Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Things may be back to normal... can you believe?

Bad news is that I'm fighting a respiratory infection and doing everything I can to keep it from becoming my third bout of bronchitis for the season.  In addition to using my four asthma-management meds, I'm using my home nebulizer and doing sinus irrigation.  The latter is too gross to describe, but I will anyway.  It's an alternative to a Neti Pot.  I tried one of those, and it gave me the worst "ice cream headache" I've ever had.  The irrigation method, which is simply a bottle of distilled water mixed with salty solution, isn't painful at all.  Just uncomfortable and, sometimes, gross, but if it helps me breathe, I'm all for it.

The good news is that MAGIX refunded my software price, and at a MAGIX forum I received a very courteous reply informing me of the refund and noting that my problem is not one commonly encountered.  The person who responded suspects it's a folder-access issue with Windows Defender, which comes with 10.  However, I think I can opt of out WD, which is worth a shot.  I don't know why antivirus issues hadn't occurred to me.

But... I got my dough back, and please disregard the snarky things I said about MAGIX.  I deeply appreciate MAGIX's attention to this problem--and their explaining things so a non-tech like me can grasp them.

Meanwhile, blog faithful and buddy Byron may well have solved the problem with my previous, better software.  Byron gave me this link which explains a 10 feature I didn't know existed: the Windows 10 Compatibility Mode--link.  It lets me sort of return the previous cleaning lab to a Windows 7 mode.  So far, so good.  I imported and corrected a number of 78 files without a crash.  But I want to do some more testing before I declare victory.  Things seem to have been fixed.  If so, that's the best news of the summer!

It's always a great experience to assume the worst and then have it not happen.  To expect disaster, then find out you were wrong.  Lovely feeling.  Now, if I can kick this damn bug.  It's either a virus that's causing congestion or just the ragweed messing me over with no help from any bugs.  We're always told about the different between viruses and infections, in the context of prescribing antibiotics (which work on the latter but not the former), but viruses can cause congestion, and congestion can lead to infections as a result of blocked drainage.  So a bug can lead to an infection.  It's happened to me many times.

Let's hope my older cleaning lab continues to function in adjusted compatibility mode, or whatever the right phrase is.  I'd keep my fingers crossed, but it's so hard to type that way....


Fun singles from Hit Records, including a terrible "Barbara Ann"

Your chance to hear Joe Cash, George Killebrew, and Danny and Deanie.  (Danny and Deanie??)  I've had these Hit Records singles ready to go for a couple of weeks--they predate the present MAGIX mess, and date from the previous mess, when my earlier program was blinking out every third track.  But somehow I got these done, and I've decided to put them up while I wait for MAGIX to not get back to me.  I got the release years from Discogs and 45cat.

In case you're interested, of these 20 numbers, the ones I remember from back in the day are Barbara Ann (the 1966 version, of course), The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Psychotic Reaction, Sherry, Sealed with a Kiss, Bread and Butter, House of the Rising Sun, It Hurts to Be in Love, and (Down at) Papa Joe's.  I came to know, and love, No Particular Place to Go when my brother bought it as an oldie, so that's not a first-hand memory, but it's a fond one, regardless.  And Telstar was on regular radio oldies rotation, so I've known it forever, though I doubt my memory is first-hand.  I was a huge fan of the Four Seasons, and their Dawn and Big Girls Don't Cry were my two favorite records in the whole world--but those fakes are not in this list, unfortunately, though we do get Sherry.  The tail end of 1962 seems to be the start of my first-hand pop music memories.  AM radio started for me in 1962.

Quality-wise, these fakes run the gamut from adequate to excellent.  As for the opening number--well, for some reason, this label could never do the Beach Boys anything close to justice, and even the basic harmonies of Barbara Ann sound pretty amateurish here.  Worst of all is the attempt to mimic the midpoint patter, which here sounds like people muttering in Icelandic.  That is to say, this Barbara Ann is so awful it's great.  I'm very glad to have it.  The label does way better on its copy of Bobby Vee's classic The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, and its faux Fab Four (the Boll Weevils!) version of My Bonnie is flat-out great.  (Amazingly, I never heart the "dirty" version of this song until my Navy days.)  Having a fake version of the Carole King-Gerry Goffin Steve Lawrence hit Walking Proud makes my collection happy (and proud), and there are two more King-Goffins, both classics--Don't Say Nothin' (Bad About My Baby) and I Can't Stay Mad at You, both competently copied.  Carole is obviously copying Neil Sedaka like crazy on the second title, but she was the greater talent, so it's okay.  She was better at his style than he was.

The two fake Elvis tracks are very good, especially Such a Night, and I thought I'd depart totally from  the general mood with Love Me with All Your Heart, a cover of the Ray Charles Singers' version, which I've always regarded as an inferior Al Di La.  And I have no idea what I just typed.  The House of the Rising Sun is pretty downright unbelievably bad, with the singer sounding like the laughing gas hasn't quite worn off.  Lousy version, but funny-lousy.  I don't know who the singer thought he was imitating.  Eric Burdon's vocal is a masterpiece of enunciation by comparison.

The izzzz a houz in Nuh Uh-leeeeens, they... where am I?

