Sunday, August 30, 2020

Jack Bishop Sings Songs of Faith (Gloryland 101)--Bluegrass gospel from Columbus OH!


Recorded in Columbus, Ohio, but pressed in Lafayette, Tennessee, according to the matrix number (ARP-8185-- Atwell Record Pressing, Inc).  No law against that.  And no law against providing bogus composer credits on this type of LP--a common practice, and who reads the credits, anyway?   Well, me, come to think of it.  Anyway, I made my best attempt at tracking down the actual composers and writers where necessary, only ending up with five Unknowns. In the case of Light at the River (actual title: There's a Light at...), the 1896 lyrics are used on this performance, but it's not the original tune--so I had to designate the composer as Unknown.  Will the Circle Be Unbroken gets an Unknown, too, since it's not the Charles H. Gabriel--Ada R. Haberson number from 1907--it's the version associated with the Carter Family.  And we get the J.W. Vaughan The Old Country Church--the old Old Country Church, as opposed to J.D. Sumner's newer song by that title. 

This LP is as bluegrass gospel as bluegrass gospel gets, and the excellent musicians are listed, along with little bios, in the notes, which is quite handy.  Not sure about "borned," however ("Jack was borned and reared in Kentucky..."), but typos happen.  Such as the president of Atlantic Records getting songwriter credit for Somebody Touched Me.  Seriously--check the label scan included in the zip.

And I'm about to doze off at the keyboard.  Ragweed pollen is here, so I'm taking Benadryl, and I'm half-here, at the most.  So I'd better sign off.  But not before uploading the zip file and linking to it.  Great bluegrass gospel awaits you.  Enjoy!

The Fields Have Turned Brown (Carter Stanley)
Purple Robe (Odell McLeod)
The Heaven Light Is Shining on Me (Unknown)
Oh Those Tombs (Unknown)
Memories of Mother (Carter Stanley)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Unknown)
The Old Country Church (J.W. Vaughan)
Shouting on the Hills (E. Bartlett)
Somebody Touched Me (Unknown)
Over in the Gloryland (James W. Acuff-Emmett S. Dean)
Light at the River (w: Merritt Casey-m: Unknown)
Where the Soul Never Dies (Wm. M. Golden)


Friday, August 28, 2020

"Duke of Earl" on Promenade


It satisfies some weirdness in me to title a post "'Duke of Earl' on Promenade."  A part of me must like awkward post titles.  Maybe it's something I'll outgrow, but I don't know--I'm 63, after all.  Anyway, Duke of Earl on the Promenade label is what we get, and more--and I just remembered that I was going to check to see if I have the Promenade envelope that came with the Duke of Earl set (Promenade A-54-20).

I checked, and no, I don't.  The closest thing I have is the envelope for set Promenade A54-17.  Click on link to see it at my "text" blog.  I love the blurb on the A-54 series envelopes: "Listen to this!  The Top Tunes of Today....the Top Recording Artists of T V, Radio and Movie are YOURS at this sensational price.  You just can't equal this quality!"  Well, yeah, you can even exceed it--by buying the original hits.  But, true--you couldn't beat the price.  "Make sure to ask for only PROMENADE."

Record store clerk: "Can I help you?"  Buyer: "I want only PROMENADE!"  Clerk: "Huh?"

So, we get six tracks, none of them carrying a credit, from Promenade EP A-54-20 2, which was the second disc in the two-disc issue A-54-20, with "20" being the 20th issue in set 54.  Wow, this label kept busy.  And you just couldn't equal the quality, either.  In addition to the six tracks from A-54-20 2, we get four tracks from Promenade EP NRR-2, including Bill Marine's Heartbreak Hotel, which we previously heard on that Eddie Maynard LP which doesn't feature Eddie Maynard.  Right now, I'm pinching myself to see if I'm sane.

And, to make things crazier, I included four tracks from the Top 6 Hits series, which was put out by the Startime Record Corp., apparently as a Pepsi premium (Music for Those Who Think Young).  They duplicate four of the Promenade A-54-20 titles: The Twist, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Duke of Earl, and Break It to me Gently, and, interestingly, all but Duke of Earl sound like the same people and arrangements, but in different performances.  The Startime Lion Sleeps Tonight, Twist, and Break It To Me Gently are RCA Victor Custom releases, but there's no dead wax martix #.  However, there's a "12-61," which I'll take as the release date.  The other Startime EP that I sampled--matrix MX 10295/96--is definitely 1961.  Well, if it's an RCA Custom job, which it likely is.

The Teresa Brewer hit (A) Sweet Old Fashioned Girl, by Bob (Sparrow in the Treetop) Merrill, is a cool response-to-rock-and-roll novelty by a composer who had actually anticipated the Elvis Presley onslaught to come with a bluesy number called Tell Me, Tell Me, recorded by June Valli in 1954, and whose Make Yourself Comfortable of the same year (a big hit for Sarah Vaughan) featured the standard doo-wop I-vi-ii-V structure.  I like Bob Merrill, who don't get no respect.

And, though you probably know this, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, aka, Wimoweh, aka Mbube, was recorded in the pre-Elvis era by the Weavers, among others.  Here's the 1939 South African original on Youtube.

Dear Ivan is a dumb but interesting Jimmy Dean number, and Tutti Frutti is a cover of the Pat Boone record, so don't expect any wildness in Bill Marine's performance.

And I remain puzzled to this day about what the heck Duke of Earl (1962) is actually about--assuming it's about something.  I guess it doesn't matter, since the song is so incredibly catchy and cool.  You'll notice the Promenade label for A-54-20 2 has no performer credits, but that was not a standard thing--some of the label's EPs from this period do include credits.  And I have a couple that feature credits on one side but not the other.  But you still couldn't equal Promenade quality.  According to Promenade.

Enjoy these fun fakes from SPC's Promenade EP sets and from whoever was providing the fakes for those Pepsi premiums.  And, as ever, there's no way to write about these things in a fashion that sounds rational.  But I try.

