Thursday, April 29, 2021

The North High School (Columbus OH) Stage Band. Four astonishingly good 1971 tracks!


In my second-to-last thrift trip, I found two amazingly good North High School LPs, both custom-pressed by the long-gone Coronet Recording Company.  I don't know if Coronet did the actual recording or just the mastering--hopefully, someone at the school's FB page will tell me.  (UPDATE: Yes, Coronet did the actual recording of these.) North High School (in Columbus, Ohio) operated under that name from 1924 to 1979, Wikipedia tells me, and evidently it had a fabulous music program.  In fact, the very friendly NHS alumni tell me that their school was superior in every department, and I don't doubt it.  Neither should you, after hearing these exceptional tracks from spring, 1971.  I haven't finished sound-editing Side Two yet (and we're just talking one of the two discs), but I can tell you it contains some of the most amazing high school choral singing I even knew was possible.  As is not uncommon with "local" pressings, the gatefold jacket has front-cover "art" only--no notes, no credits.  Too bad, with all the great playing happening in these grooves.  However, the amazing drummer on these sides may be one Bill Severance.  He was good. He sounds more like a session drummer than a high school percussionist.

The train starts rolling with Lucretia MacEvil (I retained the "Lucreatia" typo on the ID tag), that big 1970 BS&T hit that I loved to death at the time.  Like Spinning Wheel, Lucretia was written by David Clayton-Thomas, which is probably why I keep expecting to hear the Spinning Wheel trumpet solo to make an appearance.  Something to do with the flawed neural pathway that is my memory of the two hits.  (Nothing to do with old age, certainly.)  Crank musicologist Robert Christgau hated BS&T's third LP, and I hope the band lost no sleep over this.  The Carpenters hit, We've Only Just Begun (penned by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols), besides being a very nice song, functions superbly in a jazz-band mode, and the other two titles--Come On Baby and Patnoes Complaint are performed with remarkable skill and drive.  The first thing I noticed, upon placing the needle down on track 1 (well, just before it), was the expert, no-nonsense drumming and bass playing, the stereo sound of which is best appreciated with headphones on.  Then again, my little  speakers may not be a reliable reference in that regard.  Anyway, I put the needle down and said, "Wow--these players are rushing the tempo on this."  I mean, playing BS&T-level charts at a faster-than-normal tempo--it's unreal.

Give these a spin, or whatever it is that we do with mp3 players (believe it or not--I've never owned one of those!), and you'll not regret it.  Quite the reverse, to quote an ad that played in Scotland back in the late 1970s.  Do yourself a big favor and give these a chance.  More to come. 

DOWNLOAD: The North High School Stage Band--Spring, 1971

Lucreatia (sic) MacEvil

We've Only Just Begun

Come On Baby (Doug Troup, Tenor Sax Solo)

Patnoes Complaint

North High School Spring Concert 1971 (Coronet Recording Company 850C-3071)


Friday, April 23, 2021

The Hoodoo Man; That Tango Tokio; Rockin' the Boat; Husia Siusia--Polka


More 78s from my own collection.  The Internet Archive provided me with the year--1915--for Slavicek Polka, performed by Brusek's Band 106 years ago, though I could also have found it here.  But I think I was using "Slavicek Polka" in my search, and the DAHR lists it simply as "Slaviček."  You'll have that.

Oh, and we're having winter in spring.  It must be below freezing out there.  No, wait--35.  I was wrong.  Then again, that's 35 in the nearest village, and it may be colder here.  But April weather is always wonky--just usually not this wonky.

Back to topic, the most recent item on today's playlist is 1928's Husia Siusia--Polka and Wiejski Oberek by the Pulaski Instrumental Trio, which seems to be an accordion, saxophone, and some stringed instrument.  The DAHR is no help--it simply says "instrumental group."  Well, yeah.  Husia Siusia has a bit of a Tiger Rag feel at the start, and that third instrument is really prominent--much moreso than on the flip.  But, once you've heard the strumming on the first side, it'll be easier to catch on the oberek selection.  I'm told that "oberek" is pronounced "Oh-bear-ick," in case you wondered.  Musically, obereks are very lively waltzes, though "dances in ternary meter" sounds more music-professor.  The second most recent 78 is from 1927--Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orchestra's Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong, and Roger Wolfe Kahn's Just the Same--and, of course, Roger had the best studio musicians money could buy at the time, such as Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti, who are on this side in a big way, stealing the show at about 1:02 into things.  The Shilkret side has nice, fat bass and the kind of natural echo that can only be gotten in a concert hall.  Well, back in 1927, anyway.

