Friday, July 31, 2020

Barry Frank, Edna McGriff, Enoch Light, Jack Hansen. the 4 "Dukes." (John Wayne doubles who sang?)

Seven tracks today, all worth a spin.  Two "pop" numbers, an R&B novelty, and four early rock and roll numbers.  All fake versions, but you can't have everything.  As far as fakes go, these are the real thing.

Think of this group of singles as an appetizer before the 24-track Waldorf LP to come.  Today we have Enoch Light on the Remington label with two outstanding 1951 numbers--(It's No) Sin, and one the best-ever semi-novelties, Undecided.  Written in 1938, Undecided, unable to decide which artist it wanted to be associated with, went through a number of versions, but this is the most successful of them all--or, rather, a fake thereof.  Specifically, this is (are?) the 4 "Dukes" faking the Ames Brothers.  And "The 4 'Dukes' faking the Ames Brothers" sounds like a specialty restaurant item.  ("I'll have the 4 'Dukes' faking the Ames Brothers, please.")  1952's Hambone, also on Remington, is unfortunately not a fake of Red Saunders' dynamite R&B version, but it is a very nice cover of the Frankie Laine-Jo Stafford pop version.  It may even have slightly more drive.

Today's Barry Frank and Edna McGriff offerings come from eBay miscellaneous-singles lots, and they were played extensively by their previous owner(s).  And not gently.  But I got more than adequate fidelity, and I made the labels look halfway nice, and the tracks were worth the effort, so I'm cool.  If you ask me, at least.  Neat to have some very early Barry Frank, though a little weird to have R&B singer McGriff singing the sanitized "pop" version of Work with Me, Annie, which was retitled Dance With Me, Henry for Georgia Gibbs (dunno if it originally had a comma or not).  No, wait a minute--it was Etta James' Wallfower, an answer song to Annie, that became Dance with Me, Henry.  My bad.  So, to sum things up, Wallflower was an answer  record to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' Work with Me, Annie, an R&B hit in the R&B category known as "dirty," and Dance with Me, Henry (which really seems like a cleaning-up of Work with Me..., but what do I know?) was a family-friendly redo of Feelings.  No, wait.  Heck, I forgot what I was typing.

Okay, Edna is doing a fake of Georgia Gibbs covering Wallflower, and imagine how all this would sound if I really was on my seventh Pabst.

The original Hank Ballard side, by the way (Annie...), has Beach Boys-style "ow-ooms" in the backup vocals--another reminder that nothing is original.  Actually, a possibly little-known fact about surf music is that it stemmed from black rock and roll, going back to the late 1940s.  As for Barry Frank's versions of Earth Angel and Ko Ko Mo, I hate to report that they have nothing like the feel of early rock and roll ("early," in this case, referring to the time of r&r's entry into the pop charts).  But they're interesting as history.  That's my usual cop-out line at moments like this.  I'd go so far as to suggest that they're interesting in their wrongness.

Barry Frank had definitely not yet found his rock and roll groove in 1955, but, as demonstrated by the tracks shared by Eric (last post), he improved considerably within a few years.  And I wanted to express my annoyance with too many rock documentaries that treat rock and roll-era white adults as deluded for imagining that songs like Work with Me, Annie were obscene, because such songs banked on their (ahem) impropriety.  It doesn't take a celebrity-scientist gig on Cosmos to realize that ballads like Annie and Sixty-Minute Man were, as the modern term goes, adult-themed.  And sex-without-romance songs were not a welcome tradition in the "pop" realm.  Having said that, plenty of "crossover" r&r ballads weren't the least bit suggestive--Earth Angel, for instance.  My point?  Beats me.  Enjoy the fake-hits appetizer!

DOWNLOAD: Barry Frank, Edna McGriff

Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine) (Curtis-Williams)--Barry Frank, The Four Bells, Jimmy Carroll and His Orch. (Bell 1089; 1955)
Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So) (Wilson-Levy-Porter)--Same
Dance with Me Henry (Rogers-Otis)--Edna McGriff and the Bells, Sy Oliver and Orch. (Bell 1093; 1955)
Pledging My Love (Washington-Robey)--Edna McGriff, Sy Oliver and Orch. (Same)
Hambone (Saunders-Washington)--Jean Stamford and Francis Payne w. Jack Hansen and His Orch. (Remington R-45-68; 1952)
(It's No) Sin (Shull-Hoven)--Enoch Light Brigade feat. Bobby Doyle (Remington R-45-51; 1951)
Undecided (Robin-Savers)--The 4 "Dukes" w. Enoch Light and His Orch. (Same)


Saturday, July 25, 2020

He was the world's most famous dance band leader. By 1956, he was doing fake hits for Waldorf.

Yup, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra on Waldorf, faking the 1956 hits.  Of course, Paul got to do much more on the label besides sound-alikes--for example, he did a 50th anniversary LP, which is coming in the mail as we speak.  I got a great price on it.  Hope it plays as nicely as it looks in the pics.

In addition to fake hits, Paul did five LPs for Waldorf (for its Grand Award label), and I've yet to post his Grand Award Hawaiian Magic, a copy of which Buster sent me some time back.  I must get to that.  Paul recorded yet another Rhapsody in Blue for Grand Award (as part of the anniversary set), which features Eugene Weed on the piano.  This track was inexplicably reissued on a Synthetic Plastics Company boxed set called A Century of American Music, which you can presently get for a buck from Discogs (That's about what I paid for it).  Then again, it may not be the Waldorf version, given how loosely the SPC set plays with the credits.  For instance, it features the Phil Flowers recording of Rock Around the Clock but tells us we're hearing Bill Haley.  Ah, nope.  Something close to the same boxed set, with a different cover (and no Rhapsody in Blue), was also released by SPC, with a different cover and Vincent Lopez getting the blame.