DOWNLOAD: Duke of Earl, and more

The Twist--Unknown (Promenade A-54-20 2)
The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Same)
Duke of Earl (Same)
Unchain My Heart (Same)
Break It to Me Gently (Same)
Dear Ivan (Same)
Dear Ivan (Jimmy Dean)--Unknown (Top 6 Hits, Record 1--Startime MX 10295/96; 1961)
Duke of Earl (Williams-Edwards)--Same
Break It to Me Gently (Lampert-Seneca)--Same
The Lion Sleeps Tonight--The Elektras (Top 6 Hits, Record 6--Startime 1545; 1961)
The Twist--Mr. 5 by 5--Same
Tutti Frutti (La Bostrie-Penniman)--Bill Marine, Promenade Orch. and Chorus (Promenade NRR-2; 45 rpm EP)
Sweet Old Fashioned Girl (Bob Merrill)--Laurie Leslie, Promenade Orch. and Chorus (Same)
Treasure of Love (Stallman-Shapiro)--Carter Farriss, Promenade Orch. and Chorus (Same)
Heartbreak Hotel (Axton-Durden-Presley)--Bill Marine, Promenade Orch. and Chorus (Same)


Monday, August 24, 2020

Music from Hollywood Films--The Audition Studio Orch., and others. (Audition AUD 33-5911)

This is Waldorf on the wane. The actual label is Audition (which offered Supertone High Fidelity, no less!), but, of course, Audition was a Waldorf sublabel.  I like Audition because it had such cool color covers, like this one, which is Tony Randall and (I think) Sheree North, from the 1957 movie No Down Payment.  It's the movie that "inspired" the LP, so the jacket says, though I wonder if the verb is being misused to mean, "from," as in "This image is from the movie."  Otherwise, "inspired by" makes no sense, given that the movie, according to IMDB's synopsis, is about four southern California married couples living in a housing development and experiencing marriage issues.  Not sure how picks like Rock Around the Clock, The High and the Mighty, and Manhattan could have been "inspired" by a movie of that type, but I suppose there's a shortage of songs about marital struggles in southern California housing developments.  (I haven't seen the flick, so maybe some of these numbers show up along the way in some form or other.)

Since the cover shows a pic from a 1957 movie, we can halfway safely assume this LP is from 1957 or 1958.  These are all recycled Waldorf tracks, of course, save for (I'm assuming) the title cut.

There is, of course, no such thing as the Audition Studio Orchestra.  There is, however (or was) the Enoch Light Orchestra, and that's who we get on six of these ten tracks.  As for the other front jacket credits, maybe Bud Freeman is on here somewhere--not sure.  But I've ruled out the presence of Bob Bollinger, Jack Brown, and Lois Winter.  In their place(s), we get Bob Eberly, Margie Murphy, Artie Malvin (of course), and The Brigadiers.  So, why didn't Audition list the actual artists?  To be cute?  No, I'm guessing someone simply forgot who was on the tracks.  Someone misplaced the track sheet.  "Um... let's just give Jack Brown and a few others the 'Starring' credit."--Jacket supervisor, confused.  There was a Jack Brown at Waldorf, btw, but just not on this particular piece of vinyl.

So, we get April Love from "April Love," The High and the Mighty from "The High and the Mighty," Three Coins in the Fountain from "Three Coins in the Fountain," and Secret Love from "Secret Love."  Er, I mean, from "Calamity Jane." Oddly enough, Audition decided not to associate Rock Around the Clock with "Blackboard Jungle," instead associating it with the movie Rock Around the Clock, a 1956 comedy of the unintentional type, in which Bill Haley demonstrated his inability to act.  Wikipedia tells us that the flick (Rock Around the Clock) was one of two cheapies that exploited Haley's musical fame.  Audition chose to title the song (We Gonna) Rock Around the Clock, instead of (We're...), for some reason.  I kind of like it, actually, but it's probably a typo.

Extra-good audio quality on these--way better than they'd sound from those six-selection EPs churned out by this company.  And no wonder--it's Supertone High Fidelity, after all.  And we get three gorgeous Enoch Light instrumentals, so what's not to love?  And it may or may not be Will Bradley on Three Little Words, and No Down Payment gets no artist credit in my listing, because I was unable to locate any Waldorf recording of that number.  Otherwise, we're good to go...

DOWNLOAD: Themes from Hollywood Films (Audition 5911)

Around the World--Enoch Light and His Orchestra
The High and the Mighty--Enoch Light and Light Brigade
Three Coins in the Fountain--The Bridadiers w. Enoch Light and His Orch.
Three Little Words--Will Bradley Orch.?
(We Gonna) Rock Around the Clock--Artie Malvin w. The Light Brigade
Song from Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)--Enoch Light and His Orchestra
April Love--Bob Eberly and the Monarchs
Secret Love--Margie Murphy w. Enoch Light and His oOrch.
No Down Payment--Unknown
Manhattan--Ashley Adams


Sunday, August 23, 2020

My Home--The Jubilee Quartet w. Whitey Gleason at the Piano (Mid-America Recordings LPST-203; 1966)

A stock cover, but a nice one.  On the back jacket, there are hard-to-see signatures from three of the members: Buddy Campbell, Norman Huxman, and the fabulous pianist, Whitey Gleason.  With the right lighting, they'd have shown up fine, but my scanner simply won't capture them (see above--or try to), even when I adjust the color levels after the fact.  Maybe I should try some "live" shots.

Okay, I just took some, using my computer desk lamp for the lighting.  The signatures are way easier to see...

So, imagine my surprise when I saw the great Lee Roy Abernathy listed under "Background Music" for this disc!  The composer of Gospel Boogie.  The astounding piano on these tracks, however, is supplied by "Whitey" Gleason (first signature).  The performances are marvelous, and the Jubilee Quartet appears to be from Georgia.  Not positive, but in the notes, "Whitey" Gleason mentions spending "many memorable and fruitful hours" in Abernathy's home studio in Canton Georgia.  In fact, this was recorded there--I'm looking at the credits now.  The label, Mid-American Recordings, was located in Memphis TN.  Quite a few of these numbers were tunes I've recently become acquainted with, so this LP--another thrift gift from Diane--is very good timing.

