Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Another Pickwick offering--"Christmas Sing-Along" (or, if you prefer, "Christmas Sing-A-Long"), 1962


Last year, I presented one of my favorite finds ever--the Pickwick Christmas Is for Children LP, circa 1957--and so it's nice to have a "new" Pickwick holiday classic to share out.  At Discogs, "Gerald Gibson and His Sing-A-Longers" pulls up only one LP, and--surprise!  It's this one.  As a lone search phrase, "Gerald Gibson" brings up folks who clearly aren't this person, assuming this person was for real to begin with.  (Then again, someone had to have directed the music...)  Anyhow, very enjoyable stuff, with that chintzy Pickwick sound we love so well.  And this is yet another budget "vinyl" which can't decide on its title--on the jacket, it's Christmas Sing-Along, whereas on the label it's Christmas Sing-A-Long.  One hyphen, two hyphens--whatever.  I believe I tagged it as Sing-A-Long.  This is a vastly important matter, so I thought I'd discuss it.

In "full spectrum stereo," by the way, courtesy of Hurrah Records, which describes itself as follows: "Tomorrow's sound today.  A complete music library for the home.  Music for every listening pleasure.  Yes--music to please every member of the family from grandparents down to the diaper set."  Wow.

Not only all that, but Hurrah Records are "Designed to please the most exacting technicians."  It seems that Pickwick really went all the way with this one, except for telling us who Gerald Gibson is.  Or his Sing-Alongers/Sing-A-Longers.  Everything we could ask for--except an artist bio.

The cover art is beautifully period--a very 1962 depiction of carolers singing by the light of a street lamp.  Penciled on the back jacket is "Jack R. Houocker (sp.?)," a previous owner, plus the words "Ha! Ha."  Was that an editorial comment?

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Sing-Along: Gerald Gibson and His Sing-A-Longers

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
White Christmas
Jingle Bells
Deck the Halls
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
O Come All Ye Faithful
Joy to the World
The First Noel
Silent Night
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
O Little Town of Bethlehem
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Away in a Manger
What Child Is This

(Christmas Sing-Along--Gerald Gibson and His Sing-A-Longers; Hurrah HS-X7; 1962)


Monday, November 29, 2021

Christmas Music for the Winter Season, aka An Hour of Christmas Orchestral Music (Halo, Rondo-lette, Golden Tone...)


So, I ripped this from a Rondo-lette (Eli Oberstein) disc but scanned my Halo label jacket for the album, which was the same as the Golden Tone jacket but brighter and newer-looking.  The Golden Tone jacket, of course, went with the Rondo-lette disc.  I hope you're taking notes.

By the way, regardless of which label shows up with this release, the catalog number is always 51500, so at least they're consistent in that regard.  And somewhere there's a Royale 51500 copy waiting to be found--I just know it.  I feel it.

Along with the usual budget label-juggling, we have the standard jacket/label title conflict: Christmas Music for the Winter Season (jacket), or An Hour of Christmas Orchestral Music (label)?  Take your pick.  And, since this is the Royale Concert Orch. (yeah, right), we can assume this began life as a Royale LP.  Or not.  Anyway, about time we had Christmas music for the winter season. 

Now that we've cleared all of that up, let me confess that I switched the side order on this.  That is, I switched the order of sides--things start with the B side, which is far more lively and fun.  Nothing wrong with the A side, except that it drags by comparison.  Maybe the orchestra was warming up for the B-side festivities on Side A.

And, for some reason, Rondo-lette/Halo/Golden Tone/Royale(?) decided to include a second Jingle Bells track, only without listing it.  (They doubled March of the Toys, too.)  So, for your convenience, I've labeled those tracks Jingle Bells (1) and (2).  I find Jingle Bells (2) to be cooler.  Oh, and the beginning bars of White Christmas were later cribbed as background for a cheap label A Christmas Carol.  Budget stock music!

I love the greeting-card nature of this cover, and I wonder if these were actual greeting cards.  Very skillful (and beautifully "period") watercolor work.  On the Halo issue, the back jacket gives 1957 as the copyright year, but I don't trust Record Corporation of America info.  And, by the time Eli Oberstein started Rondo-lette, he had allegedly sold off his Record Corporation of America labels, so I'm confused.  But confusion is the rational reaction to budget-label issues like these.  The only rational one.

Delightful, lively arrangements--followed by more conventional treatments.  For your winter season:

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Music for the Winter Season (Rondo-lette 51500)


Jingle Bells (1)
White Christmas
March of the Toys
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
March of Toys (sic)
Jingle Bells (2)


Silent Night, Holy Night
The First Noel
Adeste Fidelis (sic)
O Little Town of Bethlehem
We Three Kings of Orient Are
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Angels We Have Heard on High

Christmas Music for the Winter Season/An Hour of Christmas Orchestral Music (Rondo-lette/Golden Tone/Halo 51500)


Sunday, November 28, 2021

White Christmas: An Easy Listening Collection of 14 Christmas Favorites (Silver Bell Music; 1985)


This is an atypical budget Xmas effort, in that the audio quality is excellent.  Meanwhile, it's a typical budget Xmas effort in that the artist credits are nearly nonexistent, plus the label and jacket titles don't gel.  But details, schmetails.  We're in budget country.

Who are "The Holiday Singers"?  Dunno, but some of the tracks are instrumentals, so this credit is slightly misleading.  All I can say for sure about the Singers is that they are home to one of the worst Elvis imitators in the biz--I refer to the second track, Side One (I'll Be Home for Christmas).  But for connoisseurs of bad Elvis impressions, this selection is a must-hear and must-have.  And I know there must be some of you out there.  Admit it--you've been waiting with hungry impatience for such a track.

Nothing on this LP places it in the realm of weirdness (bad Elvis impressions aside), except for the fractured polyphony on Deck the Halls, a track which starts out with beautiful counterpoint but which ends up in a hiccup-style tangle of voices.  (Hiccup-style tangle of voices?)  This will hopefully make sense when you hear it.  I don't know what happened with, to, or in that arrangement, or if alcohol played a part, or what.  Most of the numbers are of a pristine type, though, and while there are no surprises in the playlist, these recordings have a fresh, new sound--even if they're from 1985.  I guess it's all relative.  That is to say, these sound fresh and new compared to my usual Xmas fare.

Oh, and courtesy of Discogs, here's the label for the cassette edition of Winter Wonderland.  Of interest, besides the altered color scheme, is the absence of Santa.  Maybe his contract only allowed for an appearance on the LP edition.


DOWNLOAD: White Christmas--The Holiday Singers (Silver Bell Music SB-3; 1985)

White Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas
We Three Kings
O Come All Ye Faithful
Away in a Manger
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
What Child Is This
O Holy Night
Deck the Halls
Angels We Have Heard on High
Twelve Days of Christmas
Silent Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Winter Wonderland

White Christmas--An Easy Listening Collection of 14 Christmas Favorites (Silver Bell Music SB-3; 1985)


Saturday, November 27, 2021

An assortment of 19th century Santa illustrations--repost from 2014

NOTE: This is a seven-year-old repost, and the scans are my own, all taken from old, old magazines and books presently taking up much space in my bedroom and Media Room.

So, Coca-Cola came up with the fat, jolly, human-looking Santa in 1931, eh?  Riiiight.  In fact, here's our man in a Dec. 11, 1884 Youth's Companion ad, dropping Waterbury pocket watches onto the Earth from a considerable height.  (Imagine the size of the impact craters when those things hit!) Is it just me, or does Santa look like he's about to be gored by one of the rear reindeer?

