Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: The Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is Much (1965)

Two posts back, we heard another LP from Heart Warming Records, and I spelled it "Heart Warming," though "Heartwarming" is an alternate spelling, according to discogs.  The label doesn't make it all that clear.  Sure, it looks like two separate words, what with the two hearts between "Heart" and "Warming," but I think I've seen it printed without the space.  Of course, as I search for an example, I can't find one, so maybe I'm having a memory fart.  At any rate, discogs isn't certain on the right way to spell the label, so there must be room for confusion.  And I can't believe I've wasted a decent-sized paragraph on this non-issue.

The main thing is, our last Heart Warming LP, which featured the Oak Ridge Boys, had a pretty awful cover photo.  Today's cover photo is a monumental step up.  So, clearly, bad jackets are not a given for this label.  This was a recent Goodwill find, and anymore I base my gospel LP buys on how many songs (or songwriters) I recognize--and what I think of them.  This has I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now, They Tore the Old Country Church DownCryin' in the Chapel, and a song by Doris Akers (Sweet Jesus), and so it was a must-buy.  Superb singing, and with a perfect balance between slow, heartfelt ballads and fast, rock-the-grooves numbers.  Many years back, when I first heard of I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now, I knew I was dealing with a country-idiomatic title.  The ambiguity, at least to my NW Ohio brain, is fascinating.  To wit, is the person saying he doesn't intend to take anything with him on his journey to Heaven--for instance, no suitcases, trunks, or rare baseball cards?  Or is he saying that he wouldn't trade anything for his trip to Heaven?  Well, it's the latter, of course, but I still find the title enigmatic in a fun way.  It's a great song--one of the modern classics.  Modern in terms of the whole of gospel song history, that is--to some, praise songs of the 1980s are oldies.  Depends on whether you reference "modern" to your own listening and playing experience or to the long haul of history.

Cryin' in the Chapel is one of those pop numbers that's close enough to a sacred song to sort of/kind of jump from pop to gospel.  It helps that Elvis recorded it in a gospel mode, of course.  Little Richard did a gospel-style rendition, too.  There are lots of almost-sacred numbers that exist on the edge of gospel, including Whispering Hope, You'll Never Walk Alone, Climb Every Mountain, He, and the like.  I hate Climb Every Mountain, by the way, and it may be memories of singing it in eighth grade music class, in which our teacher had us go over the "Follow every rainBOW" phrase about a million times, just to get the accent right on "-bow," which was somehow important.  None of us wanted to sing anything, including numbers from The Sound of Music, but she wasn't interested in what we wanted.   Anyway, many inspirational, almost-sacred, or vaguely religious numbers--or simply movie airs that accompany a scene in the afterlife (like the lovely main theme from Somewhere in Time, which makes its last appearance in the Titanic-imitated scene where Richard Collier reunites after death with Elise McKenna)--end up shuffled into the "inspirational" category, which could be considered sacred easy-listening, maybe.  Clearly, I have no idea what I'm typing, so time to move on to the excellent Plainsmen Quartet, not to be confused with the Plainclothes Quartet.  Hardy, har, har.

DOWNLOAD:  Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is Much (Heart Warming LPHF 1837; 1965)

Little Is Much
I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now
I'm Poor as a Beggar (Brumley)
You Just Don't Know What Lonesome Is
I am the Man
I'd Rather Live in the Valley
They Tore the Old Country Church Down
So Many Reasons
He Holds My Hand
Sittin' Around the Table of the Lord
Sweet Jesus (Doris Akers)
Cryin' in the Chapel (Artie Glenn)

The Plainsmen Quartet--Little Is Much (Heart Warming LPFH-1837; 1965)


Friday, February 22, 2019

Paul Whiteman, Part Six! 1920-1933

It's past time for another helping of Paul Whiteman 78s--my series went into pause mode in November of last year so I could devote time to my annual Christmas blogging, but we're back.  All of today's twenty sides were ripped and repaired from my overflowing 78 collection by me and VinylStudio and MAGIX.  I still have four parts to go, so... on with the shoe.  And if you don't get that reference, you're what people my age call young.  Our playlist includes three #1 Whiteman hits--1920's magnificent The Japanese Sandman (Whiteman's second release), 1921's Cherie, and 1922's Three O'Clock in the Morning.  The 1925 Halloween classic Ah-Ha! (well, that's how I usually utilize it) features four vocalists, including Billy Murray, but I have no idea who's doing the Snidely Whiplash lead, so I'm leaving it at "vocal refrain," as on the label.  All are 10-inchers, save for the 12-inch I Can't Give You Anything but Love, recorded in 1928 (and featuring a highly creative Ferde Grofe arrangement) and Just Snap Your Fingers at Care--Darling (Medley) of 1920.

The single "hot" side is Doo Wacka Doo, featuring Billy Murray, only up front this time.  And what a voice--a tenor practically designed for the acoustical recording process .  Highly imaginative arranging throughout these numbers.  Disc condition varies, of course, but no moments of noise too awful to bear--nothing close to that.  Just a few bouts of opening wear, and stuff like that.  These are 78's--come on.

One George Gershwin number--an early one, of course.  I Found a Four Leaf Clover, from George White's Scandals of 1922.

To the Whiteman!

DOWNLOADPaul Whiteman, Pt. 6

I Found a Four Leaf Clover (Gershwin)--1922
Love Bird--Medley--1921
Three O'Clock in the Morning (A: Grofe)--1922
Song of India (A: Whiteman)--1921
Cho-Cho-San (A: Hugo Frey) 
Oh, Joseph! (A: Grofe)--1924
Shanghai Lullaby (Isham Jones)--1923
Ah-Ha!--w. vocal refrain, 1925
Honolulu Eyes (A: Grofe)--1921
My Man (Mon Homme)--1921
I Can't Give You Anything but Love (A: Grofe)--v: Jack Fulton, 1928
Bright Eyes--Medley--1921
The Japanese Sandman (A: Grofe)--1920
When the Sun Bids the Moon Goodnight--v: Jack Fulton, 1933
Doo Wacka Doo--v: Bill Murray, 1924
'Neath the South Sea Moon--1922
Just Snap Your Fingers at Care--Darling (Medley)--1921
Pal of My Cradle Days (A: Grofe)--v: Lewis James, 1925


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday morning gospel--Life Is like a mountain railroad: Sacred shellac (1905-1928)

We start with the Vaughan Quartet's 1928 recording of His Charming Love, with its flip, I Want to Go There, Don't You?  Somewhere, I have the James D. Vaughan songbook containing the first number, with its complex overlaying of voices.  And I used to know something about this group, but I forgot it all, and a quick Google search gave nothing specific.  Suffice it to say the group's mission was to promote Vaughan's songbooks, which it probably did very successfully, given its outstanding musicianship.