Listening back to Bread and Butter, it's really pretty badThere must have been plenty of studio musicians willing to record under fake names, and at least one of those must have been able to imitate the raspy falsetto this number requires.  And I'd better stop listening back to these, because I keep changing my verdict.  To the tracks.  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD:  Barbara Ann--and more!  Hit Records singles

Barbara Ann (Beach Boys version)--The Chellows (Hit Records 237; 1966)
The "In" Crowd--Just Three (Hit Records 222; 1965)
The Night Has a Thousand Eyes--Joe Cash (Hit Records 47; 1963)
Psychotic Reaction--Jalopy Five (Hit Records 268; 1966)
Love Me with All Your Heart--The Music City Singers (Hit Records 119; 1964)
She's Not You (Pomus-Leiber-Stoller)--George Killebrew (Hit Records 27; 1962)
Sherry--The Four Chellows (Hit Records 30; 1962)
Sealed with a Kiss--Dick Swift (Hit Records 21; 1962)
Such a Night--Ed Hardin (Hit Records 138; 1964)
Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby) (King-Goffin)--Clara Wilson (Hit Records 62; 1963)
Pipeline--The Music City Five (Hit Records 62; 1963)
Bread and Butter--Danny and Deanie (Hit Records 137; 1964)
House of the Rising Sun--The Spartas (Hit Records 137; 1964)
It Hurts to Be in Love--Bobby Brooks (Hit Records 143; 1964)
My Bonnie (My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)--The Boll Weevils (Hit Records 107; 1964)
I Can't Stay Mad at You (King-Goffin)--Kathy Taylor (Hit Records 86; 1963)
Telstar--The Tides (Hit Records 42; 1962)
Walking Proud (King-Goffin)--John Preston (Hit Records 92; 1963)
No Particular Place to Go (Berry)--Sammie Moore (Hit Records 125)
(Down At) Papa Joe's--The Tennessee and Four More (Hit Records 89; 1963)


Sunday, August 25, 2019

I sent my request to MAGIX

I'm supposed to hear back within two business days.  I hope this won't be a replay of my ridiculous experience with the company that makes VinylStudio.  You see, I was getting "raw" (untreated) files in the folder meant for corrected VS files.  I knew that.  I told them as much.  As a general rule, when someone writes you about a problem with a description of the problem, then he or she KNOWS that the problem exists.  I think that's someplace in Chapter One of Logic for Tree Fungus Spores.

Three times, the Einstein VS tech repeated, "You're exporting the raw files."  Um, no, the PROGRAM was exporting the raw files.  I don't work inside the computer.  I don't even fit in it.  I'm a human being, not an electron.  My question was WHY IS THE PROGRAM PUTTING UNFIXED/RAW/UNTREATED FILES IN THE FOLDER INTENDED FOR FIXED FILES.  The program.  Their software.  Hello.

That was my question.  The guy never answered it.  Three times he didn't answer it.  I wonder if he got a bonus.  It's like going to the shop to get your car fixed, and you describe the problem, and the mechanic repeats it back to you.  Three times.  And nothing is fixed.  Unreal.  "Here's your car back."  "You didn't fix the problem."  "No, but I told you what the problem is."  "No, I told you what the problem is, you (string of obscenities)."  "Call security."

I, me, myself was not exporting the raw files.  The PROGRAM was exporting them.  I think the really, really helpful VS help guy/gal also repeated the name of destination folder, which I had already twice named.  When someone has twice named a destination folder, it's a clear sign the the person is AWARE OF THAT FOLDER'S EXISTENCE AND FUNCTION.  Do Help people get degrees in Noncommunication?

I'll be surprised if I get an answer, let alone a helpful one.  But let's hope I'm being too pessimistic.  It's easy to be pessimistic when you buy a new program and it contains more glitches than any ten programs you've previously run.


I'm not leaving

I wrote a post saying goodbye.  Part of it was the eight year old in me all hurt because of the lack of comments the past two posts, save for Ernie's mercy remark, but mostly it's my wretched morning, week, month, summer.  I won't bore you with the details.  But the (I hate this word) proverbial last straw, or straws, were my crap (but not cheap) PC, the abomination called Windows 10, the death of my beloved MAGIX audio cleaning lab, and now the MAGIX Sound Forge version--the newest cleaning lab--which, in two words, DOESN'T WORK.  I got past the first glitch--a glitch that makes so little sense, I can't even describe it--so I felt pretty clever.  On top of the world.  That, plus I successfully restored my VinylStudio files after unintentionally moving them to my D drive.  I won't bore you with that story.

But my joy was short-lived.  The MAGIX Sound Forge crapware is now losing my files when I choose to apply all the current effects.  Not every time, but nearly every time.  This save feature is designed to save CPU space.  Since I slice the waveforms and overlap and do tons of split-second "object" filtering, I like to use this feature to put a track back together--literally.  Otherwise, further changes in the project can throw everything massively out of kilter.  I've had that happen tons of times.  So, now MAGIX (there must be a vicious pun I can make on that name) simply sends my files to the great beyond when I opt to save my current changes.  MAGIX isn't SAVING my changes, it's OBLITERATING them.  Perhaps the Einstein who designed this abomination of a program doesn't know the distinction.

It's like, you take your car in to be fixed.  You don't get it back.  "We fixed it."  "Where is it?"  "We fixed it."  "Yes, but... but....  Where is my car????"  "We fixed it.  We saved all the changes we made, so now it's gone."  "Where is my car?????"

MAGIX is famous for its lack of help, but I'm going to try to find out what's going on.  I will ask, straight out, WHY the program ($80 down the commode--no refund) is getting rid of my files when I try to save current changes.  I will ask WHY that function isn't working.  I won't even mention that other, utterly bizarre glitch (which I can get past by using "Save Program As..." instead of "Save Program."  Neat, huh?)  And will I get anything that resembles an answer?  I think the probability is very low.