However, I'm rushing to press, and it's not because I waited too long to rip this, but because I had to overcome some limitations in the sound.  I don't know what happened, but one possibility is that, when this was being mastered, someone accidentally turned the treble knob all the way to the left. The sound was all bass and mid-range, and muffled highs.  I did two re-EQ's, and both turned out too weak in the lower end.  Third try, I simply added a pinch of treble and called it a day.  I didn't get great results, but what you'll hear is much better than what I was getting from the grooves.

Weak treble or no, this is a winner all the way--expert singing of the muscular Statesmen Quartet type, with workmanlike piano that occasionally breaks out in amazing passages.

Last time or so, I mentioned Barbershop, and there's a lot of Barbershop feeling here.  At this point in history (1962 1966) close harmony groups of any and every type were typically packed with "Barbershop" touches--touches that even found their way into the piano accompaniments.  For instance, the (probably African-American in origin) bit of "sliding" chromatically during a chord change, where time permitted.  And the vocal swoops, and so on.  These things had become integrated into close harmony singing, which, as I've noted before, is a phrase defined differently wherever you happen to look it up (my favorite definition has the top three voices contained within the range of an octave, with the bass free to roam).  I take the simple route--close harmony is simply that: close.  As in, notes close together.  It's harmony contained within the range of male voices--hence, the notes are literally scrunched together, with overlapping whenever necessary.  The "lead" (or tenor) can carry the melody, or it can harmonize above it.  The bottom line is that close harmony gets its special sound by the requirements of containing harmonies within a fairly narrow range (not a problem with SATB harmony).  Close harmony is typically notated in treble and bass clef fashion, with the understanding that the upper part will be taken down an octave.  In such a case, the formally correct way to notate the upper line is to add an "8" under the treble clef (to indicate one octave lower), but lots of close harmony is notated with a funky "tenor" clef that's not to be confused with the actual tenor clef used in Classical music.  I hope all that wasn't as confusing as it sounded to me.

Wow.  I really didn't get to saying the stuff I wanted to, but I'm out of time, so this essay will have to do.  Bottom line: great Southern quartet gospel.  Grade A.  The real deal.  I'd have preferred more treble, but it's a little late to write the label and ask for a remastering...

The set ends with one of my late foster mother's favorite hymns--He Hideth My Soul, which features one of the brilliant Fanny Crosby's most exceptionally distinguished and moving texts.

DOWNLOAD: The Jubilee Quartet: My Home (1962 1966) (Correct year provided by Bob.  Thanks, Bob!)


Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Nation's 12 Big Hit Recordings--"All New Hits!"

Well, I jut had a false memory in which I had already put up an album from this series--but it looks like I didn't.  Rather, I was recalling this post, in which LPs are similarly strewn across the carpet--except the cover shows three gals having a slumber party.  That was an RCA Camden special--this is Hollywood Records, which I'm always confusing with Broadway.  And we can imagine the cover girl saying, "Give me that Frankie disc--I hate fake hits!"  I don't know what's playing on the vintage 45 rpm player--it's an EP, is all I can see.  On the floor, there appears to be... let's see... Eddie Fisher, Frank Sinatra, Eddie again, Nat King Cole, Tennessee Ernie Ford (?), and Arthur Murray.  There are at least two other jackets, but they're obscured.  So, why would Hollywood Records be plugging the major labels?  To give the buyer the impression that Hollywood was a major label?  Who'd be that out of it?

The Nation's 12 Big Hit Recordings--that sounds very official, no?  As named by the Nation's Twelve Big Hits Association of Cheapsville, Ohio, probably.  The exact same over art was used for all of the LPs in this series, as far as I know--I have four others, and it's same guy and gal and 45 rpm player.  There was probably a standard catalog number.  This has a "C" to distinguish it from, say, A or B.  The weird thing with this one: I had just bought a hammered copy of this from eBay, because I saw I didn't have these selections in my 12 Big Hit Recordings stash.  The dealer graded it at VG-, which it was, more or less (G+/VG-; who can say?), and so I had to do a lot of sonic surgery to get a good file.  Then, right after I'd completed the rip, a much better copy showed up at one of the local Goodwills, along with five other fake-hit LPs.  I was stunned, because these things hardly ever show up at the thrifts anymore, but not too stunned to grab them all and shell out my ones.  (Or was it two fives?  Or a ten?)  Next trip to the same thrift, there were two or three more fake-hit comps.  Then... nothing more.  So far.

That was supposed to be an interesting account, but I don't think it quite made it.  Anyway, excellent condition, (this one--not the eBay purchase), but the usual cheap pressing--therefore, some hiss to reckon with.  And we're in the 1957/58 realm, a point at which the cheap labels were trading off tracks like crazy--which is to say, most or all of these also came out on Synthetic Plastics Co. and Tops singles and LPs, because I've heard several of these about a million times, to date--At the Hop, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (which I'm starting to hate), Jailhouse Rock, and Silhouettes.  I'll have to do some fast side-by-side comparing, and then I'll get back. Unless I get hopelessly lost in the Media Room jungle.

Nope, here I am.  So, I'm playing one of my 12 Top Hits on Tops Records, and April Love is the same as here (except for some Tops reverb).  At the Hop--same.  Peggy Sue--same (with way more reverb on Tops).  Kisses--ditto.  Great Balls of Fire--yup.  Jailhouse Rock--yup, again.  I'm listening to the topside LP in this post, by the way.  Much duplication, though the Tops label reverb is kind of annoying next to the undoctored sound here.  So, even though a number of these tracks are blog repeats, you're getting purer audio with this rip.  And all of the above (save for Kisses) are superior fakes, reverb or no.  Meanwhile, I don't recall previously encountering fakes (or non-fakes) of Put a Light in the Window and My Special Angel.  Neither one makes my day, though I'm betting the Four Lads did a much better job on the former.

At this point in fake-hits history (late 1950s), SPC (Promenade, Prom, etc.) was putting out the same versions as Tops (and, evidently, Hollywood), so some kind of consolidation was happening.  A single outfit providing the masters, maybe.  Yet, Broadway (and its sublabel, Value Hit Parade) was still putting out its own fakes.  That changed around 1960 or 1961.  Broadway had been absorbed.  Into what, or by whom, I don't know.