Gid Tanner and Riley Puckett's renditions of Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan and Alabama Jubilee are poster children for the "old-timey" country gospel sound--what many would dub bluegrass--and the latter title is often, maybe usually, associated with the Mummers Parade, thanks to the 1955 hit version by the Ferko String Band.  But it goes back at least as far as 1915, and the lyrics are clearing describing an African-American religious meeting, complete with faith-healing.  It's taken at a tempo slower than we're used to.

Even more "old-timey" are Marshall Smith's two Columbia sides from the same year (1926), and darned if I can make out most of the words in Jonah and the Whale.  I did a ton of manual click removal for these, so what you're hearing is much better than what came out of the grooves initially.  While just as down-home-sounding (and from the same year), the Wisdom Sisters (Sitting at the Feet of Jesus; Amazing Grace) offer more precise enunciation, to say the least, though I still have trouble making out many of their words.   Could be an issue of accent or the limited sound technology of 1926, though I'm leaning toward the former. Could be anything--proximity to the mics, lack of experience in the recording studio, my own hearing.  Dunno.

The trio's haunting rendition of Amazing Grace is not the first recording of this number--Wikipedia gives that credit to a group called the Sacred Harp Choir in 1922.  The Grace melody sounded a bit off to me at points, as if the lead (top) voice was staying on the tonic instead of descending, but listening with my portable player, it's clear that I was confusing the lead with the second voice, which overlaps the lead as it descends.  Typically, it's headphone listening that yields the most reliable detail--in this case, it was my player.  I have trouble with the harmonizing of the cadence which closes each stanza, which is pure "folk" in its more or less parallel descent, the problem being the V7 without a root--or maybe it's the glaring augmented fourth in the two lowest voices on the middle chord.  It just sounds wrong, like a passing tone that never finds peace.  It bugs my ear, but there's no right or wrong in music--it's all an issue of what sounds correct to the listener.  At any rate, this is the Amazing Grace melody we know and love.  The text is from 1779, and it's been set to any number of different tunes over the past 240 years, with the present melody (from the early 1800s) finally winning out about, oh, 1900-ish.  That's a safe guess, I think.

The McCravy Brother's terrific Jacob's Ladder has an issue date of 1945, but it's a continuation of an old catalog series for the label, Gennett, and it sounds exactly like the McCravy's 1920s material, so I suspect it's from 1927 or thereabouts.  It just had to wait a couple decades to hit the shelves.  Charles H. Gabriel's Glory Song was one of the hugest gospel song hits of all time, and this 1905 version by the Haydn Quartet was one of my best-ever Goodwill finds, even if the disc was cracked.  I figured I could realign the disc and Scotch-tape the reverse to make it playable, and I was correct--worked like a charm.  Another Gabriel number follows, this time rendered by Scottish evangelist William McEwan (a.k.a. MacEwan)--a fun anthem called All Hail, Immanuel, which makes a great solo number on the organ.  I used it as such several weeks back, and the congregation loved it.  The chorus is a workout, at least in standard four-part arrangement.  The two Tietge Sisters sides are lovely, and the trio harmonies are more "correct" than the Wisdom Sisters', but, when you come down to it, "correct" is whatever sounds correct.  Maybe conventional is the better word.  Master, the Tempest Is Raging has always been one of my favorite gospel songs, and it hails from the late 19th century.

Then we're back to old-timey quartet sounds, with two groups that make the Vaughan Quartet sound like city folk--Smith's Sacred Singers and the McMillan Quartet.  The former is from Georgia--not sure about the second.  1927 sides from both, and all superb.  We Shall Rise might be my favorite Smith's side of them all, and I spent years hunting it down in old songbooks, partly because it's very close to another Resurrection Morning song, and I wanted to confirm that they were, indeed, two separate songs.  I was right--there are.  I prefer this one.  If I had the music handy, I'd give the year of composition, but I don't.  1911, I think.

I trimmed this 23-song playlist to 20, removing a few numbers that sounded a little out of character due to their more sentimental style.  Nothing wrong with a sentimental approach, but it just doesn't gel with the overall tone of this set.  The exuberant Jacob's Ladder doesn't, either, but I thought that it made for a nice halfway-point jolt, so I kept it in.  A nice "Aren't we having fun?" side before returning to the no-nonsense gospel of The Glory Song and Master the Tempest Is Raging.  I do put some degree of planning into these things.

Oh, yeah--and another once-super-famous gospel number, Life's Railway to Heaven.  Under "metaphor" in the dictionary, they ought to put "Hear Life's Railway to Heaven."