Next, a more Father Christmas-looking Santa ("tall and wrinkled and gray"), from the children's book, Evening Entertainments (W.B. Conkey, 1899).  Very interesting text, no?  "Your mammas have told you, I have no doubt, Of what the Christmas is all about."  The Christmas??  Anyway, this poem, which connects the Nativity with Saint Nick, sounds like it was written for Cab Calloway:

Regarding Santa and the Nativity, please note that folklorist Jack Santino--a former editor of the Journal of American Folklore, former president of the American Folklore Society, and famed holiday expert--regards Santa Claus as "primarily a Christian tradition" (New Old Fashioned Ways: Holidays and Popular Culture, 1996).  In distinct contrast, I might add, to stand-up comic Tina Dupuy's assertion that Santa is secular as can be.  Now, that's a toughie.  Who do we believe?  The stand-up comic or the scholar?  Hmm.

While we're pondering that, here's a rendering of Santa, sleigh, and reindeer from the same collection.  To my eyes, this could easily pass for a Mike Peters cartoon:

No date on this next kiddie publication (below), but I'm guessing late 1800s/early 1900s.  As you can see, my copy's had a rough existence (not at my hands!), but simply by having survived in any condition, something this old and cheaply made has beaten the odds:

We see, as ever, a 19th century Santa Claus instantly recognizable as same by modern eyes, but the really interesting thing is the amazing structure below the clouds, labeled "Santa Claus' Home."  Notice the Turkish look of the architecture?  Given St. Nicholas' place of origin, that makes perfect sense.

Here's a lovingly restored (with Paint) close-up:

Also interesting is the possessive apostrophe after "Santa Claus."  By modern standards, this is amazing on two counts: 1) it was used at all, and 2) it was used correctly--i.e. after, not before, the s.  You know we're looking at another era's work.  Today, this structure would be labeled "Santa Claus Home."   

Just inside the cover (after a filler page) is this cheaply printed but quite cool color illustration of our gift-bearing fireplace visitor, as fat and human-looking as he gets.  If he's not looking too jolly in this shot, maybe it's because he's deep in thought, wondering, at he looks at the slender chimney shaft, why he didn't bring Plastic Man along for back-up.

Same book--an illustration for the short narrative poem, "Santa Claus," which includes this gem:
Now, of toys he had no lack: 
They were carried on his back 
In a sack."

Santa leaves presents for everyone but Lazy Joe, whose stocking has a hole in it.  The hole being a violation of Santa/client policy, I guess.

And here's Kris--er, Kriss--Kringle, looking nothing like the Austrian and German Christkind/Christkindl, a.k.a. Christ Child, the gift-bearer often portrayed as a blonde female angel in get-up similar to that of the Good Witch in the 1939 Wizard of Oz.  (Follow that?  Me, neither.)  Anyway, this is a new depiction on me.  Google Images is no help--for "Kriss Kringle," it just gives me images from Miracle on 34th Street.  Why Kriss looks like a hobo here, I have no idea.  But he's certainly fat and jolly, and that's one big white beard:

With the exception of Kriss, every one of this post's Santas passes the Coca-Cola test, imo.  (No, I'm not referring to the classic leave-a-nail-in-a-glass-of-Coca-Cola experiment.)


Christmas Aloha--Mark and Diane, The Hawaiians With the Otis Skillings Orch. and Cho. (Tempo R-7126; 1975)


Mark and Diane Yasuhara have wonderful voices, and Christmas Aloha is as professional a production as you're going to get.  Despite the title, there's nothing campy about the proceedings, though things occasionally get a bit too praise-music-y for me (I've never been keen on that genre).  No biggie, since the quality of musicianship is so high--in fact, Christmas Aloha can almost be called art praise music.  If there is such a phrase (I sort of doubt it).

Art carols and concert holiday selections in the mix--Gesu Bambino, Bring a Torch..., and O Holy Night--to go along with the more pop material, such as Mele Kalikimaka (written in 1949, and recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1950), Winter Wonderland, and Silver Bells.  And doesn't the bridge on Mele sound like it was borrowed from Happy Trails, or is it just me?  (Actually, Trails came slightly after Mele.)

Charming holiday family photos on the back jacket--posed, but expertly so:

By some weird twist of fate, this is not a Diane gift to the blog, though by all logic it should be.  Because not only is Diane crazy about Hawaii, she has sent me some gospel titles by this duo--it's because of Diane that I knew who they were.  So, I suppose Diane gets partial credit.  It's just some quirk of chance that I found this all on my own.  The perfect music for 90-degree Noel.  (Actually, on line, it says that low 80s are more probable during the season in the Land of Aloha.  Heck, I'd take those.)

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Aloha--The Hawaiians With the Otis Skillings Orch. and Chorus, 1975.

Mele Kalikimaka (Anderson)
Gesu Bambino (Yon)
Gloria (Stearman)
Bells Medley: I Heard the Bells..., Carol of the Bells, Winter Wonderland, Silver/Jingle Bells, I Heard the Bells (Finale)
Medley of the Manger: Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella; What Child Is This?; Go Tell It on the Mountain
Some Children See Him (Burt)
This Little Child (Fisher)
O Holy Night (Adams)
Silent Night (Gruber)

Christmas Aloha--Mark and Diane, the Hawaiians With the Otis Skillings O. and Cho. (Tempo R-7126; 1975)


Friday, November 26, 2021

I just had to post this--sorry!


Be sure to listen to the entire track.  Recorded during rehearsal, please note! 


Merry Cheapmas: Christmas Party for Children (Yulesong SY0222)

I love this LP, and I don't know why.  Maybe because it's so unrepentantly cheap--so aggressively tacky.  I mean, it almost doesn't rate as a Christmas LP, given that merely eight of the twenty selections (that would be 40 percent, I think) are holiday songs (!).  Can you beat that?  The rest are standard children's numbers, like Happy Birthday to You, Hickory Dickory Dock, London Bridge, and Mary Had a Little Lamb.  The folks who put this together set something of a record in the area of budget-label indifference.

I guess I love the sheer weirdness of the album, which I first featured back in 2017 (and whose download link perished long ago): We're talking about Toy Soldier serving as the title for Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, Me and Teddy Bear instead of Me and My Teddy Bear, and hilarious affronts like that.  I can imagine the dialogue in the company office: "Just toss something together in, oh, ten minutes."  "Does quality matter?"  "You're kidding, right?"  Anyway, this is a record-settingly tacky Xmas cheapie.  So, naturally, I restored it with loving care, getting a much better rip this time.  Plus, it's in a higher bitrate, which may help, or which may not.  I'm not sure.

Without spending a lot of time investigating things, I would say that this playlist is a mix of Pickwick and SPC stuff, including some ultra-familiar Johnny Kay/Johnny Kaye tracks which managed to show up on every other cheap Christmas comp back in the day.  Kay/Kaye, of course, was that Perry Como soundalike who recorded for Synthetic Plastics Company.  At least once (on SPC's Promenade label), Kay/Kaye covered a Como hit (Catch a Falling Star).  He was clearly the right choice.

Johnny is always nice to hear, and meanwhile the other tracks range from okay to "Dear God!"  It doesn't help that the transfers are the pits (would we expect anything more?), or that, despite the claims to stereo, many (maybe most) of the tracks are anything but.  For me, these are all recommendations, not warnings.  I mean, classic Christmas tackiness is, well... classic Christmas tackiness.  In the zip, you'll find the A and B label scans, plus the front cover.  I didn't bother to scan the back jacket, since it's identical to the front.  On the technical front, I had to clone out some masking tape and a printed owner's name ("Jeff Smith").  For all its faults, this does have kind of a cute cover.  Tacky-cute, perhaps.

