Thursday, July 26, 2018

Artti Records 120--Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie

There's no justice in this world.  The top image is my scan of Artti Records 120 (Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie for tap dancing class--what else?).  The bottom image is the slightly out of focus digital image featured in the eBay ad.  Notice how it looks twenty times better than the scan, possibly because the light is hitting the label from an angle, not head-on.  The difference is astonishing, really.  Remind me why scanners were invented?

I swear that a good 15 to 20 percent of my scanned record labels come out looking like a shadowy blob, forcing me to change the color curve, which typically results in too much contrast and a grainy look to otherwise smooth paper.  Instead of documenting history, I'm distorting it.  But this is a tap dancing 78, so I need to calm down, read a book, meditate, drink a beer, pet a cat, recite the Serenity Prayer, take deep breaths, listen to some Jim Florentine prank phone calls, and just generally chill.  I can do it--but only if I don't think about it too hard first.  Darn.  Too late.

Maybe next time.

Rock-a-beatin' Boogie was a big hit for Bill Haley in 1955.  Other artists had recorded it previously, starting with the Esquire Boys (with Danny Cedrone) in 1952.

I have no idea what's up with "Artti."  Maybe it's a cute misspelling of "Arty," which would be a weird word choice, since arty means "showily or pretentiously artistic" (Merriam-Webster).  Or maybe it's Finnish, Artti being a Finnish variant form of the name Arttu.  Found that out on Google.  The truth is, I have no idea.  The parent label for Artti was Velmo, which also gave us Abor and Dookie.  Abor is the name of certain hill tribes in the Assam Valley.  As an acronym, it can mean Accounting Book of Record (not to be confused with Investment Book of Record, or IBOR).  Among other things, "dookie" is slang for excrement.  (I suspected something along that line.)  Not something you want to smoke, obviously.

Urban Dictionary defines velmo as "The end result of two adult males kissing so affectionately that their mustaches become intertwined with one another."  (I get it--"Velcro" shortened and combined with, er... never mind.)  Meanwhile, Velmo USA, LLC is "a provider of comprehensive product sourcing solutions."  Boy, the information superhighway is sure earning its name today.

A lot of dance class records have survived the ravages of classroom record players, it seems--enough, probably, to make possible a blog devoted to these things.  But don't look at me.  I'm too busy Googling "dookie."

Click here to tap dance to: Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie. (Artti 120; 78 rpm)

1. Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie (Children's Novelty, Song and Dance)

4 Bar Entrance, 36 Bar Song--36 Bar Dance.
2 Bar Into.--12 Bars.

2. Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie (Swing and Boogie--4/4 Time)

4 Bar Intro.--72 Bars.
4 Bar Intro.--36 Bars.


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes

The flying saucer in question must have been either small or tightly packed--it only brought us ten tracks.  But what the heck--this is probably best cheap-label LP jacket ever.  It's so effectively designed, it doesn't matter that it's kind of chintzy in its execution.  There are more professionally done jackets that aren't a tenth as cool.  You know this is true.

So, I Google-searched for info on the "Today's Records" label, pretty much prepared to find nothing,  but... rhythm and blues authority Marv Goldberg to the rescue!  This Goldberg page tells us that Today's Records was owned by Maurice Wolsky, who recorded the R'n'B vocal group The Limelighters (not to be confused with the Limeliters), their recordings ending up on a host of budget labels under different credits, including as the Four Angels on Today's Records.

Not much, but more than I ever knew about Today's Records, save for the fact that Wolsky's wife Anne took over the label in 1957 after her husband's death in November, 1956 (Billboard, Feb. 9, 1957).

What's cool is that I've finally found evidence of someone leasing masters to multiple budget labels.  I think this happened all the time, but this is the first solid proof I've uncovered in that direction.

All very fascinating, you say, but what about this collection?  Well, it has a cool cover.  And the vinyl is that thick, cheap stuff that would likely shatter with a hammer blow (no, I don't plan to test it).  Exactly what vinyl (or vinyl-like) formulation this is, I know not, but hard-vinyl grooves don't hold up very well.  I'm pretty sure this is due to their lack of give, plus the heavy-tracking tonearms of the time.  Instead of the gradual wearing away of grooves, there's chipping happening after a handful of plays.  (That's called getting your $1.49 worth.)  But I used all my restoration tricks to get this sounding significantly less awful, I think.  Mono can come in handy.