All 78s from my collection and curve-corrected and filtered by me.  I was without info on the Gennett curve, so I went by ear.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  Sacred Shellac

His Charming Love--Vaughan Quartet (Victor V-40045; 1928)
I Want to Go There, Don't You?--Same
Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan--Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers w. Riley Puckett (Columbia 15104-D; 1926)
Alabama Jubilee--Same
Home in the Rock--Marshall Smith (Columbia 15080-D; 1926)
Jonah and the Whale--Marshall Smith and John Marlor (Same)
Sitting at the Feet of Jesus--The Wisdom Sisters (Columbia 15093-D; 1926)
Amazing Grace--Same
Jacob's Ladder--McCravy Brothers (Gennett 3503; 1945--probably reissue)
Glory Song (O, That will be Glory--Chas. H. Gabriel)--Haydn Quartet, 1905 (Victor 4398; 1905)
All Hail, Immanuel (Chas. H. Gabriel)--William McEwan (Columbia A1365; 1913)
Master the Tempest Is Raging (Palmer)--Tietge Sisters (Victor 20515; 1926)
The Name of Jesus (Martin-Lorenz)--Same
We Shall Rise--Smith's Sacred Singers (Columbia 15230-D; 1927)
I Want to Go to Heaven--Same
City of Gold--Smith's Sacred Singers (Columbia 15195-D; 1927)
Climbing up the Golden Stairs--Same
No Stranger Yonder--McMillan Quartet (Columbia 15194-D; 1927)
Glory Is Coming--Same
Life's Railway to Heaven (Abbey-Tillman)--Charles Harrison-Clifford Cairns (Victor 18925; 1922)


Friday, February 15, 2019

Various singles, Part 5--"Two Hearts"-athon, June Valli, Gayle Lark, The Doodlers

Yes, a four-selection Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love)--athon, featuring four versions of the 1955 hit for Otis Williams and the Charms, famously covered by Frank Sinatra and Doris Day.  I'm giving you one real-label cover version (the outstanding Doodlers, on RCA Victor), and three fake hits--Bob Vance on Big 4 Hits, Rudy Weldon on Prom, and Gayle Lark on Tops.  I did a big search through my platters for the Gayle Lark Tops version, certain that I had it.  Looked and looked, and turns out it was a few feet away in a small row of 78s.  Plus, I'd already ripped it.  Oops.  Clearly, I need a staff.  The cats are no help in this department.  They just get hair all over things.

Then, the lovely instrumental Candlelight, by Mantovani and his Orch.,1956, and this may be my favorite Monty track of them all.  Artie Malvin follows with Eleventh Hour Melody, which is not the ideal number to follow Candlelight with, since both are slow numbers.  Then again, they're following the Two Hearts-athon, so maybe two slow numbers fit the bill.  (These decisions are complicated.)  I just now noticed how dull Malvin's rendering is--the thing needs some dramatic punch.  It usually has a sort of spooky effect.  Luckily, waiting for us on the Tops label is an excellent Rags to Riches by Bud Roman, with especially nice sound for 1953, considering it's an early Tops 45.  (They don't always sound this good.)  The Halley Sisters follow with a good Rock Love, though it clearly copies one of the pop covers of the title, as opposed to the Lula Reed originalDon't Shake the Tree is the flip side of the Doodler's Two Hearts, and the lyrics don't play games, even if they describe someone who does.  And Steve Lawrence tries his hand at two rock and roll numbers, and he does very well, though you just know that Steve Lawrence doing two rock and roll numbers is enough to have the rock critics screaming "Blasphemy!"  Or laughing uncontrollably.  Which means Steve was doing something right.

I'm assuming As the World Turns has nothing to do with the soap opera.  I do know (thanks to Wikipedia) that singer Ginny Gibson was actually Virginia Nelson, and that she sang on the Chiquita Banana TV commercial, among many other TV ad spots.  Now we know.  Sally Sweetland's Jambalaya is pretty good, and her voice is even more of a contralto than Jo Stafford's, unless maybe the Waldorf label slowed this down a little for the pressing.  It does sound a little draggy.  Needless to say, Sally is not imitating Hank Williams.  Chuck Lovett's Short Fat Fannie is a cover pretty close to the original--the label is Gateway Top Tune (1957).  Looking up "Chuck Lovett," I got a bunch of Manson "family" matches, since there was a Chuck Lovett in that group.  Charming.  Two June Valli sides follow, the first--From the Wrong Side of Town--featuring Valli's usual Elvis-style over-selling, though the theme is interesting, since it would become a cliche in rock and roll.  It was written by country songwriter Harlan Howard.  The second, a nice Leiber-Stoller number, has Valli in a far more subtle mode, and she should have tried this more often.  She's double-tracked on the bridge and twice on the hook.  No, three times.  Whatever.  She fooled me at the end.  This predates Spanish Harlem, of course.

We continue with two 1951 very pleasant easy listening sides (I guess they wouldn't be easy listening if they weren't pleasant) on the Rexford label, which I never heard of before finding this or since, and they're by Norman Greene, a big band trombonist who played with Louis Armstrong.  Bob Sharples, aka "Lightnin" Bob, gives us the Hurricane Boogie, complete with prerecorded sound effects.  We end with three cheap-label covers, the most interesting being the Bell label Little Darlin', which either by accident or intention sounds more like the Gladiolas original than the Diamonds cover.  It's a gem.  Come to think of it, I don't think I've heard a bad fake-label version of Little Darlin', though all fall into the cover-of-a-cover category.  Except this one.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Various singles, Part 5

Two Hearts--Bob Vance (Big 4 Hits 140; 1955)
Two Hearts, Two Kisses--Rudy Weldon w. the Prom Orch. and the Argyles (Prom 1114)
Two Hearts (Two Kisses)--Gayle Lark w. Nat Charles Orch. (Tops R256)
Two Hearts--The Doodlers (RCA Victor 47-6074; 1955)
Two Hearts--Loren Becker and the Brigadiers (18 Top Hits 151)
Candlelight--Mantovani and his Orch.  (1956)
Eleventh Hour Melody--Artie Malvin w. Enoch Light Orch. (18 Top Hits 174)
Rags to Riches--Bud Roman w. Lew Raymond Orch. (Tops 380; 1953)
Rock Love--Halley Sisters w. the Prom Orch. (Prom 1108; 1955)
Don't Shake the Tree--The Doodlers (RCA Victor 47-6074; 1955)
The Chicken and the Hawk (Leiber-Stoller)--Steve Lawrence w. Dick Jaccbs Orch., 1955
As the World Turns--Ginny Gibson (Virginia Nelson) w. Dick Wess Orch. (Charles ZTSP 85276; 1962)
Jambalaya--Sally Sweetland w. the Enoch Light Chorus and Orch. (Waldorf Record Corp. P111)
Short Fat Fannie--Chuck Lovett w. Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1220; 1957)
From the Wrong Side of Town--June Valli w. Joe Reisman's Orch. and Cho., 1956
Will You Love Me Still (Leiber-Stoller)--June Valli w. Joe Reisman's Orch., 1957
Black Magic--The Norman Greene Orchestra (Rexford 103; 1951)
Little White Lies--Same
Hurricane Boogie--Bob Sharples and his Music, featuring "Lightnin" Bob (1956)
Without a Song--The Checkers (King 4675; 1953)
White Cliffs of Dover--Same
Don't Be Angry--The Four Jacks w. Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1121; 1955)
Pledging My Love--Mona Grey w. the Prom Orch. (Prom 1110; 1955)
Little Darlin'--Bob Miller w. Michael Stewart Quartet (Bell 35; 1957)


