Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sunday morning gospel: The Statesmen Quartet with... masking tape. And Hovie Lister.


In answer to, "How can they be a quartet when there are five of them?" the answer is that Hovie Lister (center, I believe) is the pianist.  As far as I know, though, there are, in fact, gospel "quartets" that feature a fifth voice, but I find that totally reasonable, since five-part close harmony is basically just dressed-up four-part harmony.  That's just my take, though.

I considered trying to restore this jacket, but I figured it would take a lot of work, with a high probability of disaster.  My main concern was that, even if I could soften the masking tape adhesive with my hair dryer, Goo Gone might not clear up the residue.  So I decided to keep things as they are and simply be happy with a great 1957 Southern quartet LP for 99 cents.

1957 was the Statesmen's ninth year as a group, and, if you haven't heard these guys before, they're pretty much the personification of Southern gospel quartet singing.  In fact, they're the epitome of that style even if you have heard them before.  I'm talking virtuosic, extroverted, deeply felt, borderline-melodramatic, and purely "good old" sacred singing of the earn-your-own-radio-show type--and the Statesmen, founded in 1948 by Lister (and originally featuring the no-relation Mosie Lister), indeed had a syndicated radio program.  It was called Singing Time in Dixie and it was hosted by Nabisco.  Maybe Nabisco liked the group's superbly crisp style of harmonizing.  

Today's playlist offers an excellent balance between toe-tapping classics like E.M. (There'll Be Shouting; Victory in Jesus) Bartlett's Everybody Will Be Happy Over There and soulful, Elvis-style slow numbers like He's Everywhere, and there's even an example of what can only be called gospel doowop, at least during the start of the track--I refer to Journey's End, one of the showcases for bass Jim "Big Chief" Wetherington, who, in addition to singing astonishingly low throughout this LP,  composed the third track, Lord, I Want to Go to Heaven.  Interestingly, that song is a showcase, not for Jim, but for one (or both) of the group's tenors, Denver Crumpler and/or Jake Hess, though Jim gives himself a memorable closing cameo.  I wish the album notes had used the traditional lead/tenor/baritone/bass designations so that we'd know who's doing the high melody voice on these tracks.  Then again, there are two styles of TTBB harmony in that regard--one, in which the lead takes the melody, and the other, in which the "tenor" takes it.  So... there we are.  We know it's Denver or Jake doing the melody parts, and, for no particular reason, I'm guessing Jake.

Baritone Do Ott is the member I haven't mentioned yet, so... now I have.  Like the rest, he's great--I mean, these guys are so accomplished, it's almost ridiculous.  I'm paraphrasing what my foster father said, years ago, as he inspected a Dual 1229 turntable I'd bought for eight bucks (!) at an antique show--"This thing is so well built, it's ridiculous."

The notes seem to refer to this as the Statesmen's first long-playing album, so there you have it.  Or I have it, anyway.  And this LP got a lot of plays from its former owner(s), which is why my first rip--with a regular LP needle--didn't come out so good.  No way I could adequately denoise it.  But this is why God created 1.2 mil mono styli--a second rip with my wider needle saved the day.  And the music.  The tracking difference was astonishing.  And I'll always wonder if I could have removed the masking tape without disaster.  I'll have to experiment on a cover I don't care about.  I'll just slap some masking tape on the seams, wait about 60 years, then see whether or not the hair dryer/Goo Gone treatment works.  I'd better get started.

Meanwhile, to the gospel...

DOWNLOAD: The Statesmen Quartet with Hovie Lister (RCA LPM-1411; 1957)

Glory, Glory, Clear the Road
Journey's End
Lord, I Want to Go to Heaven (Wetherington)
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
Led Out of Bondage
Guide My Feet
I Wonder What My New Address Will Be
One of These Mornings
He's Everywhere
Everybody Will Be Happy Over There (Bartlett)
Hide Me Rock of Ages
I Know It Was the Lord

The Statesmen Quartet with Hovie Lister (RCA LPM-1411; 1957)

UPDATE: Below is Buster's Photoshop rescue of today's cover.  Thanks, Buster!