DOWNLOAD: Christmas Party for Children (Yulesong SY 0222)

White Christmas
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Toy Solider
The Night Before Christmas
Happy Birthday to You
The Bible Tells Me So
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Alphabet Story and Song
Farmer in the Dell
Hickory Dickory Dock
Little Drummer Boy
Down by the Station
Me and Teddy Bear
The First Noel
Three Blind Mice
Jack and Jill
Silent Night
London Bridge
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Jingle Bells

Christmas Party for Children (Yulesong SY 0222)


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Merry Christmas America From the Radio City Music Hall (Continental CR-1009; 1972)


After so far ripping a number of budget Christmas classics--finally, a non-cheap release for the season, and pretty obviously a Radio City Music Hall giveaway.  Either that, or an issue only sold on site.  (Hm--the notes call this a preview.)  Anyway, I thought I'd start with this classy release.  And you know you've always wanted a track featuring the rhythms of the Rockettes, and now you've got one--I refer to Side 2, track 4 (Jingle Bells).

The listings are murder on this one, so I think I'll forgo naming the artists--I'll just stick to the titles. (The mp3 ID thingies have all the details.)  Things start out with a medley called The Nativity, and so we know we're hearing from an era that was less uptight about holiday/religion separation.  Superb musicianship throughout, of course--as we'd expect.  You just know that everything's going to be top-flight in that regard, and it is.

Have fun reading the lengthy notes--something I didn't do, since they're all mostly hype--and enjoy the cool pictures.  Again, this rip is coming on the heels (no Rockettes pun intended) of four cheapie rips (to be featured soon), so the contrast is kind of surreal.  And, speaking of the notes, The Happy Wanderer 1) is not a folk song, old world or otherwise, and 2) is not, to my knowledge, called He Is the Happy Wanderer, and 3) I forgot what else I was going to say.  So, Wikipedia says the text is from (looks like) the 19th century, while the tune was composed following WWII, and all I know is that I got really tired of it as a kid, and that would be either because it was played too often on TV or (more likely) because I had a grade school teacher who insisted on playing it on the school phonograph.  No, wait--now I remember.  It was in high school, in German class.  We probably sang along in German.  But the melody gets old pretty fast with repetition, imo--unlike, say, Jingle Bells.  And when did Happy Wanderer become a Christmas number?  I mean, even if the Radio City Music Hall elects to characterize Santa Claus as a wanderer (not quite the right word), isn't it kind of a stretch?  Besides, Santa knows where every chimney in the world is located--he doesn't need to wander.  ("Hey, why's that sleigh and eight reindeer going in circles?"  "Oh, Santa's wandering.  He might need a few extra nights this year.")

This is a Christmas show "for the whole family," and isn't it funny how it's always "the whole family," and not, say, 9/12ths of the family?  Or half of the family?  "Great music for 1/3 of the family!"  That's a plug we're never going to hear.

Organist Richard Leiber makes an appearance, predictably, and music director Paul Lavalle does the conducting throughout.  The coolest credit is the LP's producer: one Neely Plumb, one-time fake-hits orchestra leader on the budget labels Music Masters and Ace-Hi.  He came a long way in the biz.  Rockettes director is Emilia Sherman.

To the music hall:

DOWNLOAD: Merry Christmas America From the Radio City Music Hall (1972)

"The Nativity" Medley
Nutcracker Suite (Excerpts)
Medley: Oh Little Town of Bethlehem/Deck the Halls/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Nutcracker Suite (Excerpt) Waltz of the Flowers
He Is a Happy Wander (Sigismund-Möller)
Medley: Good King Wenceslas/O Christmas Tree--Richard Leibert, Organ
Carol of the Bells
Ave Maria (Schubert)--Solo: Sandra Darling
Jingle Bells (Rhythms of the Rockettes)
White Christmas
Medley: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, etc.

Merry Christmas America From the Radio City Music Hall--The Music Hall Symphony Orchestra and Chorus--Paul Lavalle, Conductor (Continental CR-1009; 1972)


Christmas blogging begins at MY(P)WHAE!


Christmas blogging starts here at MY(P)WHAE--I've heard rumors to that effect, anyway.  Such an amazing holiday, really, and quite old--about 1700 years or so.  And it's presently the biggest shindig on the planet, holiday-wise, with at least two billion people observing it.  Christmas has come a long way.  Humans dig it.

Each "season," I like to point out that Santa Claus, as many of us already know, is quite a composite figure--part Father Christmas, part Saint Nicholas, part Norse god Thor (bright red suit, white beard, tendency to travel down chimneys), part gift-bearing Christ Child (aka, Christkind/l, aka Kris Kringle), and who knows who else?  Well, part Edmund Gwenn, too.  The cool thing about mythology is how it all glops together like a ball of Play-Doh, with no attempt to logically explain all the (at times) conflicting details.  Oh, and Santa's reindeer, far as I know, were originally goats.  None of whom had red-lightbulb noses.

Anyway, hope you enjoy my offerings this time around.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Current Hits Volume No. 13--Dawn, Please Please Me, My Bonnie, more! (Hit Records HLP 413; probably 1964)

Volume 13, already!  And we're only at the starting point of the Top 40 British Invasion, so you know Hit Records was really churning these things out.  Given that most of these fake hits were rush jobs, they're generally highly energic and catchy--these musicians took their task seriously.  And some titles capture the sound of the originals quite well (e.g., Navy Blue, See the Funny Little Clown), while others capture, not so much the exact sound, but the exuberance of the official hits--I'm thinking especially of the "Jalopy Five" treatment of Fun, Fun, Fun, which I love in this version, despite the slightly rough harmonies and a few stumbles in the lyrics (they fumble "she walks, looks, and drives like an ace, now," for instance).  But it has to be said that the Beach Boys' harmonies were (imo) the toughest to emulate, at least in 1964--even tougher than the classic McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison blend.  And I doubt the Hit Records gang had a generous rehearsal schedule--I'm sure it was more like "Do these.  See you in a couple hours."  Anyway, the Carl-Wilson-imitating-Chuck-Berry opening guitar is memorably faked here.

By far, the LP's most spot-on imitation--perhaps with even more drive than the original, if that's possible--would have to be My Bonnie, possibly my favorite Hit Records fake of all time.  It's a killer cover, and the history of the original is probably known to most of you, but it's worth reviewing: recorded in 1961 in Hamburg, Germany, then released in 1962, making a decent showing on the German charts.  Tony Sheridan is the lead singer, backed by "The Beat Brothers" (guess who). The U.S. co-release, on Decca, didn't do so well, far as I know.  Come 1964 and Beatlemania, the single was reissued on MGM in the U.S., credited to "The Beatles with Tony Sheridan," and it obviously charted well.  (MGM even put out an LP featuring all the Hamburg Sheridan/Beatles tracks, with filler by "The Titans."  A downright budget-label thing to do.)  Anyway, the Hit Records My Bonnie rocks the needle out of the grooves--this version still amazes me, ever since I thrifted my first VG-- thrift copy.

Dawn (Go Away), my favorite Four Seasons track, is given a not-too-shabby treatment here, and while the vocals wobble (weeble?) here and there, the overall production sounds fabulous--beautifully engineered and produced.  Similarly, the other two Beatles tracks (She Loves You and Please Please Me) won't have you mistaking the singers for John, Paul, and George, but in terms of capturing the vitality of the originals, these succeed very nicely.  Compare (if you dare) these versions to the tired-blood fakes featured on the dreadful Palace label LP, Beatle Mash (by "The Schoolboys," to whom Palace simultaneously assigned two other group names!), featured last year in April at this blog.  May I be forgiven in the afterlife...  

The Dave Clark Five's Glad All Over was apparently easier to fake than the Fab Four and BB sides, though the engineers should have added a couple extra layers of echo to make things sound more authentic.  The final two tracks--Columbus Stockade Blues, and Saginaw, Michigan (is that Bobby Russell on the latter?)--are expertly done, and they initially appeared on the Country & Western Hits label, a Spar sublabel, of course.  And this was a gift from Diane, who found a number of Hit Records LPs on the cheap after I'd mentioned my continuing search for these LP comps.  Thanks, Diane!

