Saturday, December 31, 2016

An 1872 Christmas, courtesy of The Little Corporal

Below: A Santa right out of Miracle on 34th St., only from 1872.  The poem is straight out of the progressive Christianity of the day.  I'm guessing the last stanza is Santa himself talking.... 

From the same issue, a comic book-style novelty ad--The Magnetic Fish.  Only 30 cents (actually, 30 cents was some money in 1872).  This predates the birth of Johnson Smith.

Magic Hoops!  "The exercise is so light that the most delicate ladies can excel in the game with pleasure."  Well, that's good to know, especially when the weather becomes too cold for croquet.  And dig the manufacturer: Milton Bradley & Co.!

An 1872 Christmas tree,  property of Bessie.

I'd set these aside to post and forgot all about them until now, with a whole hour and six minutes to go until... 2017. (Bells, party sounds, "Auld Lang Syne," balloons everywhere, cheering.)


What a year! Church, VinylStudio

I'm doing a late year-in-review series at my rarely-used Text blog, because I know people want music here (understandably!) and not the cynical musings of Lee Whatshisname.  So, I'm putting them over there.  Except I seem to have lost my first post.  (What the...?)  It's no longer there.  So much for linking to it.

Maybe I only imagined I typed it.  This is crazy.  Oh, well.

In music news, the organ--a cool Thomas electric, circa 1970--has been fixed at the church where I'm volunteering.  I can't wait to hear it in its fixed state.  It had been sitting around for something like sixteen (!!) years before I warmed it up.  Most of the keys were working, but the volume pedal had major issues.  Then the thing started humming--loudly.

The repairman found frayed wires, and he had to either replace the volume pedal or do lots of work on it.  Anyway, Thomas was the brand used on the Lawrence Welk show, so that's good enough for me.  I always loved that organ sound.  All the rhythms have been deactivated, which is fine with me.  Nothing's quite as unnerving as accidentally activating a cha-cha beat in the middle of Blessed Assurance.  ("Blessed insurance, please pay on time...")

It's a very charming old (I mean, old) country church about a 20 minute drive from here.  And I thought I had an exterior-shot photo ready to post, but I don't.  (Maybe it vanished along with the Text post.)  Here's the inside:

As you can see, it's a church.  (Not sure why the balloons.)  We have a massive congregation of about 30.  I must get an exterior shot, because the building is awesome looking.  I'll do that tomorrow, if it's not too overcast.

It was cool this year having Christmas on a Sunday--and, now, a Sunday New Year's.

Music news, Part 2: VinylStudio, my great new toy (received early from Santa) is giving me the kind of 78 rpm results I've always dreamed of.  After some practice, it's becoming almost second nature to modify playback curves to my liking--sometimes, all it involves is choosing the high and low freq. turnovers, though often it's more complicated.  But not much more.

Inverting the RIAA (LP) playback curve yields a far clearer signal, and from there it's a matter of using a preset (if one is there) or going from scratch.  It's not the time-consuming task I anticipated--I can usually rip and fix seven or eight tracks in one sitting.  Here are eight from the past few days:

I'm in Love Again (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1927

Red Hot Chicago--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1930.

Precious (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Moonlight on the Ganges (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1926

Her Beaus Are Only Rainbows--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Bolshevik--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1926

Wherever You Go--Whatever You Do--Nat Shilkret, Victor Orch., v: Lewis James, 1927

Collette (A: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1927.

Happy (almost) New Year!


Saturday, December 24, 2016


Apologies for the false links on Zippyshare--they're a major pain.  I refer to the way that, the moment we so much as tap our mouse, Z. takes us to another page, one containing a download we didn't ask for.  Anymore, this is standard internet practice.  Sometimes, of course, it's simply blackmail to get us to "upgrade" to spam-free service.

However, I've found a way to get around the page hijack.  It doesn't always work (it's failed me once so far), but clicking within the  arrow circle on "DOWNLOAD NOW" (instead of the rectangle itself) should get the proper download started:

My browser is Google Chrome.  I haven't tried this on IE or Firefox.  Malware scans reveal nothing on my PC that could be doing the page-hijacking, but scans aren't perfect....


Friday, December 16, 2016

Me, cats, winter

 Sergeant (top), who owns Daddy.  Plus Savio (l) and Tommy (r), who co-own Daddy.

 Sergeant, going in for her close-up, plus Savio, Tommy, and Daddy.  No, my chair is not a prop from Jack and the Beanstalk.

Our newest feline, Mingo, who lived in our yard for six months while Daddy bonded with him.  Now he's an indoor/outdoor cat, with an emphasis on the former during this cold, cold weather.

Mingo, looking adorable.  Cats have evolved to do that.  That's why they snuggle up in boxes.  (It's science, I tell you.)

Mingo again, looking imperious in front of the new cat window.  ("It's mine.  MINE!")  Mingo has an inverted eyelid condition but is otherwise quite healthy.   And quite smart.  Meet my best buddy.

In our back yard--subtle signs that winter is approaching. When you've lived in the country for a while, you can sort of sense these things.

Arlo in a "His Master's Voice" pose next to our ceramic tree atop the TV stand.  (Actually, the TV's up on the wall, safe from, um, territorial marking.)


Monday, October 31, 2016


Turn the lights down low, huddle closely together on this chilly Halloween night, and quiver with terror as you listen to these MY(P)WHAE classics!  Or giggle with amusement (whichever works).  These are the Halloween tracks that never die at this blog.  Maybe that's because I keep featuring them.  Yeah, that would explain it.

