Sunday, April 28, 2019

Hit Parade of Ten Top Tunes--Jerry Rudolph and his Radio & TV Orchestra

What's a fake-hits LP without a pinup cover girl?  Take cover photo, tilt 90 degrees to the right, remove tint, and--instant pinup cover girl!

This ten-inch extremely budget LP on Today's Records (about whom neither I nor Discogs know a thing) features Jerry Rudolph and his Radio and TV Orchestra, and you just know that credit was for real, because it sounds so real.  I haven't had time to do track comparisons on these, but I strongly suspect they showed up on other labels, also--Prom, Gateway, Royale... who knows?  Or maybe Today's Records did its own stuff in its own studio.  Probability is very low, but if Today's Records could afford its own pinup cover girl, maybe it could afford its own counterfeit Frankie Laines, Sammy Davis, Jr.'s, Julius La Rosas, and Boyd Bennetts.

And I think Frankie Laine is who the unnamed singer on Hummingbird is trying to imitate.  He misses by many miles, but the guy mimicking Sammy Davis, Jr. down to the last scat-chorus syllable on Love Me or Leave Me is a far more successful copycat.  House of Blue Lights (I'm almost sure this is the version that appeared on Gateway Top Tune) is an excellent copy, and it's hard to miss with The Yellow Rose of Texas.  Get some snare drums, a chorus singing in two parts (strike that--sounds like three parts), add echo--instant Yellow Rose of Texas.  In the earliest versions of this song, the "sweetest little rosebud" was African-American, of course--"yellow" meaning light-skinned.  As for Ain't That a Shame, it's the Caucasian (Pat Boone) version being copied, unfortunately.  Meanwhile, the creepy Man in the Raincoat cover could have used a better whistler.  Besides straying off key, he almost comes in early (listen closely at the very start).

That song always leaves me feeling that, after absconding with the singer's dough, the man could have at least left her the raincoat.

And I just resurrected the twelve-inch Flying Saucer of Latest Top Tunes file at this post, another Today's Records gem by Jerry Rudolph.

To get today's Today's Records offering, click on link below.  Since the songs on this LP are 1955 hits, I'm guessing the LP is from that year.

DOWNLOAD:  Hit Parade of Ten Top Tunes--Jerry Rudolph and his Radio & TV Orch.

Sweet and Gentle
Yellow Rose of Texas
Love Me or Leave Me
Ain't That a Shame
The Bible Tells Me So
The Man in the Raincoat
House of Blue Lights

Hit Parade of Ten Top Tunes--Jerry Rudoph and his Radio & TV Orch. (Today's Records 1905)


Golden Gospel Million Sellers--The Sunshine Boys (Starday 156; 1962)

Checking up on this LP's song titles and composer credits, I plugged "You'll Know I'm Satisfied" (in quotes) and "York" into the Google search box--no results found.  Why no results?  Maybe it's because the song is actually Martha Carson's self-penned 1951 hit Satisfied.  Tsk, tsk.  Shame on Starday.

Also, Stuart Hamblen did not write I Believe--Ervin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, and Al Stillman did, however.  So, some careless packaging here--but very nice music.

It may be a stretch to suggest that the LP title, Golden Gospel Million Sellers, was an attempt to trick buyers into thinking that these are the million selling versions, but that charge would only apply if Starday had titled this LP Golden Gospel Million Sellers by the Sunshine Boys.  Which it did not.

Er, wait a minute.  Actually, yes it did--on the back cover and the labels.  There it is: Golden Gospel Million Sellers by the Sunshine Boys.  Tsk, tsk.  Shame on you twice, Starday.

But the tracks are excellent, and Starday put out a lot of terrific gospel, so I guess we have to forgive.  And the Sunshine Boys were on a million-selling disc--Red Foley's 1951 Peace in the Valley, though that title isn't on this disc.  Anyway, J.D. Sumner sang with this group prior to joining the Blackwood Brothers in 1954, and here's a picture of Elvis and the Sunshine Boys, from 1957:

Looks like Sumner's in the photo--not sure.  Elvis first heard Sumner when Sumner was singing with these guys, except Sumner must have been performing on a guest basis, since it was post-1954.  I'm tossing this essay together in a hurry (still labeling the MAGIX tracks), so I can't verify everything, but my gospel-knowledgeable readers will step in, I'm sure.  On that note, let me thank Josh for the This Ole House history he shared in the comment section.  And guess what song starts this playlist?  This Ole House, of course--only under its alternate title, This Old House.  Nothing to do with the PBS series, far as I know, and I'm surprised to see that it's still on.  Shows you how often I tune in PBS.

A number of these tracks fall into the "inspirational" category--His Hands, It Is No Secret, Three Bells, He, I Believe, Open Up Your Heart, and Crying in the Chapel.  That's almost the entire album, actually.  Anyway, were the Sunshine boys a group "long recognized as America's #1 spiritual quartet," as the liner notes claim?  Since it's Starday making the claim, I wouldn't bet the farm on it, but the group clearly had a notable gospel career.  Here's a write-up on the singers which I found slightly unclear in spots, but helpful nonetheless.  As for the "Light Crust Doughboys" portion of their history, they were obviously not the famous Western swing group by that name.  Unless the Light Crust Doughboys had satellite bands, a la Paul Whiteman.  As in, different groups operating under the name in different locations.  Dunno.

The second and last titles are of unknown authorship.  Or "folk," as the term is sometimes used (to mean "We don't know").  The second (A Pilgrim) has been recorded by any number of people, including the Byrds in 1968 (as I'm a Pilgrim).