But we're here to talk about today's offering,  8 Top Hits (Waldrof Music-Hall MH 3333; prob. 1956), featuring Paul Whiteman and a host of singers and quartets.  And my copy came without a cover, so I scanned my EP cover, with sports the same photo, so it's close enough.  The jacket image at Discogs isn't very good, so I passed on using it.  The sound came out better than I expected, and it was good to begin with, so we'll hearing some fine 1956 fidelity.  The surface is about a VG, but I killed all or most of the clicks and pops, as usual, so...  But there's the question as to whether Paul Whiteman was actually involved with these tracks.  That is, was his name stuck on the jacket simply to give this 10-inch LP extra cred?  I'm leaning in that direction.  Unfortunately, I don't have the EP singles (18 Top Hits 203 and 204) which contain seven of these tracks, and which might (or might not) confirm who did the conducting duties.  So I dunno.  However, at Discogs there's a listing for the Waldorf LP 18 Top Hits LP (33-TH-9), on which the orchestra credit for Miracle of Love is given to Enoch Light, not to Paul, as here.  You can't believe a thing you read on these cheapies--not even on the Waldorf labels, which were the closest things to legit issues in the world of budgets.

So we can probably assume that Paul's name is being used her for its celeb value, but it's still incredibly cool to see him associated with fake hits.  Loren Becker only gets two credits this time (!), with Artie Malvin getting four.  The Zig Zags Quartet appears twice, with the Rhythm Rockets getting only one shot.  (One shot!  Get it?)  The versions are very good, even if many are in that big band style that Enoch favored.  The very underrated songwriter Bob Merrill (who apparently was never forgiven for writing Doggie in the Window) is represented by the excellent Eileen Rodgers hit, Miracle of Love, well-faked here by Sylvia Textor.  True Love is beautifully sung by Artie Malvin and Lois Winters, and it's too bad I can't stand the number.  That it's by Cole Porter does nothing to endear it to me.  Blueberry Hill isn't very good, though maybe Artie Malvin would have had a more appropriate instrumental backing on Bell, for which he also sang.  In all, a fun set.

In terms of fidelity to the originals, our Bell label bonus singles are a whole different story.  The Bob Miller fake of Little Darlin' made the amazing choice to copy the Gladiolas original, not the monster-hit cover version by the Diamonds (which some argue is better than its source, which it may be).  It's a delight to hear such an effective copy of the "R&B" version (and I'm using quotes because traditionally, and in spite of what you've heard, "R&B" never referred to a specific style--rather, the R&B charts reflected what was popular with black record buyers--hence, Bing Crosby's White Christmas was an R&B hit as well as a "pop" smash).  And you wouldn't believe how much needle-dig noise I had to remove from the Little Darlin' rip.  But it was worth the trouble.  African-American saxophonist and bandleader Buddy Lucas is listed as the singer on Hound Dog and When My Dreamboat..., so I have no I have no reason to doubt it--and he has the right feel and the right kind of rough voice, so I'm fine with Bell's choice.  Then we get Artie Malvin doing The Green Door again--only minus the Enoch Light sound, which in this case is a good thing.  Marion Colby's Dim, Dim, the Lights is terrific in the way it captures the sound of the Bill Haley hit version, and the lovely and talented Edna McGriff  (a vocalist with Buddy Lucas' band) was somehow coaxed by the Bell sublabel Favorite (if you can imagine a sublabel of Bell) into waxing a superb version of Sh-Boom, that monotonous early rock hit which used the chords to I Got Rhythm (including the circle-of-fourths bridge), and which was brilliantly and brutally trashed by Stan Freberg.  (I personally like both versions--the original and the unkind parody.)  Edna's version is jazzy and sultry, which is quite an accomplishment when the material is so minimalist.

To the maybe-Paul Whiteman tracks and the Bell bonuses!

DOWNLOAD:  Paul Whiteman and His Orch.--8 Top Hits (Waldorf MH 3333; prob. 1956)

And the actual cover image, found at a WordPress site by Sky Raven, who provided the link.  Many thanks!  As you can see, identical save for the extra print:

8 Top Hits--Paul Whiteman and His Orch. (Waldorf Music-Hall MH 3333, 10-in. LP; prob. 1956)

Out of Sight, Out of Mind--The Zig Zags Quartet

Green Door--Artie Malvin w. the Rhythm Rockets
Cindy, Oh Cindy--Loren Becker w. the Zig Zags Quartet
Blueberry Hill--Artie Malvin
Hey! Jealous Lover--Loren Becker
Miracle of Love (Bob Merrill)--Sylvia Textor
True Love (Cole Porter)--Artie Malvin and Lois Winters
You'll Never, Never Know I Care--The Zig Zags Quartet

Bonus Tracks (All 45 rpm singles)

The Green Door--Artie Malvin (Bell 11; 1956)

Hound Dog (Leiber-Stoller)--Buddy Lucas w. Jimmy Carroll and Orch. (Bell 3; 1956)
When My Dreamboat Comes Home--Same
Little Darlin' (Maurice Williams)--Bob Miller w. the Michael Stewart Quartet (Bell 35; 1957)
Dim, Dim, the Lights (Ross-Dixon)--Marion Colby w. Gil Stevens and His Orch. (Bell 1083; 1955)
Sh-Boom (Life Could Be a Dream)--Edna McGriff and the Tomcats (Favorite 21000X; 1954)

                                                                                                                         Edna McGriff


Monday, July 20, 2020

8 Top Hits (Hits... Hits... Hooray!)--Waldorf Music-Hall DC-105; prob. 1957

Before I forget, dig the original Woolworth price sticker in the upper right-hand corner (99 cents).  Waldorf was "exclusively sold in Woolworth stores from 1954 to 1959," to exactly quote Wikipedia, though I'm fairly sure some of their stuff was mail-order.

Everything seemed too simple, too straightforward with this rip.  No conflict between jacket and label information, with the track count (eight) corresponding to the EP title ("8 Top Hits"), and few condition issues.  Granted, "Music-Hall" gets a hyphen on the label and not the jacket, and "78 RPM Standard Speed" (jakcet, upper right) is a little confusing, since 78 RPM was becoming old hat in 1957--unless the phrase was referring to the "standard" speed of 78 in the sense of "Not 79, and 77, but 78."  Except that makes no sense.  Oh, well.

But this time around, we don't have the usual collection of confusing or clashing details, and the disc gave me no hassles, editing-wise.  And the sound is very good.  It's Full Dynamic Range, after all.  Dig the full dynamics.  (I gave the bass a little boost, regardless.)

