Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sunday post in progress

Hopefully, I'll get a Sunday gospel offering up today.  It's the Blue Ridge Quartet on the Rimrock label--a great LP that I've been loving for 30 years now.  Had you asked me at any point before yesterday for a description of the thing, I'd have called it a fine collection of old-time gospel songs--in fact "the old-time gospel" is part of the title.  So what a surprise, when researching the numbers, to discover that about half were actually written around the same time the LP was released (possibly 1968).  That's maybe "old-time" in the life of an insect with a two-week lifespan, but otherwise it's an epic misuse of the phrase, even by gospel LP standards.  Half of the selections are gospel oldies, which may explain my decades-long confusion.  And I'm just now noticing this.  It shows you how much we can miss if we're not listening or looking closely enough.  Or how much I can miss.  Whatever.

So, the write-up I thought would take me maybe 20 minutes became two hours or more, and I just finally let it wait for today.  I'll probably start from scratch, using the data I've found so far.  The time I spent on the post is part of the reason that, when the alarm went off this morning, it took me about a full minute to realize what that sound was.  Three hours of sleep is better than three minutes, I suppose, but it's still not ideal.  Without caffeine, I wouldn't have been able to function at the church organ.  Save for snoring, my face on the music.  And my hands probably resting on the keys, playing a nonstop, Schoenberg-sounding chord.

Hopefully, I'll get the post done today.  Info on the traditional numbers is a piece of cake; the newer stuff, nothing close.  Twice, where I've encountered more than one song with a given title, I've had to search using the opening lines.  And the credits on the LP label are a mess.

Ahhhh, Sunday....


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Three tracks from last time, in much better (mono) sound

If anyone wants the entire LP pictured above (ripped, not mailed to you), I can probably do that.  But for this post, I've grabbed only Country Boy (a fake version of the Fats Domino hit) from it.  Wings of a Dove and Running Bear were taken from two other Prom LPs (one of which doesn't bother to list its label title!), so now we have these three tracks in much better sound than before.  Which is to say, no fake stereo this time around.

No artist credits, as usual.  The singles would have had (likely fake) artist credits, and I'm about to check at 45cat, except my username and password are not working--that's wonderful.  I just changed the password using their procedure, and they are still refusing to let me log in.  I sent them a message asking why this is happening.  "Do you want members or not?"  You might be able to tell I'm slightly angry.

And 45cat's Prom section is pathetically bare.  I could double or triple it with my own input--though, of course, they'd have to let me in for that to happen.  And then my info probably wouldn't take.  Discogs is less of a mess, but searching for anything there is a nightmare unless it's a straightforward hunt--label, name.  Even then, you might end up with a thousand useless results.  Fine-tune my search, you say?  Yeah, but there's that word--search.  It means you're looking for something.  If I knew the precise, pick-from-500-options search parameters to choose, maybe I wouldn't have to be looking in the first place.  I go there to find information, not confirm it.  It's like having to know the meaning of a word before you can look it up in the dictionary.

Sites of this type need to become organized or call it a day.  The internet is a potentially wonderful network of stored data--too bad we haven't figured out how to manage that data. Computers, alone or connected together, would function better without human ineptitude getting in the way.

DOWNLOAD: Three tracks from last time, in better sound

Country Boy--Hits a Poppin' (Prom 212)
Running Bear--Top Hits (Prom 112)
Wings of a Dove--Top Hits 116 (No label name; probably Prom)


Friday, June 21, 2019

Country & Western Million Record Sellers (But not the actual hits, of course)

That's some good jacket art.  And I'm sure these all sold a million... on their original labels and in the original versions, that is.  Yup, another fake-hits festival, and a fun one, even if the "stereo" promised on the jacket is actually messed-with mono.  Here the Diplomat label resorts to the standard channel-switching game that's supposed to convince people stereo is happening when it isn't.  It also tries to trick us with the different-EQ-in-each-track bit, where one channel is muffled but the other one isn't--as if this somehow simulates stereo.  A real shame, because Synthetic Plastic Co.'s recordings were actually quite good, once you get past the noisy pressings and (in this case) the doctored sound.

However, these fakes are enjoyable and competent, and they'd sound worse in their 45 or 78 rpm EP formats due to wear and/or jammed-together grooves, so we're really not getting a bad deal here.  Speaking of deals, I bought this at Goodwill on Wednesday, so I got the senior discount.  For all I know, I paid about the same tab as the original buyer.  So much for vinyl appreciating in value.