And, if you're in the mood for a turkey-trot tango, we have The Victor Military Band's 1913 gem, That Tango Tokio, complete with a loud train whistle in one of the strains.  You almost have to wonder what our great-grandparents were smoking.  Great side, and though the flip is sort of interesting, I found it too tame compared to the tango, so I left it out.  Maybe later. Jumping back to the start of our playlist, we have two 1924 Paul Whiteman gems, both superbly arranged by Ferde Grofe--The Hoodoo Man and It Had to Be You.  The double-time portion on the latter is a charming surprise.  Some would call the touch "dated," but what do we expect a 1924 dance record to sound like?  Modern?  Then we drop back a year for Aileen Stanley and Billy Murray, who give us You've Got to See Mama Ev'ry Night (a standard) in their best fake-"colored" fashion, and it's such a fun performance and such a superbly tuneful number that I guess all we can say is, "It was 1923."  We can't go back and fix it...  There's so much fabulous music from the 1890s-1930s that was just plain incorrect in one way or another (lyrics, performance, sheet music art, etc.), but the best of it is impossible not to love. Sweetie Mine--from a 78 so worn, I didn't expect to get a useable file--is one major change in mood from the jazzy Just the Same, and I considered altering its position in the playlist, but then I decided the contrast in styles is kind of fun--from 1927 to 1917, and from electrical back to acoustical.  From a hot dance side to a Cohan-style one-step.  You just know that a major stylistic flip occurred in pop music between these two numbers.  Sometimes, all it takes is a decade.
Happy Heine is from the pen of J. Bodewalt Lampe, the composer of the famous rag, Creole Belles, and I had assumed Heine was about a German character, but the sheet music image depicts a Dutch boy.  Yet the music quotes Du, Du, Liegst Mir Im Herzen, so...?  I dunno.  (But did I ever claim I did?)  My rip turned out amazingly well, considering the surface abuse this early Victor disc has bravely endured the past 115 years (but not on my watch), and if this music doesn't have you thinking of Hogan's Heroes, then you're not from my generation.  One more polka to go--from 1918, this time--and it's an accordion duet credited on the label to... no one.  Discogs to the rescue--the not-quite-Myron-Floren key ticklers are J. Jacobson and Henry Magnuson, and I don't feel like correcting my ID tag typo (I capitalized A), especially since I just got done fixing the Pulaski Instrumental Trio sides.  (I had to fix a fade and change "Wiejksi" to "Wiejski," which means "rustic" or "country.")  I've redone the zip three times now, and that's my unofficial limit. The two Columbia Band sides are amazing--the first, New Colonel March, features unbelievably good 1902 fidelity, all nice and full, and the flip, My College Chum Waltz, was too good a title not to feature, even in case the music flunked the course.  Happy to say, the music is marvelous--all quotations from college songs of the time, with some unexpected variations in the familiar airs.  Getting the credit is Theo. Moses Tobani, composer of the ultra-famous light work, Hearts and Flowers.

Oh, and the Columbia Band again, from 1903, with an astounding version of Moritz Moszkowski's famous Spanish Bolero.  Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra is wonderful, as usual, in two 1918 sides--Hugo Frey's Rockin' the Boat and a medley from the Broadway musical, The Girl Behind the Gun.  The latter was an earlier version of Kissing Time, I just found out.  Ohhhhh-kay.

I love the banjo/piano combination on the Paul Biese Novelty Orchestra side of 1919 (the once-standard Oh!, which sold a million copies in its 1953 Pee Wee Hunt version), and just the lovably archaic sound in general.  Our playlist ends with two delightfully arranged numbers from Prince's Dance Orchestra, which genuinely sounds like a dance orchestra (and not a marching band imitating one).  The selections are Afghanistan and Mohammed, the former pretty timely, what with the pullout announcement by President Biden.  Neat bit of planning on my part.  No, not really--the side just happened to show up when I was pulling 78s for this post.  But what a clever piece of timing it would have been.