DOWNLOAD:  The Sunshine Boys--Golen Gospel Million Sellers (1962)


This Old House (Stuart Hamblen)

A Pilgrim
He (Richards-Munlan)
It Is No Secret (Hamblen)
Three Bells (Peer)
Open Up Your Heart And Let the Sunshine In (Hamblen)
You'll Know I'm Satisfied (York)  {Actually, Satisfied, by Martha Carson)}
His Hands (Hamblen)
Crying in the Chapel (Glenn)
How Great Thou Art (Carl Boberg--Stuart Hine)
I Believe (Drake-Graham-Shirl-Stillman)
When the Saints Go Marching In


Friday, April 26, 2019

Born Free/Strangers in the Night/A Day in the Life of a Fool--Dean Franconi and his Orch. (International Award AKS-271; 1967)

I had a sarcastic essay all ready to go for this one, but the tracks are a pleasant surprise--fine easy-listening music in the Andre Kostelanetz/Percy Faith style.  And good stereo sound.  Exceptions: the mono Oh Marie and Londonderry Air--but both nice, and nice-sounding, tracks--and Treasure Waltz, a bit out of place in style, and sounding like a bad attempt at faked stereo.  Espani Cani is similarly out of place, but it's an excellent performance in nice stereo, so I do not complain.  Do you hear me complaining?  Nope.

Actually, since all of the tracks, except the three then-current hits, are filler, I guess there's no objective floor for deciding what fits and what doesn't.  Just my judgment call.  I guess, to my ears, Treasure Waltz and Espani Cani lack the dreamy, mood-music feel of the rest, though I like Cani, anyway.

A dollar-bin LP worth its price, and then some.  Imagine that.  I don't feel like figuring out which LPs in the Pickwick catalog yielded the filler tracks--it doesn't matter much.  And this is Pickwick, of course--KM Corp.  I figured there had probably been a Design Records version of this, as well, mainly because the cover design is very Design.  I was right.  From Discogs:

Not quite the same cover--different upper portion for the titles, different font, Strangers in the lead, and "The Lush String Sounds of, etc." up topside, but the same photos in the same soap-opera-montage style.  If you spotted both jacket versions while flipping through a row of thrift vinyl, you'd think they were identical.  In fact, I thought my LP was the Design label--until I pulled out the LP and saw the white label and "International Award."  That was my first clue.

We have the standard junk label scheme at work here: exploiting a few current hits, and packing the rest of the playing time with filler.  Typically, filler grabbed from here and there in the label's catalog.  Except this time the filler is good stuff and mostly by the same orchestra.  Junk label filler is typically by a host of folks under false names or none at all.  This fine effort in no way excuses what usually passed for an LP from the Pickwick group, but it does prove the outfit could produce good material, whether by luck or design.  Actually, I reckon the credit should go to Dean Franconi and his orchestra, and a sound engineer who went well above and beyond the dollar-bin call.

La Mer, by the way, is Beyond the Sea.  It's the original French title.  This version is particularly lovely.  This disc is full of surprises--ten in all.  Most on-line sources give this a year of 1967, so 1967 it is.

DOWNLOAD: Born Free, Strangers in the Night--Dean Franconi and his Orch.

Strangers in the Night
A Day in the Life of a Fool
Oh Marie
La Mer
La Paloma
Born Free
Londonderry Air
Over the Waves
Treasure Waltz
Espana Cani

Born Free/Strangers in the Night/A Day in the Life of a Fool--Dean Franconi and his Orch. (International Award AKS-271; 1977)


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Just Some of Those Songs Mrs. Robinson"--King Richard's Fluegel Knights (1968)

Don't ask me--I just work here.  "Just Some of Those Songs Mrs. Robinson" may not be the weirdest LP title ever devised, but, then again, maybe it is.  If the photo story has you going "Huh?" then join the club.  Mrs. Robinson (I assume that's her in the granny glasses) is window-shopping for mod clothes.  She sees a young couple and decides to break in.  She and the young man share a cigarette--I think.  The girl leaves, they end up naked in an alley.  Just your everyday slice of 1968 life.  Then the cops show up.

No, I have no idea, really.  Maybe the U.K. version of this LP gives us some clue:

Well, it was a thought.

I suppose the album art is pretty creepy, though I just see it as period weirdness.  Actually, the last word in creepy has to be the Gary Puckett and the Union Gap hit Young Girl (selection 8).  We're spared the words, and this is good.

The inside jacket tells us that Richard Behrke was the leader of the Knights.  And it isn't joust kidding--he was.  I checked.  There are ridiculous notes (kindly scanned for you) by Sal Forlenza, who designed the album with Bob Venosa.  I know this because of the credit which reads, "Forlenza Venosa Associates" for the album design.  Sal and Bob also did a 7-inch 33 and 1/3 record on Columbia called My Fair Salesman, year unknown, and I can't wait to never hear it.

Luckily, in a 2013 entry on the page for a used LP, Amazon reviewer George O' Leary sheds lights on the Knights.  I quote: "As an orchestra leader/arranger, Richard Behrke backed lifelong friend Bobby Darin on his 1960/61 hits Artificial Flowers and Lazy River on the Atco label, as well as being instrumental in the music chosen for Beyond the Sea, the 2004 film based upon Darin's life starring Kevin Spacey (Peter Cincotti played Behrke in the film).  Before that, however, he recorded (six) albums for MTA with a a group that, featuring a flugelhorn (a brass instrument looking like a bloated trumpet), evoked similarities to the music of Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass."