Please do not touch with a 100-foot pole anything put out by MAGIX.  The company was great once.  It decided to go the standard cyber-path to Hell, and I hope it enjoys its time there.  I was a fool to trust MAGIX, because I knew its quality was dropping.  I just didn't realize it was dropping this rapidly.  I'm an idiot to have placed faith in this company.  Past excellence is no indicator of present quality, and I know that.  And I blew $80, anyway.  Oh, but I "saved" $20.

I tried Audio Audacity--er, Audacity, and it makes no sense to me (I am not a tech), so in the highly likely event the MAGIX issues go unsolved, I'll have to try VinylStudio, which is very much like the MAGIX audio cleaning labs in their pre-crapware form, but the layout is so embarrassingly amateurish, I don't know if anything approximating detailed work is possible on it.  I do hyper-detailed work on my 78 rips, and VS is like something a kid with a pen and a ruler sketched out.

Wish me luck.  No, wait--don't.  If I experienced any, it would be the first time this summer, and the shock would kill me.


Favorite gospel tracks, Part 2--Since Jesus Came Into My Heart-athon, more!

I wish I had time to write notes, but I don't--except to explain that the Billy Sunday Chorus, heard here on a 1917 Victor 78, was a mixed chorus of 2,500 voices.  Why Victor attempted to record 2,500 voices using the acoustical method, who can say.  But the song--Sail On--is magnificent, and it got me immediately looking into the composer, Charles H. Gabriel.  That's when I discovered he'd written standards like Send the Light, Higher Ground, Brighten the Corner..., and tons more.  I had figured that whoever penned Sail On had to be a major gospel music force, and my instincts were spot on.  He's all over today's playlist.  Here's a young Gabriel--rather handsome dude.  Courtesy of the internet's best website, The Cyber Hymnal.


DOWNLOAD: Favorite gospel tracks, Part 2

Hear Jerusalem Moan--Carl Story
Angel Band (Bradbury)--The Southlan Trio, 1964
One God--Jill Corey w. Percy Faith and His Orch., 1954
Sail On (Chas. H. Gabriel)--Janz Quartet, 1955
Sail On (Gabriel)--Billy Sunday Chorus, Dir. Homer Rodeheaver (Victor 18322; 1917)
Since Jesus Came Into My Heart (McDaniel-Gabriel)--The Merrill Staton Choir, 1958
Same--Chuck Wagon Gang, 1973
Same--Christian Couriers Male Quartet
Same--Revivaltime Choir, 1969
His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Martin-Gabriel)--Harry K. Shields, Tenor Solo (Columbia Phonograph Company 91396; poss. 1924)
Same--Oak Ridge Boys, 1964
All Hail, Emmanuel (Gabriel)--William McEwan (Columbia A1365; 1912)
All Hail Emmanuel (Gabriel)--The Van Impes
He Lifted Me (Gabriel)--Don Marsh Singers and Orchestra, 1981
A Picture from Life's Other Side--Cowboy Copas, 1963
Picture from Life's Other Side--Bradley Kincaid, 1932?
Brighten the Corner Where You Are (Ogdon-Gabriel)--Chuck Wagon Gang, 1973
Same--The Blackwood Brothers, 1967
Same--Burl Ives, 1963
Same--The Shorb Brothers
Same--Red Foley, 1959
Same--Lewis Family, 1967
Sunshine in My Soul (Hewitt-Sweney)--Burl Ives w. Owen Bradley Choir and Orch., 1962
Palms of Victory (Matthias)--The Journeymen
The Meeting in the Air (Isaiah G. Martin)--Prairie Grove Gospel Messengers


Friday, August 23, 2019

Shellac Attack for August, featuring Merv Griffin, Henri Rene, and G. Verdi's Mandolin Orch.

So, if you're just itching to hear G. Verdi's Mandolin Orch., the Lacalle Spanish Band, early Merv Griffin, and Joan Sawyer's Persian Garden Orchestra, why, you stepped into the right place.

Merv croons on six of our sides, with bands led by Freddy Martin, Jack Ross, and Tom Spinosa.  I found a rave July, 1948 Cash Box review of the Tom Spinosa track (on line, of course): "Get an earful of this choir boy, Merv Griffin, and remember him.  Here's a warbler who has tremendous possibilities.  He makes a terrific side of 'Love Is on a Holiday.'  His new style, full mouthed singing of a grand tune, with very swell background support from maestro Tom Spinosa, opens the way for lots of play from plenty of juke box fans everywhere."

Adds the reviewer, "Griffin is sure to grow on you the more you listen to him." Wow.

Griffin is certainly good on the side, but I don't think the disc went anywhere.  Griffin, however, took his first step toward the big time that year when RCA's Freddy Martin hired him as his regular vocalist.  I've ripped four fun Merv/Freddy sides, plus one more pre-Martin Merv--Goodnight to the Night, on the Music-Mart label. I'm happy to report that the tune is much better than its terrible title, though freeing Merv's voice from the muddy audio mix took some EQing and sound-curve adjusting--luckily, I had the will and the software.  (The will leaves the software to the cats.)

Speaking of software, I just switched to the new version of my MAGIX program, after umpteen crashes on my old edition as I prepared this post.  (I thought I'd solved the problem, but... surprise!!)  So far, the new program is cooperating, and that too-small waveform display I was complaining about?  It's easily enlarged.  So far, so not awful.