Monday, February 11, 2019

A less recent version of "Deliverance Will Come" ("Palms of Victory") and 1914 John McCormack

On Sunday, I shared the terrific Oak Ridge Boys version of Palms of Victory, a.k.a. Deliverance Will Come (and vice versa), an 1836 song they wished they'd recorded first. Here's the 1928 version by Smith's Sacred Singers, which the Singers take at about 1/10 the tempo.

My copy is quite worn, but I sicced MAGIX's DeNoiser on it, and it hasn't sounded the same since.  Why the group whispers the final repeat of the chorus, I know not.  The volume dip actually helped my cause--it showed me precisely where it was necessary to cut and boost to maximize detail.  Thank you, quiet last chorus repeat.

I've also uploaded my restoration of John McCormack's 1914 recording of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria, featuring Fritz Kreisler on violin and Vincent O'Brien on piano.  You'll hear the surface noise taking over at the end!  But I think I got a nice file out of it.  Found a copy on eBay (or was it discogs?)--I always wanted the 78 to see what I could do with it.  The 1958 RCA Camden transfer, while likely superb for its day, doesn't sound quite as good in 2019.  I don't know why pianist Vincent O'Brien speeds up a bit during the piano intro.  I never noticed this until I made my own rip.

Update: I redid the Ave Maria rip a bit--see additional link below.  I think I'd left in a little too much hiss in my effort to bring out all the musical detail.  My copy is fine shape, but it' a noisy side!
Update 2: I also redid Deliverance Will Come, this time with the normal 78 rpm stylus width (2.7 mil).  I think the results are a lot better.  I posted the new file below.  For individual, non-zip files, the Box download button is in the upper r.h. corner, or you can listen at the site!

To the sides:

Deliverance Will Come--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1928

Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod)--John McCormack, w. Fritz Kreisler and Vincent O'Brien, 1914

Revised McCormack file:

Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod) 2--John McCormack, w. Fritz Kresiler and Vincent O'Brien, 1914

Revised Smith's Sacred Singers file:

Deliverance Will Come 2--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1928

Third time's a charm:

Ave Maria (Bach-Gounod) 3--John McCormack w. Fritz Kreister and Vincent O'Brien, 1914.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: The Oak Ridge Boys--Songs We Wished We'd Recorded First (1966)

The title and the back jacket notes (included in the zip file) tell it all.  Looking at the jacket right now, I'm astonished it gave me such a hassle on the image-editing end--it doesn't look all that rough, but scanners bring out every last detail you didn't know was there.  And I obsessively clone-clean everything, and my wrists are practically falling off as I type this.  I know that jackets can be cleaned to an extent--carefully, of course.  Cleaned in real life, I mean,  with water and paper towel (or a coffee filter), though I've never had tons of luck going that route.  A YouTube video shows a guy using Clorox wipes with much success, but for me they were no improvement over water and paper towels.  I don't think these jackets were made to be cleaned.  Anyway....

"Producing a record album is a very complex affair," says the liner essay.  It lists all the tasks involved, including producing a photograph.  And, no offense to the Heart Warming label, but it looks like they saved money in that department.  Put the group in a dark room, have them say "cheese," snap shutter, print whatever shows up--not a big bite out of the budget, I'm guessing.  But do we buy these for brilliantly designed jackets?  No.  Btw, for some reason, in the track labeling, I typed the label as "Heartwarming." No biggie, but....  I see I at least got the "HWS" part right.  I was afraid I'd mistyped it as "HMS."  You know, recorded at Harvard Medical School.  I am not fully with it tonight.

The Oak Ridge Boys, luckily, are fully with it on these 1966 tracks.  I bought this 99-cent Goodwill special because of Palms of Victory (also known as Deliverance Will Come), and I just knew the Oak Ridge Boys would do a memorable version of that number, of my all-time favorites.  And I was correct--this version is terrific.  The song is from 1836, and the musical phrase that sounds like Oh! Susanna was no steal--it predates Foster's tune by twelve years.  And I'm getting major deju vu here--I must have featured this song in a recent post and made the same comment.  Anyway, kind of weird to put an 1836 number on an LP of songs the Oak Ridge Boys wished they'd recorded first.  Smith's Sacred Singers recorded it in 1928, but that's a mite bit ahead of the ORB, which was founded in the 1940s, says Wikipedia.  But I ask too many questions.  We're hear to listen to some excellent gospel quartet sides.

Faith Unlocks the Door was a favorite of the pastor and her husband at my previous church, and they sang it as a duet.  I think I accompanied them--not sure.  But I must have, because I have a photocopy of the music, and it could only have come from them.  1955 was the year of composition.

Great to see a Doris Akers number on here (Sweet Jesus).   I was going to upload to Box, but forgot, so sorry about the return to Zippy. 

CLICK HERE TO HEAR: The Oak Ridge Boys--Songs We Wish We'd Recorded First (1966)

Wonderful Time up There (Abernathy)
Where No One Stands Alone (Lister)
My God Is Real (Morris)
Glory, Glory Clear the Road
How About Your Heart (Triplett)
Palms of Victory (Matthias; Arr: Benson)
Without Him (LeFevre)
Sweeter as the Days Go by (Smith)
Faith Unlocks the Door (Scott-Sande)
The Man Upstairs (Stanley-Anson-Morgan)
What a Day That Will Be (Hill)
Sweet Jesus (Akers)

Songs We Wished We'd Recorded First--The Oak Ridge Boys (Heart Warming HWS-1901; 1966)


Thursday, February 07, 2019

Various singles, part 4--Bazoom! Gee, What'd He Say?, The Valley of a Hundred Hills

Zippy has twice removed (or lost?) parts 2 and 3 of "Various singles," so I've switched to  I received no message from Zippy, so I suspect it's a site glitch.  No way to tell.  Anyway, this is going to, as well, and please ignore the "We're sorry, this file type is not currently supported" message.  The file will download, anyway.  My best guess is that, because Box can't generate a player for a zip file, it tells us it's not "supported."  Whatever.  The file is fine.