David Rose's wonderful Satan and the Polar Bear (Satan and the polar bear??), from 1954, is a thousand times more effective, to my ears, than the cliched dreck that functions as scary background music nowadays.  There, I said it.  It anticipates the manic, in-your-face spook-music tradition of our time, but, as originals often manage to be, it's way better than the stuff it inspired.

The two Addams Family renditions are adorable, with the vivid stereo of the De Vol version a treat for the ears.  (I think I ripped it off of my old Dual 1000-series turntable.)  And, after umpteen plays, Sinner's Train remains an astonishingly well crafted, well performed, and well recorded track--and it's from the guy (Art Mooney) who gave us the 1947 smash hit version of I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover!  That may be the scariest thing about it....

Cross-dressing British comic Douglas Byng's 1963 re-recording of I'm a Mummy is a masterpiece--not of horror, but of sophisticated wit.  Sophisticated wit doesn't happen very often at Halloween, so be grateful.  King Kong and It's About Time are two TV themes of the sixties, and the latter--a comedy about astronauts who end up back in the Stone Age--was a big hit with me and my brother when it first aired.  (Not enough to keep it on, unfortunately.)  They're Coming to Tow Me Away is a wonderful BP ad that aired during the winter of 1997.  It almost, but not quite, makes up for the BP ads to come.

John Logan's Dinner with Drac is a cheap knock-off of the 1958 John Zacherle hit, and just about as unfunny.  The late 1950s, by the way, seems to have been the period when the monsters of Universal Studios emerged as Halloween icons, and no doubt TV reruns of Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. were the reason.  Hence, horror host Zacherle scoring a hit record (and John Logan copying it, and pretty well).

Relatively recent history.  And you was there!

Lookout Mountain, with its lyrics about voodoo and corpses rising from the swampland,  remains one of the weirdest records of its type (whatever that may be).  Is this a cover of an original, I wonder?  Also, did the husband, in fact, rise from the swampland and find the hopeless lovers on Lookout Mountain?  And if they knew he was coming to Lookout Mountain, why didn't they arrange to be somewhere else?

The lyrics don't stand up to logical analysis.

The H Man is a one-sided 1958 "Theatre Lobby Spot" 78 with two bands, both identical.  I combined the best audio from both for this rip.  The narration is beyond hilarious.  The synthesizer effects in the background, on the other hand, are awesome.

Torero is Julius La Rosa's cover of an Italian novelty mega-hit by Renato Carosone, and though not nearly as quirky, it's well sung and accompanied with spirit, and it's a great addition to the Men in White genre.

Just click on the slaylist titles...



Satan and the Polar Bear (Rose)--David Rose and His Orchestra, 1954
The Addams Family (Mizzy)--Frank De Vol, 1965
Sinner's Train--Art Mooney, His Orchestra and Chorus, 1956
I'm a Mummy--Douglas Byng, 1963
King Kong--Wade Denning and the Port Washingtons, 1966
It's About Time--Wade Denning and the Port Washingtons
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane--Music By De Vol, 1962
Elemtary, My Dear Watson (Indelli)--William Indelli and His Orch., 1960
Lookout Mountain--Chuck Miller
Sittin' By Sittin' Bull (Driftwood)--Eddy Arnold, 1959
Haunted House Polka--The Cavaliers, date unknown
The H Man (Theater Lobby Spot, 1958)
They're Coming to Tow Me Away (1997 BP commercial)
Sweeney Todd the Barber--Stanley Holloway, 1956
Journey Into Space--Frank Weir and His Saxophone, w. His Chorus and Orch., 1955
The Horror Show--Sharkey Todd and His Monsters, 1959


Hooray, Hooray, I'm Goin' Away (S. Skylar)--Beatrice Kay, w. Mitchell Ayres O., 1947
I Love Him So Much (I Could Scream)--Peggy Lloyd w. Nick and His Gang, 1950
Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte--Lawrence Welk
Mr. Ghost Goes to Town--Five Jones Boys (1936)
Addams Family--Lawrence Welk and His Orch., 1965
Torero--Julius La Rosa, 1958
The Merry Ghost from Chatham Square--Henry Rene Musette Orch., w. vocal, 1942
Dinner with Drac--John Logan (Promenade 34)
The Cool Gool--Sharkey Todd and His Monsters, 1959
I Died All Over You--Bud Messner and His Sky Line Boys, v: Bill Franklin, 1950
Robot Man--Jamie Horton (Gayla Peevey), 1960
Little Monster--The Baker Sisters w. Hugo Peretti O.
Hypnotized--Ted Fio Rito and His Orch, v: Fuzzy Marcellino, 1936
It's Witchery (Tobias)--Charles Spivak and His Orch., v: Tommy Mercer, 1947
Big Bad Wolf (Bartel)--Don Cherry w. Ray Conniff Orch., 1958



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Males from the Crypt present: Halloween Instrumentals, Part Two!!

From the crypt they crept: Left) Frankie, looking as green as ever; (right) some grave-looking dude in a less hairy state than we last saw him; and (middle) the toothy Brit Braincase III, who has had enough of people calling him "Yorick."  "Call me Bonehead, call me whatever you like, but the 'Yorick' stuff stopped being funny after the first couple hundred times," he says.

Together, they are Males from the Crypt.  No one knows what their act consists of.  "Neither do we, actually," reports the trio's leader (right).