1957 would seem to be the year for island rhythms--the year of Calypso. I recall seeing a musical short, made around this time, which treated Calypso as the logical successor to rock and roll.  Boy, how prescient.  Exactly how it happened.  Meanwhile, Wringle Wrangle has always been a favorite of mine, and I don't know why.  Maybe because Merv Griffin recorded a very pleasant version for Decca.  It is weird that the song, being from a Disney flick, would have the very mildly suggestive lyric of "Got a woman to cook and wash... and things," though I suppose that would go over the heads of 1957 young people.  Not sure.  Never underestimate what kids of any era were aware of--all that stuff they weren't suppose to know about.

I took some sleep meds last night that worked too well, and I'm doped even at this hour.  This explains why I just entered "Enoch Light w. Enoch Light and His Orch."  Umm, no.  And when I think of Banana Boat Song, I hear the Belafonte version (and Stan Freberg's hilarious, and brutal, parody), but this is a copy of the Tarriers' version--hence, the "Hull and Gully Driver" part.  And I move on to the next paragraph, fully confident that what I just typed made total sense.

The fun Artie Malvin fake of Young Love totally misses the boat, stylistically, and this was the rule, initially, for Waldorf when it came to rock and roll--the label made the stuff sound more like big band.  This accounted for many fun but weird tracks--like Too Much, which tries hard to capture the feel of the original (singer Joe Pryor makes a halfway decent fake Elvis) but winds up sounding like a proposed chart for Frank Sinatra.  Blue Monday has some fabulous electric guitar, but the beat is pure Peter Gunn-style jazz, and Loren Becker sounds less like R&B than Pat Boone.  Actually, I suppose Boone didn't do as badly as critics maintain--it's just that, despite his great pipes, he was no Elvis.

I think it was Waldorf's initial failure to capture the sound of r&r that gave rise to the false notion that the sound-alike labels never adjusted to the new style--they did, of course, and they produced their share of fine fakes.  This EP is almost definitely from 1957, and it would only be another year before Waldorf, perhaps realizing that r&r was more than a passing fad, began producing very r&r-sounding rock and roll fakes.  A fun EP, but I still can't get over the lack of weird lapses.  These cheapos almost always contain one or two memorable disconnects.  But not this time.  Very strange.

DOWNLOAD:  8 Top Hits (Hits... Hits... Hooray!)--Waldorf Music-Hall DC-105; 78 rpm EP

(Blank back cover--hence, no back cover scan.)


Sunday, July 19, 2020

"Go Ye"--The Crusaders Quartet (Grace Note 7829/7830; approx. 1962)

On my mp3 ID tags, or whatever they're called, I forgot to include the label's matrix numbers--7829 and 7830.  I did, however, include the all-important RITE matrix number that's scratched into the "dead wax," which dates this at approximately 1962.  There appears to have been any number of groups called "The Crusaders Quartet," and this is the Naked City.  (Wait...)  This particular Crusaders Quartet hails from Shipshewana, Indiana, and I bet you couldn't tell "Shipshewana" is an Indian word. The city had a population of 658 in 2010.  It has an Amish and Mennonite museum.  And a big flea market I want to be at, except it's too hot out today.  Here, I mean.  Probably there, too.

These guys being from Shipshewana, we might expect a conservative kind of sound.  And we'd be correct.  No accompaniment, even--a cappella all the way.  And I love hearing traditional hymns sung in a more or less from-the-hymnal fashion, because in church everyone sings the melody in unison--women, in a female range, and the men, in a male range.  "Unison" means "same note," and not "at the same time," as so many folks seem to think.  Even if it's the same note an octave apart, it's still unison.  That is, we don't get to hear four-part harmony in churches, unless there's a choir, and then they're singing someone's Gaither-style arrangement which the church had to pay a user's license to perform, when it could have simply sung from the hymnal for nothing.  And amateur choirs love to tackle arrangements that only sound good when Nashville studio pros are singing them. One of the weirder features of human nature.

These guys are pretty good, and it's a nicely varied playlist.  I've been wanting to put up more African-American gospel, but everything I have in that regard is either available on CD, or available in digital-download form, or both.  However, please regard this quartet's fine version of I Shall Not Be Moved as my tribute to the great John Lewis.

Varied "close" harmony on these tracks, with no set pattern in terms of who does melody duties--sometimes it's the first tenor, sometimes the second.  And one track starts with the bass singing the main part, only to have the baritone pick it up.  And, for all of the different definitions of "close" harmony out there, I personally think "close" means just that--close.  You've got four parts packed into the male tessitura, and so you have overlap.  This is why Barbershop-type singing is typically notated in treble-and-bass-clef fashion, with the upper clef to be sung an octave lower.  Of course, the "correct" way to do this is to put an "8" under the treble clef, to designate the octave drop.  But old tunebooks and songbooks always took the quirkiest routes available, just to confound people of our era.

Sound quality is decent for a low-budget production--no too-early machine shut-offs or thumping sounds between tracks.  It's always nice to not have to edit out such stuff.  This is a thrift gift from Diane--thanks, Diane!--and she did a great cleaning job with her record-cleaning machine.  The a cappella singing is either a welcome thing or a turn-off, depending on your ears' point of view--I find it refreshing, but you're not me.  But, hey, I'm not you, either, so we're even.

No time to do my usual author/composer checking, save for two numbers--After and O Happy Day, on which the refrain has traditionally been credited to one Edward F. Rimbault, 1854.  Text is from the 18th century.  There are two other famous O/Oh, Happy Day numbers, but this is the one with the "How dry I am" melody.  And reliable-sounding internet sources tell us that After has 1932 words and music by N.B. Vandall.

And remember--I'm just reporting history, not making it up.  I had no part in any of the events documented here, save for sound-editing the waveform.  Now, go ye to Go Ye.  And how often do I get to say that?

DOWNLOAD: Crusaders Quartet--Go Ye (approx. 1962)


Friday, July 17, 2020

Fully orchestrated, no less--Parade of Hits A'Poppin' 7802, Vol. 2 (1954?)