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Close to You--The Longines Symphonette (1972): An easy-listening-by-mail classic


If you ask me (what, you didn't?), The Longines Symphonette Society's 1972 Close to You is one of the best mail-order easy listening LPs ever released.  And, as any vinyl thrifter knows, there were countless mail-order easy listening box(ed) sets sold by Longines, Reader's Digest/RCA, Columbia House, and whoever else provided soothing-sound LPs for people who preferred their vinyl by mail, and not from stores.  Yet, despite this fact, "mail-order easy listening" gets exactly zero matches on Google.  Well, it'll get at least one now.  (6/24/21 UPDATE: I just now got two matches, neither of them from this blog.  Go figure.)

In my opinion, Longines produced the best mail-order easy listening to be found, even if that's not an official pop music category, and... wow.  Seems that the Evolution label (remember Lighthouse?) was a LS subsidiary--see this Both Sides Now piece.  News to me.  LS also ran the Capitol Record Club for a while.  Cool.  The Longines discography at Discogs extends for ten pages, so the place was clearly very busy, vinyl-wise.  And I reckon it don't get much respect for its audio product, which is unfortunate, given how good some of it was.  I, for one, would love to encounter the five-record Bacharach box sometime--it must be sitting in some thrift store, someplace.

This excellent LP of ten Burt-Hal selections has a special place in my thrifting history: It helped push me into my Burt phase, which started about the mid 1990s and which continues to this very minute.  I believe this album provided my first taste of My Little Book as actually written (not as garage-band-ized by the group Love), and it was probably the first time I'd heard Windows and Doors.  I should note that I (no pun intended) love Love's My Little Red Book, though I might like the number even better in its jazzy as-intended form.  I'm pretty sure I've read that Burt didn't care for Love's version, though I'm sure he profited nicely from it.  Come to think of it, the first time I heard the rock version of My Little Red... was on a Standells LP.  I saw Burt and Hal's names in the song credit, and I went, "What...?"

An amazing thing about Close to You is how well (to me, anyway) the song holds up after fifteen zillion (give or take a million) versions--it's just a very nice melody.  The Windows of the World, Burt and Hal's touching anti-Vietnam song (I'd argue that What the World Needs Now Is Love tackled the same subject, only more subtly, in 1965) is one of my favorite Bacharachs, though I've read that it's not a fan favorite.  Their loss, I guess.  Best-track-wise, I'm torn between Little Red Book and the fabulous rendition of Promises, Promises.  I wish the arranger (or arrangers) had been credited--it's sad when someone produces something on this level and goes without an attribution.  But perhaps mail-order customers didn't care who put the music together, so long as it showed up on time on the porch.

(Here's an interesting piece by Angela Morley, a British composer and arranger who worked with LS in the 1960s and who regards the RCA mail-order sets as better: Angela Morley.  Also, see this write-up, which I missed when I first checked out LS on Discogs.  Deceptive marketing practices--for shame.)

I'll always love this LP, not only for its outstanding musical quality, but for the major role it played in kicking off my "rediscovery" of Burt.  Now, despite what my memory tells me, I'm sure my Burt phase didn't kick off overnight--it was, in all probability, a slow process (I remember finding some British Invasion Hal-Burt and thinking, "I need to check these guys out further), but this LP gave me a big push in that regard.  But this LP was the clincher.  Kudos to Longines for producing a gem which, by all logic, should have been a toss-away effort.  By the way, this copy is yet another thrift gift from Diane--my original thrifted copy seems to have vanished from my collection--probably during my big downsizing campaign, just before I started blogging.  (An essay in bad timing.)  Why I'd have downsized it, I can't say.  But it's great to have it back.

DOWNLOAD: Close to You--The Longines Symphonette and the Symphonette Choraliers (1972)

Windows and Doors
My Little Red Book
(They Long to Be) Close to You
I Cry Alone
Whoever You Are I Love You
Promises, Promsies
I Wake up Crying
A House Is Not a Home
The Windows of the World
(There's Always) Something There to Remind Me

(Longines Symphonette Society SYS 5438; 1972)


Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday morning gospel: The Cubitt Quartette--Sweeter As the Years Go By (1970?)