We really do some era- and style-hopping here, from a rare 1915 African-American string band (Joan Sawyer's Persian Garden Orchestra, 1915) to a goofy 1928 International Novelty Orch. (Nat Shilkret) rendition of the Jolly Fellows waltz (you'll want the music, of course), to Bix Beiderbecker, Frank Trumbauer, Joe Venuti, Bill Rank, and Steve Brown performing I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now with Jean Goldkette's Orch. in 1927.  The 1915 string band recording is one amazing 78--its historical importance is epic, even if the sound quality is not.  Hard to figure, because even back in 1915, the label--Columbia--was capable of reproducing drums and violins with decent results (flute, maybe not), but everyone sounds too far from the recording horn.  A tragic shame.  Not to brag, but, as bad as it sounds, my rip is much better than the two taken-from-CD versions at YouTube.  The transfer on the That Devilin' Tune CD is abominable.

And, as I listen again to my rip, I'm pretty impressed.  Surprised is more like it.  Meanwhile, as I play the track, WMP is referencing the cover art of a commercial rip.  Thanks, WMP.  I work my tail off, and you credit my work to someone else.  Nothing personal, but please expire in Hades, WMP.  Thanks.

Benny Goodman's 1945 classic Rattle and Roll (no Shake), was a 78 with no high end before I adjusted the curve and EQ'd everything--a tough balancing act, but I got the drums up front and brought out some detail in the brass without removing their punch.  By contrast, getting good sound out of Juan Lacalle's 1926's Plus Ultra was a breeze--it pretty much knocks the needle out of the grooves without help from MAGIX.  The song is about a Spanish hydroplane.  But you knew that.

The Humphrey Bogart Rhumba puts the "priceless" in "priceless title," but the music hardly measures up--a very mild tune, competently performed by Freddy Martin's band, which could be brilliant when it had the chance, which wasn't the case here.  Ah, but 1950's Mambo Jambo is magnificent, with Martin's band performing in killer style and Merv somehow keeping the lyrics in tempo.  One of Freddy and Merv's novelty masterpieces.  Love Is Such a Cheat is almost as good, and Merv again has to race against time to not miss a beat (was he taking lessons from Danny Kaye?), so where are the smooth Merv/Freddy ballads?  On tracks seven and ten.  You're welcome.

Ralph Marterie's big band version of Chuck Berry's Maybellene--sung by Ralph himself, no less--should be hilarious, but it works for me, and it has a nice R&B flavor.  And where does Andre Caplet's gorgeous 1911 orchestration of the first movement from Debussy's Children's Corner Suite fit in with all this?  It doesn't, but here it is, anyway, in a 1932 recording by the Paris Conservatory Orch., conducted by Piero Coppola.  And we get Henri Rene's terrific 1946 10" two-sider of Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody, plus a very interesting military band arrangement of Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band, plus a beautiful Percy Faith version of Embraceable You from 1944 on the Decca label, and my first 78 restoration on my new software--the 1925 Victor 12-incher, Gems from "No No Nanette."  Which features gems from (you'll never guess) No No Nanette.  Oh, and an anonymous version of Ethelbert Nevin's Narcissus, from a series called Immortal Selections from the Golden Library of Music, copyrighted 1941.  This set may have been the prototype for all those "Immortal Classics"-style TV ads of the 1970s.

Oh, and gorgeous 1929 sound on two Columbia discs featuring G. Verdi's Mandolin Orchestra of Livorno, Italy.  I think this group is number 1,476,328,921,850 on the most-Googled-orchestra list.  And how did I find out the 1929 release year?  From a copy of Phonograph Monthly Review at the Internet Archive.  How else?  I first tried using the matrix numbers, but no go.  Then, a 90-year-old magazine to the rescue.

To the shellac.  And to those who would charge that my playlist has no trace of a theme, I would say, "That's true--it doesn't."

DOWNLOAD: Shellac Attack for August

Gems from No No Nanette--Victor Light Opera Company (Victor 35756, 1925)
Embraceable You (Gershwin-Gershwin)--Percy Faith and His Orch. (Decca 23535, 1944)
Love Is on a Holiday--Merv Griffin w. Tom Spinosa and His Orch. (Black & White 867, 1948)
Maybellene (Berry)--Ralph Marterie and His Orch., v: Marterie (Mercury 70682, 1955)
Cornish Rhapsody (Hubert Bath)--Henri Rene and His Orch., Piano Solo: Vladmir Sokoloff (RCA Victor 25-1052; 1946)
Love Is Such a Cheat (The Gypsy Song)--Merv Griffin and the Martin Men, Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1949
My One, My Only, My All--Same
Mambo Jambo--Merv Griffin and the Martin Men, Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1950
The Humphrey Bogart Rhumba--The Martin Men, Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1949
So Tired--Merv Griffin w. Freddy Martin and His Orch., 1949
Rattle and Roll (Basie-Goodman-Clayton)--Benny Goodman and His Orch., 1946
Narcissus (Nevin)--Concert Orchestra (Immortal Selections from the Golden Library of Music 703, c. 1941)
Once Upon a Time (Fox Trot)--G. Verdi's Mandolin Orch. of Livorno, Italy (Columbia 38008-F, 1929)
Lost Love (Waltz)--Same
Goodnight to the Night--Merv Griffin w. Jack Ross, His Trumpet and Orch. (Music-Mart 508)
Children's Corner--Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (Debussy--Orch. Andre Caplet)--Paris Conservatory Orch., Dir. Piero Coppola (Victor Red Seal 4297, 1932)
Plus Ultra (Lacalle)--Lacalle Spanish Band, w. Mixed Chorus (Columbia 702-D, 1926)
Alexander's Ragtime Band (Berlin)--Victor Military Band, 1911
I'm Gonna Meet My Sweetie Now--Jean Goldkette and His Orch., 1927
Me and My Shadow--Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orch., v: Johnny Marvin, 1927
When You're a Long, Long Way from Home (One-Step)--Joan Sawyer's Persian Garden Orch. (Columbia A5642, 1915)
Jolly Fellows--Waltz (R. Vollstedt)--International Novelty Orch., Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1928