It's always a problem when you get a line-up and snazzy name, but you forgot to form an act.  (Awkward Segue Alert): But now we'll be hearing from twelve artists who, um... who certainly had their acts together, yes sir.  And, lucky for us, they had recording contracts.

Here's the link: Halloween Instrumentals, Part 2, and line-up:

(All ripped from shellac and vinyl in my collection)

Devil's March (von Suppe)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1910.
Swamp Fire (Mooney)--Andre Kostelanetz Conducts, 1938.
Heinzelmannchens Wachtparade (Kurt Noack)--Polydor Brass Band Orch., prob. 1928.
Dance of the Potted Puppet (Morant)--Ambrose and His Orch., 1947.
The Haunted Ballroom (Toye)--Kingsway Symphony Orch., c. Camarata, 1947,
The Ghost of the Violin--Two-Step--Prince's Band, 1913.
Polka from "The Age of Gold" (Shostakovich)--RCA Symphony Orch., c. Fred Fradkin
Grand Canyon Suite (Grofe)--Cloudburst--Paul Whiteman Concert Orch., 1932.
March of the Gnomes (Rebikoff)--RCA Victor Orch., c. Ardon Cornwell
Theme from Man of a Thousand Faces--Wayne King Orch., 1958.
Snake Hips (Spencer Williams)--The Original Memphis Five, 1923.
Spellbound (Rozsa)--Lewis Davies and His Orch., 1961

Devil's March has a great Halloween-sounding title, even if the music itself is less spooky than the theme to Hogan's Heroes.  Catchy side, though!  Swamp Fire is more like it--sinister, though in a swingy way.  (Swingy way?)  Kurt Noack's cheerful 1912 hit, Brownies' Guard Parade, is still being performed--on YouTube, at least--and it's a lot of fun, even if it suggests Halloween less than, say, Devil's March.  And, as I listen to it, I hear that I failed to edit out all the clicks--something for me to obsess over.  Anyway, fabulous Polydor/Deutsche Grammophon label fidelity for 1928, which I'm guessing was the recording year.

Ghost of the Violin is a repeat from last year's "Haunted Gramophone" posts, but this is a new, better rip, while The Haunted Ballroom (sorry for the rough spots in an otherwise great pressing) is taking its first bow.  Very charming number, though only about as Halloween in sound as, say, Brownie's Grand Parade.  (Is a pattern emerging here?)

Really, the only scary-sounding number in this set is Miklos Rozsa's Spellbound, and it's only eerie in patches.  I guess we can consider this post music for a cheery Halloween....


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Frankenstein Brothers Present... Halloween Instrumentals, Part One!

I heard a rumor that Halloween is coming.  So did the Frankenstein Brothers (pictured above).  Don't they look like they're out to avenge someone or something?  They have that going-to-the-showdown look.  Well, except for the guy in the bib (a finger puppet, for people with raccoon-sized digits).

Maybe we can send them over to Windstream headquarters to get some action going on this on/off, off/on connection thing.  No, no, just kidding.  Never threaten your ISP, even in jest.  Of course, should these guys decide to march on over there, it's not within my power to prevent them.  First, they'd have to find out where Windstream headquarters are.  That would help.

Frankie 1: Must find Windstream headquarters.  By the way, where is it?  Frankie 3:  I was wondering that, myself.  Frankie 2: Shut up and keep hulking.

For this slaylist, I've resurrected Sammy Kaye's extremely space-age-pop recording of the theme from William Castle's The Night Walker (1964), plus Mantovani's marvelous 1955 recording of Morton Gould's Deserted Ballroom--the best-ever version, imo.  The Sundowners are back, in a new rip, with Charles R. Grean's The Thing.

New, much better rips on Earl Fuller's Graveyard Blues (1918) and Mummy Mine (1919), and an improved Greenwich Witch, with composer Zez Confrey on the piano.  Hal Herzon's rendering of Morton Gould's Robot comes from a genuinely weird LP, one which gives the buyer zero idea what to expect, unless multiple poses of an attractive bikinied model with too much makeup shouts "concert jazz by Morton Gould."   It's not the same bandleader's 1948 MGM recording, as far as I know.  Just to clear that up.

Ferde Grofe's Rip Van Winkle is from the composer's Hudson River Suite, and this is an edited-down version of Andre Kostelanetz' 1955 recording.  Grofe's 1963 Trick or Treat is Kostelanetz again, from the two-record Spirit of '76 set.  Recorded in 1976, of course.

What can I say about John Arthur Meale's The Storm (recorded by the composer in 1926)?  Well, first off, it may have originated as an organ improvisation, and it doesn't appear to have been published.  It existed as early as 1905, and appears to have originally been called Storm at Sea (which would explain the stanza of Eternal Father, Strong to Save).  The sections (quoted from a 1906 recital announcement) are:

Calm at Sea--Distant Thunder--Rising Wind--Hooting of Sirens in the distance--Hymn, "Eternal Father, strong to save"--Tempestuous Sea (theme on the Pedal Organ during the storm)--Thunder rolls away--Thanksgiving Hymn, "O God, our help in ages past," etc.

To my ears, perfect Lon Chaney, Sr. silent film background music.  Gramophone magazine called The Storm "a ludicrous piece of theatricalism," and "a demonstration of the worst excesses of which the organ is capable."  Hm.  But did they like it, otherwise?

To the sounds:  Halloween Instrumentals, Part One!