To the shellac...

The Hoodoo Man (Nacio Herb Brown; Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, 1924
It Had to Be You (Kahn-Jones; Arr: Grofe)--Saie
That Tango Tokio--Medley Turkey Trot--Victor Military Band, 1913
Husia Siusia--Polka--Pulaski Instrumental Trio, 1928
Wiejski Oberek (The Village Oberek)--Same
You've Got to See Mama Ev'ry Night (Billy Rose-Con Conrad)--Aileen Stanley-Billy Murray, 1923
Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong (Rose-Raskin-Fisher)--Nat Shilkret and the Victor O., V: Jack Shilkret and Chorus, 1927
Just the Same (Walter Donaldson-Joe Burke)--Roger Wolfe Kahn and His Orchestra, 1927
Sweetie Mine--Medley One-Step (Stamper)--Conway's Band, c. Patrick Conway, 1917
Happy Heine--Characteristic March and Two-Step (Lampe)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1906
Rockin' the Boat (Hugo Frey)--Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra, 1918
The Girl Behind the Gun--Medley One-Step--Same
Harvest Feast (Polka)--Accordion Duet (J. Jacobson and Henry Magnuson), 1918
New Colonial March (Hall)--Columbia Band, 1902
My College Chum Waltz (Theo. Moses-Tobani)--Columbia Band, 1905
Spanish Bolero (Moszkowski)--Columbia Band, 1903
Slavicek Polka (Nachtigallen Polka)--Brousek's Band, 1915
Oh!--Medley Fox Trot (Gay-Johnson-Bridges)--Paul Biese and His Novelty Orchestra, 1919
Afghanistan (Donnelly)--Prince's Dance Orchestra, 1920
Mohammed (Mary Earl)--Same


Friday, April 16, 2021

Lee originals--Godzilla Suite (2010); Facebook Suite (2011)

 A couple months ago, Stan S. asked me to post some of my original works--at least, that's how I read his request.  I start with a repost, from six years ago, of my Godzilla Suite, which was initially intended to depict a day in the life of Godzilla, but which turned into a series of Godzilla-related movements. (I mean, what's a day in the life of Godzilla, on average?) Stop me when I make sense. 

So, here's most of my 2015 Godzilla post (a re-post, actually)--most of the text, I mean.  All of the music is here, including extras.  Then, I'll go to my Facebook Suite, written at a time when I was disenchanted with FB.  I'm getting to that point again, so it might be time for another FB suite.  Anyway...

This suite is my eleven-part tribute to the big green guy, plus I've added three bonus Godzilla tracks (is that redundant?), including my 28-year-old "Godzilla Rag."

You'll be hearing both live and step-recorded sounds--some from my Noteworthy Composer program, others from my long-gone Casio CTK-551.  Some tracks, like Godzilla Stomps Into Town, have been heavily altered with echo, time-stretching, multiple sampling, etc., so expect some odd sounds.  But how to musically depict the life, deeds, and many moods of Godzilla without the occasional weird stretch of sound?  No way I can think of.  My multi-tracking went very smoothly, though my sound-on-sound method was pretty primitive--I actually brought up MAGIX twice, and double-tracked in "live" fashion between the two programs.  My PC of the time permitted such things.  This gave me limited mixing control (as in, none), but I didn't lose too much audio along the way.

Godzilla says, "REOOOAAAARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!" ("I'm Godzilla, and I approve this music.")

Click where appropriate...

GODZILLA SUITE  (Lee Hartsfeld, 2010)

1. Godzilla Disco

2.  Godzilla Rhapsody
3.  Godzilla Stomps Into Town
4.  Not Pleased By the Response, Godzilla Leaves and Stomps Back
5.  Godzilla in Therapy
6.  Godzilla in Show Biz
7.  The Godzilla Parade
8.  Godzilla Mystery Hour
9.  Godzilla Disco (Complete)
10.  Digital Godzilla
11.  Godzilla Rhapsody, Part 2


12.  Stairway to Godzilla (Hartsfeld, 2006)  
13.  Godzilla Rag (Hartsfeld, 1993)
14.  Godzilla vs. the Debt Ceiling (Hartsfeld, 2013)

Lee Hartsfeld on Casio CTK-551, Casio WK-3800, and/or Noteworthy Composer, 2010.