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Western Ballads, Hootenanny and American Ballads

As you can see, Hootenanny and American Ballads (second LP down) had one of those mostly white back covers that don't clean up well with photo software.  The front jacket, however, is gorgeous and would have looked gorgeous even without the cloning and cropping.  (Isn't that the name of a rap act?)  Gorgeous jacket, trashed disc--so I gave it the VinylStudio treatment, then removed a lot of noise manually on MAGIX, and then summed the stereo to mono.  Result: decent sound, if a little bass-heavy in spots.  But, on their jacket blurbs, Modern Sound (Hit Records) insisted that their records were set up for stereo and/or mono reproduction, so I can only assume the heavy bass was intended.  I've been told that LPs from this era, which sold primarily to folks with cheap stereos (we're not counting the audiophiles and their Prokofiev LPs), were EQ'd to sound best on those stereos.  So that could explain the loud bass, since portable units didn't have much lower end to start with.

The real question is, what the heck was/is a hootenanny?  No, not a goat crossed with an owl.  And not a barn dance--or not necessarily.  Could be, in some cases, I reckon.  Anyway, Wikipedia's entry reads as follows.  I like the mix aspect of this LP, because I doubt that folk gatherings of this type were ever totally political--political stuff was part of the Hootenanny scene, but the main emphasis was on the music of the people.  And "the people" were defined as the downtrodden, the poor, the outsiders, the forgotten, the non-WASPs.  I have a pop culture degree, and so I think of "the people" as everyone, not some select class, and I include the dreaded mother/father/kids/dog/saving-for-a-college-education/family-car set.  Ordinary, everyday middle-class folk.  But the classic "the people" construct is an elitist notion straight out of the academic world, where elitist concepts thrive.  "The people" are the real people.  Which means, I guess, that he rest of us are fake.  You thought you were legit, but I've got news for you.  That reflection you see in the mirror?  A fake construct created by your fake brain.

Anyway, I suspect Wiki's take on "hootenanny" leaves some things to be desired, as do nearly all of their entries that deal with cultural stuff.  No time, at the moment, to delve into the topic.  Modern Sound itself tells us in the liner notes, "The term Hootenanny has come into the American record scene during the last 2 years.  It's basically American folk music sung by a small group of singers, and it's (sic) popularity has grown tremendously."  And even Modern Sound takes the elitist angle: "The very cornerstone of true American music has always been the ballads, telling in detail of the exploits of some earthy character long since past (sic) away."  Earthy character?  Anyway, how about the "true American music" bit?  True American music about true, crude, coarse people.  Real folk--not briefcase-carrying, PC-using, shopping-at-Kroger facsimiles like you and me.  Of course, the performances being copied here were waxed in modern, state of the art studios by the popular country and folk singers of the time--Jimmy Dean, Bob Dylan, Claude King, and so on.  I imagine Modern Sound lacked the budget to track down and record earthy people singing true American music, so we can cut them some slack.  At least they give us some actual liner notes here instead of the usual junk-label pledge of quality.

Sarcastic carping aside, Modern Sound scored a win with this one--cool set, except for the majorly out of place PT 109 and the anything-but-singalong Puff, which makes me sadder than heck every time I listen to it.  A toy dragon that dies of loneliness after his owner matures and moves on to other toys--ouch.  (Wiki, however, reports an extra line that was written but not added, in which Puff is rescued from loneliness.)  The legend will likely continue forever that the song is about drugs, though one of the two men behind the number--either Leonard Lipton or Peter Yarrow (can't remember which)--said that, had he meant to write a song about marijuana, he'd have written a song about marijuana.  Anyway, here we have a document of that brief period in pop music history when country, pop-folk, and whatever were bunched under the "Hootenanny" tag, if only because people were lost for another term.

Western Ballads just struck me as hilarious from the moment I spotted in the Goodwill bin.  It's one step up from Record (One Each) in terms of its faceless quality.  Customer: "Do you have any western ballads?"  Clerk: "Western ballads?  Let me see.  Um....  Oh, yes.  Here."  Customer: "Thanks."  Disc was in fine shape, despite the cruddy vinyl, so I was able to keep it in stereo.  Despite the title, these are pop-country sides plus one novelty--a side I remember from its endless AM radios plays--Ringo.  Nothing to do with the drummer, of course.  Here, Lorne Greene is imitated by someone with a radically bass bass voice, poor enunciation, and a robotic tone, and the track is so out of place, stylistically, with the rest of the LP, you have to wonder if this issue was intended as a Ringo exploitation item.  Except, if so, they would surely have put Ringo in huge font on the cover, and they didn't.  So... dunno.  Abilene, The Ballad of Ira Hayes, Cimarron (Roll On), and... Ringo??  At any rate, "Shot from behind, I thought he was dead" remains one of the all-time pop-lyric dangling participles--it's Ringo who was shot from behind, not the singer.  However, a fake Ringo in stereo, so I can't complain, though it's unfortunate that this superior set had to be the bashed-up one.  But I was able to save it.  Apologies on El Paso--kind of bad timing on that one.  It hadn't even occurred to me as I was ripping these.  Maybe I should have axed it, but it's still right there in the jacket scan.