Oh, and no artist listings on the labels, but it was easy enough to locate the original credits (mostly fictitious, of course) via Discog's section of Hit Records singles.  I included these on the mp3 tags and down below.

Dawn (Go Away)--The Chellows
She Loves You--The Bugs
Please Please Me--The Boll Weevils
My Bonnie--The Boll Weevils
Navy Blue--Connie Dee
Stop and Think It Over--Dotty and Dan
See the Funny Little Clown--Bobby Brooks
My Heart Belongs to Only You--Bobby Brooks
Fun, Fun, Fun--The Jalopy Five
Glad All Over--The Jalopy Five
Columbus Stockade Blues--Jack Bond
Saginaw, Michigan--Jack White

Current Hits Volume No. 13 (Hit Records HLP 413;  Probably 1964)


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Hallowed Moments--Ralph Carmichael Choir and Orchestra (Sacred 8010; 1959)

I was a little surprised when I checked into my blog history and saw that I haven't presented much in the way of sacred choir music (save for Christmas).  With this post, I will start on the path to correcting this oversight.  (Whatever I just typed, there.)  And, when you see Ralph Carmichael's name on a gospel LP, you know you're going to hear some superbly professional singing and playing--and that's just what we get on this 1959 effort from the Sacred label.  Spectraphonic high fidelity, no less, from the "world leader in religious records."  The back cover has a little box which explains "Spectraphonic Sound," and I'm sure everyone will be rushing to the scan (included in the zip) to find out more about this fascinating process.

Nearly all of these twelve selections are "standard" hymns--that is to say, no There Is Power in the Blood or He Will Set Your Fields on Fire in the playlist.  More mainline Protestant classics, and all excellent.  The liner notes, however, divide the numbers into three categories: 1) Simple hymnals (hymnals?)--When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, This Is My Father's World, Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand, and In the Cross of Christ I Glory; 2) Anthems as used on Sunday mornings--All Creatures of Our God and King, A Ballad of the Trees and Master, For All the Saints, and Now Thank We All Our God; and 3) Gospel songs (capital G) with string background--The Old Rugged Cross, Wonderful Peace, Ivory Palaces, and I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Well, I've never regarded Now Thank We All Our God as an anthem, though For All the Saints definitely qualifies.  But why didn't they do Saints in choir-and-organ hymnbook fashion, following Ralph Vaughan Williams' magnificent setting as written?  A big missed opportunity, there.  The Old Rugged Cross has since graduated to the ranks of standard hymns, though I'm not sure about Ivory Palaces.  Depends on the mainline denomination.  And mainline hymnals are becoming more inclusive by the year, so... And, for some reason, I thought I Heard the Voice... was in our main UMC hymnal, but I guess not.  (Okay, I'm remembering all the way back to my Presbyterian days--it was, and maybe still is, in that hymnal. But with a different tune for the words.)  And I'm sure this internal dialogue is totally fascinating.

Some superb music and singing for the first phase of Operation Post More Sacred Choir Fare.  Nice to have such a distinguished example to start things off.  Oh, and on the MP3 tags I did some corrections on the author/composer credits, which mostly involved including the names of the former (the text writers).  Additions and a couple of corrections.  To the Sunday sounds...

DOWNLOAD: Hallowed Moments--Ralph Carmichael Choir and Orchestra (1959)

The Old Rugged Cross
All Creatures of Our God and King
A Ballad of the Trees and Master
For All the Saints
Ivory Palaces
Now Thank We All Our God
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
This Is My Father's World
Wonderful Peace
Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand
In the Cross of Christ I Glory
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Hallowed Moments--Ralph Carmichael Choir and Orchestra (Sacred 8010; 1959)


Saturday, November 06, 2021

Pops for America (aka, 18 Top Hits)--Enoch Light, Vincent Lopez, Artie Malvin, and the rest (1956 or 1957)


Pops for America--isn't that a snazzy jacket?  (Seriously--it rocks.)  Another used-vinyl gift from Diane, this Grand Award fake-hits comp is kind of an upscale 18 Top Hits.  In fact, 18 Top Hits is (by no coincidence) this LP's subtitle.  In addition, this fancy-looking package uses a stock Waldorf image (the girl and jukebox), but here the pic is better lit and more detailed than usual.  And the border (with its "World's Greatest Music/Art" brags) really adds something in the way of class.  However, this is basically a spruced-up regular release, the tracks all having appeared on 18 Top Hits EPs and various Waldorf Music Hall LPs.  None of which, far as I know, claimed to be the "world's greatest."  But you've got to love the extra care in packaging.

At first glance, I calculated that I'd already posted most of these, but it turns out I've pre-posted fewer than half--44.444... percent, to be exact.  The new-to-the-blog numbers include You Don't Know Me (Bob Eberly), Don't Be Cruel (Loren Becker), Happiness Street (The Brigadiers), and six more.  No individual artist credits, for some reason, but the names were easily tracked down using Discog's 18 Top Hits listings.  And, I should note, even if most of these had been repeats, I'd have posted this anyway, due to the incredibly attractive packaging.

I'm guessing (and it's purely a guess) that our LP hails from 1956 or 1957--it doesn't have a standard Grand Award catalog number, which might mean... mail order, perhaps?  As ever, we get to hear the teen pop hits of the 1950s in much slicker, more pop-conventional arrangements (though, to be fair, at this time the label was gradually moving toward truer-to-r-and-r fakes).  The previously posted Stranded in the Jungle is almost humorous in its contrast to the raw original, especially with the Lawrence Welk style vocals, but there's nothing inherently wrong with big band-style teen pop; and, in fact, Jungle manages to rock pretty effectively, despite the clean-cut sound.  And, again, we're about a year away from Waldorf finally fully giving in to the r&r sound.

The liner notes are the usual why-this-is-a-great-deal type of essay, but we do get priceless info about the top-flight musicians who backed the singers.  Best of all, we learn that the man responsible for those great guitar solos was George Barnes, who had a genuine feel for r&r guitar.  Read the notes (included in the zip) for info on the other big names, all of whom seemed to be having a good time.

And a note about my use of "Waldorf" (and/or "Waldorf labels") as a catchall for Enoch Light's early stuff: There is disagreement between two major discographical sources, Discogs and Both Sides Now, over the (what's the best term?) label order when it comes to Enoch Light.  For instance, Discogs doesn't even connect Grand Award with Waldorf (Correction: It states that GA started out as Waldorf Music Hall--my bad), whereas Both Sides Now lists Audition, Colortone, Command Performance and Waldorf Music Hall as subsidiary labels of Grand Award.  Maybe there simply wasn't any logic or order to this stuff.  It's very possible, since budget labels existed solely to move product by any means possible, which inevitably resulted in a confusing organizational scheme.

Fine, highly entertaining material here, and some of the less effective tracks are actually pretty charming in their less-effectiveness.  I refer, for example, to Jerry Duane's inadequate vocal on Rip It Up and Artie Malvin's spirited but missed-the-boat vocal for Hound Dog (though the cheery, squeaky-clean arrangement is probably the main issue--few songs lend themselves less to Dixieland treatment than this Leiber/Stoller classic, made famous, of course, by Big Mama Thornton and Elvis P.).  Not to knock Artie Malvin, by any means, who often did great work (for instance, When My Dreamboat...).

As for Somebody up There Likes Me (from the Paul Newman flick), it's nice to have the Waldorf knock-off, but it ranks with my least favorite Perry Como hits--and I'm a Como mega-fan.  Just saying.  This version is well done, as far as that goes.

A word on my Sunday posts--I'll be getting back in gear the next Sunday after tomorrow, but I've been feeling under the weather this week, which has me running behind.  That'll happen.

