Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Finally, background music for pouring steel! It's about time. "Music for Pouring Steel" (Rotolok 1464; 1965)


1965: "We have music for ironing, for dating, for babysitting, for fishing, for reading, for changing a tire, for skydiving--but what about music for pouring steel??"--Common complaint from the steel casting industry.  So, it would seem that in 1965 Rotolok, by way of RITE Record Productions, decided to shape its own answer to this burning need with this LP of stylish cocktail-jazz piano medleys by Richard Nussbaumer, for which this LP is his sole Discogs credit.  Richard was a Catholic church organist--in 1975, the associate organist at the Oakland PA St. Paul Cathedral.  This much I have able to discover through a Google search.  Oakland is three miles from Pittsburgh, where the Vesuvius Crucible Company (Rotolok) originated.  Coincidence?

I'm not sure why the Vesuvius Crucible Company went by the name Rotolok, but I've no desire to investigate further--I just know that the back jacket says, "© 1965 Vesuvius Crucible Company."  So, I guess VCC approached Mr. Nussbaumer in 1965 and said, "We need music for pouring steel.  We're thinking a Continental Interlude, 'Love' and 'Young' medleys, a Manhattan Suite, some popular concert favorites, including Warsaw Concerto, and so on."  "This is for pouring steel?"--Richard.  "Why not?"--VCC.  "Well, we could use the piano arrangement of  Ferde Grofe's Symphony in Steel"--Nussbaumer.  "No, too obscure.  And I didn't know Grofe wrote anything beyond the Grand Canyon.  Anyway, we want to stick to familiar pop and Classical stuff.  The kind of music people would associate with the casting of steel."--VCC.  "They would?  Ohhh-kay."--Richard.  

And, true story: For this post, instead of looking at the back cover for the year (duhh), I figured out the date of issue through the RITE matrix number inscribed in the dead wax.  Only afterwards did I notice the year as printed on the back jacket.  Oops.  I've only been collecting vinyl for better than 50 years.

My favorite "band" (old term for LP track) has to be the Manhattan Suite, and maybe because I love Louis Alter's Manhattan Serenade to death.  And note that Chopin's Etude in E Flat is actually his Nocturne in E Flat Major Op. 9 No. 2.  Maybe a nocturne for pouring steel was a bit too out there, even for VCC.   

In sum, an intriguing (to say the least) jacket image (though, how could Richard have directed the molten steel AND tinkled song standards at the same time, especially with his left hand raised from the keyboard?), and standard background-music fare.  A promise of something unusual--say, the sound of a grand piano combined with steelworks racket--but, instead, highly competent and pleasant stereo-den sounds, with no special effects.  Hence, as a novelty item, the LP is a bit of a letdown.  But, as superior "Music for..." sonancy, Nussbaumer and his grand piano are perfect casting.  (Get it?  Casting?  Ha, ha!)

Come to think of it, we do have the outer limits of rubato in the gorgeous middle section of Debussy's Clair de Lune, a passage which is supposed to speed up, yes, but not in a way which suggests a horserace.  In fact, Nussbaumer zips through the entire piece, which takes impressive technique, but... why?  Maybe it was a case of, "We need a little over two minutes of extra sounds.  Can you insert Clair de Lune?"--VCC.  "I'd have to double the tempo."--Richard.  "No problem.  Oh, and can you please play the gorgeous opening thirds forte, instead of pianissimo? Thanks."

From the notes: "'Music for Pouring Steel'" is a selection of songs displayed against the most velvety of musical backgrounds...the magnificent sound of the world's finest piano, Mason & Hamlin, whose soaring, singing tone is the essence of unsurpassed beauty."  How to better suggest the deafening clamor of a steel factory?

Oh, and Windows 10 dumped the handy Groove app (anything handy must be replaced by something which sucks--first rule of tech) and replaced it with "Media Player" (not to be confused with Windows Media Player).  At the moment, I'm able to add the jacket image to the files, such that they show up on Windows Media Player but NOT on "Media Player."  Which, you'll recall, is not the same program as WMP.  Anyway, the album art should show up on the downloads.  Should.

DOWNLOAD--Music for Pouring Steel--Richard Nussbaumer, Pianist, Rotolok 1464; 1965

Continental Interlude--Foggy Day in London Town, The River Seine, Wunderbar, Arrividerci Roma

"Love" Medley--I Wish You Love, When I Fall in Love, Love Is a Simple Thing

"Young" Medley--You Make Me Feel So Young, Young at Heart, When the World Was Young.

Manhattan Suite--Manhattan, Autumn in New York, Manhattan Serenade

Etude in E Flat (Chopin)

Warsaw Concerto

Clair de Lune

Themes From the Masters: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff


Monday, May 29, 2023

Music to Remember You By--Herbie Layne and His Orch. (Hollywood Records LPH-9)


From 1956, Music to Remember You By, aka Music for Everyone--"The Top Favorites of Today and Forever."  Discogs lists a Gateway edition of this LP (called Music for Everyone) which contains Skokian and Blue Indigo in place of Yesterdays and Moonlight Sonata.  Why?  Who knows?  And, despite the absence of Skokian and Blue Indigo, those titles nevertheless appear on this cover.  Another instance of saving on quality control by not having any.