Great stuff today, though I forgot to look in advance for the recording years on the sides pressed by RITE Records--I'll have to do that as I list them.  I keep forgetting about the discographies at the wonderful RITE Records site.  Anyway, the fabulous 1957 RCA re-version of Little Joe from Chicago by Andy Kirk starts things out.  Not surprisingly, Kirk's 1938 version didn't rock like this one, so I suspect the track's near-rock and roll sound owes everything to the fact that, by the time of the re-do, rock and roll had arrived.  Lots of people point to boogie-woogie as the primary source for rock and roll, and it's very tempting to go along with that.  Two problems: most boogie-woogie lacked the strong, jazzy four-beat pulse of r&r (some of it sounded like a sister to ragtime).  And much of the earliest rock and roll wasn't in the twelve-bar blues form.  That's the point I make whenever the "rock=country plus blues" cliche is repeated.  Assuming we even know what that means in real life, a good half of early rock sides sound nothing like country combined with blues.  You can't assert a universal definition for something unless it accounts for at least most of the examples.  Preferably, it would cover all.  So, I say nonsense to that idea.   Rolling Stone can sue me.

Good Tops label version of Hambone, and they're clearly covering the Frankie Laine-Jo Stafford cover of Red Saunders' recording (the old cover of a cover bit), though the Laine-Stafford recording was amazingly country in sound.  I say "amazingly," because it was a Mitch Miller production.  As I keep saying, people think they know Miller, but they don't.  Next, the highly obscure, 1949-ish country cover of Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee on Western Magic Hit Parade Tunes, a label title that screams "obscure."  Country guys covering an R&B hit, so it sounds like rock and roll, right?  No, it sounds like country guys covering an R&B hit.  Sorry.  Fun side, though, and despite the awful background singing.  They play much better than they sing.  Got this from eBay, and it took a lot of cleaning up, because someone played it to death.  But it merited the effort.

Bazoom! (I Need Your Lovin') made its way around the cheapo labels, but usually under the parenthetical I Need Your Lovin'.  Not sure why--Bazoom! makes a great title.  And it saves on ink, which the cheapies usually made a point of doing.  Here it's on a real label, Columbia, and by Les Elgart and his Orchestra!  And it's done quite well.  Original was the Cheers on Capitol.

Two cover versions of the early rock hit, Gee--The Four Jacks on Top Tunes, and June Hutton on Capitol.  The Four Jacks' version is very close to the original; June's version, predictably, isn't!  But it works for me.  I gave the wrong credit for Shake Rattle and Roll--it's Bill St. Claire.  So says discogs.  (Maybe my copy had a typo?)  What's interesting is that it's a cover of the Big Joe Turner original, and not a cover of the Bill Haley cover.  Our next number, I Forgot to Remember to Forget, is also a direct copy--this time, of Elvis.  It was Elvis' first huge hit, and it is in all probability the first Elvis performance to receive the fake-hit treatment.  That's All Right showed up on the cheapo labels, but as copies of Marty Robbin's version, which was a big hit.  Elvis' version had no national impact.

"Jack Daniels" (yeah, right) doesn't do a very good Elvis, but Jimmy Lane does a killer imitation on the Top Hit Tunes (Waldorf) version of Wear My Ring Around Your Neck.  A total change of tone with Lillian Brooks' gorgeous Peyton Place on MGM.  Any connection to the novel?  Dunno.  The TV show didn't happen until 1964.  I remember little about that show except that my brother and I made fun of it.

Stop (Let Me off of This Bus) is Snooky Lanson and (I assume) Billy Vaughn doing a Rock Around the Clock copy, and it's pretty good, as those things go.  What makes it amazing is the vocal interlude that sounds like it was lifted from Elvis' version of Hound Dog.  Except Elvis' record was still a year away.  The Platters' 1955 Bark, Battle and Ball is one Shake, Rattle and Roll rip that makes no attempt at all to hide the fact.  Fun to hear the Platters so far off-key throughout.  I gave up long ago trying to figure out the lyrics.  Fun record, anyway.  Then, from Waldorf, we have an astonishingly accurate copy of the Bacharach-David hit for Marty Robbins, 1957's The Story of My Life.  I think someone (Mitch Miller?) must have instructed Burt and Hal to do something in a White Sport Coat mode, and they certainly came through.  Rock 'Round the Old Corral by the household-name House Brothers Quartet (with the Keeklickers), year unknown, has a great guitar solo but is otherwise ridiculously lame.  It almost sounds like a joke.

Next, two 1952 ngems by Hugo Winterhalter, including maybe my favorite Hugo side, Hesitation, written by him.  The flip is Lou Singer's Tic-Tac-Toe, which is an amazing piece of musicianship from the orchestra.  Maybe a tad close to Leroy Anderson's The Typewriter, (minus the typewriter), but it's so well written and scored, I'm not complaining.

I'm sure no one will agree, but I consider June Valli the RCA label's pre-Elvis Elvis.  I swear.  I can totally picture RCA playing some of her torchier tracks for him and Elvis going, "I like that."  She has a similar type of exaggeration in her style--his emotionalism, minus the echo chamber.  The writer of this bluesy torch side?  The same guy who gave us Sparrow in the Tree Top and That Doggie in the Window--Bob Merrill.  Then we have the incredibly charming The Valley of a Hundred Hills, with words by Hal David.  Frankie Laine's singing is perfection, and my copy is a stereo 7-inch 33 1/3!  See scan above, complete with sleeve.  Sometimes a pop gem will go nowhere.  And... two more Hugo Winterhalter winners, 1953 this time.  Terry's Theme (the theme from Limelight) is of course by Charlie Chaplin, who couldn't read a note of music but who came up with some fine melodies.  Note: If you're a Chaplin fan and unfamiliar with the type of person he was, don't read any of the expose pieces on him.