Don't forget--these were all acclaimed by music critics, approved by music educators, and treasured by music lovers.  Just Grand Award's subtle and very humble brand of self-praise.

DOWNLOAD: Pops for America (aka, 18 Top Hits) (Grand Award G.A. 33-POP 5; 1956/1957)

Canadian Sunset--Enoch Light and His Orch.
You Don't Know Me--Bob Eberly
Rip It Up--Jerry Duane and the Rhythm Rockets
Friendly Persuasion--Mike Stewart
Song for a Summer Night--Enoch Light and His Orch.
Don't Be Cruel--Loren Becker
Happiness Street--The Brigadiers
After the Lights Go Down Low--Artie Malvin
Hound Dog--Artie Malvin
Somebody up There Likes Me--Loren Becker With Enoch Light and His Orch.
Love, Love, Love--Rhythm Rockets
Soft Summer Breeze--Vincent Lopez and His Orch.
Stranded in the Jungle--The Rhythm Rockets
Tonight You Belong to Me--Dottie and Lois
Honky Tonk--Vincent Lopez and His Orch.
When My Dreamboat Comes Home--Artie Malvin
The Fool--Loren Becker With Vincent Lopez and His Orch.
When the White Lilacs Bloom Again--Vincent Lopez and His Orch.

Pops for America (aka, 18 Top Hits)--Various (Grand Award G.A. 33-POP 5; prob. 1956/1957)


Saturday, October 30, 2021

Shivery Shellac, Part 3!--Beatrice Kay, Harry Reser, Marek Weber, Eugene Goossens! (1907-1958)


A cryptful of shiver-producing shellac, and I had a devil of a time finding my copy of Spooky Spooks, that 1916 classic by Charles Prince's A. Band.  And, wouldn't you know it, the first place I should have checked was exactly where the thing turned up, but did I look there first?  No, of course not--I went through my entire 12" 78 stash--twice, no less--before checking my first choice.  There's a moral there, someplace.  You've heard, "It was in the last place I looked" (which some regard as redundant, since, as a rule, people stop searching once they've found something), but this time, it's "in the first place I should have looked."  A lesson for us all.  Go with your guts.  And not in the gore-picture sense.

So, I need to hurry here, lest I drive myself sane.  And, you know, I was afraid I might end up with thirteen tracks in this list (I'm not superstitious, but...), but I wound up with fourteen, so... whew!  I'm in for good luck on Sunday, I reckon.  Frankie says, "Arrrrrghhh!!"  I'm sure we all appreciate his input.

In the scary-titles-for-music-that-turn-out-to-not-be-scary sweepstakes, the winner has to be 1955's The Theme from Dial "M" for Murder, which starts out in a horror vein but quickly moves into a Morton-Gould-mood-music mode.  Nice selection, but it must depict one of the less suspenseful moments in the Hitchcock film.  And we have one of my best-ever thrift finds--the "Theatre Lobby Spot" for the classic Japanese horror flick, The H-Man (1958).  I presented it in a single file, though it's really two bands on (what looks to be) a vinyl 78, with no lead-in groove to the second part.  I spliced them together, shouting "Live! LIVE!" having forgotten, for a brief moment, that I'm not Victor Frankenstein.  We have some concert "horror" fare, too: Rachmaninoff's C-Sharp Minor Prelude, as played by Marek Weber's orchestra in 1928, Manuel de Falla's The Fire Dance, as conducted by Eugene Goossens in 1928, and Chopin's famous Funeral March, Op. 35, as played on the pipe organ by Mark Andrews in 1928.  Clearly, 1928 was a good year for spooky background music.

And we have (straight from the 78) Beatrice Kay's 1947 Hooray, Hooray, I'm Goin' Away, which very possibly influenced a certain 1966 novelty hit.  Plus, a companion piece to last post's Little Nell--another mini-melodrama called No! No! A Thousand Times No! as provided by Harry Reser's Orchestra in 1934.  On the Level You're a Little Devil (no comma in sight on the label) is a 1918 novelty that'll have you saying "Awwww."  Or not.  1919's A Cat-Astrophe features cartoon sound effects before there were such things, and Vamp Me is yet another charming Byron Gay novelty from the days of the proto-big bands (as in, 1922).  Then we have the wacky 1907 novelty Gesundheit! (To Your Health), because nothing says "Halloween" quite like sneezing.  (Wait a minute...)  Actually, I'm not sure why I included this one.  Wait, I know--it puts the playlist count up to fourteen, from thirteen.  That must be why.

Happy Halloween!

DOWNLOAD: Shivery Shellac, Part 3! (1907-1958)

A Cat-Astrophe--Columbia Orch., Dir. by Charles A. Prince, 1919
Vamp Me--Rega Dance Orchestra, 1922
On the Level You're a Little Devil--Irene Farber and Lewis James, 1918
Gesundheit! (To Your Health)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1907
Spooky Spooks--Prince's Band, 1916
Funeral March (Chopin, Op. 35)--Mark Andrews, Pipe Organ Solo, 1928
Prelude (Rachmaninoff)--Marek Weber and His Orch., 1928
Dance Macabre--Lew White, Organ, w. Xylophone and Piano, 1942
My Friend the Ghost--Jill Whitney, 1954
No! No! A Thousand Times No!--Harry Reser and His Orch., V: Tom Stacks, 1934
The Fire Dance (Manuel de Falla)--Hollywood Bowl Orch., c. Eugene Goossens, 1928
Hooray, Hooray, I'm Goin' Away (Skylar)--Beatrice Kay w. Mitchell Ayres, 1947
The H-Man (Theatre Lobby Spot)--1958?
Theme from Dial "M" For Murder (Tiomkin)--Dimitri Tiomkin and His Orch., 1955


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Shivery Shellac, Part 2!--Little Nell, That Hypnotizing Man, Ah-Ha!, Storm, The Ghost of the Violin (1904-1936)


From J.W. Myers' gender-inclusive rendition of Come Take a Trip in My Airship (1904) to Frances Langford's jazzy reading of Cole Porter's Swingin' the Jinx Away, today's 11 titles cover 32 years, thirteen short of the 45-year span of Part 1.  Wait a minute--did I say "thirteen"?  Buwa-ha-haaaa!!!

I knew there was a thirteen in here someplace.  Anyway, don't be surprised when J.W. Myers sings, "...and right near the Dipper, I gave him my heart," since gender-blind vocals were a thing in the early days of recording.  In fact, I used to have a dance band version of The Man I Love which featured a male vocal refrain, so the practice was still in place come the late 1920s.  (And, for some odd reason, early renditions of The Man I Love often took brisk tempos.)  Meanwhile, hypnotism is a Halloween trope--instances of hypnotism, anyway (Bela Lugosi: "Come... here!")--and we've got two examples today/tonight: That Hypnotizing Man (Dolly Connolly, 1912) and Hypnotized, which can be taken as a standard love song or a song about possession.  As in, being possessed ("One look at you, and I was hypnotized").  Why doesn't the singer simply say he was enchanted, or attracted, or that something was stirred inside him?  The man isn't simply captivated--he's been mesmerized.  The gliding, shimmering organ chords (played by Ted Fio Rito) very subtly suggest something supernatural at work.  It's there, if you listen really closely.  But not too closely...

Everything wraps up with an unusual grand organ solo, and I still have my 2016 blog notes regarding it (which is good, since I won't have to retrace the info).  This organ solo, called Storm, includes storm imitations (you read that correctly) on the organ pedals, and apparently this was an actual concert genre around the turn of the last century--storm pieces on the organ.  Clearly, the tradition didn't age well, since, by the time the British Arthur Meale committed his Storm to shellac (on HMV) in 1926, Gramophone magazine was less than charitable in its review, calling Storm "a ludicrous piece of theatricalism," and "a demonstration of the worst excesses of which the organ is capable." Hm. Other than that, did they like it?