Now for my Facebook Suite of 2011.

As noted, I wrote this when I was nearly fully fed up with FB.  It was my first time there, and the platform seemed, at the time, to make less sense that it does now, though maybe this was before I finally stopped looking for order in the cyber-universe.  I was probably still expecting an a-b-c-d, 1-2-3-4 kind of linearity.  It was liberating when I gave up searching for order in the overall scheme of cyberspace.

Anyway, "Page Within Page, Link Within Link" beautifully describes FB's non-organizational plan at the time, I think.  As for "Facebook Scams," I don't remember what that referred to--maybe there was FB spam at one time?  I honestly don't remember.  "New Friends" and "Events" are two I-couldn't-think-of-anything-else titles, and I think the former contains the most interesting moments in the suite.  I'm kind of amazed at how much mileage I got out of that simple musical motif (technically, "motive") of C-A-C-A-G-F-G-F, which pops up constantly in different versions.  Why motifs are called "motives" in music, I'll never know.  This assumes there's an actual reason.

My FB music has a sarcastic edge to it, though I'm probably the one person who can hear the sarcasm.  Maybe it's the way I managed to compose music that's alternately intense, languid, and cheerful, even as it describes a "platform" almost totally devoid of character.  Almost--despite all the activity and the endless doorways to different pages--faceless.

On that flattering note...

 FACEBOOK SUITE (Lee Hartsfeld, 2011)

1. Page Within Page--Link Within Link
2, Facebook Scams
2, New Friends
4, Events

Lee Hartsfeld, mostly on Casio WK-3800, 2011.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Shellac for April 2021--Brittle discs that demand to be heard!

DOWNLOAD: Shellac for April 2021

"Shellac for April" is not a very imaginative title, but after a while, "More 78s" just doesn't do it.  I could try "Fewer 78s," though that wouldn't make sense.  But at least I wouldn't be making the "fewer"/"less" error that even professional journalists commit nowadays.  And what, exactly, am I talking about?  Frankly, I have no idea.  Yet, I have the courage to admit it.  You have to give me that.

So, shellac.  AND you get some repeats from my last shellac-athon, because I have made significantly better rips of them.  I even did a perfect rip of Reuben and Cynthia, but I've already done a follow-up Reuben and Cynthia post, and a re-follow-up is out of the question.  Suffice it to say that the vocals are now almost perfectly clear, and it took a simple trick to make them so.  The trick, for pre-electric recordings, is to assume a bass turnover frequency of 300 Hz, and to ignore the fact that, technically, acousticals had no bass turnover freq.  However, what is technically true is not always really true.  I had a long (and I mean long) phone discussion with a top audio guy, and it was all free advice, and I still can't believe I didn't dream it.  Anyway, he noted that the bass turnover for acousticals (or acoustics) is roughly the same as it was for early electrics--250-300 Hz.  Why?  He feels this was so that acousticals and early electrics would both play fine on the gramophones of the day--the dealers didn't want people coming in and complaining that their older 78s no longer sounded good.  A very logical theory.

So, my restorations start with a flat response curve, to which I add the 300 Hz turnover, and this allows me to maximize the low end (with parametric EQ'ing) after I've exported my file(s) to MAGIX.  I fix up my files between two programs--VinylStudio is mainly for declikcing and setting the response curve, and MAGIX is where I do my EQing and the rest of my noise filtering.  Maximizing the bottom end inevitably means having to unmuffle the midrange and highs.

The happy result is a great deal more punch to the sound on pre-electrics.  And so I'm revisiting a few 78s from the last batch--John McCormack's 1920 Wonderful World of Romance, on which John's wonderful voice rings out even more clearly than before, the 1916 Irving Berlin gem Alice in Wonderland (major improvement in the vocals), the Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra's 1919 The Red Lantern (one of my favorite dance band sides ever), and a take-no-prisoners Hot Time in the Old Town.  The old town is even hotter this time.  And I wasn't going to type that, because it's so lame, but...  too late.