This cover scan is from my eBay copy, which was torn on the "LPH-100-C" part, so I grafted that portion from my Goodwill copy.  Now you know.

DOWNLOAD--The Nation's 12 Big Hit Recordings


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Eddie Maynard, His Orchestra and Chorus--Fabulous 50's (Promenade 2084; 1957 or 1958)

A Promenade LP featuring an overview of the 1950s, credited to bandleader Eddie Maynard, but with no Eddie Maynard to be heard--the usual cheap-label game.  Well, unless that's Eddie on the cover, which I doubt.  For once, we have a budget LP model holding, not major-label LPs, but albums from the very budget label itself--smart move.  And that colorful dress--wow.  If not for the input of blog friend Diane, I wouldn't have noticed the fish swimming through the pattern.  (I hope they weren't the biting kind.)

So, my job was to figure out where these tracks, issued in 1957 or 1958, originally came from.  And I knew the release year for this was 1957 or 1958 because the liner notes refer to the 50s as "not yet completed" and mention a "man made satellite" (Sputnik or Explorer?) as a new item.  From the notes: "(The 50's) are the years that saw a Republican Administration replace a long-incumbent Democratic one.  Progress in Atomic Research to such an extent that it might prevent us all from witnessing 'The Stupid Sixties.'  Atomic Research devoted to the ways of peace could however change our out-look on this approaching era to such an extent that certainly the 60's will be called 'Stupendous.'"  Lousy liner notes, but at least Promenade provided something in that area.  With some social commentary, too.  As we know, the cheapos usually used the back jackets to plug their catalog, so I can't be too hard on the essay.

Anyway, I figured these were all Prom/Promenade tracks (Homes-level deduction, there), and I was mostly correct.  The big exception: Because of You, sung by the famous Perry-Como-soundalike vocalist Johnny Kay, best known for his SPC Christmas tracks.  From the Internet Archive:

Finding this was pure luck.  Since the singer sounded so much like Johnny Kay, I plugged "Johnny Kay" and "Because of You" into the IA, and up popped this.  And it's the LP track!  "Popular Records" is totally new to me (not to be confused with the "Popular" Extended Play Records series), and I figure it was either 1) a Synthetic Plastics Co. sublabel to begin with or 2) was bought up by SPC after it tanked.  And it seems to have been related to a "Cameo" label, and not the well-known one, or I would have dispensed with the quotes.  The Milton Herbert Orchestra--a pseudonym for Eddie Maynard?  (Just kidding.)

I suspect that Cry also features the Milton Herbert Orch., but unfortunately that single isn't at IA, though it's available at eBay for $20 (the dealer offered me a special price).  But I'm afraid the mystery isn't worth $20 to solve, so we'll just have to wonder who's doing the crying here.  It's not Loren Becker--I found his version on YouTube, and it's a blatant (and very good) imitation of Johnny Ray, which this version isn't.  But the others, I nailed.  (UPDATE--9/16/20: This version of Cry is by Larry Foster, backed by the Preston Sandiford Orchestra on Cameo Records 323.  Cameo seems to have been in the same label group as Popular Records.)

Why Promenade didn't use Loren Becker's version is a major mystery, and it should have us wondering whether maybe Columbia decided to threaten Prom over its deft copy of Johnny Ray and the Four Lads.  Could that be?  Columbia may have sent a nasty-gram threatening a day in civil court, and a lawsuit would certainly have sunk SPC's record division/laundry closet.  ("Your sound-alikes are sounding too alike.  Tread softly or we'll sink you.  Yours sincerely, Columbia Records.")  Hence, the non-Becker version included here.  Or maybe someone just screwed up during the mastering of this.  That's probably closer to what happened.

The others are Prom and Promenade label jobs, and I've given all the correct info in my mp3 tags and in the listing below.  The only other one I'm not sure about (pretty sure, but not totally) is Young Love, which I suspect is Larry Star on Promenade HIT 7, which isn't in my collection, oddly enough. It's always the one you're looking for that you don't have.  How does that work?

And I'm trying to remember--was the 60's "Stupid" or "Stupendous"?  Did we blow ourselves up?  Hm.  I can't remember.  Anyway, I recall we used words like "Mod," "Groovy," "Happening," "Socially Conscious," etc. to describe the deccenium.

Very good sound on this cheap-vinyl pressing.  I guess they were too pressed for time to muck up the sound with tons of reverb or some other crime to audio.

DOWNLOAD: Eddie Maynard, His Orch. and Chorus--Fabulous 50's (Promenade 2084)

Here in My Heart--Loren Becker w. Enoch Light Orch. (Prom)
Because of You--Johnny Kay w. Milton Herbert Orch. (Popular Records)
Young Love--Larry Star (Promenade HIT 7)?
That's Amore--Artie Malvin w. Bobby Byrne Orch. (Prom; 1952)
Make Love to Me--Betty Glenn w. Enoch Light Orch. (Prom)
Till Then--Brigadiers Vocal Quartet, w. Prom Orch. (Prom; 1954)
Cry--Unknown Larry Foster w. Preston Sandiford Orch.
Earth Angel--The Rockets, The Prom Orch. (Prom, 1955)
Outside of Heaven--Loren Becker, w. Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus (Prom)
Jamaica Farewell--Jim Galdys, w. the Promenade Orch. and Chorus (Promenade)
Heartbreak Hotel--Bill Marine, Maury Laws Orch. and Chorus (Prom)


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Harbor Lights Quartet--In the Upper Room (1963): Classic gospel from Lee Records

I have no memories of Lee Records, but I was only seven when this came out, so maybe I just have lousy recollection.  I'd have been one of the world's youngest record label owners, certainly.  I do remember Battle Creek, Michigan (from which all of these singers hail), but it's from all of those TV toy ads of the day--I don't recall ever living there.  Maybe I worked from my home in Toledo.  Anyway, the Harbor Lights Quartet is terrific, so I sure had good taste.  Well, that's assuming I was the A&R man, which I probably was, since it was Lee Records.  The quartet sounds a bit like the Statesmen, probably because it harbors (no pun intended) a similarly high high tenor.  Or, as it's known in close (Barbershop) harmony, the "tenor."  It doesn't pay to think too hard about these things.