A very generic cover, but nice-looking, even if the font is nearly lost in the color scheme.  And I'll bet you can't tell that these men are from the same family--a father and three sons, to be precise.  They are Harold Cubitt (bottom middle) and sons Dale, Dwayne, and Elwin.  Not sure in what order the sons appear, though they are certainly precisely lined up.  Originally from Sandusky, Michigan, this group performed for UMC churches in the Sandusky/Bad Axe/Cass City area.  From the notes: "This record is the answer to many requests from people who have heard the quartette.  It is by no means a step toward professionalism but, rather, a way of serving their own churches."  The music on this LP "favors the older songs which all Methodists will surely remember and enjoy," and it's possible that, when this was made (My guess: 1970), the African-American spirituals in the playlist, plus He Lives, Christ Arose, and Great Is Thy Faithfulness weren't in the UMC hymnal.  (Checking my 1958 edition, I don't see them).  They are now, in case you were wondering--in the main hymnal, that is.  Presently, the UMC has at least two other hymnals, so I don't know what other numbers from this list may have become official, though I doubt O That Will Be Glory or Sweeter As the Years Go By (and, especially, Heartaches) have made it--they're just a little too... common?  I want to say vernacular, but that's not quite the right word.  Too non-standard, maybe.  Commercial, even?  But the main UMC hymnal is really moving in a songs-everyone-knows-and-likes direction, along with the standards, many of which (e.g., Blessed Assurance) were "Sunday School" songs when they were first penned.  So the cycle goes.

It's unusual to see "quartet" spelled "quartette" this late in the 20th century--even by the mid-1920s, if not earlier, the Victor and Columbia labels had dropped the last two letters.  But it was the Cubitt men's right to call themselves whatever they wanted--plus, to wear matching glasses for their self-sponsored album pics.  So, we know that this effort was not intended as "a step toward professionalism," but how amateur are they?  Well, no one would mistake them for the Blackwood Brothers or Statesmen Quartet, but they do a decent job with their Barbershop-style close harmony, and it's nice to hear these numbers rendered in simple, songbook-style arrangements, with nothing fancied up--no midpoint key changes or blasts of fortissimo.  By amateur standards, these guys are very good, and, though I wish Christ Arose had gone a little faster (as it is typically sung), this is a very pleasant listen.  And it's an interesting historical document--and not simply because it's a father-and-sons quartet (er, quartette).  Rather, because it's a local-circuit group dedicated, not to wowing a large audience, but to sharing the joy of "the older songs" with medium-sized congregations.  A thrift gift from Diane (thanks, Diane!), this is a cool and humble time capsule--a still-sealed time capsule, no less.  So, you're hearing my needle's first trip across the grooves.  This record waited more than half a century to enjoy its journey around the turntable--and to end up in cyberspace.  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD: Cubitt Quartette: Sweeter As the Years Go By (1970?)


Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Chisholm-Runyan)
Heartaches (A.H. Ackley)
Beulah Land (C. Austin Miles)
Sweeter As the Years Go By (Mrs. C.H. Morris)
Standin' in the Need of Prayer (Spiritual)
Medley: I Want My Life to Tell/Nothing to Thee/Our Anchor's (sic) Hold
God Be With You (Rankin-Tomer)
Were You There (Spiritual)
Christ Arose (Robert Lowry)
He Lives (A.H. Ackley)
O That Will Be Glory (Charles H. Gabriel)
Lord I Want to Be a Christian (Spiritual)
Go Down Moses (Spiritual)
Let Us Break Bread Together (Spiritual)
Christ We Do Adore Thee (Theodore Dubois)


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Top 30 Tunes, or, Pickwick strikes again!