Prelude  (Rachmaninoff, Arr. C. Morena)--Marek Weber, 1928
In the Hall of the Mountain King--Bill Bell, Tuba, 1958
The Storm (Meale)--1926 (from 1928 Victor pressing)
The Thing--The Sundowners Band, 1951
Greenwich Witch (Confrey)--Zez Confrey, piano solo, 1922
Rip Van Winkle (Grofe)--Andre Kostelanetz, 1955 (edited 45-rpm version)
Deserted Ballroom (Gould)--Mantovani, 1955
Graveyard Blues--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch.,, 1918
Mummy Mine--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1919
Robot (Gould)--Hal Herzon and His Orch.
Theme from the Night Walker (V. Mizzy)
Trick or Treat (Grofe)--Andre Kostelanetz


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Halloween, Part 3: Buwa-ha-haaaaa!!!

Seven 78s from my collection, all of which fall into a category I call, Buwa-ha-haaaaa!!!

The ultimate Buwa-ha-haaaa!!! novelty, Paul Whiteman's recording of AH-HA! (1925) is a Halloween near-perennial at this blog, and this time I've added two more AH-HA!s, including Freddie "Schnickelfritz" Fisher's 1940 Decca version.  Fisher really dials up the novelty, except that the novelty was already dialed up to ten, so.... Not sure how he managed it.

And the lyrics make nearly no sense, at least in their printed form--I know, because I finally hauled out my copy and studied them.  All I can conclude for sure is that "AH-HA!" is what you say when you catch your guy or gal cheating on you.  (Not the worst thing you could utter under the circumstances.)  In fact, "AH-HA!"ing is also something you do; you don't simply say it.  As in, "Now I'm gonna AH-HA! you."

Of course, if you're caught cheating, you immediately cease to be the "AH-HA!"er and become the "AH-HA!"ee.  That's the lesson of the song, apparently.

Those words at the start of the Whiteman version?  Turns out they go, "Once a hero, now a villain," said John Applesauce.  "I have changed because of a gal."  John Applesauce??

I should note that, by the second verse, the two-timing gal has become Mrs. Applesauce, but, despite her promise to love and obey, she's double-crossed him, and "now she has things all her way."  So she's doing the "AH-HA!"ing now.   That's what it says; seriously.

And the next to last line--You said that I meant nothing and I never had a cent, but I've got forty dollars in the bank at four percent, AH-HA!--is hers, not his.

I hope that clears up any and all confusion.

Click here to hear:  Buwa-ha-haaaaa!!!


AH-HA!--Paul Whiteman Orch., 1925
AH-HA!--Oriole Orch., vocal: Mark Fisher, 1925
AH-HA!--Freddie "Schnickelfritz" Fisher and His Orch., 1940
Murder (Byron Gay)--Plantation Jazz Orch., 1920
Mystery!--Paul Biese and His Novelty Orch., 1919
Little Nell--Eliot Everett (Joe Haymes) Orch., 1932


That Hypnotizing Man--Dolly Connolly (1912)

Dolly Connolly was the wife of Percy Wenrich, and her features hardly matched her voice, and vice versa.  Here's what she looked like:

Meanwhile, she sounded like Marjorie Main (who, like Donnolly, started in vaudeville, and around the same time).  If Sarah Silverman had pipes like Sophie Tucker's, she could play the lead in a Dolly Connolly biopic.

Speaking of hypnotizing men, did you know that Dilbert creator Scott Adams happens to be one? And that he considers Donald Trump a "Master Persuader"?  All along, Adams has been convinced Trump will win (and win big)--that is, until the recent video and all the interviews.  Now he considers a Donald victory less than a sure thing, and he blames/credits women.  "Hillary Clinton is all yours, ladies," he recently posted.  "She and her alleged rapist husband are your brand now.  Wear them well."  (Ohhhhhhh-kay.)

I wonder if, two months from now, Adams will claim that he wanted his fans to chuck their Dilbert anthologies into the nearest dumpster, that this was all an experiment in persuasion?  If so, it appears to be working.

That Hypnotizing Man's lyrics are not Hall of Fame material, but they get the job done: When you feel queer and you feel someone whisper in your ear, "Come over here;" Don't make a sound for you'll know that you have found a man to fear.  For example.  And they mostly make sense, unlike the words to the 1925 classic, AH HA!, which we'll be examining next post.

 To the music: That Hypnotizing Man (Lew Brown--Albert von Tilzer)

Dolly Connolly, Columbia A1440 (1912), ripped by me from my collection.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Voo Doo Magic (1952)--Jimmy Cook and Orch.

Sorry for the late start this Halloween--a number of things have gotten in the way of posting, including an Internet connection that's here one moment and gone the next.  Then here, then gone.  Then here, etc.  Also, I'm starting the third week of my latest migraine--this one refuses to go away.  Most migraine sufferers have the occasional migraine, and then some time off.  But I'm not most migraine sufferers.

Luckily, Voo Doo Magic is just the kind of Halloween novelty I live to find, and therefore an ideal choice for starting the season.  This is a disc that, once heard, will have you asking, "Did I actually hear that?  Did it really happen?"  Yes, it really happened.  And a copy managed to survive these many decades for me to stumble across, marvel over, and post with joy.  Listening to this even has me forgetting about my migraine.  Maybe that's the "Magic" of the title?  Hmm.