As for "Why are there five guys if this was a quartet?"--the second man (or first in the top row) was the pianist, Phil Colsell.  He's very good, though I can't say I remember him.  My piano teacher was Elmer Gertz, so I know that Phil didn't function in that capacity, and--well, it's just all a blur.  If that.  I suppose it's possible I didn't own Lee Records, that some other Lee did.  Discogs isn't much help--of the label, it says, "Lansing, MI label."  No mention of me.  But omission doesn't equal transmission.  No, wait.  I mean, it doesn't equal... um... I forgot what that saying was.  If, in fact, there is a saying.  The mystery deepens by the second.

Anyway, I was going to make a joke about the cover art--as in, how did a low-budget outfit like Lee Records land the services of Leonardo da Vinci?  Ha, ha!  But, hey, there's "Lee" again--Leonardo.  Close enough.  The clues are adding up.

Three of these songs, I knew mainly by their titles, and they're good numbers--Peace Like a River, In the Upper Room, and J.D. Sumner's Old Country Church.  That last title is one I'm always mixing up with Herbert Buffum's Old-Fashioned Meeting (1922), because the themes are so close--though Buffum's hymn (which just took me about a half hour to find in my songbooks) doesn't include quotations from older hymns, as does Sumner's.  And there was another Old Country Church, by J.W. Vaughan, from 1930-something (can't read the print), and it's lyrically similar, so this just goes to show that popular gospel recycles its themes pretty regularly, like all other pop forms.  I suppose someone could reverse the tradition with a number called The Recent Songs I Haven't Learned Yet at the New-Fashioned Church.

When I Survey is done to a different tune than usual, for those expecting the standard Lowell Mason air (Hamburg, 1824).  "Hey, where's Hamburg?"  "In Germany, I think."

This Lee Records special was a thrift gift from Diane, and I thank Diane for today's gospel.  And that photo--doesn't the group look like it loves its job?  That's one thing I really dig about these made-to-sell-at-public-appearances sacred LPs--the way they show ordinary people of a given period posing and dressing like... ordinary people.  We're so used to fancy, carefully planned commercial LP jackets that normal can look amusing.  I remember, a few decades back, when a maker of genuinely funny commercials (back when ads involved a degree of creativity) was asked how he managed to find such unique looking individuals for his highly effective spots.  And his reply, of course, is that he simply used everyday-looking actors (many recruited to speak only one line)--folks who looked odd only in comparison to the exceptional specimens that populate TV programs.

Today's lesson from... Lee Records!

And I got the year from the RCA Custom matrix in the "dead wax," which starts with P--meaning 1963.  And, hey--I'm copyrighted (see label)!  I had no idea.  Funny--I don't feel any different.

DOWNLOAD: Harbor Lights Quartet--In the Upper Room (Lee Records H-101; 1963)

Lee, formerly of Lee Records

Friday, August 14, 2020

Goodwill 45s--Clovis Gentilhomme, Frank Flood, Little Walter, Adrian Kimberly, Bill Haley!



Okay, one or two of these came from flea markets, not Goodwills, but most were thrifted.  All were second-hand, at least.  And Clovis Gentilhomme fans, rejoice!  We have Clovis doing a weird version (big surprise) of A White Sport Coat, with backing by the Millersburg Military Institute Music Makers.  I can hear people asking, "What took you so long to post this?"  Well, I've only had it for maybe a couple months, so simmer down.  And we have Adrian Kimberly, who is actually the Everly Brothers, and his--er, their--adaptation of Pomp and Circumstance, which is actually Neal Hefti's.  So... yeah.  The Everly Brothers' Calliope label lasted two years, with today's selection the only one managing to chart.  Meanwhile, Bill Haley's 1964 Green Door single (with the flip, Yeah! She's Evil) was, if I recall correctly, Bill's one chance to get back with Decca and producer Milt Gabler.  It failed to hit, and so Bill's Decca comeback was not to be, though in fact this may be the best Green Door ever recorded.

From 1950, a 45 rpm Columbia with a small spindle hole and featuring Tony Bennett crooning The Boulevard of Broken Dreams.  I love this version, despite the fact that Tony sings slightly flat throughout, and very flat when the key change happens.  Ouch!  I don't know why they didn't do a retake, but the1958 Tony's Greatest Hits LP featured a different, jazzier version, so the issue is moot, so far as the Hits album is concerned.  And I have no idea what I just typed.  Anyway, this 1950 recording was a new one on me, as I had only known the Hits version.

Coming back to Clovis Gentilhomme, let me say that it's not every week (or month, or year) that a Ban Com single shows up at the thrifts, and... well, I knew I had to have it.  And I knew it would be weird.  Had it not been weird, I'd have been thrown off.  I'd probably still be stunned right now as I sit here.  Discogs lists two releases for Ban Com, and I'm at a loss to guess what "Ban Com" is a shortened form of, if anything.  I Google it, and I get "Ray-Ban."

The Ray Charles Singers' marvelous version of Al Di La is one of my favorite pop records, ever, and prior to finding this single, I only had it on a VG- Command label LP.  So this single was a great find.  Decca's The Tweeters (how often do I get to type that?) provide us with Mascara Mama and an At the Hop take-off called The Campus Rock.  To my ears, it's Mascara Mama that gives this classic status, and it's because it's so much of its period, and so nicely done, and so... moody.  It's the plug side, and it would have been nice had it hit.  (I'm assuming it didn't.)  But it's a hit here on my blog (with me, at least), and I'm just now realizing, as I look at the label, that I should have cloned out the black mark next to the first c in "Decca"--it's some leftover mark from... something.  Could have been a factory defect.  And what can I say about a label called Slo-Poke II, featuring Frank Flood and Slo-Poke II performing a dumb novelty called Flying Saucer?  Hm.  Umm...  Well, I only paid 25 cents for it.  I can say that, anyway.  It's not as weird as you might expect, given the credits, but it's far enough out there.