Anyway, I've traced Storm back at least as far as 1905, and it may have originated as an organ improvisation, and... it doesn't appear to have been published. It seems to have originally been called Storm at Sea (which would explain the stanza of Eternal Father, Strong to Save), and the sections (quoted from a 1906 recital announcement) are as follows: Calm at Sea--Distant Thunder--Rising Wind--Hooting of Sirens in the distance--Hymn, "Eternal Father, strong to save"--Tempestuous Sea (theme on the Pedal Organ during the storm)--Thunder rolls away--Thanksgiving Hymn, "O God, our help in ages past," etc.  

Now you know as little as I do.  I think that select moments in Storm would make a terrific accompaniment for a Lon Chaney horror silent, and so I offer it as a classic example of shivery shellac.  More to come, believe it or don't.

DOWNLOAD: Shivery Shellac, Part 2

That Hypnotizing Man--Dolly Connolly, 1912
Graveyard Blues--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra, 1918
The Ghost of the Violin (Two-step) (Ted Snyder)--Prince's Band, 1913
Come Take a Trip in My Airship--J.W. Myers, 1904
Ah-Ha!--Oriole Orchestra, V: Mark Fisher, 1925
Ah-Ha!--California Ramblers, V: John Ryan
Little Nell--Eliot Everett and Orch. (Joe Haymes), 1932
The Devil Song--Ed McConnell, 1927
Swingin' the Jinx Away (Cole Porter)--Frances Langford w. Jimmy Dorsey and His Orch., 1936
Hypnotized--Ted Fio Rito and His Orch. V: Muzzy Marcellino
Storm (Arthur Meale)--Arthur Meale, Grand Organ Solo, 1926


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Shivery shellac for Halloween at MY(P)WHAE! (1909-1954), Part One


Above: Your hosts for "Shivery Shellac"--two Frankies and a demonic-looking pumpkin head, with the first Frankie's brains evidently not yet in place (yuck!).  I didn't notice that until I snapped the shot.  The first Frankie must have posed for the tumbler before he was fully assembled.

"What's the pink lid on your monster cup?"  "Oh, those are his brains."  "Gross."

I was going to bow out of Halloween posting this year, seeing as how I have little to no new material (Halloween sides are much harder to come by than Xmas stuff), but a couple days ago I was listening to last year's "Haunted Victrola" posts, and I wasn't happy with the rips.  For some reason, over the past few years I had taken to eliminating the low end (such as it is) on my acoustical 78 rips, and that naturally leaves things sounding tinny (which is fine if you want a gramophone-type sound, but...).  This present series of rips is hopefully much better, with more bodies.  Er, I mean, with more body.  To the sound, that is.  More body, more gloom.  I mean, boom.  Plus, I think my rips--of big band-era tracks, especially--have better-chosen response curves, my having had (by now) a few years or more practicing with my VinylStudio.  My VS program has a good number of preset curves, but I find myself doing a lot of modifying (and even working from scratch, at times--no pun intended).  It's gotten easier over the many months.

Tomb--er, tomorrow, I hope to have another group of Halloween 78s ripped'n'ready, because no group of revised October 31st rips are complete without The Ghost of the Violin or Spooky Spooks (if I'm able to clear the way to my crate of 12-inchers).  And, ironically, one 78 that seems to be hiding out on me: The Sneak.  I guess it takes its title seriously.

Of the twenty-two tracks in our slaylist, some titles are full-Halloween: Greenwich Witch (two versions, including Zez Confrey's own outstanding piano solo), Witches' Dance, The Hoodoo Man, The Merry Ghost from Chatham Square, for example.  Other titles suggest Halloween, even if they're not full-Halloween:  I refer to The Vamp, Which Hazel, Love Him So Much (I Could Scream), and a few more.  And there are yet others which might be called a session on the rack--a stretch, in other words.  These include Murder, Animal Fair (great, surreal sound effects), Danger, and Magic Eyes.  To this blogger, these are all Halloween titles, even if not, in every instance, full-Halloween.  And I believe I made up that term, though I haven't Googled it to be sure.  "Full-Halloween" doesn't have the sound of a commonly used phrase.  "Shall we go full-Halloween this year?"  I don't think people say that when discussing costumes or decorations.  But, then, I don't know.

All ripped and restored by me from 78s in my collection.  Not ripped in the 1970s/1980s gore-movie sense, of course.  Speaking of which, I have one of those 50-movies-on-twelve-DVD sets which includes 1981's The House by the Cemetery, an Italian flick set in the U.S. which is very creatively done and well photographed but 1) pointlessly gory, 2) badly and/or incoherently plotted, 3) on top of all that, choppily edited, 4) poorly dubbed, and 5) pretty stupid, however genuinely spooky some of the scenes.  There are movie fans who love that type of disconnected and illogical Italian horror, and (at least on line) they treat it like great art, but I'll take Ed Wood, Jr. and Larry Buchanan.  And I won't even pretend their stuff has any artistic significance.  But, back to topic--enjoy today's shivery shellac!  Have a boo-delicious time!  Stay tombed for (possibly) more shivery shellac.

DOWNLOAD: Shivery Shellac, Part 1 (1909-1954)

Murder--Plantation Jazz Orch, V: Unknown, 1920
Greenwich Witch (Confrey)--Frank Westphal and His Orch., 1922
Animal Fair--Carl Fenton's Orch., V: Billy Jones, Ernest Hare, 1924
Witches' Dance (Hexentanz)--Leopold Godowsky, 1921-1922
Eccentric Rag (J. Russell Robinson)--Oriole Orchestra, 1924
Jabberwocky--Joseph Samuels' Jazz Band, 1921
Dance of the Demon (Eduard Holst)--Victor Arden-Phil Ohman, 1922
Greenwich Witch (Confrey)--Zez Confrey, Piano Solo (1922)
Chopin's Funeral March--Prince's Band, 1909
Vamping Rose (Violinsky-Schuster)--All Star Trio and Their Orch., 1921
Which Hazel--Al Herman, 1921
The Hoodoo Man (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orch., 1924
Danger--Isham Jones Orchestra, 1925
The Vamp--Joseph C. Smith's Orch., V: Harry Macdonough, Billy Murray
Magic Eyes--Oriole Orchestra, 1923
The Merry Ghost From Chatham Square--Henri Rene Musette Orch. With Vocal, 1943
It's Witchery--Charlie Spivak and His Orch., V: Tommy Mercer, 1947
Inner Sanctum--Charlie Spivak and His Orch., V: Irene Daye, 1948
The Thing (Grean)--The Sundowners Band, 1951
The Haunted Ballroom (Geoffrey Toye)--The Kingsway Symphony Orch., c. by Camarata
Love Him So Much (I Could Scream)--Peggy Lloyd With Nick and His Gang, 1954
The Thing (Grean)--Cliff Holland With the Les Morgan Orch. (c. 1951)


Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sunday morning gospel: Your Worship Hour Quartet--I Never Walk Alone (Crusade LPM 9401)


Gorgeous harmonizing, some great songs in the mix, and an expert accompanist on the piano.  An LP this good deserves to be heard, though the playlist does fall a little short in terms of balancing the slow, thoughtful numbers with the upbeat titles.  As a consequence (at least to my ears), things get a little sluggish--or too measured and drawn out--at times.  Otherwise, this would have been a perfect release.  But as is, it's more than worth sticking with, because the best tracks are absolute gems. 