What'd He Say? is supposed to funny, I guess, but even things done for the sake of silliness need to have a point.  And to not be so overdone.  Totally stupid, but it does feature a sped-up voice in the Ross Bagdasarian fashion, and from the same year as Ross' Witch Doctor--1958.  Then it's Merv Griffin, from his days as Freddy Martin's star vocalist, with piano by Murray Arnold and fabulous playing by this extremely underrated orchestra.  Following Merv is a second go-round for Artie Malvin's excellent High Noon Frankie Laine copy, only with fuller sound and a different orchestra credit.  This from a Promenade LP; the other was a Waldorf EP.  How Enoch Light became Bruce Cabot, I don't know.  Kaw-Liga is another excellent Malvin side, and he does a great Hank Williams.  Fun, over the top arrangement, too.  From the same LP, we have the spooky, lovely Billy Vaughn hit,  The Shifting, Whispering Sands, credited here to The Texans.  I have a seven-inch 78 single of the performance which credits the narrator, but I don't have it handy.  No "Texans" credit on that label.  The original was a two-sider, so we only get half the narration here, but I like the way it moves more quickly into the terrific choral section.  As a pop number, it's an oddity, but a highly effective one.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  Various singles, Part 4

Little Joe from Chicago--Andy Kirk and His Orch., 1957
Hambone--Bud Roman and Mimi Martel, the Hal Lomen Orch.
Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee (McGhee)--Western Playboys, vocal by Les Guthrie, 1949?
Bazoom! (I Need Your Lovin')--Les Elgart and his Orch., 1954
Gee--The Four Jacks, 1954
Gee-June Hutton and Axel Stordahl with the Boys Next Door, 1954
Shake Rattle and Roll--Bill St. Claire, 1954
I Forgot to Remember to Forget--Jack Daniels w. The Country All-Stars
Wear my Ring Around Your Neck--Jimmy Lane
Peyton Place--Lillian Brooks, 1958
Stop (Let Me Off of This Bus)--Snooky Lanson, 1955
Back, Battle and Ball--The Platters, 1955
The Story of My Life (Bacharach-David)--Jim Richards, prob. 1957
Rock 'Round the Old Corral--House Brothers Quartet with the Keellickers
Tic-Tac-Toe (Lou Singer)--Hugo Winterhalter and his Orch., 1952
Hesitation (Winterhalter)--Same
Tell Me, Tell Me (Bob Merrill)--June Valli, w. Henri Rene's Orch. and Cho., 1954
The Valley of a Hundred Hills--Frankie Laine, 1959.
The Terry Theme (Chaplin)--Hugo Winterhalter and his Orch., 1953
Symphony of a Starry Night--Same
What'd He Say?--Joe Reisman Orch. and Cho., 1958
Down Yonder--Merv Griffin and the Band, w. Freddy Martin Orch., Piano: Murray Arnold, 1951
High Noon--Artie Malvin w.Bruce Cabot and his Orch.
Kaw-Liga--Artie Malvin w. Bruce Cabot and his Orch.
The Shifting, Whispering Sands--The Texans w. Bruce Cabot and his Orch.



Wednesday, February 06, 2019


I've been sick since Sunday, when the insane local weather rose to the 40s, then the high 50s.  Dizzy, problems sleeping, etc., etc.  Yesterday, I was violently ill with the worst kind of stomach flu symptoms--the worst I can ever remember.  Today, my wrists are numb from the strain of clutching the side of the sink as my body discharged every last morsel of food in my stomach.  This happened six or seven times, and more violently than ever in my 61 earth-sun rotations.

I think (read: hope) it's over.  I came very close to calling the squad last am, because I'm not up to driving and have no one nearby who can give me a ride.  But I braved it out.  Took two Benadryls, plus my 24-hour Zyrtec, and puffed Symbicort, took Tylenol.  (My recent VA blood test had great results, save for a slightly wrong kidney reading.  My doctor says there's nothing to worry about at present, but said no Ibuprofen or caffeine.  I don't remember if she said to cut down on the caffeine, or to quit.  At any rate, caffeine dehydrates, so it's not a friend to our kidneys.)

I don't remember ever being quite this sick, at least not in the flu department.  Lots of reasons why the sudden, insane temperature surge could have been the cause of yesterday's nightmare--it's the old chain reaction deal.  My sinuses reacted badly to the 50 degree jump in temps, headaches resulted, sinus drainage, anxiety, and all this plays hell with the immune system, opening doors to virus entry.  My pastor feels that sudden bursts of warm weather reactivate sleeping viruses, and she may be right.  The medical community loves to be skeptical regarding such claims, but, at the same time, it can't explain the weather/illness relationship, which is clearly real.  Yet it maintains the chant of "Cold doesn't make people sick," when obviously it freaking does.  Or, in my case, a sudden, totally unseasonable rise in temperature following major cold.  If the medical community is without an explanation for a phenomenon,  then its knee-jerk rejection of any and all conventional, "uniformed" explanations is a tad arrogant and irrational.  And my pastor's theory doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all, given that temporary bouts of spring weather reactivate insects--I know, because stink bugs are showing up in epic numbers in this house.  No reason viruses might not respond in a similar way.  They are life forms.  Living things are confused by out-of-season temperatures.  "Hey, it's time to bud!"--Plant.