Other titles have shown up at the blog before, but I think repeats make sense in music-blogging, since I can't  expect everyone to have grabbed everything I ever put out--often, when I "resurrect" a post, it'll be new to many listeners/followers.  And what's the best noun, there?  "Followers" sounds cult-ish.  As if I'm the leader of a movement.  That would be weird, to suddenly discover that was the case.

Our first track is of special interest, because it's a ragtime piece written by none other than Don Richardson, whose amazing 1916 and 1921 country fiddle sides I recently re-featured here.  This time around, I discovered that I don't own all of Don's 1921 sides, which was news to me.  The online 78 discography is spread across two parts for 1921 Columbia 78s--my only excuse.  Anyway, Don was an expert ragtime composer, as well as a bandleader and an amazing fiddler.  Of course, these are all strikes against Don as far as the "authenticity" crowd is concerned.  I've given my kind thoughts about the idiocy of "authenticity" before, so I won't repeat myself.  I'm forever pointing out that "authentic" is the most relative thing in the universe, and... darn.  I said I wasn't going to repeat myself, and I did.

What can we say about Oh! Sing-A-Loo?  Lots of things, I guess--such as, "There's actually a song by that title?" or "How many of these pseudo-'Oriental' songs did these writers churn out?  There must have been an industry."  And I almost suspect there was.  Or at least an "Oriental number" wing to every music publishing house.  Anyway, I love "Oriental" novelties, so Sing-A-Loo works for me, even if I'm a little uncomfortable putting up an Asian-stereotype song at this particular point in the news cycle, with anti-Asian thuggery.  But this is a blog about the past, not 2021.  It just happens to exist in that year.

Loo is an utterly typical, heard-one-heard-them-all Oriental number, but quite catchy, though the flip--Gee!  But I Hate to Go Home Alone--is far catchier, and fairly famous, too.  Early Okeh sides were pretty badly pressed, but I like the sound of them, regardless.  The studio sound, that is.  They have a full-bodied fidelity I like.  Meanwhile, we'll hear four superb sides by the superb Victor Military Band, which I believe was a collection of top studio pros moreso than a "real" band.  The group's incredible musicianship is reason enough to love them, but they had some ahead-of-their-time arrangers--sides by this group almost border, at times, on big band.  Patrick Conway's band was also ridiculously virtuosic, and we have three amazing numbers by them.  And I've always felt that Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra was especially spot-on and "clean" in its technique, and, for me, Teddy Brown's extraordinary xylophone (which some find an annoying intrusion) provides a jazz-style counterpoint that's fascinating.  No fewer than three Fuller sides, including my favorite--Singapore--and it's really only now that I've given full body to its audio that I realize the amount of improvisation happening in it.  Of course, Teddy Brown is improvising nonstop, as ever, but there's also much creative trombone work behind the cornet (which is glued to the melody, Dixieland-style)--with each repeat, the trombone is doing something different, from "answer phrases" (call and response), to held notes, to accompanying lines.  A photo of the Rector group shows a double bass, but there's no way that instrument would have produced a strong and deep bass sound on a pre-electric side (though Brian Rust lists a "sb"--string bass--for the outfit).  I believe the Rector Novelty sides are of far greater jazz interest than Fuller's official jazz sides, which feature a frantic type of almost-Dixieland that's kind of fun, but not nearly as cool.  Art Hickman, who I regard as an early type of big band music (though the official view is that his music had nothing to do with jazz) shows up in our playlist with two rather weird numbers which have his musicians even less on the same page than usual.  Clearly, Hickman's band worked from arrangements, but there was considerable ad-libbing, and on today's two sides--Those Draftin' Blues and The Hesitation Blues--the saxophone noodling takes precedence over form, as if the goal was to produce something like Dixieland.  To my ears, it doesn't work--the musicians sound lost.  I love Hickman, but these are the most monotonous efforts I've heard from him, and the weirdness of the sound had me wondering if my rips were off.  But I compared them to Archeophone's restorations, and they were nearly identical. Maybe there were extra parts to the arrangement and someone lost them, and it was too close to the recording date to fix things.