The music?  Superb renditions of Standing on the Corner (were the Four Lads moonlighting?) and Que Sera Sera, to my amazement.  If only the rest of the tracks were remotely on par.  I mean, they're fun, but on the lower end of mediocre.  We hear singers who are no Como, Damone, Chordettes, Page, or Presley badly mimicking all five, BUT, in their defense, the moments of off-key singing on these tracks suggest a poor studio set-up.  (We'll not mention Born to Be with You, which is just poor.)

Hop on board:

Click here to hear: Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes--Jerry Rudolph and His Radio and TV Orch.

Standing on the Corner
Wayward Wind
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
Somebody Up There Likes Me
On the Street Where You Live
Que Sera
Born to Be With You
Allegheny Moon
My Prayer

Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes (Today's Records FS X-1; probably 1956)


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Proof that anything is possible: A professionally done cheap-label LP cover!

Discogs lists the year for Mission: Impossible and Other Action Themes as 1967 for the Canadian issue, and 1968 for the U.S. issue.  Note that the cover contains the mono prefix "DLP," but with "Stereo" at the very top, which saved the label, Design, from having to print "SDLP."  (A triumph of ink-saving.)  Meanwhile, in its Design discography, Both Sides Now assigns this catalog number to Richard Hyman's Genuine Electric Latin Love Machine  (the what?), which is a typo, of course, because Hyman's LP came out on Command, not Design.

At the time, that all seemed interesting and worth sharing.  I have no idea why.

Anyway, today we have the Secret Agents (yeah, sure) performing the M:I theme, plus "other action themes," which include renamed versions of Sabre Dance. Gliding Dance of the Maidens (a.k.a. Stranger in Paradise),  Funeral March of a Marionette (a.k.a. Alfred Hitchcock Presents), and Dance Macabre. Theses have been re-titled Under Cover Agent Theme; The Saboteur; Win, Lose or Sp;, and Majorca Express.  Action themes.  Ohhhh-kay.

After all, what is a cheap label to do?  Use legit action themes for the filler tracks?  Actually, for once, the genuine titles outnumber the cheats--a full five of this album's eight tracks are actual TV or movie themes.  How did that happen?  Was Design's quality control slipping?

The musical results are much better than we can logically expect, in large part because the Secret Agents are first-rate musicians, despite some shaky arranging,  abrupt and awkward fade-outs, and a total playing time of under 21 minutes (!).  Everything sounds under-rehearsed, though there are some superbly performed moments (e.g., the closing of Majorca Express, which makes up for the rest of the track).  And the discotheque version of Star Trek is far out--groovy, even.  This collection has its moments, and then some.  Even the sound quality is good.  Someone got fired; I just feel it.

Actually, the most amazing thing of all would have to be the jacket--a cheap-label cover that looks like some love went into it, and which actually relates to the material!  But they did one thing right--they printed the jacket titles in the wrong order.  Whew.  So it's not the end of life as we know it.

DOWNLOADMission: Impossible, and Other Action Themes--The Secret Agents

Mission: Impossible
Theme from Star Trek
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Win, Lose or Spy
Theme from Mannix
Under Cover Agent Theme
The Saboteur
Majorca Express

(Design SDLP-237, 1968)


Friday, July 13, 2018

Bravo! label 78 rpm from 1962!

This record was overpriced and on eBay.  (Coincidence?)  But I knew I needed to have it--I'm a fake-hits addict.  In other words, nuts.  As a rule, I spend as little as I can manage (short of stealing), but for this I was willing to part with more dough than it's worth--and it wasn't that overpriced by the standards of the venue.  eBay is where many a dealer grabs a Fair-minus-condition Goodwill LP and puts it up for $49 or more.  If you think I'm kidding, go record hunting on eBay.  Have smelling salts on hand.

In fact, I could make a case that, given the almost nonexistent general demand for hyper-obscure items like this, the value here is about forty-nine cents, practically speaking, and you're lucky to get that.  But convincing the dealer?  Right.  So I paid the bread.  Deed done.

Humorously (ha, ha!), this was graded at VG, which it is hardly.  When the tonearm jumps all through the first track (Let's Go), it's maybe G+, but be aware that the dealer in question rates his or her records on (not by) "visual qualities"--managing, in this case, to miss seeing the considerable groove wear I spotted on first sight.  Luckily, in addition to magic eyes, I have styli and software ready to deal with massacred tracks, as long as they aren't Let's Go.  I'm kind of complaining, but not really, because I wouldn't miss having this kooky artifact in my grubby paws.  Or spinning on my turntable, even.