Which is my problem with this record--it sounds like Herb Alpert.  The musicianship is superb, and the arrangements are professional as can be, and I like what's done with Burt Bacharach's Trains and Boats and Planes (listed as Trains, Boats and Planes), but I just get tired of the Alpert sound after four or five tracks.  However, what matters is what you think, dear reader/listener.  And I knew I wouldn't get away with presenting the jacket minus the music, so I didn't even try.

That horrible phrase "generation gap" shows up in Sal's liner essay, and something told me the term must have come from social science.  I was right.  Wikipedia: "Early sociologists such as Karl Mannheim noted differences across generations in how the youth transits into adulthood and studied the ways in which generations separate themselves from one another, in the home and in social situations and areas (such as churches, clubs, senior centers, and youth centers)."  Because no one ever noticed stuff like that before.  Might explain why we Boomers didn't listen to Rudy Vallee and wear raccoon coats. Or dance to Kay Kyser.  I mean, generally speaking.

New generations, new ways.  Someone had to discover this, because how else would we know?

Anyway, highly well-done music, and one of the all-time examples of album design bizarreness to ever turn up in a VOA thrift bin.  I'll have to be nicer to the budget LP jackets from now on.  Even the tackiest of them are at least sane.

DOWNLOADJust Some of Those Songs Mrs. Robinson--King Richard's Fluegel Knights (1968)


Dessert (Al Kessler)
Like to Get to Know You
By the Time I Get to Phoenix (J. Webb)
Do You Know the Way to San Jose (Bacharach-David)
Scarborough Fair
Turnabout (R. Behrke)
Something Classic (R. Behrke)
Young Girl
Train, Boats and Planes (Bacharach-David)
Gentle on My Mind
I Will
Mrs. Robinson (P. Simon)

Just Some of Those Songs Mrs. Robinson--King Richard's Fluegel Knights (MTA MTS 5011; 1968)


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

For today, new rips of my standard Easter 78s: The famous Robert Lowry hymn Christ Arose! as recorded by the Haydn Quartet in 1908 (with no !) and the Shannon Quartet (a.k.a. Shannon Four) in 1925, and Jesus Lives!, recorded in 1922 by the Trinity Choir.  The tune for Jesus Lives! was written by Henry J. Gauntlett in 1852.  Meanwhile, the Shannon Quartet became the Reverlers in 1925.

The rest of the tracks are me at the organ (actually, my Casio WK-3800), playing Easter hymns.  I tossed this together at the last minute, meaning last night.  Total rush job.

I play two Jesus Lives! tunes--the Gauntlett music used by the Trinity Quartet, and a 1921 tune by Andrew L. Skoog, who was born in Sweden and died in Minnesota.

LINK:   Easter 2019--78s, Lee at the organ

Christ Arose! (Lowry)--Shannon Quartet (Victor 19883; 1925)
Jesus Lives! (Gauntlett)--Trinity Quartet (Victor 19004; 1922)
Christ Arose (Lowry)--Haydn Quartet (Victor 16008; 1908)
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today (Lyra Davidica, 1708)--Me, Casio WK-3800
Sing, men and angels, sing (John Porter)--Me, Casio WK-3800
Jesus Lives! (Andrew L. Skoog, 1921)--Me, Casio WK-3800
Welcome, Happy Morning (Frances R. Havergal)--Me, Casio WK-3800
Jesus Lives! (Gauntlett, 1852)--Me, Casio WK-3800


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Twelve Top Hits of Today, Vol. 1 (Hit Tune Records; probably 1967)

Twelve Top Hits of Today--"today," in this case, being 1967.  I'll assume that's the year of the LP, though it could have been early 1968.  And, by the way, while I love my Epson scanner, it doesn't always get the colors quite right.  This is a pure green label, not a blue-green one.  Similarly, that's a green border around the titles on the front jacket, not a blue one.  Oh, well.

And this is supposed to be a stereo LP, but there's no stereo to be heard, so I combined the channels for better fidelity.  Worn mono discs like this one usually sound better with L+R combined.  The Hit Tune Records label is one I've never encountered before, and it only gets a single entry on Discogs--this LP.  No catalog number or address, so there's no way of guessing who was behind this.  The pronounced left tilt on the front jacket is not a scanning error--that's how it looks.  None of these are the original hits, of course, which you would know after one glance at the green (but, on my scanner, blue-green) label, with its lack of artist credits.  The front jacket does list the original artists ("made famous by") followed by the label's people ("recorded by") beside each title, and maybe someone was fooled by this tactic, but to my eyes the white font stands out over the yellow, the yellow being the real people--Procol Harum, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Lulu, etc.  A failure to trick buyers may explain the apparent lack of a volume 2.

I was ten in 1967, but I only remember about 3/4 of these.  Maybe the other 1/4 didn't do well in my particular radio market.

The performances range from competent to not so competent, with Homburg especially dreadful, the singer sounding like the original vocalist after a week without sleep.  I was never a Procol Harum fan, to put it mildly--here, their lyrics sound like something written for a "World's Worst Song" contest.  The words to Incense and Peppermints, by contrast, are just the usual psychedelic silliness of the time, set to an effective tune and performance.  The original performance, that is--this one is about a D-.  By contrast, Mike Landers (who must have been multi-tracked?) does a decent version of I Can See for Miles, which was one my big favorites growing up.  It hung on for years as an AM oldie.  The main problems with this copy of Miles are the weak vocal harmonies and the guitar chords going south on the fadeout.  Two closing chords (tonic and subdominant), but the guitarist must have goofed up their order.  Racheal Waters has the best singing voice of the lot, but her handling of Vikki Carr's hilarious (it seemed so at the time) It Must Be Him lacks Carr's conviction (is "over-conviction" a word?), and she sings To Sir with Love like someone who's only heard the thing once.  I just noticed I followed the word "love" with "like."  Anyway, if the label had put some love behind this collection--say, an actual budget--Racheal's tracks would have turned out much better, I'm sure.