And we get the flip sides of two famous rock and roll hits, both of them excellent--The Champs' Train to Nowhere (flip of Tequila), and The Monotones' excellent You Never Loved Me (flip of The Book of Love).  How did the Monotones manage to improve so much, vocally, in the space between two sides?  Then there's Marty Robbins, sounding very un-Marty Robbins, covering Chuck Berry's Maybelline, and covering it very well.  Excellence being something we expect from Marty.

Satan's a Super Star?  The... what?  I have no idea why the question mark was included, but, anyway, a ditty about a guy determined to stay away from sin, and Satan had better stay out of his garage.  Leave his weed-whacker alone.  Something like that.  I might have blacked out during it.  From Relco Records.  And... probably the first doo-wop (r&b vocal) record I ever owned, way back as a kid in Toledo--the Impacts' terrific street-corner-ized Canadian Sunset.  My Toledo copy went to parts unknown long ago, so you're hearing a thrifted replacement.  Then, from 1969/1970, a surprisingly good fake version of Come Together by the Jalopy Five, that studio concoction which recorded scores of fakes for the Hit Records label, which, by this point, had apparently become the Top Pop Hits label.  You wouldn't believe how hammered my copy is, so I won't tell you.  Except, I just did.  Oh, well.  I removed a lot of surface noise.  The thing looks like someone sanded it down for some art project that he or she never finished.

Two numbers by Little Walter, both written by Willie Dixon, and both sounding improvised and/or quickly made up in the studio, with Crazy Mixed Up World the standout--very Chicago-sounding Chicago blues.  Plus, Connie Stevens singing the Carole King-Gerry Goffin Why'd You Want to Make Me Cry, not one of Carole's greatest efforts.  Pretty worn, but next to the Top Pop Hits single, it looks Mint-plus.

What else?  Oh, The Tunesmen, whoever they were, with Bill Bailey, and it's adequately catchy, despite being very cliched.  The label is a masterpiece of non-design, with a wealth of information for the collector--the label name (Grandview), the catalog number, and, um, two white lines.  Lots to go on, there.  Then, from 1963, Debbie Dovale singing This World We Love In, a song I knew from the Merv Griffin Cartlon single (titled The World...).   The flip side of Griffin's record, Banned in Boston, missed the Top 100 by just one notch, so Griffin enjoyed  a minor pop singing comeback for a short while in 1961.  Debbie sounds nothing like Merv here, of course, and I wouldn't begin to know how to describe her singing style, but it works for me.  The record is weird in all the right ways.

DOWNLOAD: Goodwill 45s

Come Together (Lennon-McCartney)--Jalopy Five (Top Pop Hits T-17)
You Never Loved Me (Monotones)--The Monotones (Argo 5290; 1958)
My Baby Is Sweeter--Little Walter (Checker 919, 1959)
Crazy Mixed Up World--Same
Why'd You Wanna Make Me Cry (Goffin-King)--Connie Stevens, Arr. & Cond. by Perry Botkin, Jr. (Warner Bros. 5265; 1962)
The Green Door (Bob Davie-Marvin Moore)--Billy Haley and His Comets (Decca 31650; 1964)
Yeah! She's Evil (Joy Byers)--Same
A White Sport Coat (Marty Robbins)--Clovis Gentilhomme w. the M.M.I. Music Makers (1962)
The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Dubin-Warren)--Tony Bennett, Orch. Dir. Marty Manning (1950)
Al Di La (Donida-Mogol-Drake)--The Ray Charles Singers (1964)
Mascara Mama (Alan White)--The Tweeters (Decca 9-30725; 1958)
The Campus Rock (Del Serino-Hal Gordon)--Same
The Graduation Song... Pomp and Circumstance (Arr: Neal Hefti)--Adrian Kimberly (Calliope 6501; 1961)
Flying Saucer (R.D. Devore)--Frank Flood and Slo-Poke II  (Slo-Poke II; 1981)
Train to Nowhere (Dave Burgess)--The Champs (Challenge 1016; 1958)
Maybelline (Chuck Berry)--Marty Robbins (Columbia 4-21446; 1955)
Canadian Sunset (Heywood-Gimbel)--The Impacts (1958)
Satan's a Super Star? (Johnny Holliday)--Johnny Holliday (Relco Records 2014)
Billy Bailey (Hughie Cannon)--The Tunesmen (Grandview 200)
This World We Love In (Toang-Mogol-Raye)--Debbie Dovale, Prod. Nick Cenci (Roulette 4521; 1963)


Sunday, August 09, 2020

Solid Ground--Through the Eyes of Innocent Children (Melody MSLP-41; c. 1972): Folk Christian gold from Hamilton, Ohio


Through the Eyes of Innocent Children.  Ah, but how do we know they're innocent?  Hmm.  Well, I guess they look innocent enough, so I'll go with that.  But, given that the kids are singing, should it be "through the eyes of..."?  Though, come to think of, it Through the Mouths of Innocent Children would suggest something along the lines of Art Linkletter having kids say "funny" things off the cuff (read: rehearsed), so I'm fine with Eyes.

That matter settled, let me note that I remember this period of pop culture very vividly.  Rock had Something Important to Say, and its lyrics allegedly spoke to youth.  But I wonder.  I remember a very awkward day in eighth grade English, with everyone sitting silent as a rock as our teacher quoted Beatles lyrics and asked us for feedback.  He got none.  And I still don't know what half of those Lennon-McCartney songs were saying, anyway.  And you'll notice, from the photo, that adults were involved in this venture--the concept for this LP, which mainly consists of faith-repurposed Top 40 material from 1964 to 1972, likely didn't come from these Kentucky Methodist children.  Just a guess.  And I may be the first person ever to use the adjective "faith-repurposed" on the internet.  Or anywhere else.