I ripped this from a moderately worn Modern label 78 (above).  Modern, of course, is famous for recording folks like Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, which likely explains why the March 8, 1952 Billboard listed this disc as a Rhythm & Blues release!  In fact, the flip side (If You Don't Hurry Up and Love Me) is possibly the most Guy Mitchell-esque disc ever made by someone other than Guy, so, no, this is not an R&B disc.  I've included it with Voo Doo Magic, because it's almost a Halloween side--dig these lyrics: "I'm going to be forced to die over you, I won't be living to see it through," plus, "And because I'm wanting you, I'll keep on haunting you."  It's not clear how we're supposed to take those.  Possibly the lyricist wasn't sure, either.

To the weirdness: Voo Doo Magic

Voo Doo Magic--Jimmy Cook and Orch., 1952
If You Don't Hurry Up and Love Me--Same.


Sunday, August 07, 2016

Ah, the racially sensitive Victorian Era....

A Pears' Soap ad from the May, 1883 issue of the children's magazine, Wide Awake, which I scanned from my copy. Yikes.  What can I say?  (Besides "Yikes," I mean.)

Pears' Soap is still around, but it gets really bad customer reviews on Amazon.  Anyway, it's a buck a bar at Dollar Tree, which is a better deal than any of the eBay (!) offers I'm looking at.

Or you can always get it from your nearest leading druggist.

And here are two different versions of the same ad.


Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy Fourth!!! 78-rpm Americana from 1901-1927 (with 1944 tossed in)

Happy Fourth!  The charming image above comes from around 1900, when child safety was clearly the first thing on everyone's mind.  In the 1870s, families put on firework displays in their parlor ("Papa, are the curtains supposed to be lighting up?"); by 1900, the ritual had been simplified to handing a firecracker to the nearest toddler and saying, "Go outside and have a blast."  Surviving childhood was made that much harder....

This would have been up earlier, but we had a Fourth of July cat emergency with Gomez, who is experiencing urethral spasms and whose pee was backed up in his bladder (along with much glucose--Gomez might be diabetic).  The nearest emergency vet clinic is one county away, so it was a bit of a drive, though not as much as we expected.  Of course, finding a clinic open on the Fourth was a blessing, and the vet was quite cool--she packed Gomez with meds, and the big guy is doing better.  We were told he would be counting sheep most of the day, but he's fully awake--and looking much less pained.

And, as usual, we have some old, old records to share for this Fourth of July, spanning the years 1901 to 1944.  Seventy-eights, all, and all ripped and burned by me from my shellac collection.

"Harry will play the Maple Leaf Rag, and I might add that he puts plenty of English on it."--J.M. Witten. The contrast between Witten's over-enunciating and Harry Snodgrass' ultra-fast, go-for-broke playing is pretty surreal (second to last title in our playlist, from 1926).  Missed chords, failed jumps, wrong-note passages aside, Snodgrass' playing is amazing.  Simply being able to play the thing at that tempo is impressive, even if a greater number of correct notes would have made it even more so.  It's certainly entertaining.  Was Joplin's ghost sitting in on the session, pleading "Slow down!  Slow down!" to no avail?

My Maple Leaf Rag copy is in G- condition, at best, but MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX was up to the task.  All I did was set the filters and take out about 200 clicks, one at a time.

Happy Fourth!  Wait, I already said that....

To the music:  July Fourth, 2016

The Arkansaw Traveler (Descriptive)--Harry Spencer, talking; prob. Charles D'Almaine, fiddle, 1901.
Original Jigs and Reels--George Stehl, Violin Solo w. Orch., 1910.
Home, Sweet Home (Payne)--George Alexander, Baritone Solo w. Orch., 1906.
Reuben and Cynthia--"Miss Morgan and Mr. Stanley" (from announcement), 1903.
Swanee (Caesar-Gershwin)--Peerless Quartet, 1920.
The Arkansaw Traveler--Len Spencer, Speciality w. Violin, 1908.
Medley of American National Airs--George Schweinfest, piccolo, 1901.
The Banjo (Gottschalk)--Boston Pops Orch., c. Arthur Fiedler, 1944.
Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)--Harry Snodgrass (King of the Ivories), 1926.
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean--Leake County Revelers, 1927.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday night gospel: When the Gates of Glory Open, Be a Daniel, Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan

Some great country gospel from the late 1920s, a 1912 recording of Will the Circle Be Unbroken by the Scottish gospel singer William MacEwan, and so much more in today's--er, tonight's--Sunday gospel playlist.

Our opening track--The Deal Family's Be a Daniel, from 1927--is one I'll definitely have to research, because it's not the famous Philip P. Bliss song but another tune and text entirely.  Maybe I have it someplace in my 5,000 hymnals.  (Okay--300.)  A total mystery.  And I love this style of family gospel harmonizing.  Believe it or not, this sort of singing continued into the 1970s, and maybe beyond.

William MacEwan's Will the Circle Be Unbroken (he's "William McEwan" on my American Columbia issues)  appears to be the first-ever recording of this great Charles H. Gabriel gospel number, written in 1907.  A quite popular Scottish gospel singer, MacEwan sang in a style that can only be described as... let's say, the opposite of the Carter Family approach.  William sang with much passion and verve, not to mention enough vibrato for any four vocalists.  I love his over the top approach, though, judging from comments received at earlier MacEwan posts, not everyone may agree.

Onward, Christian Soldiers features a text by Sabine Baring-Gould (1865) and music by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, 1871).  You may have heard this one before, someplace.