I'm positive the "Slim Pikins" on this LP was no relation to actor Slim Pickens.  And it was Tommy James and the Shondells who did the original Gettin' Together.  Either Hit Tune Records didn't know that or it misplaced the info.

I seem to remember, back when the Carr record was playing every five minutes on AM radio, that I would answer the "And then I die" lyric with something like "Then die, already."  On that note, to the 1967 fake hits:

LINK:   Twelve Top Hits of Today, Vol. 1

Back on the Street Again--Tony Anderss
Hush--Mike Landers
Keep the Ball Rollin'--Slim Pickins
Like an Old-Time Movie--Dean Gregory
It Must Be Him--Racheal Waters
I Can See for Miles--Mike Landers
Incense and Peppermints--Bobby Sty
Never My Love--Tony Charles
Gimme Little Sign--Slim Pikins
Gettin' Together--Sexton
To Sir with Love--Racheal Waters


Sunday, April 14, 2019

"Hambone"--Red Saunders and his Orch. (1952), plus two more sides

Yesterday I featured the world-famous team of Jimmy Jett, the Three of Us, and Sherry Martin doing a fake-hit version of the 1952 Red Saunders hit Hambone.  I couldn't find a decent transfer of the original Saunders record at Youtube, so I did my own.  And here it is.  I included the rocking flip side, Boot 'Em Up.

Also, a 1953 side, The Baion, which refers to a Brazilian beat later used by Burt Bacharach in (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me, Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa, and likely others.  I wonder if Burt heard this record.  For some unknown reason, my memory told me this particular 78 was by Les Brown and his Orchestra.  Don't ask me.  I guess it's because "Les Brown" sounds so much like "Paulo Alencar."

I must remember not to rely on my memory....

As I noted in the previous Hambone post, the Bo Diddley beat heard on Hambone had been showing up in pop music for decades--it's on Andre Kostelanetz's 1935 Rumba Fantasy, for instance.  This takes nothing away from Bo (Ellas McDaniel), who used it to make one hell of a great single.

LINK:  Hambone, The Baion


Sunday morning gospel: Songs of Inspiration--The Harry Simeone Chorale (Mercury MG 20945; 1964)

For a while, I've been wanting to post some inspirational songs for my Sunday Morning Gospel series, which would seem to be what I've been doing all along.  But "inspirational" is a specific genre, even if precisely defining that genre is next to impossible.  "Inspirational" (which I'm using as a noun, a la Classical, easy, and "house") includes things like Climb Ev'ry Mountain (in this list), You'll Never Walk Alone (not in this list), He (in this list), and One God (not in this list, though I wish it was).  Inspirational numbers can be religious--or not.  They might simply feature lyrics about the power of hope, or the importance of not giving up hope.  They might be pop numbers of a religious type that simply don't have the right hymnal sound (too solo, not things for congregational singing).  Or numbers which don't fit into a gospel concert set, style-wise.  The 1868 classic Whispering Hope, which appears here, is a perfect example of an orphan/orphaned inspirational song.  Highly effective as a duet, but nothing a congregation would tackle, it's not to be found in many hymnals or sacred songbooks--nearly none, in my collecting experience.  It's more a sheet music staple.  And in modern churches, solos are likely to be of the "praise" type, and they're likely to have a solid beat.  Whispering Hope is a slow, slow waltz.  I suppose it's remotely possible the number was blacklisted in some fashion over the many decades because its composer, Septimus Winner, also wrote Listen to the Mocking Bird, but I'm getting silly.  (Getting?)  I think it's simply one of the many "off" numbers in the sacred playlist.  It doesn't fit in with the rest in a conventional way, and so it becomes an "inspirational" standard.  "Inspirational" is pretty much the "Other" file for sacred or almost-sacred music.

I'm trusting that made sense.

The track listing on this 1964 Harry Simeone Chorale album mostly passes muster, with two big exceptions.  The first: This Ole House.  That song is inspirational, how?  It's a country comedy number.  Sure, its composer, the highly gifted Stuart Hamblen, wrote any number of very good (if sometimes pretty corny) sacred numbers, but This Ole House?  The second: Battle Hymn of the Republic.  It's a hymn, and one hundred percent so, and not simply because it has "hymn" in its title.  So it's not "inspirational"--it's flat-out religious.  And, as the last track on side 1, it ruins the relaxed and thoughtful mood established up to that point.  It was probably programmed by the same guy who decided This Ole House was "inspirational."  But, despite these two glaring slip-ups, this collection succeeds quite well as an example of (Adjective-as-Noun Alert) inspirational.

Harry Simeone may not have been the exactly right person for an LP of (remember--we're using it as a noun) "inspirational," since this material is supposed to put one in the mood to contemplate deep spiritual matters, not to tap your toes, but I like the lively aspect.  Yes, there are some slow numbers here, but even those have the usual Simeone nervous energy.  This kind of material is easily tuned out when presented in too mellow a fashion, and Simeone was not someone to allow the listener that option.