Why is this so special?  Because it's a vinyl 78 from 1962!  I didn't know 1962 78s happened in the U.S., but obviously they did.  What compelled Bravo! (Pickwick) to put out such a thing is the mystery of the week, but they must have figured some of their buyers lacked access to 45 rpm playback, when they could have been pondering why anyone was buying their stuff in any format.  (I should talk, after spending good money for this.  But I'm a collector, so it's okay.)

Anyway, by 1962, Pickwick was pretty much in charge of the fake-hits field, though of course not exclusively (SPC, for one, was still in the biz, appearing under any number of label names), but putting them on 78s?  No way.  But way.  We have the proof before us.  Plus my word.

Tried three styli before concluding that a conical LP needle worked best (you never know).  The tracks, minus the obliterated Let's Go, and the folks who actually got them on the charts:

Go Away Little Girl (Carole King)--original by Steve Lawrence.
Release Me--original by "Little Esther" Phillips. 
Keep Your Hands off My Baby (Carole again)--orig. by Little Eva (Beatles, 1963, for radio.)
You Are My Sunshine--orig. Ray Charles.
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah--orig.  Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans.  (Rated S for Stupid.)

Save for the backing vocals on Release Me, all very fine cheapies.

Click here to hear: Bravo! label 78 from 1962.


Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orchestra (1958)

This is an LP I've had for many years and love to death.  (Scan-n-Stitch Deluxe worked this time on the cover.  We dispose of failed experiments in the back of the lab.)  Gorgeous easy listening, though my last couple plays, the effect had dimmed from too much familiarity.  Hopefully, this is new to you.  If so, I envy you!

Chief liability: the cruddy sound on Side 2, not to mention the unequal volume between the two sides.  The first one sounds more recently recorded--and very well for 1957--while side 2 is compressed and over-EQ'd (I cut some treble, and it helped, but the bass is still flabby and out of balance with the rest).  I had to normalize the volume on the Savinos, but it's a valid move, because normalizing, of course, simply maxes the volume--it doesn't compress.  That would be adding injury to injury.  (Oh, and please bear with the annoying hum throughout.  RCA Camden, remember.)

The Domenico Savino selections are as good as mood music gets, and seem to have comprised a suite (was Stars Over Manhattan the title?).  If it was a suite, why didn't RCA Camden provide the title?  Because they were cheap?  Okay, I answered my own question.

No liner notes--just the shameful cheap-label bit of listing other titles on the same label.  ("6 Record Deluxe Packages"??  Come again?)

Anyway, I'm sure the Savino tracks qualify as fluff, but masterfully composed fluff, so I dig them.  Savino wrote pop songs during the 1920s, like Burning Sands, and sometimes spelled his name backwards on the record label (and, I presume, sheet music): Onivas.  I'm sure there was a reason.  Anyway, LP collectors have likely encountered his RCA Camden LPs, and he arranged for Paul Whiteman, and arranged for piano all of Ferde Grofe's orchestral pieces for Robbins Music Corp., and you get the picture.  He even arranged Grofe's once-hyper-famous On the Trail for two pianos.  The man had talent.  Whitehall's orchestra is terrific, too.

A ten-stars-out-of-ten light music classic, and if my ears have become too used to the tracks, it's only because they're so good, I've felt compelled to play them over and over through the years.  (Thank the stars for light-tracking tonearms.)  I didn't anticipate dulling the thrill, but these things happen.  Great stuff.  (Update: Dawn still moves me like crazy.)

Click here to hear:  Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orch. (1958)

Manhattan Serenade
Love Is the Sweetest Thing
Song of the Flame
Stairway to the Stars
Song of the Vagabonds
Stars Over Manhattan (Savino)
Album Leaf (Savino)
Intermezzo (Savino)
Pretty Cinderella (Savino)
Central Park Casino (Savino)
Lovely Lady (Savino)
Dawn (Savino)

Manhattan Serenade--David Whitehall and His Orch. (RCA Camden 324; 1958)

I won't mention the fact that this LP contains thirteen tracks.  (Theremin wail.)  Oh, I just did.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When Scan-n-Stitch goes wrong. Or, Oops.

I could swear I did this correctly.  Apparently not, though.

Yes, I'm preparing the next post.  If I can get the scan right, anyway.