As for the Gid Tanner two-fer, Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan and Alabama Jubilee, these two sort of go together, even if Jubilee is hardly known as a religious number.  Jerusalem--a bluegrass standard, but, as far as I know, originally a black spiritual--makes fun of Christian hypocrites (at least in the African-American text), while Jubilee makes fun of black religious (?) gatherings, and in the racist fashion we'd expect from a 1915 hit.  One's the real thing, and the other is a play on the real thing; over time, the two tend to mix in historical memory.  If my copy sounds pretty beat, it's because it is.

And here's a lengthy Wikipedia entry on Phillips Lord, whose 78s sound like those of a radio personality, most likely because he was one.  In some ways, he was the Garrison Keillor of his day.  "Fake home-spun" we could call his genre.  I could, anyway.  And I have a theory that family radio dramas evolved from stage presentations, because, after all, radio in its early days incorporated all types of contemporary entertainment forms (just as TV did in the late 1940s).

 And I know nothing about the Bush Brothers, except that they made interesting gospel sides.

Click here to hear: When the Gates of Glory Open


Be a Daniel--The Deal Family, 1927.
Working and Singing--The Deal Family, 1927.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Habershon-Gabriel)--William MacEwan, 1912.
Onward, Christian Soldiers (Baring-Gould-Sullivan)--Victor Mixed Chorus, with Orch., 1928.
Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan--Gid Tanner & His Skillet-Lickers, w. Riley Puckett, 1926.
Alabama Jubilee (Cobb-Yellen)--Same, 1926.
Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's--Gathering with the Lord Today--Phillips Lord and Co, 1929.
Sunday Evening at Seth Parker's--Jesus Is My Neighbor--Same, 1929.
On the Glory Road--Bush Brothers, 1928.
When the Gates of Glory Open--Same, 1928.

Ripped from 78s in my collection with MAGIX Audio Cleaning Lab MX.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Way-late Memorial Day 78s: "Unknown Soldier's Grave" (1925) and "The Trumpeter" (1929).

Well, actually, the 78s aren't late--I'm late in posting them.  My apologies to any 78s I might have offended.

Yes, we're coming up on July 4th (at least, the local TV stations are already booming about the local event called Red, White, and Ka-Boom!!--I mean, Boom!!), but it's never too late to honor Memorial Day, and here are two Twenties sides that do so beautifully.  They are Vernon Dalhart's 1925 recording of Unknown Soldier's Grave, and 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).

John McCormack did a wonderful Trumpeter recording, too, but I don't have a rip ready.  Reason: it's hiding out of sight someplace in my 12" 78 rows.

Both were ripped with (you guessed it) my new 3.5 mil 78 stylus, and The Trumpet, in particular, benefits from the improved tracking.


Memorial Day 2016.

(The sections of The Trumpeter are as follows:

a) Reveille
b) The Battle
c) The Roll Call
d) Epilogue)


Monday, June 06, 2016

Sunday morning shellac! (1908-1927)

We'll pretend it's Sunday morning--or I will, anyway.  Otherwise, I'd have to title this "Monday a.m. shellac."

Lots of great stuff here, and most of these sides are seeing the light of blog for the first time (my blog, anyway).  And they've all been ripped using my 3.5 mil needle, so they sound great.  Most of them, anyway.  Some were hopeless from the start, like the poorly recorded Vaughan Quartet sides (on the Vaughan label, by the way), the Homer Rodeheaver and Charles Gabriel duet, and....  Hmm.

Well, actually, everything else sounds quite good, old-78-wise.  A note about the Rodeheaver/Gabriel side: Gabriel was the hugely popular gospel songwriter who wrote the music and/or words for Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Higher Ground, and tons more.  The three Gabriel songs in this zip are (The) Glory Song, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, and Where the Gates Swing Outward Never--the last one featuring Gabriel himself.  Unfortunately, the sound quality isn't much, and neither is Gabriel's singing.  He was in his 60s at the time (1922), so maybe his voice hadn't aged well.  But it's cool to hear the man himself.

Philip Phillips' Home of the Soul (1865) was a huge hit in its day and beyond.  I don't know when it fell out of fashion--maybe the 1920s?--but it enjoyed something like a 50-year run as a standard.  Our performance, by the Whitney Brothers, is gorgeous, and the falsetto (semi-falsetto?) lead is amazing and fascinating.  And we get to hear them again on The Light of the World Is Jesus.

You can't go wrong with this Sunday playlist.  If you do, I'll disavow any knowledge of your actions.

Click here to hear: Sunday Morning Shellac, 6-5-16


Glory Song (Oh, That Will Be Glory for Me) (Chas. H. Gabriel)--Criterion Quartet, 1908
His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Gabriel)--Harry K. Shields, Tenor, poss. 1924
Where the Gates Swing Outward Never (Gabriel)--Charles H. Gabriel and Homer Rodeheaver, 1922
Home of the Soul (Phillips)--Whitney Brothers Quartet, 1909
White Than Snow (Fischer)--Dixie Jubilee Singers, 1925
Let the Lower Lights Be Burning (Bliss)--Dixie Jubilee Singers, 1925
Throw Out the Life-Line--Harry Macdonough and Hayden Quartet, 1911
Love (Callaway)--The Vaughan Quartet, 1927
 I Am Praying for You (Cluff-Sankey)--(Frank C.) Stanley and (Henry) Burr, 1909
When You Get It Right (Sebren)--Vaughan Quartet, 1927
He Leadeth Me (Bradbury)--Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler--soprano and tenor duet, 1910
The Light of the World Is Jesus--Whitney Brothers Quartet, 1909


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Don Richardson--very early country! (1916 and 1921)

From my collection, eight sides by this marvelous violinist/fiddler.  Rather than try to write a blurb myself, let me refer you to some terrific passages about Richardson from Play Me Something Quick and Devilish: Old-Time Fiddlers in Missouri, by Howard Wight Marshall: Richardson.