Oh, and Harry did the usual trick of replacing the author/composer credit on the public domain numbers with "Adapted & arranged by Harry Simeone."  MY(P)WHAE frowns on that tactic.  I restored those credits in the track listing.  What Mercury puts on its own labels is its own business.

LINK:  Songs of Inspiration--Harry Simeone Chorale (1964)

(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me) (Dorsey)
One Little Candle
No Man Is an Island
It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) (Hamblen)
Climb Ev'ry Mountain (Rodgers-Hammerstein II)
Battle Hymn of the Republic (Ward)
I Believe
Whispering Hope (Septimus Winner)
The Bells of St. Mary's
Walk Hand in Hand
This Ole House (Hamblen)

Songs of Inspiration--The Harry Simeone Chorale (Mercury MG 20945; 1964)


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Jimmy Jett, the Three of Us, and Sherry Martin--Hambone (Irene 528)

I expected an avalanche of comments on my fake Archies posting.  My heart is broken.  I'll never play the violin again.  Funny thing--I never played it before.

That joke went out with, "Doc, it hurts when I move my arm like this."  Doc: "Then stop moving it like that."

So, today the Irene label is back.  Back in the form of a beat-up 45.  However, with my buggy-as-ever VinylStudio, I was able to salvage the track I bought the EP for--Hambone--and to my joy this version turns out to be a cover of the original Red Saunders hit, not the Jo Stafford/Frankie Laine pop version.  Hooray!  And it's a decent enough imitation, if a bit anemic, but with a killer guitar solo break.  Just now, I tried to find a good copy of the 1952 Saunders disc on YouTube but only came across two poor transfers, plus the re-release which featured TV kiddie host Sandy Becker.  You'll have to read up on that--I won't even attempt to explain it.  The re-release deletes the awesome orchestra break and was accidentally included on at least one roots-of-rock CD collection.  If I can locate my copy of the Saunders 78, I'll rip it.

Hambone, of course, is just one of umpteen pre-Bo Diddley recordings (including Andre Kostelanetz's 1935 Rumba Fantasy!) which featured the Bo Diddley beat, proving that listeners don't pay attention to details.  That's not a cut on listeners--since the dawn of recorded sound, we've been bombarded by recorded sounds.  And that was not one of the more profound things I've ever typed.

To the Irene label cover of Hambone, which is credited to Jimmy Jett, the Three of Us, and Sherry Martin.  The five and only.  You know, I hadn't planned on this post turning out so weird, but I should have known it would.  It all starts with the decision to post something on a label called Irene.

LINK: Hambone--Jimmy Jett, the Three of Us, and Sherry Martin (Irene 528)


Friday, April 12, 2019

Hey There, Lonely Girl--Jingle, Jangle--Sugar, Sugar (Design SDLP-311)

Design Records has given us three anonymous but pretty good 1969 rock/pop covers--The Archies' Jingle Jangle and Sugar Sugar, and Eddie Holman's Hey There Lonely Girl--plus six other tracks that couldn't possibly be less related in style.  We get Dixieland, a Rimsky-Korsakoff selection in the style of a Benny Goodman combo, two tracks that would have fit in better with last post's fake The Good, the Bad & the Ugly LP (one choral, the other a kind of Mexican exotica), plus Running Free and Brazil Nut, neither of which I know what to label.  Only nine selections, so things are over with pretty quick, and the LP could have been a lot worse, considering its slapdash nature.

And, really, it's the incredible front cover that makes this a must-have.  Well, for me, anyway.  Far better art than the Design Records norm, and it's delightfully period art--clearly, the illustrator was a fan of the Yellow Submarine movie. I could have done with a few more colors, but why complain when the jacket is so far above expectations?  The back cover is the same one used on all Design LPs of this period--black and white pics of other Design LPs, and a blurb about musical tastes in America and the importance to the public of having "quality low-cost recordings of familiar favorites" available to it.  Familiar favorites like Brazil Nut, Sissy, and Carol's Theme.  Tracks you would have expected to pay a whole lot more for.

Sound quality is decent, and condition is okay, though a big bubble in the vinyl at the start of side 2 made for some fun restoration--for the first time, I used the "loud" option on the rumble filter (for the quiet opening section).  And I don't know what is happening to the sound on Carol's Theme, whether the breaking up of the audio is the result of needle wear or issues in the pressing.  Perhaps we'll never know.  But the sound only sucks in spots--and that cover is far out.  So out of sync with most of the music, and vice versa--just as we expect with these things.

No artists are credited.  Design was manufactured by Keel Mfg. Corp., Hauppauge, NY.  Which is to say, it was a Pickwick label.

LINK:  Hey There, Lonely Girl (Design SDLP-311)

Jingle Jangle
Hey There Lonely Girl
Running Free
Brazil Nut
Sugar, Sugar
Carol's Theme
Rollin' River
Sweet 'n Low

Hey There, Lonely Girl--Jingle, Jangle--Sugar, Sugar (Design SDLP-311)


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The whole album, this time

Last post, I received a request to feature the entire Custom label The Good, the Bad & the Ugly LP.  At first, I decided I wouldn't, since the tracks--exotica in a Martin Denny/Ferrante and Teicher style--don't sound remotely like music for a spaghetti western.  Then I realized that was the whole point.  Like so many junk-label LPs of the 1960s, this album pretends to be something it isn't--in this case, the soundtrack music to The Good, the Bad & the Ugly.  Granted, in print not intended to be noticed by the buyer, Custom only promises us the theme, but the jacket and track titles have the look of a soundtrack. Lots of cheapies played the "Music from..." game, featuring one or maybe two tracks from a musical, movie, or TV show and padding the rest with Stephen Foster songs or whatever the label had on hand to fill the playing time.