Maybe I can do a series of these, frame them, and sell them on eBay.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ten Pop Hits--Juke Box Hits of the Week (Colortone 49103; probably 1958)

And we're back with another Pop Hits LP from the Waldorf family of labels--Colortone, this time.  The year seems to be the same (1958) as last post.  There's a less colorful (and less campy) cover, and some surprisingly bad vocalizing in spots.  Was Enoch losing his touch?  (I was going to type "his Light touch," but that's lame.)

"Juke Box Hits of the Week" this time, "starring" the Richard Redding Orchestra and Chorus.  On the label, the tracks get individual credits (so we know who to blame on this go-round).  One of the guilty parties, and a budget label regular, is Jerry Duane, who turns out to have had a very significant career.  (Hope you don't get the "SUBSCRIBE NOW" box.)

Jerry sang in vocal groups--with Stan Kenton, and behind Johnny Ray, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and other Columbia vocalists.  Plus, he was the whistler on the Andy Griffith Show theme!

Correction (cue the red font): As Ernie notes in the comments, the Andy Griffith Theme whistler was actually the composer of same, Earle (Harlem Nocturne) Hagen.  Until and if someone can prove otherwise, that is.  In fact, I already knew it was Hagen, so apologies for my brain fart.  It's possible Duane remembered it otherwise, but he must have been mistaken.  The multiple claims, which include Fred Lowery and "Toots" Thielemans, are entertaining but most likely part of a made-up mystery.

Ahem.  Anyway, so why does Jerry sound so awful as one half of the duet on Forget Me Not?  It's not just that the Kalin Brothers original is significantly better, it's that Duane and Jack Brown sound like a drunken Homer and Jethro.  Were they cutting up?  Anyway, Duane is better on Queen of the Hop, though his singing is still nothing special.  Being a good whistler and part-singer doesn't necessarily make someone a good soloist, I reckon.  Take the Lettermen--amazing blend (even if augmented on certain tracks), unmemorable lead vocals.

In this playlist, we get high-quality covers of the Kingston Trio's Tom Dooley, Elvis' I Got Stung, and Ricky Nelson's Lonesome Town.  And lousy covers of The Teddy Bears' To Know Him Is to Love Him, The Big Bopper's Chantilly Lace (how could anyone make such a thing worse?), Ricky Nelson's I Got a Feeling (no pitch correction software in 1958, please remember), and Jimmy Clanton's A Letter to an Angel (I wonder if the songwriter had ever heard Pledging My Love?).  For all its faults, though, this collection is fun--and, by dollar-bin standards, pretty good.

DOWNLOAD: Ten Pop Hits (Colortone 49103, probably 1958)

Tom Dooley--The Tennessee Trio
I Got a Feeling--Johnny Hines
Chantilly Lace--Al Garner
Queen of the Hop--Jerry Duane
To Know Him Is to Love Him--June Dale w. Richard Redding Orch. and Chorus
I Got Stung--Dick Penrose
Lonesome Town--Loren Becker w. Richard Redding Orch. and Chorus
It's Only Make Believe--Johnny Hines
Forget Me Not--Jack Brown and Jerry Duane
A Letter to an Angel--Johnny Hines


Sunday, July 08, 2018

Pop Hits--This Week's Hits, 1958

Audition was part of the Grand Award Records family of labels, which included Waldorf Music Hall, Colortone, 18 Top Hits, and other, um, winners.  Actually, the fake hits on these labels were pretty decent, with some amazing musicianship at times (Tea for Two Cha Cha and Guaglione, for instance).  After all, Enoch Light ran the show.  The productions are much better than the dollar-bin LP norm.

I don't recall hearing any absolute duds from this budget label group, which is more than I can say for outfits like Tops, Prom, and the Record Corp. of America (not the RCA, of course), for whom botched takes were no rarity.  Enoch Light apparently considered lost keys, ruined intros, and off-key singing cause for extra takes--the result: cheap-label fake hits with heart.  That's what I'm talking about.

Some excellent fidelity, too, despite my copy's fairly worn grooves.  (The type that look great in low light, not so great in good light.)  I imagine most collectors would grab this for the cover--and who could blame them?--but the vinyl is nothing to pitch, either, despite the stereotype that these things are a thrifter's nightmare.  Not to me, certainly.