The Columbia Band, as directed by Charles A. Prince, is listed in the online 78 discography as Prince's Band, logically enough, but I'm going with what the label says.  The band gives us two sides from 1918, both moving at a surprisingly rapid pace, with more of a dance than marching band feel.  For 12-inch dance 78s, there's an amazing lack of monotony, given the amount of repetition (there isn't the usual "introducing" of choruses from other songs to add variety)--I think the extra-creative arranging is what makes these long sides seem not so long.  "Apologies to Grieg," it says on the Peter Gink label.  Far less musically successful is Irving Berlin's Mr. Jazz Himself--Prince's Orchestra, 1918.  The title is far more intriguing than the music, and, in this case, other songs are woven into the arrangement, including (for some reason), Joan of Arc, They Are Calling You.  And their inclusion does nothing to de-bland the proceedings.

And now I have to fill in the rest of the space created by the insertion of the sheet music image.  But I see from the preview page that I'm not even close to filling that space, even though, in pre-published form, it appears that I have.  At least the text has stayed together this time.  Enjoy the old sounds!

Hezekiah (Don Richardson)--Conway's Band--Patrick Conway, Director, 1915
Singapore--Medley (Intro: While You're Away; Gilbert-Friedland)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., 1918
Wonderful World of Romance (Simpson-Wood)--John McCormack, Tenor, 1920
Waiting for the Robert E. Lee--Medley Turkey Trot--Victor Military Band, 1913
When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam'--Medley Turkey Trot--Same
Those Draftin' Blues (Pinkard)--Art Hickman's Orchestra, 1919
The Hesitating Blues (Intro: Beale Street; Handy)--Same
Arabian Nights (David-Hewitt)--Columbia Band, Dir. by Charles A. Prince, 1918
Peter Gink (Cobb)--Same
Mr. Jazz Himself (Berlin-Wells-Schwartz)--Prince's Band, 1917
Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight (Metz)--Victor Military Band, 1916
Pork and Beans (Roberts)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra, 1917
Howdy (Ted and Josh)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra, 1918
The Red Lantern--Medley (Fischer-Cowan-Monaco)--Waldorf-Astoria Orch., Dir. Joseph Knecht, 1919
Introduce Me (Mel B. Kaufman)--Conway's Band--Patrick Conway, Director, 1916
The Skyscraper--One-Step (Chester W. Smith)--Same
Gee! But I Hate to Go Home Alone (Hanley)--Natzy's Biltmore Orchestra (Jack Green, Director), 1922
Oh! Sing-A-Loo (Lew Pollack)--Rega Dance Orchestra, 1922
Alexander's Ragtime Band (Berlin)--Victor Military Band, 1911
Slippery Place Rag (Hacker)--Same
Alice in Wonderland (Berlin)--Anna Howard--Harry Macdonough, 1916


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Happy Easter!--Recordings from 1908 to the age of vinyl


Well, that title sure sounds fancy, no?  "From 1908 to the age of vinyl."  That would go great with an echo chamber.

So, since I'm a liberal, I'm not supposed to notice that Google routinely ignores hugely popular Christian holidays such as (oh, for example) Easter--the news media labels all such observations as right-wing in nature, though that doesn't seem reasonable.  But, I mean, Easter happens to be big in 95 countries across the planet, with many or most of them making it a Monday public holiday.  So why would Google treat a worldwide event as... nothing?  I think the current answer from Google is that it chooses not to honor any religious holiday, though of course it won't say why.  (Did someone say "PC"?)  I do recall, a while back, reading a lame statement from Google in which the age-old SMC (somebody might complain) excuse was hauled out.  The SMC excuse usually includes some version of "they'll complain if we do, and complain if we don't."  Really?  Google is, like, the hugest internet company out there, and it can't field complaints?  An entity that doesn't seem all that concerned in the first place about what people think?  "Oh, no--Google just crashed!  Oh, my God--it's finished!  It's closing its doors.  It's done.  Somebody complained!!!"  We'd better be careful.