So I figured, yeah, I should post this.  Besides, once we're past the lousy opening selection, it's first-rate musicianship and good stereo sound (over a less than silent pressing).  I mean, really outstanding musicianship--and quality stereo.  I expected less in both departments.  A pleasant surprise.

But the disconnect between the titles (The Wind and the Desert, The Weak and the Strong) and the moods set by the music can only be described as hilarious.  Or maybe bizarre.  Why the tiki music, complete with bird-call sound effects and island percussion?  Why the "Welcome to our happy village" sound for Death at Sunrise?  Why the relaxing and feel-good vibes on Lost Hope?  Why the jungle noises to start out The Wind and the Desert?  I suppose many a desert was a jungle at some point in our planet's evolution, but the track/subject disconnect was just the Custom folks being idiots.  I just wonder what this material was called originally and who did it.  No artist credits anywhere on this.  Not even "The Custom Symphony Orchestra."

Checking the track titles on the actual soundtrack LP, I see that many of these titles are take-offs on same.  The Strong became The Weak and the StrongThe Ecstasy of Gold became The Love of GoldThe Sundown became Hope at Sundown, the music for which sounds for a bit like part of the original  Little Shop of Horrors soundtrack by Fred Katz--the walking-through-skid-row scenes and the chase at the close.  This LP is way more entertaining than any dollar-bin knock-off has a right to be....

LINK: Theme from the Motion Picture The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Crown CS 1122)

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The Wind and the Desert
The Love of Gold
Hope at Sundown
The Soldier of Fortune
Lost Hope
Death at Sunrise
The Weak and the Strong
The Three Comrades
The Happy Soldier

Theme from the Motion Picture The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Crown CS 1122)


Monday, April 08, 2019

Record jackets with no right to exist

Really wretched, like bad high school art.  Of course, I just had to have it.  90 cents.

Custom, of course, was part of the Crown label family, on which a lot of excellent blues, R&B, and rock and roll showed up, such as two superb Howlin' Wolf LPs, early Neil Sedaka, and fine early John Lee Hooker, though the sound quality on some of the Hooker is hopeless.

This LP is designed to look like a soundtrack, or copy of same, but it's only the hit theme plus a bunch of wildly unrelated tracks.  On a rip-off scale of 1-10, this is about a 9.

Speaking of rips, I ripped the main title track, which sucks, and then I enhanced it with reverb to make it sound closer to the real thing.  As close as possible, anyway.  Custom forgot to add "pathetic" to "good," "bad," and "ugly."

LINK: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (enhanced)

Theme from the Motion Picture The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Custom CS-1122)


Sunday, April 07, 2019

Sunday morning gospel: The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers: They'll Never Change the Way (1967)

Old-Time Religion, which doesn't appear on this LP, dates back to the 19th century.  I bring this up because nearly all of the numbers on today's LP talk about "old-fashioned" (or "old fashion") things, about days gone by.  Now, if folks were singing about old-time ways as far back as the 1800s, just how "old-time" are we talking?  How far back, exactly?  Thanks to the blog Praguefrank's Country Music Discographies, I know that this came out in 1967.  (I'd link to the page, but Avast keeps telling me a threat has been detected.  Dunno what's up with that.)

So, 1967.  Okay, in 1967 commercial vinyl LPs were less than 20 years old.  This is a commercial vinyl LP.  In short, it was not old-fashioned.  And the group members, as you can see in the photo, were dressing in the style of the time for their field (bluegrass gospel), class, and areas of origin.  Again, not old-fashioned.  And most of the songs they sang were of recent origin, looks like.  Again, not old-fashioned.

They were recording a record album, they had probably driven to the studio in a fairly recent vehicle, and they were using instruments of modern manufacture, I'm guessing.  I reckon my point is that bluegrass, in its gospel and non-gospel varieties, makes a point of being current, not old-fashioned, just like every other musical genre you can name.  Yet bluegrass gospel is all about the old days, the old ways, and the true religion (old).  In popular culture, old is a symbol for true, for authentic, for eternal, and not just in songs of a sacred nature.  Problem is, the definition of "old" changes over time, of course.  We're to cling to the old-fashioned ways, but which old ways?  There's a gospel hymn called The Good Old-Fashioned Way.  It's from 1903.  Like Old-Time Religion, it does not appear on this LP.

You might wonder if I threw this post together in a hurry and if I am, as I type this, half-asleep.  Why, that's right! How did you guess?  Anyway, very entertaining and typical bluegrass gospel, with the conservative tone we'd expect (those new-style believers are going to be sorry! and so on).  Solid musicianship all the way, and I'm guessing the group sold these at their concerts.  I just looked up the label, Jalyn, and quickly found this brief but terrific label history: Jalyn Records.