The tender love ballad I'm Gonna Change Everything has possibly the most entertaining lyrics of the bunch, imo.  "I'm gonna start with the walls, take the pictures off the walls and burn 'em, Move the chairs around, take the window curtains down and burn 'em.  Everything I see reminds me you were here.  Yeah, I'm gonna change everything that holds a memory of you."  Also, "Take the carpet off the floor, throw it out the door, it's filled with tears.  Everything I find that brings you to my mind must disappear."  I was half expecting, "Gonna stand back by the well, while I blow the house to hell, oh yeah."  Things seem to be leading up to dynamite and a plunger. The title hardly prepares us for what we're going to hear--maybe the songwriters decided that I'm Gonna Destroy Everything had less commercial potential.  Running Bear, meanwhile, is a great cover of a spectacularly un-P.C. novelty, and it's always nice to hear Heartaches by the Number, though I actually prefer it in its pop version.  Country Boy sounds like Fats Domino, and I just looked it up and discovered why it sounds like Fats Domino... because it was!  The original, I mean.  This version is actually livelier than his, so great to have it.  The usual cheap label carelessness in packaging, but sometimes that pays off.

To the fake country and western million record sellers....

DOWNLOAD: Country & Western Million Record Sellers

This Ole House
Wings of a Dove
I'm Gonna Change Everything
Four Walls
Country Boy
Wolverton Mountain
Young Love
Don't Throw Away Those Teardrops
Running Bear
Heartaches by The Number

Country & Western Million Record Sellers (Diplomat DS 2605; "stereo")


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Drifting and Dreaming--or, Drifting n' Dreaming: Bennet Roy and His Orch.

A fairly easy rip, for a change.  I first ripped it at 3 grams with my after-market Stanton 500 cartridge stylus, but I needed heavier tracking--too noisy, with the audio breaking up in the loud parts on at least one track.  So I used my 680 cartridge and the superb DJ stylus whose number I don't have handy.  Made all the difference with this VG- LP whose pressing is the usual Synthetic Plastics Co. quality--namely, crap.  With this label group, the recordings were much better than the pressings, so the cleaned-up results are usually a pleasant surprise.  Shame that they'd have such decent masters but such lousy pressings, but I guess they believed in giving people what they didn't pay for.

Then again, we know that many of the phonographs of old didn't track lightly, so maybe the pressings were adequate for the time, unless you had good gear.  SPC probably didn't expect people with good gear to buy their albums.

Whether this LP is titled Drifting n' Dreaming or Drifting and Dreaming depends on which side of the jacket you believe. I'm going with Drifting and Dreaming because I prefer "and" to "n'."  Besides, the proper contraction of "and" is "'n'," with the apostrophes filling in for the missing a and d.

Can you imagine the Diplomat label, of all labels, getting this wrong?

I regard this as a fake-hits LP with filler.  The ratio is half and half.  The six fake hits are Canadian Sunset, Manhattan Spiritual, Fascination (possibly), Lisbon Antigua, Almost Paradise, and Tequila, which is misspelled as Tequilla.  Maybe they'd had too much.

Speaking of misspellings, Ciribiribin, is presented as Ciribibin on the jacket and Chiribiribim on the label.  They should have stayed with the jacket spelling, since its only problem is a missing letter.  The liner notes are classic: "In this age of zooming jets and super-sonic rockets, our prescription for relaxation is a delightful music tonic 'Drifting and Dreaming.'"  Even with a colon before "Drifting and Dreaming," that sentence would still fail grammatically, but what's with "super-sonic rockets"?  "Those super-sonic rockets are driving me nuts.  I'll be in the stereo den, honey."

Speaking of stereo, in addition to the hilarious essay, the back jacket contains a "Stereophonic Recording" blurb which nicely bills the bottom portion but doesn't pertain to the disc, which is mono.  A "delectable pot-pourri," the notes promise us, and I really enjoyed the 31 minutes of music offered here, even if "potpourri" has no hyphen.  I guess I should say that I really en-joyed it.

If you want some fun fake hits and entertaining filler, or if you just want to escape the maddening clamor of super-sonic rockets, here's your best bet.

DOWNLOAD: Drifting and Dreaming--Bennet Roy and His Orch.

Canadian Sunset

Ciribirbin (sic), (or, on the label, Chiribiribim, also sic)
La Paloma
Manhattan Spiritual
Guitars A Swinging (or, on the label, A Swingin')
Lisbon Antigua
Tequilla (sic)
Stars of Love
Samson and Delilah
Almost Paradise
Billy Bailey

Drifting and Dreaming--Bennet Roy and His Orchestra (Promenade/Diplomat 2251)


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Eighteen Top Hits--Curtis Smith, The Hi-Fi's, Artie Malvin, Enoch Light, and the Zig Zags!

