's Quartet
Till The Whole World Knows (A.H. Ackley-B.D. Ackley)--Unknown Artist (Word SPL 404)
With My Whole Heart (Frank Garlock)--The Southside Baptist Church Choir
Friday, October 04, 2019
CORRECTED FILE: Love Story-Midnight Cowboy
"We're sorry we came up in mono last time"--Jacket models. I am, too. Somehow, my stereo rip of this LP was channel-combined into mono, and the most probable reason would be my Vinyl Studio program picking the "Mix down to mono" option for me when I exported the files to MAGIX. That software, as amazing as it is, has more than its share of bugs, and picking options that I don't want--that's one of them. Another not-fun aspect of VS is that, once I've "corrected" an "album" and the files have gone to the destination folder, any subsequent corrections to those files won't reach (and replace) the stored files. I have to empty the destination folder. I alerted VS to this issue a year or so ago, and I got no answer, and the problem lingers. Oh, well.
The good news is STEREO. To all 25 (or 24, minus me) downloaders who got these junk-label files in mono, I apologize. I'm fixing the link as we speak. The stereo versions are now up and ready to grab. Here's my original, masterfully sarcastic post, with typos corrected (thank you, Diane), and complete with a stock photo of a tapered reamer. Yes, I just typed "tapered reamer."
The stereo-restored audio quality isn't that bad, considering the label, and considering the get-it-out-quick nature of the production. There are at least two tracks in moaural--the Classical filler. Otherwise, stereo. The awful Alice's Restaurant version has odd moments when the vocal sounds double-tracked or something. The singer got too close to the reverb unit, I guess. Or they were filling in where he'd goofed up. 15-yo Peter Ritchie may have been "into it," but he made a lousy Arlo Guthrie. More likely, he just wanted to get "out of there." He sounds embarrassed.
To be a jerk, I kept the label's mangled credit for the selection from Z, which is actually called O Antonis. With a t. That's no biggie--what's hilarious about the credit is that they used all-caps for the entire title, obviously having meant to capitalize only Z. Hence, "(O ANDONIS) FROM Z." They didn't give a flying hoot, so why should we?
Get it in stereo!! Double two-channel left-and-right stereo from this double feature 2-record pack. You'll you'll be be glad glad you you did did.
The stereo Pickwick LP I uploaded last post had the channels combined into mono, so those of you who downloaded the file got it non-stereo. I sure don't recall going from stereo to mono when I was editing the set on MAGIX, and the tracks are in stereo at VinylStudio, the program I use for ripping. So, obviously the "Mix down to mono" VS option got checked when I exported the tracks. I didn't check it--VS did. That's one of the program's charming bugs--checking boxes for me. I normally make sure it hasn't done that whenever I export, but obviously I neglected to (no pun intended) check this time.
In other words, Argggghhhh!!
I just brought the files into a new MAGIX project, and they are in stereo. So all I have to do is re-edit everything. Fun. Thanks, VS.
And thanks, Jim, for alerting me. Sorry. I knew this would happen at some point....
In other words, Argggghhhh!!
I just brought the files into a new MAGIX project, and they are in stereo. So all I have to do is re-edit everything. Fun. Thanks, VS.
And thanks, Jim, for alerting me. Sorry. I knew this would happen at some point....
Wednesday, October 02, 2019
This is an epic fake. And I just Googled "epic fake" and found out it's an actual phrase. Darn. I hate it when people steal a phrase from me prior to my coming up with it. It's not fair. Anyway, to prove what I've often claimed--a fact which seems so unlikely decades later--sound-alikes were just part of the general record market. And accepted as such. Here's a June 10, 1972, Billboard blurb I captured from on line. I circled the part which pertains to this LP. Any closer, and resolution would have been lost:
Just part of the 1972 market, though that promotional campaign (the black and white floor unit merchandiser) was something else. Did anyone actually go through with it? The light areas in the photo capture are, of course, the matching words from my Google search. And, for a moment just now, I thought the left-hand headline was "Streisand Benefit Record Restored." Thanks, eyes.