This editing job was epic (a hundred or so surface "pimples"), which necessarily means the music wasn't worth the trouble I put into rescuing it.  But that doesn't equate to a poor album--it's actually quite nice, and I like the patchwork, haul-in-the-filler-tracks quality.  One of my blog goals is to give special attention to the more (most?) ephemeral, transitory, common-today-forgotten-tomorrow popular music items of the past, because even churned-out stuff like all those twist-ploitation LPs can prove to be more interesting and variegated than we think.  We only know by investigating.

Both Sides Now identifies Cherry Blossom Pink and Apple Wine and Lisbon Antigua as previously issued Gateway releases (Gateway Top Tune 1114 and 1154--1955 and 1956), and I recognize the Roy-Cliffs on Autumn Leaves, which was released in 1955 on Gateway Records 157 (extended play) and Gateway Top Tune 1137 (single).  The old sell-the-same-track-three-times bit.

Standout numbers are Lisbon Antigua, Yesterdays (showing up on four Hollywood LPs), You Go to My Head (which would be even nicer with an in-tune brass section), Picnic Theme (likely the same track credited to Michel RenĂ© & His Orchestra on LPH-14, Strings in the Enchanted Garden), I've Got You Under My Skin, and Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.  The audio qualify varies in a way which suggests, not only more than one recording session, but more than one musical outfit.  Which we know to be the case on the Roy-Cliffs track.  Also, Just One of Those Things obviously features a combo and not an orchestra.

The back jacket is hopelessly trashed, but here's the first paragraph of the liner notes: "From the first note of musical enchantment 'til the very end of the bright and merry record session, these songs will treat your ear and tingle your musical taste with the finest in all-time favorites along with todays (sic) top-hits."  Was AI already here in 1956?

DOWNLOAD: Music to Remember You By--Herbie Layne and His Orch. (Hollywood Records LP-9; 1956)

Sophisticated Lady

Lisbon Antigua

Just One of Those Things


You Go to My Head

Theme from "Picnic"

Moonlight Serenade

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

Autumn Leaves

In My Solitude

I've Got You Under My Skin

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Sometimes, we pick the wrong project. Or, Arrrrrrgh!!

Music to Remember You By--or, Music for Everyone (its label subtitle).  "The Top Favorites of Today and Forever" (Good grief!).  A project which, in hindsight, I shouldn't have taken on.  Thus, my post is being delayed by technical issues which require precision editing.  This particular album showed up in a trashed jacket but adequately protected in an inner sleeve.  A stroke of luck, I thought.  The editing shouldn't be too big a task, I thought.  With an emphasis on "I thought."

However, despite the decent condition of the vinyl, the pressing is every bit as bad as we'd expect from Hollywood Records.  And, since this is popular instrumental/easy listening music, every click counts, so to speak.  It would be different if the tracks were loud, but they're meant for relaxation (or for remembering, or whatever), and so they're mostly soft-volume.  Every little glitch comes through--every last pressing imperfection.  I have no one to blame but myself, though I might be able to make a false but logically valid case for blaming society at large.  It's, um, the false narrative of  The American Dream.  Yeah, that narrative is to blame.  I fell for it.  To my eternal regret.  Or for two weeks' worth, anyway.

At this point, I've put too much work into the project to abandon it, and the final zip file may prove worth the time and trouble (I can't know until I'm finished), but the hassle of fixing up these junk-label offerings can be epic.  So, it will be a few days.

This lovely jacket model doesn't register to my eyes as anyone famous or significant, though I could be wrong.  If anyone recognizes this person, please submit your suggestions.  She certainly compelled some past owner to part with $1.49 at J.J. Newberry Company.  I hope the buyer didn't mind the surface pops.  

As for me--"A blogger who understands anew the adage, 'Buy junk vinyl at your own risk.'  Words for now, and for all tomorrows to come, in The Twilight Zone."

UPDATE: And there's a Gateway edition of this LP!  That narrows things down a bit.  And it explains the Music for Everyone subtitle.


Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Biggest Hits of '58--The RCA Camden Rockers (Yeah, sure) and Larry Green and His Orchestra (RCA Camden CAL 435; 1958)


By request, The Biggest Hits of '58, Vol. 2.  And I'm surprised to see that I have yet to post Volume 1.  That's interesting.  Anyway, a thrift gift from Diane (Thanks, Diane!) in glorious monoaural.  And I'm guessing that the source material, as with the 1959 edition of this series, is Synthetic Plastics Co. (SPC).  I suppose that, by now, I've gotten over my shock that RCA would turn to SPC for its fake-hit "RCA Camden Rockers" material--but, then again, why not?  And the RCA Camden pressing quality is superior to the SPC singles and LPs, so...