Boy, do I remember the long straight hair from this period (though there are a few curly-haired lasses), and the clothes, and that group-photo type.  The girl on the far upper right is gazing up, the lighting and angle giving the impression her eyes are bigger than they they really are, so I wouldn't be surprised to see this scan show up on a paranormal website.  Those places must be getting desperate for new images, the way they're recycling the same hundred or so shots.  And those "orb" photos--please.  Insects and pollen particles caught in the light--more desperate a claim for the supernatural than the ridiculous con known as EVP.

Anyway, this is a fascinating local production (Hamilton, Ohio--near Cincinnati), because it's as "period" as any c.-1972 local production can possibly be, and because the sound (minus some panning effects that I suspect were accidental) is so natural.  Part of the reason for the naturalness of the sound may the fact that I'm using my c.-1975 Sony STR-6036A receiver, which I thrifted maybe twenty years ago for (how's this for symmetry) $15.15.  I know that because the grease-penciled price is still on the chassis.  Here's a photo from eBay.

Still works beautifully.  Anyway, as I noted, the selections are mostly repurposed hits from 1964 through 1972, closing with Neil Young's Heart of Gold, which was never one of my favorites, though this version has me sort of liking it.  Maybe that's because Neil isn't singing it.  (Please send all hate mail to the email in my profile.)  That takes care of 1972.  Skipping back a couple years, we have Silver Paper (which I barely remember) and My Sweet Lord, which I way remember.  (And I recall my shock when the plagiarism charge came out.  It was ruled that Harrison had subconsciously swiped He's So Fine, which would have been my conclusion, too.  In case anyone asks.)  I remember listening (and listening and listening) to Harrison's extraordinary All Things Must Pass with my best buddy Rick, who, at the time, had just about every Beatles and Beatles-related LP ever released.

1970 is also the year of I Don't Know How to Love Him from (as it was called by most folks at the time) "JC Superstar."  That tune was huge--it may have enjoyed more nonstop play (is that redundant?) than George Harrisons' almost-departed-from-the-Beatles Something.  I kind of dug I Don't Know How..., but it did get old. Older than I realized, even--when I thrifted a copy of Columbia's first microgroove release, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, I discovered the tune's source.  Which is okay, since some other famous Boomer hits were swiped from "the Classics"--For example, J.S. Bach gave us the tune for A Lover's Concerto and A Groovy Kind of Love comes from Clementi, so the Masters were used to this kind of thing.  They were also dead and in public domain, so they made for safe pickin's.

Also from 1970, Let It Be, one of my favorite songs, Fab Four or otherwise, and one that required no repurposing on the part of Solid Ground, though of course My Sweet Lord needed a little tweaking, since it wasn't a Christian number--though I've just read that Harrison intended it for use by all religions, so there.  The anti-war song One Tin Soldier is from about the same period, and it was AM-radio-played to death in my market, and I grew to not care for it.  Of course, it was used as the theme number for the highly violent anti-violence flick, Billy Jack--but, anyway, its inclusion on this LP makes sense, as 1972 Methodists were no happier with war than the 2020 type (including me).  But Amazing Grace (hilariously given a "John Newton-Allan Price" credit) to the familiar tune for House of the Rising Sun??  Good grief.  I mean, metrically, it goes just fine with the melody, but I swear I once suggested a Grace/Rising Sun coupling as a joke, never imaging that anyone had gone through with it.  For the record, John Newton's famous text also goes with Antioch (the standard tune for Joy to the World) and the theme to Gilligan's Island.  At least Solid Ground didn't use the latter.

And, of course, a "house of the rising sun" was a... er... Never mind.

I should mention that Let It Be and My Sweet Lord were huge Christian youth-group numbers of their day, as was Burt Bacharach's What the World Needs Now, which I really, really wish they'd have added to this list--but they didn't.

Back to 1967 for Get Together, another played-to-death song that I like well enough--and which didn't need much revision, if any, here.  But the prize for odd song choice has to be awarded to His Love, a rewrite of Petula Clark's 1965 My Love, one of those "name the worst song from the 1960s" candidates which I don't think remotely deserves to be thus panned.  And I remember when it was played every six minutes or so on the radio, though Clark's monster hit was, of course, Downtown. I loved those wonderful Tony Hatch productions for Petula.

So, My Love becoming His Love--an ingenious bit of reworking, but an odd choice, given the much more current fare that dominates the playlist.  Then again, 500 Miles is a pop/country hit from 1963, so I guess I'll have to revise my 1964-1972 year span to 1963-1972.  (I hate it when that happens.) 

The selections are all highly pleasant amateur efforts, with some decent studio-musician backing, and--despite the weird channel-shifting stuff--blessed with good stereo sound.  The Rite Records pressing had some minor issues, but those are why digital sound-fixing was created.  So, how to characterize this?  Youth gospel?  Jesus Movement gospel?  "Sacred and country gospel" (from the label)?  Psychedelic folk?  Folk psychedelic?  Folkadelic Psych?  Vegas lounge?  No, it's definitely not Vegas lounge.

"Folk Christian" would work for me, because in 1972 "folk" had long since become, not the songs collected by John Jacob Niles, John Lomax, or Francis James Child, but a style of pop--eventually, it would come to mean anything featuring acoustic guitar--and because the "happening now" theme had entered popular gospel music--even the highly middle of the road Word label was aiming for young buyers.  And folk was happening.  (You have to have been there to fully grasp "happening.")  It's hard to sum up the merging of rock and gospel which occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s, because there seems to have been a number of different channels.  A variety of failed evolutionary branches, you might say.  

A very, very fun and interesting relic, and Solid Ground does a fine My Sweet Lord, even if one of the chord choices in the solo section has me wincing.  (The chord in question would, as played by Harrison, be designated as a secondary dominant seventh with a flattened ninth--only, no flattened ninth here. Bugs me.)  To the innocent children:

DOWNLOAD: Solid Ground--Through the Eyes of Innocent Children

Note: The mangled composer credits for Silver Paper were fixed on my ID tag, and of course "Pete Seager" is Pete Seeger.  Blogger just changed its format, so apologies for any sizing issues.