In fact, every one of the upbeat numbers is exceptional--Keep on the Firing Line, Jesus is Coming Again, Leave Your Heavy Burden on the Cross, Who Is on the Lord's Side? and This Is Why I Want to Go.  And some of the slower numbers are equally good--in particular, the classic Ivory Towers and Alfred H. Ackley's lovely, concert-style I Never Walk Alone, which I'm sure I first encountered in a Homer Rodeheaver songbook.  I wish I could find that songbook--an initial search didn't turn it up.  This is, I believe, the first recording of the song I've ever heard.  And it's a gem.

Three from today's playlist are the work of Singspiration's John W. Peterson, and if your ears detect a famous Strauss waltz in Peterson's Jesus Is Coming Again, you're almost right--it's actually Emil Waldteufel's 1882 The Skaters' Waltz being paraphrased (unintentionally, I assume).  The second upbeat Peterson gem is Leave Your Heavy Burden on the Cross, which has been a favorite of mine for years, and which should have become a standard.  The remaining Peterson title is Over the Sunset Mountains, which isn't up to the others--too generic, imo.  But Peterson was allowed some duds.  After all, among other brilliant gospel numbers, he gave us Surely Goodness and Mercy.

Your Worship Hour was apparently a syndicated radio show originating in South Bend, Indiana, and these very gifted gents were obviously the featured quartet.  In terms of talent, they're on par with the superb Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet, whom they sound a great deal like.  I'd almost think they were the same guys, moonlighting, though that's highly unlikely.

In this LP's arrangement, The Sands of Time had me thinking it was a fairly recent number, but I couldn't have been more mistaken--the melody (by Chrétien Urhan) in fact dates back to 1834, and the text (a very long poem which was adapted as a hymn) was penned by Anne R. Cousin in 1857.  So, recent it's not.  Meanwhile, In the Great Tomorrow (love that title!) comes courtesy of the same team (Virgil and Blanche Brock) who gave us Beyond the Sunset, and I think you'll hear a similarity.  This being a gospel LP, there are the usual errors in the music and text credits, though nothing too outrageous.  Still, I don't know how (or from where) they came up with Edie Marks and J. Olsen for the Cousin-Urhan The Sands of Time, or why there's no author/composer credit for Keep on the Firing Line, which was written and composed in 1915 by Bessie F. Hatcher.  I didn't catch any other goofs or omissions in the notes, though, sound-wise, there are several clipped starting passages.  I promise these were the Crusade label's doing and not mine.  Oh, and as for as mid-tempo selections, the close-harmony version of Martin Luther's A Mighty Fortress is marvelous.  And it's nice to hear this seminal work in a non-SATB setting.  The publisher is listed as "Rodeheaver," and we can only assume that refers to the arrangement, given the work's year of composition (c. 1529).

A superior LP.  Even though the balance of tempi isn't ideal, this is worth sticking with.  

DOWNLOAD: I Never Walk Alone--Your Worship Hour Quartet (Crusade LPM 9401)

I Never Walk Alone
Ivory Palaces
Over the Sunset Mountains
Keep on the Firing Line (Hatcher)
The Sands of Time (Cousin-Urhan)
Breath of Calvary
Jesus Is Coming Again (Peterson)
In the Great Tomorrow
Leave Your Heavy Burden at the Cross (Peterson)
I Am With You

A Mighty Fortress (Luther)
This Is Why I Want to Go
He Became Poor
Who Is on the Lord's Side?
There Is a Fountain

I Never Walk Alone--Your Worship Hour Quartet (Crusade LPM 9401)


Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Happy Hammond Plays Burt Bacharach


Well, first off, The Happy Hammond Plays the Hits of Burt Bacharach sounds slightly hilarious in the present year of 2021, though there's a lot of neat alliteration there--Happy Hammond, Hits, Burt Bacharach.  But, the thing is, we have an organist--Ena Baga--who was highly regarded in British light music circles, and who started her professional career as a cinema organist (playing for silent films) when she was  fourteen, apparently (we're talking 1920).  So, whatever you think of Hammond organs, happy or no, the playing here is tasteful and expert.  My sole complaint centers on a single track--Wives and Lovers--which Ena presents, not as a jazz waltz, but in straight 1-2-3 triple time.  Like a regular waltz, that is.  A jazz waltz is supposed to swing, with the second count slightly ahead of the beat in the triplet-y fashion of swing.  But the sheet music for the song is written in straight 3/4, so Ena can be forgiven.

By the time Burt had hit the big time, eighth-note syncopation was the rule in pop and rock, which is why Wives and Lovers has an older-generation sound to it (and, maybe, because Jack Jones sang it).  And, overall, Ena fares more than adequately with the new-fangled 1960s rhythms of Do You Know the Way to San Jose, There's Always Something There..., etc., and I just admire her effortless pop-organ technique.  I suppose the Hammond rhythm effects are kind of dated (not sure if they're programmed or "live"), but this is from 1972, and it is presumably geared toward an older listenership (though the notes specify "all ages," which I sort of doubt).  I personally love the Hammond sound, and I have a word I use to describe it, but one which I won't divulge, since it can easily be taken the wrong way.  The Hammond model used by Ena is identified as a TTR, a European make (of course).

Burt is known for quirky meters, though I've always regarded his signature touch as the quirky phrases that fill his songs (and which typically, but not always, manage to stay within the common meter of 4/4), with occasional time signature switches, such as the 5/4 to 4/4 bit that occurs first thing in Anyone Who Had a HeartI Say a Little Prayer goes further, jumping from 4/4 to 2/4 to 3/4 to accommodate the phrases.  Anyway, save for missing the necessary jazz-waltz feeling of Wives and Lovers, Ena (born in 1906) does very well with Bacharach's superb, sometimes tricky music.  Extremely pleasant (did someone say "easy"?) listening.

I wonder what Ena thought of the front jacket?  Did she say, "I will not stand for that jacket?"  And did they reply, "You're under contract"?  I can easily picture this LP in a "Woolies" (Woolworth) rack in Scotland, circa 1978, when I was stationed there.  Woolies carried Hallmark and MFP (Music for Pleasure) budget LPs.

DOWNLOAD: The Happy Hammond Plays Burt Bacharach (Hallmark SHM 767; 1972)

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head 
This Guy's in Love With You
Anyone Who Had a Heart
Wives and Lovers
The Look of Love
Do You Know the Way to San Jose
I Say a Little Prayer
Close to You
There's Always Something There to Remind Me
Trains and Boats and Planes
I'll Never Fall in Love Again
I'm a Better Man

The Happy Hammond Plays the Music of Burt Bacharach--Ena Baga at the Hammond (Hallmark SHM 767; 1972--a product of Pickwick International)


Friday, October 15, 2021

Shellac for October, 2021--Bob Haring, Paul Specht, Varsity Eight, Fred Waring, Erskine Hawkins


I couldn't have planned it better--22 78s, with 11 from the acoustical era and 11 from the electrical era.  It just came out that way--no conscious attempt on my part (though I was mostly conscious during the ripping of these).  So, 22 dance (and big band) sides, ripped and restored by me from my own discs, with the earliest dating back 99 years to 1922, and the most recent dating back 70 years to 1951.  In 78 rpm terms, 1951 is practically current.

First up: Bob Haring's Orchestra performing Charley, My Boy, with Al Bernard on the vocal.  The Al Bernard credit comes from Discogs, as I was unable to find the info in either my Rust dance band discography or the huge online 78 discography.  Things wrap up with (among other numbers) Avery Parrish's proto-R&B classic, After Hours, as redone in 1950 for the Coral label by Erskine Hawkins, who originally recorded it for RCA in 1940.  The flip is called Station Break, and there's an interesting grease-penciled note on the label, probably by a DJ: 

"Some blare."  Interesting, because I didn't notice any blare.  Unless "blare" is some complimentary slang, as in "This record is some blare--it really rocks."  I doubt it, however.  There are check marks on both sides.