I'd list the original artists being copied, but frankly I'm too lazy.  They're found on line easily enough, as all tracks here were big 1958 hits.  The "59" in the catalog number (33-59-502) could very well mean 1959, which is possible if these are Grand Award singles assembled on LP after the fact (as I suspect).   But I'll go with 1958, since I'm guessing, anyway.

DOWNLOAD:  Pop Hits--This Week's Hits ((Audition 33-59-502, 1958)

It's All in the Game
Tea for Two Cha Cha
For My Good Fortune
Rock-in' Robin
Tears on My Pillow
Near You
How the Time Flies
Susie Darlin'

Pop Hits--This Week's Hits, According to Leading National Surveys, Starring the Audition Studio Orchestra and Chorus, with Loren Becker, Jerry Duane, and many of TV's Most Popular Singers (Audition 33-59-502, 1958).

Or, Pop Hits.


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Twenty Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists (Custom RB-1)

Even without looking at the list of performers, you know this is going to be a great blues LP, because Custom was part of the Crown label family, which included Kent, United, and Modern.  Cream of the crop.

The problem, however, happens when twenty tracks are jammed onto a single LP--you know that some of them have been edited, and at least one has (and drastically)--Howlling Wolf's RPM label classic Riding in the Moonlight, which contains none of the fabulous instrumental sections.  Auggh!  Skillful scissors work, but still....

If you haven't experienced the original, please do so: Riding in the Moonlight.  Youtube also has the demo version(s) of the tune.

I'm not familiar enough with the rest of the tracks to know what's been clipped and what hasn't, but I have my suspicions--John Lee Hooker's Boogie Children, for example, seems to go by too quickly.  Not sure.  But, with the exception of the Wolf track, clipped classics are better than none.  And these budget LPs were typically found in dollar bins, and as far as blues for a buck go, no complaints.

The artists are all terrific, and, with the exception of Smokey Hogg, they know where they're at in the chord scheme and are able to count four to a bar.  (Lightning Hopkins' quirky counting is okay, because he's self-accompanied.)   I feel for the musicians who attempt to accompany Mr. Hogg on his two numbers.  Until I heard Smokey, I thought John Lee Hooker held the patent to keeping his musical partners at least two beats ahead (or behind) of wherever he happened to be going.  Listen to John leaving the band utterly lost on this Shake, Rattle and Roll rip-off: Shake, Holler and Run.  Jump ahead, hang behind, call it a wrap.

But we're here to hear twenty greatest blues jammed onto a single cheap LP:

Twenty Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists

Sweet Sixteen--B.B. King
Ain't Nobody's Business--Jimmy Witherspoon
Dust My Blues--Elmore James
Gone with the Wind--Roosevelt Sykes
My Mother Say's (sic)--Jimmy McCrackliln
Blues After Hours--Pee Wee Crayton
Three O'Clock Blues--B.B. King
Riding in the Moonlight--Howling Wolf
S.K. Blues--Part 1--Saunders King
S.K. Blues--Part 2--Saunders King
Worried Mind--Smokey Hogg
Too Many Drivers--Lowell Fulsom
Boogie Children--John Lee Hooker
Standing at the Crossroads--Elmore James
My Own Fault Baby--B.B. King
Don't Keep My Baby Long--Lightning Hopkins
Good Morning Little School Girl--Smokey Hogg
No More Doggin'--Roscoe Gordon
T-99 Blues--Jimmy Nelson
Don't Feel Sorry for Me--Jimmy Beasley

20 Greatest Blues Hits by the Original Artists (Custom RB-1)


Sunday, July 01, 2018

As of 5/31...

...the Blogger team is aware of the notification problem and is working on it.

Must be one whale of a problem.


Came this close

Well, I was on the verge of saying "F. it all" and shutting down the blog.  No comments, little traffic, so why put the work into it?  Luckily, Buster mentioned (on Ernie's blog) that Blogger has for some reason stopped sending comment notifications to bloggers.  Turns out I have comments.  Someone's visiting.

Sweet.  Well, I guess I'll stay on, then.  I'm glad, as it would be just more depression I do not need at this point....

(Bad day?  Me?)

Update: Had my contact email in my profile--Blogger took it off.  I don't suppose there's any "why?" to be asked here.  Just the usual internet dysfunction--changes without cause.  Imagine if real life were like cyberspace.  You'd be driving along, and your car would vanish on you.  Your house would have its rooms rearranged when you came home.  Your friends wouldn't recognize you.  ("Please reenter your username."  "Damn it, I'm Lee!" "Name not recognized.")