I forgot to do label scans--sorry.  But you're not missing anything....

DOWNLOAD: Western Ballads--Hootenanny

El Paso
Cimarron (Roll On)
Cross the Brazos at Waco
Girl from Spanish Town
The Ballad of Ira Hayes
Down the Aisle to Heartache
I'll Go Home and Cry All Night
It's Been a Long Long Tim

Western Ballads (Modern Sound MS 539; stereo)

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Washington Square
If I Had a Hammer
Blowin' in the Wind
The Reverend Mr. Black
Walk Right In
Devil Woman
PT 109
Wolverton Mountain

Hootenanny and American Ballads (Modern Sound MS 510; mono)


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Favorite gospel tracks, Part 1--Charles Gabriel-athon, Ira Sankey, more!

This series is all Ernie's fault.  Er, I mean, it's all Ernie's suggestion. He said, "Lee, when are you going to put together a best-off with all your favorite gospel tracks?  That oughta be an interesting listen. :)"  Sounded cool, so I got to it right away.  And I lost count of how many tracks went missing as MAGIX blinked out repeatedly.  Some intricate 78 work went to the next realm, including a very precisely edited track that I finished two or three times, only to lose everything with each blink-out.  That's when I wrote my MAGIX post.  My brain has already blocked out most of that, and here I am up, dredging it up.  (Cue Halloween scream.)

Anyway, as I noted last post, MAGIX is behaving now.  And, despite the lost tracks, I still manged to get about fifty ready.  Some of these were ripped from CD-Rs, with the original LPs no longer in my possession to fill in the label info, etc.  Though I filled in every MAGIX tag on the original rips, I'm only able to retrieve the title and artist info upon re-ripping them--this is one of MAGIX's big flaws.  Examples are the group Homeward Bound, a local a cappella act from the 1970s or so, and a superb family singing group called Family Reuinion--zero info on either in cyberspace.  Oh, well.  At least I have the tracks.  I was surprised by a few of the internet no-shows--for instance, Rudy Atwood's solo version of Send the Light.  Atwood was an extremely well known gospel musician with a large discography, but danged if I can find where that one originated.  I have it, so it must exist.  (Logic 101 in action.)  A number of these come up in deranged form on my Windows Media Player--the track credits, that is--so I hope you have better luck than me.  Just go by the playlist I've typed out.  My player is insisting, for instance, that he Good Twins and Anita Byrant are one and the same, and simply because of a track/album title correlation.  If WMP can't correctly retrieve info from whatever source it's using, I wish it would simply not try.

Hear that, WMP???  (Sorry.  Long night.)

And these are some of my favorite gospel tracks.  And tunes.  Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932) is my favorite gospel tune composer (he wrote some remarkably good texts, too), and I've provided six versions of his 1890 missionary classic, Send the Light, for which he did words and music both.  For such a famous number, recorded versions aren't that easy to find.  I have the hymnal in which it likely originated, and so I can report that there was originally a middle section featuring a bass lead--a section that was axed as the song's fame spread and its appearances increased.  It was more in the nature of an anthem, originally.  Anyway, we get the Chuck Wagon Gang's recording, plus the Fairfield Highlands Baptist Church Choir's more authentic take, and the World Action Singers' groovy 1974 rendering.  And we get a bluegrass gospel instrumental serving up.  (Does that work as a noun?)  Gabriel's Brighten the Corner Where You Are, from 1913, has been recorded by any number of folks, including Ella Fitzgerald--it served as the title of her 1967 Capitol label LP of hymns.  She's not in this playlist, but we do get the Statesmen with Hovie Lister, Homer Rodeheaver, the Criterion Quartet, the Browns, a happy-time group (in an Art Mooney mode) called the Knightingales (from 1952 or 1953), and we would have had the Chuck Wagon Gang recording, had their track not gone to the great beyond during one of MAGIX's interdimensional excursions.  Oh, well.  Corner was tremendously famous at Billy Sunday meetings of the 1910s, and it's more 1913 self-help than gospel, though that hasn't stopped it from becoming a sacred classic.  The words, by Ina Duley Ogdon (commonly misspelled "Ogden") are ingenious, and the music is still catchy after more than a century.  Thought it would make a fun time trip to hear it played in different eras.

Pentecostal Fire Is Falling is a 1912 masterpiece by Old Rugged Cross composer George Bennard, who did words and music in this case, and the Circleville Bible College Choir sings it well, and with much spirit.  I'd have said "with much fire," but I didn't think of it in time.  Circleville, Ohio isn't all that far from where I am, by the way.  Palms of Victory and Deliverance Will Come are the same number, written in 1836 by John B. Matthias.  If it sounds like Stephen Foster's Oh! Susanna, it's actually the reverse--this came out twelve years earlier.  And we get three tremendously good Ira Sankey numbers--Under His Wings and There'll Be No Dark Valley--both beautifully sung by Family Reunion, and A Shelter in the Time of Storm, in a magnificent solo version by late George P. Zinn.

Millicent D. Kingham's tune for God Is Working His Purpose Out may be my favorite hymn tune ever.  She wrote it in 1893, and for some reason, it's not the standard one used for the hymn.  I had a time finding the original music for church  This 1961 recording, by St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, is absolutely wonderful.