In case you're just tuning in, I recently established (last post) that Enoch Light started with the Prom label in December, 1951, and that he split in 1954, forming his own labels, which I collectively call "Waldorf."  He had Waldorf Music Hall, 18 Top Hits, Waldorf Record Corp., and Top Hit Tunes.  (I think I got those right.)  Among others.  And this post at Bob's blog appears (note: appears) to verify my theory that Prom was a Synthetic Plastics Co. label from the get-go.  (Thanks, Bob.)  The piece referenced by Bob notes that Enoch left SPC in 1954 to form "Waldorf."  Which is my shorthand for Enoch's labels, which means that the article stole the idea from me.  Except it couldn't have, because it was written when I was only eight years old.  Yet, somehow, I just know it was my original thought.

So, Enoch leaves SPC in 1954 to form Waldorf.  However... a couple problems, and they consist of two discs used in the making of today's playlists: Waldorf Record Corp. EPs which appear to hail from 1952 and 1953!  Behold:

And I've found at least one source which claims Enoch Light started Waldorf in 1952.  Which is two years before 1954.  So, who to believe?  What to believe?  Where to run and hide?  Why are they doing this to me?  Why?  And who are "they," anyway?  They can at least come out in the light where I can see them.

And I had concluded that the "Prom Orchestra" credit on the Prom label marked Enoch Light's exit from the label--namely, that any Prom single which features that generic credit can be presumed to be post-Enoch.  Well, it turns out there are, in fact, Enoch-era sides that say "Prom Orchestra."  Oh, and this is cute--on some of the Proms, it's the all-caps "PROM Orchestra."  Well, whoop-de-doo.

Some questions answered, some new ones raised.  Just another day... At the Blog! (Theme music, fade)

So, we start with the ten-inch Parade 78 shown above--a 78 rpm EP containing six Prom releases, two of them MY(P)WHAE reruns--The Darktown Strutters' Ball and There'll Be No Teardrops..., but they sound a bit better than before.  We're at a point in record history when 78s were still sounding better than 45s and LPs.  Plus, a spirited I Get So Lonely, and a good fake of Till Then--and the latter is a cover of the Hilltoppers, not the Mills Brothers, who had enjoyed great success with the same number a decade before.  The 1944 version was practically doo-wop--threw me for a loop when I first heard it.  The very lovely Till We Two Are One is very solidly put over by Artie Malvin, and I was suspecting that Tom Glazer had swiped a folk melody for it, as he did with the 1951 Merv Griffin hit, Twenty Three Starlets.  (Yes, Merv had early success as a solo singer.)  But it turns out Glazer did the words for Till We Two..., not the music.  Kills that theory.

Our six bonus tracks include "The Rockets" (Prom's whoever-was-available-to-sing-at-the-time vocal group) doing a quite good version of Oop-Shoop, along with the flip, Papa Loves Mambo, on which Tommy Scott proves he was no Perry Como.   Still a fun song.  Also, a decent Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love) a spirited Jambalaya, and okay versions of Pledging My Love and Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.  And here's a cool fact about the Karen Chandler original of Hold Me: its flip, One Dream (Tells Me), was penned by the late Joseph Stefano (as "Jerry Stevens"), the man who wrote the screenplay for Hitchcock's Psycho and produced the first season of The Outer Limits.  Now you know.

The first four bonus tracks are from Prom singles (a 78 and two 45s), and the last two come from the Waldorf Record Corp. EPs pictured above.  You know--the EPs that couldn't have existed in any logical universe, because their label had yet to be created.  But we're in the rack-jobber zone, where anything is possible.

DOWNLOAD: Parade of His A'Poppin' 7802, v. 2, plus bonus tracks


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Another Parade of Hits A'Poppin'--this time, no Enoch

Today's offering--Parade of Hits A'Poppin', Vol. 9 (a six-track 45 rpm EP)--represents the parting of the ways between Prom, Parade, and Enoch Light.  I totally doubt he was involved in any of this EP's recordings.  For one thing, the Prom label singles which were released concurrently with this EP feature a generic "Prom Orchestra," along with singers not part of Enoch Light's regular group (Artie Malvin, Loren Becker, et al.).  Light had started in December, 1951 as the the a&r and sales manager for Prom, leaving in 1954 to start his own labels--18 Top Hits, Waldorf Music Corp., etc.  Here we see the Parade label carrying on as if nothing had happened.  Typical cheap-label behavior.  The a&r man had left, is all.  No reason to make a thing out of it.

SPC (Synthetic Plastics Co.) took over at Prom--or maybe it was there all along.  I totally don't trust Discog's write-up on Prom, so...  Anyhow, I've included six bonus tracks, three of which (Dim, Dim the Lights; No More; Sincerely) are titles from this EP--only in versions overseen by Light, from his 18 Top Hits label.  Light's versions are much livelier and, not surprisingly, better recorded.  The remaining three tracks are also Waldorf fakes--Earth AngelGee, and High Noon, the last featuring a superb vocal by Artie Malvin.

If I have the sleeve for this EP, then it's lost someplace in this record and sheet music jungle I call my Media Room (actually, Bev's phrase).  So I swiped the sleeve image from Discogs--a sleeve which, for some reason, sports a different catalog number than my EP (7809 vs. 4509).  Yet another cheap-label mystery.

Since my copy of the EP is plagued by epic surface noise at the track fade-outs, I used the final few seconds of my Prom label singles and spliced in those moments for quieter fades.  The trouble I go through for this stuff....

And who was Bobby Powers?  I have no idea.  I guess he was the guy who got stuck with the "Hits-A-Poppin Orchestra" while Parade was pondering its next move.  And, though this is not an epic issue, especially given the Parade label's inconsistent punctuation of the series' title, it should probably be "a'poppin'," as opposed to the additional two forms in which Parade presented it.  And so, as of this post, it's officially "A'Poppin'," as opposed to "A' poppin.'"

Oh, and this EP's version of Dim, Dim the Lights is identical to the one released on Gateway Top Tune and Music Masters.  So there.

Now it's time to enjoy the hits (take your pick) a'poppin' or a' poppin.'  The choice is yours.

DOWNLOAD: Parade of Hits A'Poppin' 4509 (Most likely, 1954)

Parade of Hits A'Poppin' (Parade 4509)

Let Me Go, Lover (Carson-Hill)--Patty Kay, The Prom Orch.

Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)--Tommy Scott and the Rockets, The Prom Orch.
Hearts of Stone (Jackson-Ray)--The Mullen Sisters and the Rockets, The Prom Orch.
Melody of Love (Engelmann-Glazer)--The Rockets, The Prom Orch.
No More (DeJohn-DeJohn-DeJohn)--The Mullen Sisters, The Prom Orch.
Sincerely (Fuqua-Freed)--Same

Bonus Tracks

Dim, Dim the Lights--The Brigadiers (18 Top Hits 140; 45 rpm EP)
No More--The Larsen Sisters (Same)
Sincerely--The Larsen Sisters w. Orch. (Same)
Earth Angel--Jerry Duane and the Brigadiers (18 Top Hits 141; 45 rpm EP)
Gee--Brigadiers Vocal Group (18 Top Hits, Waldorf 127; 45 rpm EP)
High Noon--Artie Malvin w. the Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus (Waldorf Record Corp. P 111)


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Southern Hymns--The Southern Joy Quartet, The Thomas Family (Royale 18121)

A budget Sunday afternoon gospel, from a ten-inch Royale reissue of sides recorded in 1946 for Majestic.  I got decent sound out of this cheap piece of wafer-thin vinyl, but only because I used my widest LP needle--a conventional .07 mil needle doesn't do the job.  Excellent, traditional Southern gospel material, with the numbers by the Thomas Family (a Chuck Wagon Gang-style group) especially bouncy, save for the slow-gospel standard, Farther Along, which quick on-line research reveals to have words and music by William B. Stevens, from 1911 (the words, at least).

 I Ain't Gonna Study War No More is, of course, is a spiritual also known as Down By the Riverside.

The Southern Joy Quartet is a very solid group--kind of a less showy Statesmen Quartet.  Nice to find gospel of this high quality from the least of the cheap label groups.  This was a last-minute job, as I'd put a lot of work into restoring a more recent (1968) black gospel LP that I should have Amazon-checked right off the bat.  A common sense lapse, since the artist was super-popular.  The album took a lot of work, and it was only until I had it almost ready to go that I checked Amazon and, of course, found it in digital-download form.  I was initially so happy to have thrifted such fine material, I didn't stop to think.  Of course, not thinking is an American tradition, so perhaps I was simply fulfilling my patriotic duty.

Luckily, today's LP gave me little trouble, ripping-wise, and it turns out to be excellent.  Can't complain.  For both groups, these tracks appear to be their entire Majestic/Eli Oberstein output.  I kind of like the minimalist art on these ten-inch Royales, art which is credited, in this case, to "Design House," which I doubt is the artist's name.  But you never know.  ("Hey, Design!  Mr. House!  We need same art.  Are you free this afternoon?")

DOWNLOAD: Southern Joy Quartet, Thomas Family

I'm a Debtor, I Know--The Southern Joy Quartet (1946)
My Labor Will Be O'er--Same
There's a Little Log Cabin--Same
He Set Me Free--Same
I Ain't Gonna Study War No More--The Thomas Family (1946)
Farther Along--Same
I Can't Sit Down--Same
You Better Get Down on Your Knees and Pray--Same

Southern Hymns (Royale 18121, 10" LP)


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Rock Around the Clock-athon--fake-hit versions, and more!

(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock was copyrighted in 1953 and recorded by Bill Haley in 1954 as the B side of Thirteen Women.  It was done in two takes at the end of the session, and the version we know is a combination of those two takes (Haley's voice was allegedly drowned out by the band on the first one).   I won't go into the authorship issues, as they are complicated, and I keep forgetting the exact details.  What we mainly need to know is that Bill Haley made significant changes to the song as written.  Oh, and we need to know that RATC (my abbreviation from this point on) was only modestly successful when first released--as in, not a hit.  It became a huge hit the following year, when it was used in the soundtrack of the movie Blackboard Jungle.  Kind of ironically, RATC had a second (third?) life in 1974, when it was used as the theme music for Happy Days.

Sonny Dae and His Knights made the first recording of RATC in 1953 or 1954 (which of the two years is apparently unknown).  It seems to be a tradition to regard Dae's (Paschall Salvatore Vennitti) as lacking in every regard (to emphasize the greatness of Haley's version, I reckon), but I personally dig it--it genuinely rocks, and in an authentic R&B manner, even though the musicians were white, and the guitar solo is excellent.  Problem with the guitar-solo part is that Danny Cedrone's incredible twelve-bar break on Haley's record blows just about every other rock and roll guitar solo ever recorded off the face of the planet, so nearly any competing RATC guitar solo is going to suck by comparison.  As many of you already know, Cedrone RATC solos was a repeat of his 1952 guitar solo for Bill Haley's recording of Rock the Joint.  With the recording session nearing its end, he had no time to come up with a fresh solo, luckily for everyone.

Not so lucky was Cedrone's death from a fall ten days after he did his famous RATC solo.  He died from a broken neck and of course never learned that he'd played a major role in a record some folks regard as THE rock and roll record of all time.  (I'm fine with that, personally.  I don't think there's literally a best-ever r&r record, but if there was, RATC is a prime candidate.)  Franny Breecher, Haley's regular lead guitarist from 1954 to 1962, wasn't able to replicate Cedrone's downward chromatic slide on the RATC guitar break, so he played a modified version.  Knowing this, it's amusing to see Breecher and the rest of the band mime to the original recording on early TV appearances.

Author Jim Dawson wrote a book on RATC, and it has lots of vital info, but--and there's no nice way of saying this--Dawson's musical analysis is gibberish.  To wit, when Haley goes from A to C-sharp to E at the start of RATC, he is not modulating--he's singing an A Major triad in root position.  No modulating is happening.  And "F-minor" is a key, not a note.  Et cetera  The structure of RATC (in its published form) is simple: 1) a four-bar vamp, 2) an eight-bar verse in minor mode (F minor), then 3) the conventional twelve-bar blues in, well, twelve bars.  The song has no release/bridge.  Maybe the best example of a twelve-bar blues song with a release is Harold Arlen's Blues in the Night.