And, as musicman1979 noted, this LP's fake-hit version of Near You doesn't follow from the 1958 Roger Williams hit, but is actually "the charting version by society pianist Larry Green and his Orchestra that RCA released a decade earlier to compete with Francis Craig's original hit recording on Bullet Records."  Green's version peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts in 1947.  Green's track is identified as such on the label, which was nice of RCA.  The reissue quality is excellent.

Maybe I'll feel motivated to track down the fake names behind the SPC releases at some point, but not right now.  Blame it on the pollen, the current levels of which have me doped out.  My weather app announces high pollen for tomorrow, but my sinuses tell me we're already there. 

These fakes are more than acceptable, except for the hilariously inept copy of the Big Bopper's Chantilly Lace.  It makes J.P. Richardson (the Bopper) sound like Bobby Darin.  

Despite an attractive layout--and, especially, the cool-looking period jukebox--this cover violates the make-the-title-big-and-obvious rule.  Of "The Biggest Hits of '58, Vol. 2," the eye (without close-focusing) only catches the "'58" portion, with "The Biggest Hits of..." in the smallest font RCA could manage.  Meanwhile, the qualifying "Vol. 2" is placed topside in faint font.  Was this some kind of tax dodge which involved hiding most of the main caption?

And, as ever, ten tracks are all we get $1.98 Camden list price.  On the other hand, we do get "Plus Fidelity" (aka, "Plus-Fidelity").  I'm not sure what that means, but I'm sure it's better than "Minus Fidelity."

DOWNLOAD: The Biggest Hits of '58, Vol. 2--The RCA Camden Rockers, Larry Green and His Orchestra, 1958.


Everybody Loves a Lover

Call Me

Tea for Two Cha Cha

Bird Dog

Are You Really Mine

Chantilly Lace

The End

Near You--Larry Green and His Orchestra, 1947



Sunday, May 07, 2023

Sunday morning gospel: Walking up the King's Highway--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy (Sacred LP 9055; 1959)


Well, this would have been Sunday morning, but in my half-awake state I scheduled it for Monday morning.  Oops... But, to the music:

Deeply-felt, swinging gospel (you can't beat that combination) from Floyd H. Lacy and Lillie S. Lacy.  And don't let the 1959 date of issue fool you--these tracks date back to the late 1940s and early 1950s, though the online Sacred label discographies are very spotty, date-wise.  And this is another thrift gift from Diane (Thanks, Diane!) for which I'm very grateful, though the jacket required some touch-up.  This is the "before" version:

The album is credited to Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy, though the original credits include (the) F.H. Lacy Gospel Singers (on the first six tracks), (the) Lacy Colored Gospel Singers, and possibly (the) Lacy Trio in addition to Floyd and Lillie.  Meanwhile, Georgia Woodson is the lead singer on Something Within, and she assists Floyd and Lillie on Just a Closer Walk. So, the credits are kind of all over the place.  Which only adds to the fun.

The great piano accompaniment on Meeting in the Air (one of my favorite gospel classics) is courtesy of Miss Gladys Jones; otherwise, we can presume (I think) that Lillie is ticking the ivories on these numbers.  Possibly for the sake of confusing things further, the liner notes focus on the Cleveland Colored Quintet, which I featured back in 2020 as the Cleveland Quintet.  Actually, I had called them a "quartet" in the post title, a typo that I just corrected.  So, please forget I mentioned it.  (Typo?  What typo?)

Tempi-wise (plural of tempo), the fast-moving Walking up the King's Highway starts things out, with things slowing down to a mix of mid-tempo and slow, thoughtful tracks--until we reach the race-to-the-finish The Devil's No Relation at All, a fun but not-pro-Darwin ditty ("The monkey's no relation at all").  Well, actually, monkeys and humans are primates--specifically, simians.  We didn't descend from monkeys, but we are relatives.  Just to clarify.  No Relation sets the stage for the final five numbers, which wind things up in the fast lane. Included in this relay is the lively triple-meter Holding My Savior's Hand.

My favorites?  A tie between Meeting in the Air, Walking With the King, and the always-great-to-hear My Sins Are Gone, the latter rendered in a wonderful 1927 style.  Well, actually, an authentic 1927 rendition would be something to hear, since the song was written in 1934.

Anyway, I hope Floyd and Lillie weren't superstitious--thirteen tracks!  Or, a baker's dozen.

DOWNLOAD: Walking up the King's Highway--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy (Sacred LP 9066; 1959)


Walking up the King's Highway--F.H. Lacy Gospel Singers

My God Is Real--Same

I Am With You--Same

Mansion Over the Hilltop--Same

Still, Still With Thee--Same

Something Within--Same, Solo: Georgia Woodson

You Can Have a Song in Your Heart--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy

Just a Closer Walk--Lacy Colored Gospel Singers, With Johnny Hope, Guitar; Joey Bochenech, Steel Guitar; 1949

The Devil's No Relation--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy, 1949

Meeting the Air--Same, With Miss Gladys Jones, Piano, 1948

Walking With the King--Lacy Trio (or F.H. Lacy Gospel Singers?)

Holding My Savior's Hand--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy

My Sins Are Gone--Mr. and Mrs. F.H. Lacy