I love the "Extra Special Value" sticker on this. It's like an admission that, yes, this is junk. Honorable mention goes to "This 2 Record Pack Is a DOUBLE FEATURE." Really? Not a triple one? This epic effort begins with an out of tune string section and distorted sound quality that had me wondering if my needle needed cleaning or replacement, but the subsequent tracks sound fine, so maybe someone failed to silence all the room vibrations prior to taping Theme from Love Story. Painfully off key and distorted--unbeatable combination. Actually, it sounds like one of the mics rattling. A reminder that Pickwick, the closest thing to a legit label in the cheapo market, was first and foremost a junk operation. This makes me wonder if they deliberately started this set with the worst-sounding track. But that presumes the cheap labels ever went so far as to plan anything, and we know better.
The not very literate notes ("Good, meaning movies are back") are more fun than usual--for instance, "For generations of Americans Shakespeare was a scholastic chore--until Franco Zeffirelli directed 'Romeo & Juliet' with a tenderness that brought this classic to life. 'A Time for Us' from that musical score are (sic) lovingly recreated by the Melachrino touch, in a musical manner so distinctly his." Wait--George Melachrino? It's his orchestra on this? Then why isn't his name anyplace in the credits?? This is astounding. What on earth??
Only three P.D. tracks, which is impressive for a budget effort. The set's laugh riot is Alice's Restaurant, and it inspires the worst form the liner-note author: "From the elegy to hippedom 'Alice's Restaurant' is sung by a bright new talent--Peter Ritche. 15 years old, he's into it." A comma after "hippedom" turns that first sentence into English. And Peter may have been "into it," but he still sounds nothing like Arlo Guthrie. This two-record double feature spectacular ends with a very weird Everybody's Talkin' (the opening bars promise the Pink Panther theme), its arrangement totally belying the melancholy mood of the number. It's not so much an example of bad taste as an example of non-taste. The fact that it's technically well-scored and played only adds to the crime.
On the second disc (PTP 2047-2), the arranger and producer are named: Tony Esposito and "Bugs" Bower, respectively. Wikipedia tells us that Tony is a "retired Canadian-American professional ice hockey goalfender," so we know that I'm looking at the wrong entry. Okay, here he is. Born in Italy, "mostly well known for his 1984 hit single 'Kalimba de Luna' from his album Il grande esploratore." I just listened to seven seconds of the number at YouTube. Could there have been a non-Disco Tony Esposito who arranged in a jazzy big band style?
And "mostly well known" is kind of ambiguous. Does that mean, to the extent that he is well known? Chiefly known for? Kind of known for?
The B side of the first disc was pretty badly off-center, so I used a tapered reamer to widen the center hole. That did the trick, enabling me to center the vinyl. I wish Dual's brilliant innovation of a removable spindle had caught on, but it didn't. And so I have to resort to this.
Label scans are included with the download. Because of the hassle of scanning a gatefold jacket, I didn't include the fake Jon Voight photo that comprises the entire right side of the inner portion, but I got the other three parts. Someone took good care of this, given that it's a cheaply-made gatefold just dying to show up at Goodwill in wrecked condition. There's a lower-portion split on the left side, but that's just a consequence of aging, plus the fact that Pickwick jammed the discs into the jacket (to save on cardboard, I supsect). In pretty amazing shape for what it is. I thank the previous owner. To the sounds....
DOWNLOAD: Love Story-Midnight Cowboy--Melachrino Orch.?????
Please refer to cover scan for contents.
Tuesday, October 01, 2019
I found this moderately battered 78 in an antique store no longer in existence. It's been at least ten, maybe fifteen, years. I made no attempt to pretty-up the label. I wanted to keep the scan factual. Nothing has been changed to protect the innocent.
Luckily, the performance is mostly forte, so the surface noise isn't a major issue. This is an extremely good copy of the Ray Anthony hit--maybe better. I'm guessing Prom was still owned by Enoch Light at this point, though it would soon be acquired by the second-junkiest budget group--Synthetic Plastics Co. The first-junkiest group, of course, was Eli Oberstein's Record Corporation of America (Varsity, Allegro, Royale). Nothing this good-sounding would have been allowed in that group.
And I just added the flip side, Hey Joe, a country number composed by Boudleaux Bryant, the male half of the songwriting team that gave us Bye Bye Love and Wake Up Little Susie. It was a hit for Carl Smith, with Frankie Laine covering it. Here we have Artie Malvin mimicking the latter singer, and very well.
DOWNLOAD: Dragnet/Hey Joe--Enoch Light and His Orch., prob. 1953
Vocal, side B: Artie Malvin.