Today's Google doodle, which isn't showing up on my home page (which goes to Google) honors Senegal Independence Day 2021.  Now, Easter is celebrated in Senegal, which means that, in a very strained sense, Google is acknowledging Easter.  That should be enough for us, I guess.

Meanwhile, I have Easter hymns for you.  I should have gotten these posted much earlier, but I've just been... out of it.  More accurately, my sinuses have been out of it.  Pollen is high today.  I have no idea why, and it seems a little too early in the season, but I just visited a pollen-count website--and my sinuses never lie, anyway.  If they have, they've never been caught.

All 78s ripped from copies in my collection.  The Mennonite tracks are from an excellent mono LP gifted to the blog by Diane.  (Thanks, Diane!)  And you've got to love the old-fashioned close harmony of the Whitney Brothers Quartet.  Well, you don't have to, but you should.  Just a suggestion.  And I'm not totally sure why Old Rugged Cross is an Easter hymn, but any number of sources identify it as such.  I think of it more as a Good Friday number, but I suppose it works for Easter.

DOWNLOAD:  Easter 2021--Shannon Quartet, Mennonite Hour A Cappella Chorus, more!

Christ Arose! (Robert Lowry)--Shannon Quartet, 1925
He Lives (Alfred H. Ackley)--Mennonite Hour A Cappella Chorus
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (Charles Wesley)--Louise Homer, Contralto w. orchestra, 1922
The Light of the World Is Jesus (Bliss)--Whitney Brothers Quartet, 1908
Old Rugged Cross (Bennard)--Criterion Quartet, 1926
Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (Charles Wesley)--Mennonite Hour Men's Quartet and A Cappella Chorus
Memories of Easter--Pts. I and II (Robert Hood Bowers)--Marie Morrisey and Columbia Stellar Quartette, 1919
He Lives (Ackley)--Unknown Choir (Word Records)
The Old Rugged Cross (George Bennard)--Marion Talley, 1928
Thine Is the Glory (Burdy--Arr. from Handel)--Mennonite Hour A Cappella Chorus
Ye Sons and Daughters--Same
Christ Arose--Easter Hymn (Lowry)--Collegiate Choir, 1920
Christ Is Risen (Abram B. Colb)--Mennonite Hour A Cappella Chorus
I Know That My Redeemer Lives (Charles Wesley)--Same


Thursday, April 01, 2021

This Week's Pop Hits (Audition 33-59-500)--A parting cheapie from Enoch Light?


The clothing style and general color scheme are so garish, it took me a while to notice that the young lady's slip is showing--I was so busy marveling at the variations on red, brown, and green.  I have the fashion sense of a crushed bug, so things have to be pretty bad for me to even notice tasteless attire.  But it's certainly an effective cover.  I mean, it definitely draws attention to itself.

Late 1959 was when Am-Par took over Enoch Light's Waldorf label stable, and there seems to have been a flurry of "Get the tracks out there!  I don't care how--just get them out there!" activity, with at least seven of these "Pop Hits" LPs issued on the Waldorf sublabels Audition and Colortone (ten tracks apiece) during (I'm guessing) that year.  I wouldn't be surprised if more "Pop Hits" collections are waiting to be discovered--and I'm betting that, despite the "This Week's Pop Hits" claim, the tracks on the "Pop Hits" LPs were holdovers.  ("Well, they were this week's hits--last year!")  As in, 1958 tracks released in 1959.  The catalog numbers for these LPs all include a "59" (in this case, 33-59-500), and, at the time this was pressed, Waldorf was big on including the two-digit year (though the two hyphens are used on the jacket, not label, so...).  You'll notice that the artists credited on the front jacket (with the exception of The Audition Studio and Chorus) are Waldorf people--Artie Malvin, The Zig Zags Trio.  And, weirdly enough, Artie doesn't actually show up, so maybe his name was jobber-rack gold.  ("Mention Artie--it'll sell!")  Or maybe Waldorf was paying insufficient attention.