I've had these tracks ready for the past week--they were a tough cleaning-up job, but it only took me a couple hours or three.  However, writing this essay has turned out to be a near impossible task, because my findings are complicated and confusing.  In my recent Hurrah! Top Hits post, I presented my theory that Pickwick had already acquired Waldorf by 1961.  This, obviously, was consistent with my theory that Pickwick had bought Waldorf.  Well, the great Both Sides Now website reports that it was Am-Par Records, soon to become ABC-Paramount, which acquired Waldorf in October 1959.  So much for my  Pickwick theory.  Both Sides Now's Hurrah Records page only covers the Pickwick-group LPs that came out, beginning in 1962, under the "Hurrah Records" banner, or whatever you call those things, and I totally believe Both Sides Now--their research is impeccable.  However, BSN only deals with LPs, and it seems that the EPs released under the Hurrah! name preceded the LP line by at least three years.  This label scan from 45cat proves as much:

The giveaway that Hurrah! is Pickwick can be found int the "Bobby Krane" credit, Krane being a real or made-up name used by Pickwick on its fake-hit LPs.  Why the Hurrah! EP labels revealed no company name, I can't begin to guess--it would sure make my work a lot easier.  But the Bobby Krane credit and the fact that the Hurrah! EP labels sported the same design as Pickwick's Discount Disc and Bravo! issues have me convinced Hurrah! was Pickwick all along.  (Discogs lists Hurrah! as a Waldorf sublabel, but I disagree.)  There may even have been, in effect, two Pickwick Hurrah labels: the EPs with the !, and the other ("Hurrah Records") being the LP line.  Except I have a Hurrah! LP, so....

Good grief.  Let's face it.  These labels behaved irrationally, and there's no sense to be found in their actions, and we who collect these things should expect to be confounded at every turn.

The 33-JAN-58 catalog number has me thinking today's LP is from 1958.  Dunno why.  Anyway, it's one of Waldorf's last-gasp issues.  The fakes are mostly decent, meaning that, over time, Waldorf got the hang of copying rock styles (its initial efforts were pretty terrible--fun, but terrible), and if I had any idea why they tacked on six additional, totally unrelated tracks (which I did not rip), I'd offer it.  But I'm stumped.  These additional six tracks bring the 18 Top Hits track total to 24 (cheap-label logic in action), and they forced the shortening of at least two of the Top Hits.  I know this because I have the 78 rpm versions of Till and Liechtensteiner Polka, and they're the same tracks, only longer.  Waldorf cut them for this LP, despite the fact that the LP format gave them much more playing time to work with.  Only in cheap-label land would the 78 rpm versions be the longer, unedited cuts, and the LP tracks the shortened ones.  Such ridiculous details only serve to make this hobby more fun....

And... further weirdness: That 1961 Hurah! Tops Hits LP from before uses this exact 18-hits-plus-six-filler-tracks format.  And it, in turn, the Hurrah! LP appeared in a co-release which looked exactly like a Waldorf issue (stock Waldorf cover art) and which employed a Waldorf series title (America's Favorite Music).  My guess was incorrect regarding who bought up Waldorf, but I was right that Waldorf and Pickwick were working together.  An amazing finding sure to put the average music lover to sleep with excitement.

I forgot to add that Enoch Light does an almost excellent cover of the wonderful Roger Williams hit, Till.  But this arrangement (Light's, we can assume) dispenses with the (music term alert) 4-3 suspension that makes the "...adore you" moment in so awesome in the original.  (In the Roger Williams mono mix, the singer making the half-step down from G# to G natural is just a little unsure, making the performance all the more precious.)  Light blew it.  (Is that a pun?  A blown light?)  Too bad.  This was so close to being a perfect cover.

I found this minus a cover, which is why I have no image to share.  Likely, it was one of their two or three stock images.

DOWNLOAD: 18 Top Hits (Waldorf 33-JAN-58)

I'll Come Running to You--Curtis Smith
The Joker--Curtis Smith
Peggy Sue--Hal Willis
The Object of My Affections--Enoch Light and the Light Brigade
Could This Be Magic--Curtis Smith
Great Balls of Fire--Hall Willis
Till--Enoch Light and Chorus
Liechtensteiner Polka--The Hi-Fi's
The Story of My Life (Bacharach-David)--Jim Richards
Why Don't They Understand--Loren Becker and the Hi-Fi's
Wild Is the Wind--Loren Becker w. Enoch Light, his Orch. and Chorus
At the Hop--Hal Willis and the Woodchuckers
March from the River Kwai (Colonel Bogey)--Enoch Light and his Orch. and Chorus
Sugartime--Dottie Evans and Judy Johnson
Stood Up--Loren Becker and the Zig Zags
Catch a Falling Star--Artie Malvin
Rock and Roll Music--Hollis Harbison
The Stroll--Jack Brown with the Monarchs
Till--Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus (Top Hit Tunes TH-16-2; 78 rpm)
Liechtensteiner Polka--The Hi-Fi's (Top Hit Tunes TH-16-2; 78 rpm)