It seems that everyone, including Sonny Dae, took liberties with the song's melody and rhythms.  Dae reduced the eight-bar verse to two chords (I and V), and he starts the melody on the mediant (third note of the scale) instead of the tonic.  Haley went several steps further, changing the verse to a climb up the tonic triad, prior to changing the melody to 1-3-5 instead of 1-2-3, in terms of scale degrees.  As written, the song lends itself to a big band-ish treatment, and some of today's versions are just that, so we'll get to hear what the song would have sounded like during the reign of Glenn Miller.

I have 38 tracks for you, so no one can call me stingy.  Well, actually, anyone can, but it would be debatable in this case, I think.  The first group consists of 18 tracks, because I thought I only had 37 tracks, overall, but then I found a straggler.  Long story.  Some of the scanned images may not be the specific editions I'm featuring, but they're the same versions.  We all know by now how the budget labels worked--when they weren't re-releasing their own stuff, they were sharing tracks across different label groups.

Most of these versions follow from Haley's recording (and, in fact, the EP 4 Hits single is actually the Haley recording pirated, with a DJ-style voiceover!), but a small number (mostly) follow the song as originally written.  These as-written versions are The Living Guitars, Bill Coates, Artie Malvin, Adam Nowicki's polka version (believe it or not), Al Caiola (Tuff Guitar), the dance-class version on the Artti label (though it omits the verse), J. Lawrence Cook's piano-roll version, and the MGM Studio Orchestra.  I'm assuming that, whenever we hear the number as written, the artists are following the published music.  In some cases, the artists may even have been unfamiliar with the Haley performance (it's possible).

Then there are the quirky versions.  Or maybe I should modify that to "especially quirky."  For instance, there's the dance-class Statler label 45, on which the singer seems to be totally new to the melody, which she messes up pretty memorably.  And, not to be mean, but there's the Smoky Mountain Rangers ("Vaselino" is a stage name, but for which member, I don't know)--this has a mistimed opening and ending, and just general confusion throughout.  The steel orchestra version would be quite interesting in any event, even if it were less than well done, but it's in fact spectacular.  One step from mind-blowing.  AMRAL, btw, is a travel agency.

The comedy versions come courtesy of the late, brilliant Buddy Hackett, with his highly un-PC but (I apologize) hilarious Chinese Rock and Egg Roll, from 1956, and ripped from a ten-inch various-artists LP in my collection.  And from master musical parodist Stan Freberg, who famously despised rock and roll.  I've been told that many young rock and roll fans dug the rock hits and Stan's take-down of them, which is incredibly cool.

There are some dupes--Gabe Drake shows up, uncredited, on both the Peter Pan label (from which I rescued a fake-stereo reissue) and the Popular Extended Play Records label, but I thought it would be fun to share both.  I don't know why.  And, to include an example of label-hopping, we have the lousy version credited to both Dick Warren on Big 4 Hits (and Gateway Top Tunes) and Fred Gibson on Tops.  Of the contemporary fake versions, I've always preferred Drake's, but the Jack Richards version of Broadway does have the benefit of a guitarist who actually nails Danny Cedrone's solo, so....  Oh, and it's the Jack Richards version which is credited to the Royale Dance Orch. on Royale.  The label probably used some "famous artists from stage and TV"-type addition, too, but I failed to include it.  It's Jack Richards--that's all we need to know.

Unfortunately, the Myron Floren RATC isn't an accordion version.  I'd love to have heard what that amazing musician would have done with the song.  Likely, dazzle the listener.  But it's a big band version, and that's okay, because it's quite well done.  And you always wanted a version by the Candy-Rock Generation, whether or not you're willing to admit it.  To the, um... clock!  If there's any time left after this epic essay.

DOWNLOAD: RATC 1   RATC 2, plus images


The Living Guitars (Al Caiola) (Rock 'n' Roll with... LP, RCA; 1970)
Bill Coates at the Console (Maple Records 101, 45 rpm)
Artie Malvin (Themes from Hollywood Films, LP, Audition 33-5911)
Jack Richards w. Vic Corwin and His Orch. (Broadway 301, 45 rpm)
No Artist Credit (but it's Gabe Drake, of Prom) (Popular Extended Play Records, 78 rpm EP)
Dick Warren w. the Glenn Horne Sextet (Big 4 Hits 144, 45 rpm; 1955)
The Four Bells, Jimmy Carroll and His Orch. (Bell 1098, 45 rpm; 1955)
Pat Boone (Pat, Dot DLP-3050, LP; 1957)
The Chevrons (Sing-a-Long 26 Rock and Roll Hits, LP, Chevron; 1961)
Tommy Oliver and His Orch. (The Rockin' '50s, LP, Warner Bros.; 1958)
Phil Flowers (Kasey 7006, 45; 1964)
MGM Studio Orchestra, c. by Charles Wolcott (MGM K12028, 45 rpm; 1955)
Unknown Artist (Artti 104, compact 33 1/3 rpm)
Adam Nowicki and His Polka Band (Polkas from Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley, LP, Request Records)
Smoky Mountain Rangers, voc: Vaselino (LP, no label name)
Unknown Artist (EP 4 Hits, 45 rpm)
Stan Freberg--Rock Around Stephen Foster (From LP, 1955)
Myron Floren and His Orchestra (22 Dance Party Favorites, LP, Ranwood; 1982)