Knock at the Door (1922) is a reasonably "hot" side by the California Ramblers, only under the name "Varsity Eight."  I've seen a lot of Varsity Eight sides over the years, and I don't know why I'm just now finding out they were the California Ramblers.  All Muddled Up, by Paul Specht and His Orchestra, had me expecting something a little eccentric, given that title, but it's merely an exercise in Zez Confrey-style syncopation--not a bad way to spend three minutes and 5 seconds, by any means, and there's a nice Dixieland-style ending.  And the piano breaks on the flip, Waltzing the Blues, are amazing.  Again, I was expecting something more novel with that title, too, but it's not a wasted three minutes and 8 seconds, by any stretch.  I guess I was expecting something more blues-y, triple time or no.

And four fine 1922-1923 sides by the Great White Way Orch., directed by Hugo Frey, with a charming piano duet on To-morrow.  Ross Gorman, of course, is best known for playing the Rhapsody in Blue clarinet glissando in the original (1924) version, which I believe was partially improvised.  The famous opening glissando, that is.  And we get Ross' orchestra, from 1926, performing a spirited Valencia, which features Elliott Shaw not at his best on the vocal.  The silly Jericho (1929) by (Fred) Waring's Pennsylvanians, is a very "hot" and memorable number, even with lyrics about the jazz craze in "Bible days" and how the walls of Jericho melted from the impact of the hot music played by the Israelites.  Something like that.  Waring's novelties were the ideal type--totally unapologetic.  If you're going to be silly, go all the way, I say.  The flip is the only waltz in today's line-up, and it's nicely arranged and performed--a good cool-down from the wall-melting hotness of Jericho.

Then we have Erskine Hawkins' terrific 1950 Coral sides, then the overly cute but fun Us and Company by Leonard Joy's All String Orchestra.  It has a very 1930 sound, which is not surprising, since it's from 1930.  Next, the jazziest in our list: 1928's Waitin' for Katy by (wait) Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, which could be jazzy back in the late 1920s--the proof is before us.  The Raymond Paige 78 is one I've been planning to put up for some time, though it's taken this long for it to make its debut, and I don't know why.  Just fate, I guess.  And I know that everyone is itching to hear a 1951 Mitch Miller sing-along-style side, and so we have (If You) Smile, Smile, Smile, a selection to definitely have on hand when visitors arrive, just to show them how cool your tastes are.  ("Wow!  That's really hip--in a not-hip sort of way!")  I like it, but then I have a high tolerance for that kind of thing.  Moving along, a title that would never be used today--I'll Always Be Following You, a 1950 Jimmy-Dorsey-on-Columbia side with Sandy Evans on the vocal.  I bought the 78 for the flip, Wimoweh, but some previous owner destroyed that one with a bad needle--I'd need to have a lab examine it to find out what happened to the grooves.  They were there at one time, we can be sure, but something silenced them.  However, the reverse, Following, is nice (and a little bluesy), even if creepy by today's standards--we can almost picture the singer buying surveillance gear to keep track of his lady love.  Of course, back in 1950, the lyrics would have registered pop-culturally as merely a declaration of attraction and devotion, but contexts can change over seven decades.  They typically do.


Charley, My Boy--Bob Haring and His Orch., V: Al Bernard, 1924
Knock at the Door--Varsity Eight (California Ramblers), 1924
All Muddled Up--Paul Specht and His Hotel Astor Orch., 1922
Waltzing the Blues--Same
Stella--The Great White Way Orch., Dir. Hugo Frey, 1923
Carolina Mammy--Same
To-morrow--Same, 1922
You Gave Me Your Heart (So I Gave You Mine)--Same
I Wish I Knew (You Really Loved Me)--Clyde Doerr and His Orch., 1922
Valencia--Ross Gorman and His Orch., V: Elliott Shaw, 1926
Cherie, I Love You--Same
Jericho--Waring's Pennsylvanians, V: Fred Waring, Orch. members, 1929
Cherie, I Love You--Same, V: Clare Hanlon and Chorus, 1929
After Hours (Avery Parrish)--Erskine Hawkins and His Orch., 1950
Station Break--Same ("Some blare")
Us and Company--Leonard Joy's All String Orch., V: Chester Gaylord, 1930
I'll Still Belong to You--Same
Waitin' for Katy--Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, V: Vocal Trio, 1928
Love Thy Neighbor--Raymond Paige and His Orch., V: The Three Rhythm Kings, 1934
Once in a Blue Moon--Raymond Paige and His Orch., 1934
(If You) Smile, Smile, Smile--Mitch Miller and His Orch. and Chorus, 1951
I'll Always Be Following You--Jimmy Dorsey and His Orch., V: Sandy Evans, 1950.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sunday gospel--The Home Gate Quartet: Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (c. 1972)


An especially primitive cover design--I love it.  Not much of a 3D feel to it, which makes it kind of interesting--that, and the weirdly proportioned people up front.  Today's group is the Home Gate Quartet, and I'll let the liner notes introduce them: "Playing rhythm guitar and singing the lead is John Vaughn, singing alto his wife, Joyce, both from Somerset, Ky.  Singing baritone is Carl Fiffe from West Liberty, Ky. Singing the bass is Alvin Collins from Harlan, Ky."  In short, you'll be hearing a falsetto-sounding male voice on the melody, and a female alto supporting same (unless the order is flipped).  Now you know.

This is pure country gospel, which is to say it's pretty much bluegrass gospel, only generally slower and minus a banjo or mandolin.  By slower, I mean the rhythm is less pronounced.  The two styles are really very close, and I would have no issue with calling this bluegrass.  Maybe we can settle on country/bluegrass gospel.  Carl Story and the Chuck Wagon Gang rolled into one act.

This gem of an LP is a prime example of the type of "local," small-label gospel I live to find (especially when it's this well performed), and it has introduced me to standards I hadn't heard of.  The Rite matrix #'s (29497/98) place this at approximately 1972.  And so we have songs that were 25 to 35 years old when this was cut--"modern" gospel numbers, as I regard them, since my song knowledge is focused on earlier stuff.  Still catching up with the second half of the last century.

Some challenges with the image editing and rip, since 1) the imperfectly-printed Rose Records labels showed up on my scanner as white with a hundred (or so) black specks, plus 2) the tracks are listed out of order on both the jacket and label.  I searched for credits where none were given, and I found a total of one: Geneva Stroud and Hale Reeves for Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (1946).  And John Baxter, Jr. is allegedly the lyricist on I'm Living in Canaan Now (1938) or else he was doing the publisher-copping-song-credit bit.  Not sure which.  Oh, and I was expecting the famous 19th century Ring the Bells of Heaven (Cushing-Root), but this is definitely a different Ring the Bells...  Fine, toe-tapping number, though.  Actually, I'm not sure the older hymn would translate well to country/bluegrass gospel.

Apparently, stereo Rose Records LPs were in compatible stereo: "Rose stereo records can be safely played on today's monaural phonographs."  Unless "today's monaural phonographs" presumes a stereo cartridge and stylus, which seems unlikely.

Loved this one.  An interesting contrast to the slick, extroverted Southern quartet fare I've been posting lately.

DOWNLOAD: The Home Gate Quartet: Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (Rose Records 504; c. 1972)

Love Will Roll the Clouds Away (Stroud-Reeves)
When I Get Home (Reed)
I'm Livin' in Canaan Now (Baxter-Center)
Will Someone Be Waiting (Presley)
Springtime Blooms in Gloryland (Summers)
Praise God I'm on My Way
Last Altar Call
Ring the Bells of Heaven
Working the Road
Mansion in Glory (Shiver)
Rocking on the Waves (A.B. Sebren)
Till I Prayed Thru

Love Will Roll the Clouds Away--The Home Gate Quartet (Rose Records 504; c. 1972)