I have s second theory--one which may make more sense than Enoch flooding the market just before the takeover.  Rather, maybe Am-Par, at the time of the takeover, released recently recorded Waldorf tracks just to keep the stampers stamping as it prepared its entry into the fake-hits market (with its own artists and orchestras). And, speaking of, in addition to the above LP, we'll be hearing a post-Enoch 1959 Waldorf Top Hit Tunes EP which sports none of the Enoch artists--instead, we get Chris Casino, Ted Colt, and The Progressives.  (Chris Casino??)  It's a bit ironic that the Am-Par takeover happened only shortly after Enoch Light figured out how to produce convincing rock and roll fakes--his earliest attempts in the style sounded more like "Glenn Miller Plays the Teen Hit Parade," and Enoch's move, about 1956/57, to more convincing rock and roll fakes may signal that he was resigned to the fact that rock and roll wasn't going anywhere.  Not for a while, anyway.  So, Waldorf rock and roll started to sound like... rock and roll.  Or imitations thereof.

I'll have to do more investigating before I can safely assert either theory, but it's clear that 1959 was a weird period for Waldorf, which makes it a highly cool one.  The ten LP tracks are mass-credited to The Audition Studio Orchestra and Chorus, featuring The Monarchs Quratet, Artie Malvin, The Zig Zags Trio, and "other popular artists."  Since there are no individual track credits, I located that info on Discogs, and it turns out that, out of the above list, The Monarchs and The Zig Zags do appear.  So it's halfway accurate.  Also, Loren Becker, Ken Lynch, Dick Penrose, and (of course) Enoch Light.  These are the usual high-quality Enoch Light productions, with When especially effective.  Hard Headed Woman is competently covered, though it lacks the energy and bite of the Tops/Eli Oberstein version, which showed up in umpteen budget collections.  Duane Eddy's Rebel-'Rouser is credited to Enoch Light and His Orch. in its EP release, and either Enoch's orchestra had an amazing ability to sound like everything from the Percy Faith strings to a small rock combo, or we'll have to assume that the Light credit was used for anything that happened to be an instrumental.  Combo, orchestra--what's the difference?

As far as the "According to leading national surveys," are we to actually believe that any budget label would consult leading surveys?  You'd think they'd have followed secondary surveys, or even lesser ones.  Or have simply listened to the Top 40 to see what was selling.  I'm including a back-cover scan, so you can read all about Audition's Supertone recording process, because I know you want to.  "Wow--Supertone.  I'll have to check that out!"  That was my reaction.  Not to be confused with the Supertoner, which I believe was an "Order within the next five minutes" TV product.

Waldorf's EP tracks, as a rule, are edited down to fit the three-to-a-side format--all of the tracks sound complete enough, anyway, with the huge exception of Tallahassee Lassie, which sounded like it was over before it could start.  So I cheated and doubled the middle section, which meant doing an overlap and quick fade--the edit should be undetectable.  In a sense, I'm misrepresenting a pop-cultural artifact by extending the playing time, but I won't tell if you don't.  Oddly enough, I can find no LP appearance of the Waldorf Tallahassee Lassie, and I'd love to hear the full cut.  It may even have had a guitar solo. 

DOWNLOAD This Week's Pop Hits (Audition 33-59-500; 1959?)

THIS WEEK'S POP HITS (Audition 33-59-500; 1959?)

Volare (Nel Blu Dipinot Di Blu)--Charles Magnante
Poor Little Fool (Shari Sheeley)--Loren Becker with The Monarchs
If Dreams Came True (A. Stillman-R. Allen)--Loren Becker
Splish Splash (Darin-Kaufman)--Ken Lynch
Rebel-'Rouser (L. Hazlewood-D. Eddy)--Enoch Light and His Orchestra
Enchanted Island (A. Stillman-R. Allen)--The Zig Zags
Hard Headed Woman (Claude Demetrius)--Dick Penrose
A Certain Smile (P.F. Webster-S. Fain)--Loren Becker and Enoch Light, His Orch. and Chorus
When (J. Reardon-P.Evans)--Farrell Brothers

TOP HIT TUNES TH-32-1 (Six-selection 45 rpm EP)

Ring-A-Ling-A-Lario--Jackie Rich
Tallahassee Lassie--Ted Colt
So Fine--The Progressives
Dream Lover--George Clark
Along Came Jones--The Progressives
I'm Ready--Chris Casino