Al Caiola (Tuff Guitar, LP, United Artists, 1964)
J. Lawrence Cook (piano roll version!) (Piano Roll Rock n' Roll, LP, Mercury, 1959)
Manolo Munoz (gas G-084, 45 rpm; 1974)
Chubby Checker (Your Twist Party, LP, Parkway; 1961)
Ray Martin, Conductor (Pop Goes the Swingin' Marching Band, LP, RCA; 1958)
Papa Joe's Music Box (Same, Ranwood, 1974)
Waterford High School Wildcat Marching Band (Coronet Recording Company, 45 rpm; 1965)
Dick Parker (Stepping Tones 504, 7-inch 33/13)
The Evans Sisters w. the Sherwin Linton R&R Revival Band (Black Gold Records 7561, 45 rpm)
Frankie Carle (Era: The 50s, Dot DLP 25928; 1973)
The Candy-Rock Generation (Super Rock, boxed LP set, Columbia Music Treasury, 1969)
Gabe Drake w. the Prom Orch., Dir. Maury Laws (The Mickey Mouse March, LP, Peter Pan Records)
Royale Dance Orch. (Tops in Pops, LP, Royale 18125E)
Unknown Artist (Statler Record 933, 45 rpm)
Fred Gibson w. the Bill Allen Orch. (Tops 45-R258-49, 45rpm)
The Sound Effects (Summer '74. LP, QMO Records)
Buddy Hackett--Chinese Rock and Egg Roll (Hackett) (Fun Time, LP, Coral)
Donna Parker, Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ (Then and Now, LP)
Ray Anthony and His Bookends--Twist and Rock Around the Clock (The Twist, LP, Capitol; 1962)
AMRAL's Trinidad Cavaliers Steel Orch.  (Steel Vibrations, LP, 1973)


Thursday, July 09, 2020

Another Parade of Hits A' Poppin (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)

This is the second of the my Parade of Hits a Poppin' ten-inch LPs, with Earl Sheldon and "Stars of Radio and Television" (did that phrase originate here?) getting all the credit this time.  Actually, Sheldon appears on only half of the numbers--the other four are backed by Enoch Light.  The vocalists, not credited, are Loren Becker, Artie Malvin, Laurie Leslie, and Jerry Packer.  And this is the same "Alessandro" artwork as last time, only with a red background.  The more I study the cool period art, the stranger it seems.  Study those circles.

Eight "full length HITS," and they're excellent fakes, as before.  Not always, but typically Enoch Light's labels offered high quality tracks with better fidelity than that of other rack jobber labels (e.g., Tops, Music Masters, and the Synthetic Plastics Co. herd).  Both Sides Now reports that Enoch started Waldorf Music Hall (home of 18 Top Hits, Waldrof Record Corp., and Top Hit Tunes) in 1953 or 1954, and I'm thinking it had to be 1954, as this is when he appears to have parted company with Parade and Prom.  (This stuff gets complicated.)  Prom became a Synthetic Plastics Co. label, and Parade...  Well, I'm not sure about Parade.  I'm also not sure about Discog's designation of "Hits A' Poppin'" as a label, which I don't think it was--it was a series, and I'm nearly certain SPC took it over post-Enoch Light.  But my brain has reached its cheap-label-information storage limit, and a recorded voice is telling me to "Turn back!  Turn back!"  It's best to obey, because these details get epic.  When it comes to keeping track of who did what, the chief problem is the budget-label tradition of hiding company info (as if these guys were engaged in some kind of tax dodge, which I wouldn't rule out as a possibility).  I even have some early 1960s fake-hits singles on which no label name of any kind is offered.  (For all I know, they came from a fake-hits vending machine.)  And the various series names--"Parade of Hits," "Top Hits," "Tops in Pops"--were generic.  Even the Cadence and Capitol labels had a "Tops Hits" series, which featured the labels' artists covering the latest hits--Mercury and Columbia used its pop singers in the same fashion.  Small world.

Everyone, from the cheapest of the chepies to the big labels, was guilty of trying to wring every last penny from every last hit, and it's almost as if... as if the music biz was a for-profit industry.  One does get that impression.  Hm.  I thought it was a charity.

Anyway, not a bad track in today's bunch, and I especially like the spirited Cross Over the Bridge version, which anyone would have known was a copy of Patti Page, even if that person lived in a culture in which Patti Page had never been introduced.  ("It is Patti Page.  I don't know who she is, but somehow I know this is an imitation of her.  She sounds something like our big star, Zardee Mlekksoros.")   The Darktown Strutters' Ball is a very good copy of Lou "Pepino the Italian Mouse" Monte's hit version, and this incredibly catchy and famous number goes back to 1917, a year when words like "blacktown" were just part of the pop vocabulary.  It's one of those numbers that became so familiar and so often performed that its racist nature became an overlooked thing, I guess.  Not sure how it would go down nowadays.  And while There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight is a Hank Williams classic, we're not hearing a cover of Hank here--it's Tony Bennett's hit pop version being copied.  And Artie Malvin had a very different voice than Tony Bennett (and vice versa), but he does an adequate cover.  I think both singers were a bit at sea with this kind of material, but the jazzy arrangement works for me.  I just love this period of pop, even though it predates me.  I grew up with the Beatles, Beach Boys, then the horrors of 1970s Top 40, but I feel more at home in the period just before Elvis.  Maybe I was reincarnated.  I don't believe in such stuff, but who knows?

Quality fakes on cheap vinyl (the kind of rock-hard plastic that feels like shellac), with incredibly cool cheap packaging.  I think I coaxed some good sound out of this early rack-jobber relic.  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD:  Parade of Hits A'Poppin' (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)

A Girl, A Girl (Zoom-Ba, Di Alli Nella) (Benjamin-Weiss-Bandini)--Loren Becker w. Earl Sheldon's Orch. and Chorus
Amenra E Core (Manlio-Curtis-d'Esposito-Akst)--Same
Cross Over the Bridge (Benjamin-Weiss)--Laurie Leslie w. Earl Sheldon's Orch.
Melancholy Me (Thomas-Biggs)--Jerry Packer w. Earl Sheldon's Orch. and the Packers
The Darktown Strutters' Ball (Shelton Brooks)--Artie Malvin w. the Light Brigade
There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight (Hank Williams)--Same
Wanted (J. Fulton-L. Steele)--Loren Becker w. Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus
Young at Heart (J. Richards-C. Leigh)--Same

Parade of Hits A' Poppin' (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Parade of Hits a' Poppin'--Loren Becker, Artie Malvin, more (prob. 1954)

"Fine records needn't be expensive"--Back jacket.  Now we know where Synthetic Plastics Co. got this logo.  Anyway, I love Discogs, but they goofed with this series and with this LP.  They gave this a year of 1951, which can't be, since the Eddie Fisher hit Oh, My Papa was recorded in December, 1953 and hit the charts in 1954.  Also, Discogs calls "Hit A' Poppin" a sublabel of Parade, which would only have been the case had the words "Hits A' Poppin'" been used as the label name, and "Parade" is quite clearly displayed on the jacket and label.  Or, Parade Reocrds.  Take your pick.  And the full series title, which I hand't noticed until today, was actually "Parade of Hits A' Poppin'"--so, as ever, life in the cheap-label lane is more complicated than many would think.  Anyway, I'm giving this LP a date of 1954.  There was some light mildew on the hard-cardboard jacket, but I cloned it out, so you won't even know it was there.  Unless I tell you.  (D'oh!!)