Amen.  It's a crime against country music history that accomplished, "legit" players like Richardson and D'Almaine have been denied the credit due them on account of the usual idiotic obsession with authenticity vs. lack thereof (paging Rolling Stone mag).  That kind of snobbery happens in every area of collecting, it seems, and I'm more than tired of it.  Which won't stop it from happening, of course.  But I'm still tired of it.

Those folks who get off on putting the bulk of popular music into an "other" or "miscellaneous" status are people who take themselves far more seriously than the history they're studying.  As a rule, I look for reasons to include a given recording into a given genre, even if this means denying myself the thrill that comes with declaring artists and their performances unworthy of a proper classification. And there are two darned many categories in the first place, many of them imaginary or redundant.  300 categories of punk, for instance.

Anyway, eight virtuoso fiddle sides, and I'm sure I have another Richardson 78 hiding in my rows, but it refuses to show up.  Thanks to my (you guessed it) 3.5 mil 78 stylus, these sides have an up close and personal sound I've heard anyplace else, including in my own previous files.  Even the piano accompaniments ring out, something they don't do anywhere else.   Condition on these sides in not Excellent-plus, so bear with the hiss.  Pristine Richardson 78s must exist, but none have found their way into my stash....

Click here to hear:  Don Richardson--eight sides

Titles listed above.  All 1916, save for Dance Wid' a Gal and Irish Washerwoman, which are 1921.  Enjoy these awesome performances!


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Shellac attack!! 78s ripped with my new 78 stylus

Today, I turned 59 plus six days, yet I don't feel a day over 59 plus five days.

Today, 78s ripped with my new, 3.5. mil stylus--Note that I said "ripped with," not "by."  I'm sure this splendid new stylus is doing no damage to my shellacs.  And I've always wanted to type "my shellacs."

So, you get eleven chances to hear the great work my Rek-o-Cut 3.5 mil elliptical 78 stylus is doing--eleven 78s: three electrics and eight acoustic(al)s.  The problem children in this playlist include the Original Dixieland Jass Band's 1917 Indiana, Earl Fuller's Cold Turkey, and the Associated Glee Clubs of America's The Bells of St. Mary's.  Each presents its own restoration challenge--Bells of St. Mary's because, without treatment, the (1,000-plus!) voices sound remote and tinny; with the new stylus, I achieved a full sound I didn't think was possible.  (Dig the up and down volume on this--someone was adjusting the input throughout.)  Cold Turkey, because I'm used to hearing it as a blob of faraway sound blanketed in hiss--the 3.5 mil needle gives it a clarity that I love.  (And I just know you'll love it, too.)  And with Indiana, getting the instruments to sing separately, and the lower frequencies to sound out in a clear fashion, is not easy.  I've gotten some nice results with this side using my conventional (2.7 mil) needle, but the whole-groove tracking of my new needle removes any and all sonic mud.

Whole-groove tracking.  I wonder if that gives a Google match?  (Type, type)  Nope.

The ODJB is magnificent, as ever, and the marching band sides (Columbia Band, Conway's) feature very deft handling of ragtime rhythms--these performances don't sound stilted and stodgy, as record-collecting lore would have it.  Precisely-counted figures are just what ragtime needs, anyway.  No one asked me, but that's my take.  And (W.C.) Handy's Orchestra is fabulous on a Maple Leaf Rag rip-off called Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag, and this is by far the cleanest sound I've gotten from this 1917 disc.

We close in style with two fine 1927 polka records.

To the 78s: The Skyscraper 


The Bells of St. Mary's--Associated Glee Clubs of America, 1925.
The Skyscraper--One-Step--Conway's Band, 1916.
Cold Turkey--One-Step (Donaldson)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1917.
Introduce Me (Mel B. Kaufman)--Conway's Band, 1916.
Indiana--Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1917.
Darktown Strutters' Ball--Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1917.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag--Handy's Orchestra, 1917.
Arabian Nights--Intermezzo--Columbia Band, Dir. Charles A. Prince, 1918.
Peter Gink--One-Step--Columbia Band, Dir. Charles A. Prince, 1918
Dawaj Buzi (Give Me a Kiss)--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orch., 1927.
Podlotek--Polka--Kapalka i Jego Orch., 1927.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

3.5 mil 78 stylus

My new Rek-o-Kut 3.5 mil 78 stylus is making a night-and-day difference with many, if not most, of my 78s.  My standard (2.7 mil) stylus is excellent, but it's not properly tracking my older 78s.  And my older 78s make up the majority of my stash, so....

The D5135EJ Rek-O-Kut 3.5 mil, elliptical, 78/transcription stylus isn't cheap at $150, but we can hardly expect such a non-mass-produced audio item to come cheap.  Anyway, my Victor and Columbia acoustical sides have a vivid, full-bodied quality that make the old results sound sad.  I was half-afraid the 3.5 mil size would be too large for ordinary, non-transcription 78s, but it's proving to be just right.

I've been ripping tracks like crazy, and before long I'll have some up.  At the moment, I'm putting together a Joseph C. Smith playlist--he's the orchestra leader who just got a 2-CD set on Archeophone.  I'll also be putting up MY(P)WHAE regular Earl Fuller, who, far as I know, has yet to get a CD, save for his frenetic jazz sides, none of which I find interesting.  His regular dance sides on Columbia, however, are priceless artifacts.  Ironically, they're more legitimately jazzy than any of Fuller's ODJB-style attempts.