LINK: Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers

They'll Never Change the Way (Garnett Ball)
The Old Fashion (sic) Church (Wade Mainer)
Then I Got Happy (Earl Wheeler)
Lord Give Me a Vision (P.D.)
One Day Nearer Home (Hatfield-Rambo)
He Brought Me In (P.D.) 
Don't Talk Them Up from the Altar (Earl Wheeler)
Old Brush Arbors (Ardis-Edwards)
Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (P.D.)
The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn (R. Stanley)
I'd Rather Be on the Inside Looking Out (Wade Mainer)
Are You Afraid to Die (Earl Wheeler)

They'll Never Change the Way--The Earls and Whitehead Gospel Singers (Jayln JLP-110'; 1967)


Saturday, April 06, 2019

More ultra-cheap label fun! JEB, Irene, Owl, Folk Music, Record PAK

Last post, I shared twelve fake hits from the cheap, cheap, cheap early-1950s label called TunePAC--"fake hits" being sound-alike knock-offs which were released mostly by budget (or, as I call them, junk) labels, though bigger outfits were guilty, as well, including the majors.  Not as often, but there were fake hits offered on RCA's budget label RCA Camden, and on Columbia's Harmony and record club labels.  And the smaller (but non-junk) label Cadence issued at least a couple of LPs titled 8 Top Hits, both featuring its own artists covering then-current hits.  Respectable labels were not above the "Get the latest hits--in our own versions" game, so we can't be too hard on Tops, Prom, Royale, and the other cheapos.  Unless we want to be.  Personally, I find it fun to pick on them.  In reality, I love them, of course--I wouldn't have so many if I didn't.

Fake hits, by the way, continued past the 1950s--I even have some from the '80s.  (Fake Disco, anyone?) For all I know, the things are still happening in one form or another.  I think most collectors would be surprised at how many showed up in the 1960s and 1970s, periods when the young rock audience was allegedly too hip to buy such things.

Anyway, TunePAC was the star of the last post, and today's five labels are from the same mysterious group, apparently located in Chicago.  The five labels are JEB, Irene, Owl, Folk Music, and Record PAK.  Just why the cheap groups, including this one, insisted on generating so many sub-labels, I have no idea.  We collectors tend to explain the cheap sub-sub-labels as a scheme to trick buyers into purchasing the same tracks under different names or credited to different folks, and that was part of it, yes.  But I think part of the goal was to make each group look bigger and badder than it actually was, which is a con that would have only worked within the trade.  Only other groups in the industry would know, for example, that JEB and Owl were from the same group--unless, of course, an angry buyer figured out that his JEB copy of Come on to My House was the exact same track as the Owl label's Come on-a My House.  Then again, both tracks are credited to the same singer--Jean Ryan--so was there in fact an intent to deceive?  After all, we know that cheapo labels were careless, as a rule.  Maybe this group simply forgot it had already issued the four tracks on JEB, and went ahead and stuck them on Owl.  The junk operations saved money on quality control by not having any--in this group, the label typos alone confirm this.  Take the one I just mentioned--Come on to My House.  Or, better yet, the title of our sixteenth track--We Kiss in the Shadows. Priceless.

The Irene label's omission of the comma from My Truly, Truly Fair is nothing by comparison.  You'll notice that I accidentally included the comma on the rip itself.  My mistake.

Anyway, as little as I know about record marketing or its history, logic tells us marketing was way more complicated before the days of clicking on an item and paying for it with PayPal.  It's possible that you had to sell yourself within the trade as well as to potential buyers.  You had to get your stuff into the stores--in the case of the junk labels, into drugstore racks and such--and who knows what hoops an aspiring cheapie line had to jump through?  Not me, clearly.

Four of these labels appear to have focused on pop hits, while the other two--Folk Music and Record PAK--focused on country.  Why two labels for country?  Again, logic is absent.  Another reason to love these things!  And, of course, we don't know that there weren't more labels in this group. Maybe a couple more are lurking out there on eBay or in a dusty flea market bin, just waiting to be found and exposed to a world which has already had enough bad Guy Mitchell knock-offs.

Last post, I praised the performers on TunePAC, but there's some less than stellar singing and playing this time around.  For instance, there's the unidentified artist singing through his nose on Loveliest Night of the Year.  (I guess he figured, if it worked for Vaughn Monroe....)  And the organist on that same side, who does a solo version (!) of My Truly, Truly Fair, is none other than Milt Herth!  An actual "name" in this label group--someone I'd heard of and who I assumed was a musician to be reckoned with.  In fact, his style is corny beyond belief.  I listened to a couple of Decca and Capitol tracks by Herth on Youtube, and it's the same skating-rink sound.

On the other hand, Jean Ryan's Come on-a/Come on to My House is terrific, as is the small jazz group on How High the Moon, especially the person on accordion.  Whoever they were, it's too bad they were handed a name like "Music Makers."  Yes, they're making music.  Duhh.  I guess it's the price you pay for showing up on labels called JEB and Owl, and I'm sure the price they were paid wasn't much.  And the country singers are okay, and their backers better.  When ripping, I juggled the first four tracks between the JEB and Owl labels, picking the less worn of the two.

Let me insert an extra observation here--as if cheap-label history wasn't already complicated enough, there's a problem with the "sound-alike" label that collectors, including myself, use so often when talking about these things.  In fact, quite a number of so-called sound-alikes made no attempt to sound like the originals.  Many did, many didn't.  For instance, JEB/Irene wisely made no effort to copy the sound and arrangement of Les Paul and Mary Ford's How High the Moon (good luck with that), though they did give us a very nice version.  Plenty of sound-alikes weren't, especially early in the fake-hits game, but of course I'll continue using the term, simply because it's standard, and because we know what it refers to.  One thing all of these exploitation labels and tracks shared in common was the desire to steal a portion of the major labels' market.  They were parasites.

The JEB/Irene/Owl group (Owl group!) really had little chance of success, and it appears to have lasted only about two years.  Which was beating the owls--I mean, odds.  But it left us with some highly enjoyable relics!