This is a request from Eric, and I hope he enjoys it--that goes for everyone else, too.  These are really quite well done, which is likely because this was an Enoch Light label (at the time).  Sound is acceptable.  I used my 1.0 mil stylus and some light hiss filtering.  Had to cut out a few pops.  The usual.  Get a few prints, then book 'em.  Wait--wrong show.

These eight "full length HITS" are credited to Enoch Light and his Orchestra, featuring "The Light Brigade."  I guess I always thought the "Brigade" was his orchestra, and not a subsection thereof, but who knows.  Enoch started his band-leading days in the 1920s, and for a long time, that's where I knew him from.  So I was initially surprised to see his name popping up on these things--ditto for Vincent Lopez.  Anyway, checking the Prom label discography to find out who's singing on these (no singer credits on the LP), I discovered that Light is only present on two tracks.  Orchestra-wise, the rest feature Bobby Byrne and Vincent Lopez.  Singers Loren Becker and Artie Malvin have two tracks apiece, and there's one each for Betty Green, The Brigadiers Quartet, The Four Brigadiers, and virtuoso trumpeter "Red" Solomon.  And... wouldn't the Brigadiers Quartet and the Four Brigadiers be the same singing group?

Oh, and the jacket says Oh, My Papa, but the label says Mein.  I did not einen Fehler machen.  And I used the full title for the last track, as printed on the original label (Prom 1068)--The Gang That Sang "Heart of My Heart."  It was shortened for this LP.  Full length HITS but half-titles.  I'm shocked!

So... eight highly competent early-period fake hits, with more to come, and with a long Rock Around the Clock post coming up.  Still working on that one.  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD--Parade of Hits A' Poppin' (Parade Records 5002, prob. 1954)

Stranger in Paradise (Wright-Forrest)--Loren Becker w. Enoch Light Orch.
To Be Alone (Billy Vaughn)--Artie Malvin w. Vincent Lopez Orch.
That's Amore (J. Brooks-H. Warren)--Artie Malvin w. Bobby Byrne Orch.
Why Does It Have to Be Me (C. Sigman-P. Faith)--Loren Becker w. Bobby Byrne Orch.
Oh, Mein Papa (Burkhart)--"Red" Solomon, Trumpet Virtuoso, Acc. by Bobby Byrne Orch.
Changing Partners (M. Coleman-J. Darion)--Betty Green w. Bobby Byrne Orch.
Love Walked In (George and Ira Gershwin)--The Brigadiers Quartet
The Gang That Sang "Heart of My Heart" (Ben Ryan)--The Four Brigadiers w. Enoch Light Orch.


Friday, July 03, 2020

Yes, major labels put out fake-hits LPs: The RCA Camden Rockers, 1959

In case anyone has been dying to know whether or not major (and legit minor) labels did fake-hits LPs... well, now you know.  Here's an RCA budget LP of hit copies, all performed by "The RCA Camden Rockers."  I wonder if they were "Stars of Radio, TV, Stage and Screen" working under another name.  Or, possibly, the famous budget outfit known as "Vocals and Orchestra by Popular Artists."  The RCA Camden Rockers.  Bet RCA dreamed that one up on the spot.  "How about the 'RCA Camden Rockers'?"  "Why not?  This is just a budget issue, so... sure.  Whatever."

I like the bit of the three teenage girls listening to The Great Artie Shaw on (surprise!) the RCA Camden label.  It's the one lying on the floor, to the left of the sleeveless LP.  (Record jackets never showed people handling records properly...)  Of course, a junk label wouldn't have pushed the jacket photo toward the bottom, as here.  Anywhere, here's the LP they're inexplicably grooving to:

I can't identify the other three jackets (there's an album leaning up against the girl in pajamas).  RCA has taken a type of scene common to cheap-label issues, only with some "cheesecake" added.  The gal on the hammock-style chair is saying, "We're on the cover of The Biggest Hits of '59, and we're listening to Artie Shaw?"  And those haircuts...

So, you might figure that these RCA (Camden) fake hits are bound to be a notch or two above the junk-label product, and you would be... wrong.  The opening fake, Venus, sounds like the one put out by Synthetic Plastics Company (SPC), featured in this post.  As in, the very same track.  When I have a moment to do track comparisons, I imagine I'll find some other numbers lifted (legally, I'm sure) from the junk labels.  This all confirms my feeling that RCA never put tons of pride into its budget line.  That didn't prevent a lot of great stuff from coming out on RCA Camden, but RCA clearly didn't give a hoot on a release of this type.

At any rate, some excellent fakes, topped by I Need Your Love Tonight, which is graced by terrific Elvis-sound-alike singing--long before that became an industry.  And Hawaiian Wedding Song features an expert impersonation of Andy Williams--something that never became a trend.  (No cut on Andy, who was a superb vocalist.)  Pink Shoe Laces sounds different from the Tops label version, though it could have been borrowed from another cheapo label or group thereof.  Speaking of Tops, even on its cheap LPs, it managed to spring for twelve tracks, yet RCA only gives us ten here.  The old you're-not-paying-for-a-full-album-so-you're-not-going-to-get-one attitude.  Columbia did the same bit.  Then, later, came the post-Endless Summer Capitol reissues of the Beach Boys catalog, with two tracks omitted per LP.  But what has any of this to do with Artie Shaw?  Why would three teen gals at a slumber party be spinning Artie on that groove-destroying portable?  It pains me to think of what players like that did to LPs, especially since I routinely behold the kind of damage they did.

Let the RCA Camden Rockers make your Fourth a blast (and, hopefully, not a bomb).  Best word play I can mange at less than three hours to 7/4/20--sorry!

DOWNLOAD: The Biggest Hits of '59, Volume 1--RCA Camden Rockers