Monday, August 03, 2020

Waldorf in transition: America's Favorite Music, or Top Hit Tunes (1959)

Both Sides Now notes that Waldorf Music Hall records were sold exclusively in Woolworth stores, which is fairly common knowledge among us cheapo-label lovers.  However, Waldorf Music Hall (or Music-Hall) was only one of many Enoch Light labels, so I've often wondered if Enoch's 18 Top Hits label (the three-fer packages of six-selection EPs) may have been a mail-order deal.  Their format would suggest as much.  However, until I come across a vintage advertisement to support my suspicion, it'll have to remain a guess.

Am-Par Records, which became ABC-Paramount in 1961, purchased Enoch's labels (including Waldorf M.H.) in October 1959, reports BSN, "although the label had probably stopped issuing albums prior to the purchase," it adds.  Well, today's 12-inch Waldorf LP is from January, 1959, so we know Waldorf was still pressing vinyl at least that close to the acquisition date.  But something odd was going on, as this release features nothing on the jacket except what you see above--a cover photo and the title America's Favorite Music.  No company info, no artist listings.  Back cover--blank.  It's as if Waldorf was ceasing to care.  A pretty reasonable assumption, given that it was willing to release an LP sure to have many buyers asking "What the heck is this?  Dance instruction?"  Me, I knew from the stock Waldorf photo, and from my previous America's Favorite Music experiences.

The label sports the "Top Hit Tunes" slogan that had replaced Waldorf's "18 Top Hits" starting about 1957.  Here's Side A, with the catalog number, 33-JAN-59, which strongly suggests that this is a 33 rpm disc released in--oh, let's say--January, 1959.

There are very few familiar Waldorf names here--Dottie Evans, Enoch Light, Loren Becker (only one track!), and Hollis Harbison are the only four that register with me.  The rest are either newcomers, or... possibly, folks working for some other outfit.  Waldorf may have been outsourcing at this time.  You may or may not remember my posting of the 1961 Pickwick release, HurrahTop Hits, which follows this same strange format--i.e., eighteen fake hits plus six totally unrelated tracks.  Here's that post: Hurrah! Top Hits.  The 1961 Pickwick (Hurrah!) collection was concurrently released as America's Favorite Music, with a stock Waldorf image on the jacket: AFM.  So there must have been some kind of Pickwick/Am-Par relationship happening in 1961, which raises the possibility Pickwick was conspiring with Waldorf even earlier--namely, during Waldorf's up-for-sale period.  Such weirdness would be about par for the irrational cheap label course.

To me, these tracks do not have that smooth, professional Enoch Light sound--the quality just isn't there.  These could just as easily be from Promenade (Synthetic Plastics Co.), a company whose approach was pretty much two-takes-and-hope-for-the-best.  And the awful orchestra on The World Outside would never have been allowed on any Light production prior to this--even the fake RCA (Record Corporation of America) might have hesitated to release it.  And then put it out, anyway.  After all, the fake RCA is the home of a terrible fake of Autumn Leaves, which closes with the out of key orchestra botching the tonic chord.  As for The World Outside, the "Songsters" are pretty good in their imitation of The Four Coins, which makes the two-cent musical backing regrettable.  I didn't realize, until hearing this fake, that the song is based on the main(?) theme of Warsaw Concerto.  How I could have missed that previously, I do not know.

And if you've been dying to have the great themes of America's greatest bands, you're in luck.  And those tracks are very well done, and if I had the time, I could probably track down the original issue--they're likely cribbed from an EP set or earlier 10" or whatever.  Anyway, this is Waldorf in transition.  For all we know, it's not even Waldorf.  This could be a pod-people Waldorf that temporarily seized Enoch's labels until Am-Par came in and chased out the pods.  Then again, astrologer Light should have been able to anticipate any such shenanigans.

It's kind of cool to have a Waldorf-in-transition offering to share. And I'm probably the first person to ever use that phrase for a music post.  History is being made here.

I'm listing the titles as they appear on the label.  Where apostrophes are missing--oh, well.  And be sure to notice how utterly different "Joe Perkins" sounds between One Night and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.  I think Joe may have come from the Made-up Names Department at Cheap Label Supplies, Inc.  Such a strange album format, since it meant cramming 24 tracks onto one LP, which often required editing down at least some of the fake hits.  An LP could easily have accommodated the 18 fakes in full form, so why the extra six tracks?  Especially since the jacket contains zero reference to them--No "Six Bonus Tracks!"  But these labels obviously didn't spend much time reflecting on their own actions.  At this point, Waldorf--or whoever's behind this--had probably forgotten why the bonus-track tradition existed in the first place.  They were just filling in the template with track titles.

Worker #1: "Why are we adding these big band themes?"  Worker #2: "Funny--I was going to ask you."

DOWNLOAD:  America's Favorite Music (Waldorf 33-JAN-59)

America's Favorite Music/Top Hit Tunes (Waldorf 33-JAN-59)

Problems--Burt and Bob

Whole Lotta Loving--Hollis Harbison
One Night--Joe Perkins
I Enjoy Being a Girl--Dottie Evans
A Lovers Question--Hollis Harbison
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes--Joe Perkins
Chiquita Cha Cha--Enoch Light and the Light Brigade
You Are Beautiful--Loren Becker
Old Black Magic--Dick King and Betty Golden
Bimbombey--George Clark
The World Outside--The Songsters
Beep Beep--The Victors
Goodbye Baby, Goodbye--Jimmy Lee
Lonely Teardrops--William Patton
Donna--Lloyd Jones
Gotta Travel On--Sonny Scott
The Diary--Lloyd Jones
Come Prima--Mario Morghesi

The Great Themes of America's Greatest Bands--Booby Bryne Cond. the All Star Orch.

Smoke Rings--Theme, Glen Gray and His Casaloma (sic) Orch.

Auld Lang Syne--Theme, Guy Lombardo
Cherokee--Theme, Charlie Barnet
Ciriciribin--Theme, Harry James
Nightmare--Theme, Artie Shaw
Take the "A" Train--Theme, Duke Ellington


Sunday, August 02, 2020

Vincent Lopez, astrologer (1946)

I wonder if Vince foresaw his future as a budget-label maestro. Studied at a monastery--wow.

From 1946's Big Book of Swing.  My copy is new old stock.