So, stay tuned.  If this was Halloween, I'd say "stay tombed."  Ha, ha!  Get it?  Stay tombed!  But it isn't, so I'm not.

Meanwhile, this is not my player, nor would I use such a player, but it's very neat-looking.  Reminds me of those cool suitcase phonographs from grade-school.  It might be one, in fact.  Try not to think about the tracking damage that tonearm would be doing after a couple swipes....


Monday, May 23, 2016

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 59?

Your blogger (in stereo) at 59.  It happened yesterday (May 22nd).  I was minding my own business being 58, and, the next thing I knew, the last digit ticked up.

Meanwhile, we have a new cat.  He's a barn cat who would prefer to be with us and our cats, and we're happy to have him.  He's getting more trusting by the day.  A few of our male cats have issues with his being here, but hopefully they'll get over it.  There's nothing like the new-Tom-in-the-yard challenging ritual.  He's unneutered but very gentle--he's not initiating the "Reeawwwrrrr!" festivals.  Some Toms show up and try to take over, but not him.

And Tommy, who is indifferent to the presence of our newbie, says "Hi!"


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pacific 231 (Arthur Honegger)--Continental Symphony Orch., cond. by Piero Coppola, 1927.

I recently bought this 78 from eBay, and I was astonished to find it in such fine shape--I wonder if this copy had ever been touched by a needle before I placed my Stanton stylus on it.  A 1927 Classical 78 requiring no noise filtering, extensive or otherwise?  Had to encounter such a thing to believe it.

That reminds me--I need to leave rave feedback for this.

If you're not familiar with Arthur Honegger's 1923 Pacific 231, you will be after you listen to this.  (Cha-dunk, crash!)  Now, this superb 1927 performance is either the premier recording of the work, or the second one.  Most sources tell me it's the first, but I just found a Gramophone review which reports the existence of a "late acoustic" French recording made by the composer in France with the Pasdeloup Orchestra.  So, I don't know.

Even if you weren't aware that Pacific 231 refers to a train, you'd know after about half a minute--though, oddly enough, the train title was an afterthought on Honegger's part.  The chief gimmick of this remarkable piece is that the tempo actually gets slower as the rhythmic figures (pick one) 1) get faster or, at least 2) seem to get faster.  He creates the impression of speed while, in fact, slowing things down.  Awesome.

If 231 sounds like a serial (atonal) piece to you, you're not alone--it sounds like one to me, too.  But the general verdict on 231 says no--highly dissonant, yes, but not atonal.  Being without a Berklee degree, I won't attempt to argue with that.  But it sure has a serial feel to it, perhaps because the key is jumping around constantly.  231 lurches, rattles, and jerks, but the chaotic action is perfectly contained by the relentless forward momentum.  That forward thrust is the glue that holds 231 together.  (So my ears insist. They might be hyping things a little bit.)

Brilliant fidelity for 1927.  Just amazing.  I've seen this recording panned on those grounds, and I don't know what said critics are smoking.  This is superbly recorded, and the performance is exemplary.  I love the way they race through this!

To the tracks: Pacific 231 (Honegger)

Continental Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Piero Coppola, 1927.  Ripped and restored by Lee Hartsfeld (Hey, I know that guy!).


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday morning concert--Your blogger at the keyboard

                         Blogger/keyboardist/Navy vet/cat care specialist Lee Hartsfeld

I have 51 minutes before it's no longer Sunday morning, so... to the notes.  For today's Sunday morning concert, some less familiar sacred tunes--though, if you're from Austria or Germany, the melody to The Lord Is My Shepherd melody should be anything but unfamiliar.  And I have no idea what I just typed.  Little sleep, lots of caffeine--that describes my state as I type this.

Anyway, the tune is Thomas Koschat's 19th century hit, Verlassen bin i.  If you've always wanted to hear it sung in a male a cappella version in the mountains, want no more: Verlassen bin i 2003.  It takes guts to put my own rendition next to this one, but no one ever said I lacked guts.  Of course, just because no one said it doesn't make it not true.

I was trying for a weirder sound on O Happy Home, but the one I got isn't too shabby.  It just needed more reverb.  Here's a nice alternate tune, by Felix Mendelssohn, to the O Happy Home text: O Happy Home.  You'll notice the pianist in the video plays with more pianistic feeling than I do--at some point, I decided that hymns work best when counted strictly.  Besides, strict counting helps a lot when you're piling up tracks.

And there's the fact I'm playing a sampled piano and not a real one.  (I'm a pro at making excuses.)

O Holy City, Seen of John is one of the coolest hymn tunes I've ever pulled out of a hymnal.  For some reason, I want to race through it, but I made myself slow down a spell, especially this morning when I played it for our offertory.

Today's prayer: For some approximation of spring to return.

Click here to hear: Sunday morning concert

O Holy City, Seen of John (Steggall, 1890)
I Walk with the King (B.D. Ackley, 1915)
The Lord Is My Shepherd (Koschat, 1862; arr. Excell)
O for a Closer Walk with God (Dykes, 1875)
Jesu!  Our Eternal King (Freylinghausen, 1704)
I Will Not Forget Thee (Charles H. Gabriel, 1889)
Who Will Gather? (Charles H. Gabriel, c. 1891)
O Happy Home, Where Thou Art Loved (Barnby, 1883)