Anyway, last thing I need now is for my Avast software to act up.  But it is.  Have any of you had tremendous problems with Avast free antivirus, as I'm having?  I recently became so disgusted with the vile piece of garbage (I'm keeping this clean), I tried two other freebies--and they gave me worse problems!  One of them--the malware called Avira--turned off vital functions in my PC, and I had to go on line to discover how to revive them.  Utterly unacceptable.  I don't care that these are free downloads--software designed to protect a PC shouldn't cripple its operation.  I personally feel these companies should be sued.  But figure the odds--software makers are God, somehow.  I get tired of people responding to software failures by noting how amazing computer technology is, as a lame attempt to put things in some kind of context.  Yes, PCs are amazing inventions.  You won't hear any different from me--I'm astonished by the things (when they function, at least).  Also amazing is the failure of software makers to eliminate glitches prior to offering an update.  Also amazing is the stupidity of not putting a shut-off feature in programs that aren't working.  To wit, when a piece of software has tried x-thousands of times to update and can't, it should be designed to cease trying.  All it takes is one program looping endlessly to eventually slow down everything.  I've had that happen more than once.  It was funny--the computer tech Bev and I used to consult was unable to figure out why my MAGIX program was failing to complete its burns properly.  I, who know zilch about PCs, did a desperation measure and shut off everything in the Startup menu, figuring another program was doing it.  I was right--I fixed the problem.  Me, of all people.

Sometimes, I think techs fail to realize a dirt-basic fact of computers that nearly every PC owner figures out almost right away--namely, that the failure of a given process to complete itself eventually drags everything down, because all processes on our PCs are interdependent, their specific functions be damned.  Techs must be forbidden to even consider this possibility, and never mind that a tech-stupid person like me has been able to fix any number of program glitches using this knowledge.

Sometimes, professionals are biased against a given possibility, even when the evidence points to it.  Kind of like medical people trying to argue against something we all know to be true--that people are more likely to get sick when the temps are cold.  Well, they are.  There's likely a long chain of events, just as with my violent illness of yesterday (I came so close to calling the squad, I'm amazed I didn't).  It's anti-scientific to deny cause and effect just because we don't understand it.  Observation comes first--we observe that something is the case, and we accept it, even if we can't explain it.  This is why very smart people are total imbeciles sometimes--it's because they've shut their minds to certain possibilities.  Something can't be, therefore it isn't.  Anyway, I wonder and wonder at how people smart enough to design computers have yet to put a limit on a program's repeated efforts to do whatever (update, start, etc.).  As amazing as PCs are as technology, in that sense they're no more advanced than an electric alarm clock whose (bleeping) alarm would still be going five days later if you didn't shut off the switch.

I also wonder why so many PC techs think PC users are more interested to in messing around with settings and with digesting the great new features in a program (which are usually not remotely great) than USING their damn PCs.  We are users.  I've lost two hours of PC use so far because Avast is messing up.  I'm beginning to think that, what the hay, I'll just let the viruses come in.  What are they going to do, disable my PC?  Avast is already doing that.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Buy a Broom

This is the mystery waltz I mentioned last post.  I made my own half-practiced recording from the folio (Piano without a Master, 1851), then thought to (duh) look up the title.  Buy a Broom is an a.k.a. for Did You Ever See a Lassie.  We used the melody for a song in Boot Camp, but luckily I don't remember the lyrics.

Yes, when all else fails, look things up.  Tonight's lesson from... cyberspace (echo: space... space....)


168 years later, they tricked me

I bought this cool 1851 collection for the "piano-forte" at a local flea market mall, and for the first time, I'm running through it.

 Soldier's Joy threw for me a major loop, because of the way it's notated  It first happens in the second-to-last measure on the first line treble staff, but it's mostly on the second line treble staff, the whole of which I circled using my Paint software.  The notes above the treble staff (that is, above the highest G) have what are called ledger lines.  In this folio's printing style, the ledger lines join in such a way that they seem to form a sixth line, making Bs looks likes Gs, and As like F#s, and so on.  Over the course of 168 years, the printers are messing with me!  Pretty neat trick.  I'm noticing the same carelessness in engraving on some other pages, too.  Meanwhile, there's a waltz called Buy a Broom which uses a very familiar folk melody--so familiar, I can't remember its name.  One piece in this book, Louisville March, shows up at the Library of Congress in its original sheet music, with date and composer info.  About thirty years out, and this folio was featuring it with no attribution.

Not sure what Piano without a Master means.  Possibly, it means that all the pupil needs is this instructional manual--no need to hire a teacher.  It's a moderately cheap grade of paper, but can't be wood pulp, else it would be nothing but a pile of paper chips by now.  A softbound volume this old is pretty cool--I usually see them from the 1880s or so.


Sunday, February 03, 2019

Sunday morning gospel--The Valley Voices: What Will Your Answer Be

Last week, I featured six of the twelve tracks from this LP, and I received a request to post the entire album, which I should have done in the first place, because it's so outstanding.  So, today, in a new and improved rip, here is the entire What Will Your Answer Be by West Virginia's Valley Voices.  Let me note that there's a big and deep crosscut on Side Two (spanning two bands) that I managed to mask over when I did this rip. So, when you hear what sound like brief tape drop-outs, you're actually hearing splice points that I connected with rapid fade-ins and fade-outs.  A lot of work, but the affected tracks (first four on Side Two) are now without loud clicks, pops, and swishes.  Whoever previously owned this LP had a heavy home stereo tonearm and accidentally (I'm assuming) knocked it across the disc when setting down the needle.  Or his or her changer was acting up.  We'll never know.

We're only talking a few very brief drop-outs, so I'm making more of them than I should, but that's just me.  Lovely a cappella singing in pure from-the-hills fashion, and be prepared for a sameness of sound from track to track--it's a stylistic thing and not at all a flaw in the performances.  I'm just noting this for anyone not used to the "mountain" gospel sound.  Don't let the seeming monotony put you off--there's actually a good deal of variety in the material and vocal arrangements, and be assured that this kind of smooth and professional musicianship is anything but off the cuff or casual--these folks are superbly together in their performances, and the listener knows, from the first measure, that the Valley Voices believe every word they're singing.  Cyber-wise, this is a very obscure LP, its only on line mention being my own post of last week, plus a library listing at the Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  My blog is earning its title today.