DOWNLOAD: Favorite gospel tracks, Part 1

There'll Be No Dark Valley (Cushing-Sankey)--Family Reunion, 1975
Palms of Victory (Matthias)--Oak Ridge Boys, 1966
Deliverance Will Come (Matthias)--Masters Trio
Send the Light (Gabriel)--Chuck Wagon Gang, 1959
Send the Light--Fairfield Highlands Baptist Church Choir
Send the Light--Richard and Patti Roberts and the World Action Singers/The Gospel Lads (1974 and ?)
Send the Light--Rudy Atwood, piano
Send the Light--The Lewis Family, 1976
Send the Light--Theron Babcock, piano; Doris Ulrich, organ
Pictures from Life's Other Side--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1926 (from 78)
A Picture from Life's Other Side--Carl Story
Brighten the Corner Where You Are (Ogdon-Gabriel)--The Statesmen with Hovie Lister, 1968
Same--Homer Rodeheaver, withe pipe organ, 1925 (from 78)
Same--The Good Twins
Same--Criterion Quartet, 1920 (from 78)
Same--The Wilds, 1986
Same--The Knightingales, 1952 or 1953 (from 78)
Same--Gene Smith, Organ and Piano; Drums--Charles Smith
Same--The Browns (1960; 45 rpm)
Same--Heavenward Bound
Thou Mighty to Save (Fanny J. Crosby-Charles H. Gabriel)--Old Fashioned Revival Hour Choir, 1964
God Is Working His Purpose Out (Millicent D. Kingham)--St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, 1961
A Shelter in the Time of Storm (Chalesworth-Sankey)--George P. Zinn, Lyric Tenor
Pentecostal Fire Is Falling (Bennard)--Circleville Bible College Choir
Under His Wings (Cushing-Sankey)--Family Reunion, 1975


Sixties Shindig--Dance class classics!

The good news is that my MAGIX software is working fine now--like magic, almost!  It took at least two re-downloads of the program, but it's hanging in there with no problems.  I have it on permanent download at Amazon, but A. must have gotten suspicious, because the last time around I had to do a fresh sign-in.  It was one of those, "Are you sure you're really you?" type of verifications.  Yes, I'm sure I'm actually me.  Almost sure, anyway.  The cause for all the MAGIX issues?  My best and only guess would be lost or corrupted files.  I just had to keep installing it until the whole thing took.  Without any errors.  That's where my technical understanding ends.

So, tonight I was ripping a bunch of Hit Records singles, and then I remembered an earlier batch of fake-1960s rips I'd made but never posted, for some reason.  Tracks from dance class LPs and singles, mostly on Statler Records or its sub-labels (Avant and Dance U.S.A. Caravan).  Also, some Hoctor Records material.  I looked in the music folder from my previous PC, and there they were!  Two big zip files of stuff.

Now you get to hear them.  Nothing much to point out, music-wise, save that everything is instrumental and that the arranging styles vary from big band to something closer to the original recordings.  And every place in between.  The musicianship and arranging are studio-level, and the tracks are a lot of fun.  Not knowing quite what stylistic approach to expect from title to title makes things more interesting.  And I couldn't have picked a cooler first selection--a treatment of A Hard Day's Night that utilizes the famous Batman riff.  Statler Records treated titles and credits very casually (the latter, by not listing them), and so A Hard Day's Night is shown on its label as Hard Days Night.  As you can see by the scans, Hoctor was more professional, both in look and in getting the titles right.  And including credits.  Er, no, I take that back.  I just glanced at a credit from the Hoctor Dance Carousel LP: Kind of Hush.  I guess There's Kind of a Hush was too many words.  Both outfits were pretty casual and careless.

Not so the dance teacher/teachers who owned these--there's nary a crosscut or needle crop mark, and I doubt the teachers were using state of the art hi-fi sets, so congratulations to them.  I love discovering that someone took good care of his or her vinyl.

Most of these showed up at the same time in the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, all separated from their jackets, most of which I was able to eventually locate in the piles and stacks, but all of which were too musty-smelling to save, even after weeks of airing out.  The record labels, however, lost their odor pretty quickly, and of course the vinyl was easily saved by simple cleaning.  Neither retained their stored-too-long-in-the-damp-garage smell.  On that pleasant note....

Boy, do I have a playlist to type out.  Two, actually.  The credits are a mess.  This is because, in many instances, even with the jacket info, the collection tiles and numbers made little sense.  A number of these LPs were part of a larger package, with extra printed material--hence, the confusion.  Others appear to have been stand-alone issues.  I did my best.

DOWNLOAD: Sixties Shindig, Part 1   Sixties Shindig, Part 2

Sixties Shindig, Part 1

Hard Days Night--Dance U.S.A. Caravan, 1967
Walk Don't Run--Same
These Boots Are Made for Walkin'--Jazz Parade (Avant Records 110; LP)
Music to Watch Girls By--Dance U.S.A. Caravan DCB-67
Taste of Honey--Same
I'm a Believer--Dance U.S.A. Caravan (STUB 67)
Georgy Girl--Same
Do You Know the Way to San Jose (Bacharach-David)--Dance Carousel (Hoctor 4094; LP)
Mac Arthur Park--Same
What's New Pussycat (Bacharach-David) (Hoctor Records 1779; 45 rpm)
Get Back--(Avant Records 2100; 45 rpm)
Kind of Hush--Dance Carousel (Hoctor 4094; LP)
Baby Elephant Walk--Jazz Parade (Avant Records; LP)
Downtown (Hoctor Records 1764; 45 rpm)
Big Spender--Same
Casino Royale (Bacharach-David)--Showtime Varieties (Hoctor 4059; LP)
Up, up and Away--Same
What the World Needs Now (Bacharach-David)--Same