All of these are 78 rpm EPs ripped by me from my collection:

LINK:   JEB, Irene, Owl, and more

Come on-a My House/Come on to My House--Jean Ryan (JEB/Owl Records 5005)
Shanghai--Jean Ryan (Same)
Too Young--Bill Scott w. Dan Belloc and Orch. (Same)
How High the Moon--Music Makers (Same)
So Long--Phylis Brown, The Neighbors (Folk Music 107)
Tennessee Waltz--Phylis Brown, The Neighbors (Same)
Hey Good Lookin'--No artist credited (Folk Music 136)
Half as Much--Al Harmon (Folk Music 146)
Salty Dog Rag--Steve Thompson (Record PAK 149)
Wild Side of Life--Steve Thompson (Same)
Easy on the Eyes--Rusty Gill (Same)
The Gold Rush Is Over--Prairie Ramblers, vocal: Wally Moore (Same)
Loveliest Night of the Year--Milt Herth (Irene Records 502)
My Truly Truly Fair--Milt Herth (Same)
Sweet Violets--Danny Baker and Bunny Roberts (Same)
We Kiss in the Shadows--Robin Reed (Same)
Waitin' Just for You--R.B. Gibson (Folk Music 131)
Down Yonder --R.B. Gibson (Same)


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

TunePAC classics, featuring Bernie ("Good Things from the Garden") Saber

Since time began, humankind has been haunted by this question: Is it Tune PAC, or TunePAC?  Or, perhaps, Tunepac?  Who knows?  I'll go with TunePAC, because it looks cooler in print than the alternatives.  And today we'll be hearing three 78 rpm EPs (12 tracks in all) from this low-low-low-budget label, all featuring 1953 hits--so I guess we can assume these discs are from that year.  I vaguely remember finding an image, probably on eBay, which showed a mail-order packet for a TunePAC set--kiddie material, if I recall correctly--but darned if I can find that image, assuming I saved it.  Anyway, TunePAC certainly looks like a mail-order rip-off, er, operation.

There were at least three other labels in this group--RecordPAK (or Record PAK, or Record Pak), the  imaginatively named Folk Music (featuing country), and Irene.  (In fact, Discogs lists Record Pak--with a space--as a sub-label of Irene.)  RecordPAK's label design sported the same five-line music staff as TunePAC, but no treble clef, and the eighth note was tilted to the left.  Folk Music had the staff, and an upside down eighth note.  Irene had eighth notes but no staff.  Unlike TunePAC, neither RecordPak, Irene, nor Folk Music featured "Marvin Enterprises, Inc. Made in U.S.A." on their label bottoms, but they're clearly the same guys.  There'll be a test at the end of the post, so pay attention.

TunePAC, RecordPAK, Irene, and Folk Music didn't last very long, far as I can tell, which puts them in the company of such other fly-by-night 1950s sound-alikes as Music Masters and the Record-o-Mail labels, which included Victory and Popular.  JEB and Owl (yes, Owl) are two other labels which might have been in the TunePAC label group, but I don't know.  I have a headache from writing about this stuff, so I'm in no shape to haul out my Owl and JEB records and look for label clues.

I do know that TunePAC's orchestra leader, Bernie Saber, was the co-author of Good Things from the Garden, which we older folks know as the Jolly Green Giant song.  Or song portion, more accurately.

I regret to note that the TunePAC version of Crazy Man, Crazy (I never understood the punctuation choice in that title) mimics the Ralph Marterie cover, not the Bill Haley original.  Quite a missed opportunity, but a cool relic, regardless.

And I'm very proud of myself for not once accidentally typing "Bernie Saber" as "Bernie Sanders."  I listed Saber on all the tracks, even though his full orchestra is absent from at least two.  The labels' track credits aren't completely clear (imagine that), so I figured what the heck.

The astonishingly stupid Ho Ho Song, which closes this set, has always been my choice as the least funny comedy disc ever waxed (though Mouth & MacNeal's How Do You Do comes really, really close).  There is comedy, however, in listening to the RecordPAC background people trying to mimic the live audience laughter of the Red Buttons original.

BY THE WAY: I think it's worth noting, and noticing, that real talent was present on this label and the others in the group.  Good singing, good musicianship, and a big-name wannabe (Bernie Saber).  Had the group opted to take a legit path, instead of the market-parasite path favored by junk labels, it might have accomplished something.  It would have at least gone down with honor.  This is off the top of my head, but I think Don Belloc was involved in this group, too.  The standard junk label model was almost a type of market suicide--rushing out the offerings, creating a host of sub-labels (to appear bigger than you are), and hoping people will go for the cheap price.  And never mind that a hundred other outfits are offering the same deal.  Such labels had little to offer, were operating on a five-cent budget, yet they had to put all of what little they had on the table right away.  The odds of not going down in flames were slim to none.

LINK:  TunePAC Classics

Call of the Faraway Hills (David, Young)--Bernie Saber Orch,
I'd Rather Die Young--Ray Brankey w. Bernie Saber Orch.
"Terry's Theme" from Limelight (Chaplin)--Bernie Saber Orch.
Almost Always--Jeri Shannon w. Bernie Saber's Orch.
Crazy Man, Crazy (Haley)--Ray Brankey w. Bernie Saber Orch.
Tell Us Where the Good Times Are--Jeri Shannon and Ray Brankey
Say You're Mine Again--Ray Brankey w. Bernie Saber Orch.
Allez Vous En--Jeri Shannon w. Bernie Saber Orch.
Half a Photograph--Jeri Shannon w. Bernie Saber Orch.
Ruby--Bernie Saber Orch.
Ho Ho Song--Ray Brankey w. Bernie Saber Orch.