CLICK HERE TO HEAR:  The Valley Voices--What Will Your Answer Be

What Will Your Answer Be
I Am on the Road
Hard Working Pilgrim
I Know I'll Feel at Home
Lord I Want to Go Home
You Can Take My Place
When I Get Home
When We Gather by the River
Sinner You'll Miss Heaven
I want to Hear Little David Play
Let Me Go Down to the River

The Valley Voices--What Will Your Answer Be (Riverside Records 102; recorded in Crum WV)


Friday, February 01, 2019

Eight Top Hits, times two

It's cabin fever.  The polar vortex has left this area, though the few minutes I spent outside just now were cold.  I didn't realize how cold until I'd gotten back inside.  My fingers were already numb.  Good thing it was a short trip.  Mail, a little shoveling, clearing off the car, starting it.  That was enough.  Glad I'm not one of those macho idiots who go, "Hey, this isn't so bad," shovel the entire drive, then drop dead.  Sure, the drive is shoveled, but you're dead.

Thanks to cabin fever, my thoughts are scrambled to a crazy degree.  Typically, I write my posts in a sort of stream of consciousness way, revising afterwards, adding some, cutting more.  I'll do a little revising after I've posted, typically because I forgot to include a detail or else I thought one word and typed another.  But this is my fourth revamping of this post.  That never happens.  Unless I've been stuck inside for five days by a polar vortex.  Couple nights back, my PC refused to restart.  I was able to pick a restore point, so all is good.  For now.  But, post-restoration, my free Avast antivirus acted up.  It was turned on, but my PC kept telling me to turn it on.  I had, but no dice.  So I chose the "repair" option for Avast, and it worked.  And Avast defaulted to its most punitive scanning modes (below its OWN recommended settings!!), pretty much making it impossible for me to actually use my PC.  Now, call me demanding, but I like being able to use my PC.  To my amazement, fixing the settings was easy as pie, so my PC has returned from 1898 to something closer to 2019.  And my Windows Live Mail is working again.  Avast had things so slowed down, the email servers were simply quitting.  On top of all the polar vortex fun, I didn't NEED this kind of excitement.  Segue alert....

But we need Eight Top Hits.  And we get them times two, for a total of... um... twenty.  No, seventeen.  No, nineteen.  Well, whatever.  And now I get to write about them for the fourth time, though, for you, it'll only be the first.  Both are 10-inch Canadian fake-hits LPs, though Americans were involved.  I have to note this, because I can't put the full blame on our friends up north.  Nothing wrong with the music--these are good covers, and surprisingly so--but the packaging, in both cases, is painful, if in slightly different ways.  The first 8 Top Hits (with the over-saturated cover photo and the "only 99") has a cover that's more like a sleeve, and it identifies itself as a product of the Record Corporation of America--namely, the fake RCA, the one headed by Eli Oberstein.  Only I think this comes from the time when RCA was bought up.  Anyway, the back cover gives an ad for the Halo label, and Ultraphonic is named as the distributors.  So, of course, the labels themselves say Allegro Elite.  And they're titled Tops in Pops.  Yet another example of how these junk labels saved money on quality control by not having any.  The tracks, however, while slightly rough, are well done, Tallahassee Lassie in particular.  Pressing is abominable, with a scraping sound throughout that I was mostly able to hide during the fade-outs.  It doesn't register during the tracks.  Evidently unable to come up with two more "top" hits, they stuck on two very loud gospel tracks having nothing to do with anything, but which had me having to change the input volume.  Same with Along Came Jones, which is louder than the rest.

Can't believe the uncredited artists put this much into these performances.  Why did they?  It's not like their work was going to end up in cyberspace in 2019 or anything.

The second 8 Top Hits is ostensibly on the Remington label, but the labels are Plymouth (part of the same group), so we have another, though less severe, data collision going.  More care taken with the cover, but do yourself a favor and don't dwell on it.  It's amusingly campy, but if you stare at those two youngsters too long, they start looking like poorly lit and awkwardly posed mannequins.  I'm serious--the longer you look at them, the less they look like actual people.  I hope to Heaven they weren't forced to hold those expressions to the point that losing them took months or years.  And the tracks are more carefully performed and way better recorded, with 16 Candles taking the cake (ha-yuk-yuk!), easily surpassing the real version simply by being in tune.  The original has the background voices straying like they'd been paid to.

THE feature of the LP, however, is the die-from-laughter hilarious "ADD-A-RECORD-A-WEEK PLAN" gimmick on the back cover.  Good Lord.  Now, I'm sure it's an ancient corporate tactic to take something bad and hype it as good--a form of lying, and a pretty basic form, at that.  Think of all the times companies elect to "serve us better" by cutting their staffs, for example.  Bad thing hyped as a good thing.  Standard procedure.  And so we have cut-rate discs pretending to provide advantages to their buyers that those mere legit labels can't hope to give them--savings being the most obvious example.  Pay less, get less.  Makes sense.  But Remington takes things to unreal levels, describing an outfit called the "International Foundation for Music Appreciation, Inc." which, in cooperation with Remington (which is forgoing its "accustomed margins of profit," which must amount to pennies, or even dimes), has selected "from thousands of master recordings a basic fifteen-record library."  "Eminent music critics" sampling "thousands of master recordings"?  Master recordings which happened to include 16 Candles and Stagger Lee?  Really?  Here's my best guess--Remington didn't expect anyone to actually read the back print, so they simply had a ball with it, making up stuff Weekly World News-style.  Just say any kind of bull-hockey, and keep the claims fuzzy enough that, in the highly unlikely event someone demands the names of the eminent music critics or asks to see any of the thousands of masters, you can dodge with some convenient lie.  "Um, we lost them."  Maybe they kept an eminent music critic or two on hand for such an event.

My Plymouth label scans suck, because the labels are the type with the light-reflecting lettering, but I made them readable.

DOWNLOADEight Top Hits, Times 2

8 Top Hits (a.k.a. Tops in Pops, Allegro Elite 4150)

You're Got Personality
Tallahassee Lassie
Just Keep It Up
I'm Bound
The Wonder of You
Along Came Jones

8 Top Hits--Don Raleigh and His Orch., w. vocals by Jimmy Perry and Jane Michaels (Plymouth P724)

Goodbye Baby
16 Candles
Hawaiian Wedding Song
A Lover's Question
Stagger Lee
Manhattan Spiritual
My Happiness
My Heart Sings

(Back cover says 1957, but I'm skeptical.)