Sixties Shindig, Part 2

Town Without Pity--Danceland (Hoctor Records 4064; LP)

Lady Godiva--Danceland (Hoctor Records 4064; LP)
Lover's Concerto--Dance U.S.A. Caravan DCR-678
Watermelon Man--Jazz Parade (Avant Records 110; LP)
Whipped Cream--Fiesta (Avant Records 108; LP)
Kansas City--Showcase (Statler 1016; LP)
The "In" Crowd--Jazz Parade (Avant Records 110; LP)
A Man and a Woman--Dance Carousel (Hoctor 4094; LP)
Don't Sleep in the Subway--Dance Carousel (Hoctor 4094; LP)
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head (B-D)--(Avant Records 2100; 45 4pm)
Ode to Billy Joe--Showtime Varieties (Hoctor 4059; LP)
Sloopy--Dance U.S.A. Caravan DCR 678
The Beat Goes On--Showtime Varieties (Hoctor 4059; LP)
Love Is Blue--Dance Caravan Red--1968
Sunny--Dance Caravan Red--1968
Goin' Out of My Head--Dance Caravan Red--1968
Surfin' Senoritas (Moss-Alpert)--Same
Ding Dong!  The Witch Is Dead--Dance Caravan Red--1968


Saturday, August 03, 2019

Blog update

Hectic week, with a kidney ultrasound at the big city VA.  I was stressed to the gills over that, but the call-back from my VA doctor is Tuesday, which means nothing serious was found.  Otherwise, she'd have contacted me right away.  So I can relax a little.

Meanwhile, grass pollen is high, and my head is in agony.  And I've been working on a ton of tracks, following Ernie's suggestion that I post my favorite gospel sides.  Sounded great to me, so I've been ripping and editing and filtering.  And I've been having to redo my editing work each time MAGIX conks out, which is constantly.  At one point, it literally took nine or ten trips back to the drawing board for me to complete a single file.  I'd get it done, and MAGIX would sort of tremble slightly, the PC would clock, and then the display would blink out.  It would vanish, along with the work I did.  Then I'd try again. Then it would conk out.

Now, there's a new version of my program that's allegedly compatible with 10.  My MAGIX Cleaning Lab--the one I'm using--is pre-2015, so there's so guarantee it will work with 10--so I'm told on line.  And it clearly isn't, at least for now.  But is lack of compatability actually the the reason for the constant conking out?  It occurred to me that drive space could be the issue--my software was on the C drive, which has very limited room.  The D drive is way bigger.  So I went on line for instructions on how to move a program.  As is the case 99.9 percent of the time, the "how to" instructions didn't correspond to any options actually present on my Windows 10, so I went for the most obvious method, hoping it would work.

Namely, I simply cut and paste the MAGIX folder from C to D drive.  I did this on my "My PC" page.  For some reason, it didn't work.  Second try, it worked.  One of those things.  The two tries generated two side by side shortcuts to the same D drive program.  No biggie--paths are just paths.  One program, two paths side by side.  After several weeks coping with 10, two shortcut icons side by side seems rational.  In the days of the infinitely more rational Windows 7, I'd have deemed this unacceptable.  But my standards have dropped.

Anyway, with my MAGIX on the much bigger D drive, I was hoping for no more blink-outs.  At first, all was fine.  Then, today, one lost piece of work after another.  So, I'm thinking maybe I'll have to go with the latest Cleaning Lab, despite the company's stupid, "Let's be like everyone else" decision to make the waveform display smaller--the least sensible design decision possible for an audio editing program.  MAGIX's great virtue used to be its beautifully linear and eminently logical layout.  The antithesis of my Cleaning Lab is this crap music software I bought years back in which performing a single task requires jumping from spot to spot to spot on the page, in that fractured way far too much software is laid out these days.  Add to this mess help screens that don't even agree with themselves, and we've pinpointed the danger of trusting all our data to people whose brains aren't glued together.  

But my MAGIX lab was that rare software written by Earth people.  Now MAGIX is getting stupid, taking tips from inferior outfits.  Such a shame.  BUT... another idea came to me.  What if, during the program's move from the C to D drive, folders were lost or corrupted?  Unable to unearth the Control Panel from the cluttered mess that is Windows 10, I went on line--and for once, the instructions worked.  So I was able to get to the program in the list, click on it, and use the repair option.  So far, the repair seems to have worked.  Key phrase: So far.  At this point "so far" doesn't mean much, but I'm determined to keep this marvelous MAGIX program if at all possible.

If it should go through another round of blinking out, I'll either contact MAGIX or the Geek Squad.  Something is happening in the background to knock MAGIX out of commission, though the Task Manager doesn't make it clear what, if anything, is the culprit.  If I can find out what that activity is, I should be able to shut off that activity.  It will, in all probability, be something I don't want and didn't ask for.

Wish me luck.  Maybe a post tomorrow, maybe not.  I will NOT do an all-nighter.  I have a bad habit of sticking to something until I whip it, but my body needs sleep.  I think of sound-editing as my life, but I have to keep in mind that's not literally true.  If I were stranded in the desert without water or food, I wouldn't be asking for sound-editing software and a PC.