One great thing about budget fake-hit sets--the wealth of information on the labels.  I mean, here we have a series called "Top 30 Tunes" (which my brain has stored as "30 Top Tunes"), and it has an inconsistent cataloging scheme, and...  That's it.  That's all we know.  However, through some track comparison with Pickwick-issued EPs, I've determined that (big surprise) Pickwick was responsible for these--Pickwick seemed to be everywhere about this time.  It was doing the old sell-the-same-tracks-in-as-many-editions-as-possible trick--a trick that must have worked, since it was practiced so religiously by the junk labels.  If a junk-label exec was playing a word-association game, circa 1962, it would go something like: "Sales tactic."  "Multiple disguises, same tracks."

So, I recently found thirteen (or so) of these in a local flea market, and they're not in the greatest shape, but at 50 cents a pop, I figured I "needed" them.  Some fun stuff here, all pretty professional-sounding--the safest conclusion is that these were studio pros working on the cheap and as quickly as possible (five songs, then a coffee break).  No time to get things sounding good--they were aiming for adequate, not good.  It was a little disappointing to discover that Surfin' Safari and a few other tracks are the same performances contained on This Month's 16 Top Hits, which was released on Canada's Allied Record Corporation, an outfit which apparently swapped tapes with Pickwick.  Small world.  I was really hoping for a fresh Surfin' Safari fake, but sometimes our dreams get dashed.  And, looking at these label scans, I have to wonder what the packets looked like--that is, the cheap containers these came with, since these are probably mail-order items that were stuffed into a single envelope.  The rule in record collecting, when it comes to singles (even singles in a set) is that the vinyl typically outlives the sleeves.  So, we are left with half an historical record, no pun intended.

These hits are all "before my time"--meaning, specifically, about a year prior to my first Top 40 radio memories.  So, I either know these as oldies or not at all.  For instance, I'd never heard the Carole King song Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby until I went on my vintage Carole King kick (say that 30 times) about 20 years ago.  Meanwhile, there's a chance I remember The Four Seasons' Sherry first hand, though it was on regular oldies play throughout my youthhood, and only because I was nuts about that group when I was 5 and 6 (I defected to The Beach Boys about 1964--sorry, Frankie!).  Burt Bacharach's Only Love Can Break a Heart is one I remember as an oldies-play regular, and ditto for Dream Baby; Hully Gully, Baby; Green Onions; and especially If You Wanna Be Happy, which was also a hit in 1949 (?) when the Leonard De Paur Infantry Chorus recorded it under the title, Ugly Woman.  Back to Carole King--or, more specifically, Gerry Goffin and Carole King--both It Might as Well Rain Until December and When My Little Girl Is Smiling were discovered by me during my Carole King kick--not the slightest earlier memory of either.  And I love "Carole King kick."  As far as I know, September (performed by Carole herself) was a demo that was deemed good enough for single release--and, sure enough, it was.  Good enough, I mean.  As a Carole fan, I very much prefer her ingenious numbers for other groups--the pre-solo material.  Not sure why, but her solo stuff never really did it for me.  However, I do regard her as the most versatile, and probably the most gifted, rock and roll songwriter of them all.  Minus her influence, neither the Beatles nor the Beach Boys would have sounded at all the same--so I was thrilled when the Beach Boys did Carole's Just Once in My Life, which was so memorably recorded by the Righteous Brothers.  And Just Once a rare example of a copy-cat tune (it was obviously a You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' cash-in) which vastly improves on the song it imitates.  Just my take.  And, here I am, going on about a song that doesn't even appear in our playlist.

I first heard Another Saturday Night in the Cat Stevens version, and, at the time, I didn't know it was a remake.  Do You Love Me, I originally knew from the 1964 Dave Clark Five version, though I like the original better, even in its fake version.  (There's nothing like appreciating an original in its fake edition.)

Ain't That a Shame, a 1963 Four Seasons hit (a "reworking" of Fats Domino's 1955 hit), was the big surprise in this haul--in this fake version, at least, it sounds so Beatles-esque in performance, it's practically an anticipation of the Brit Invasion sound.  Condition was NTG (not so good), so I had to do a lot of cleaning up.  Luckily, the vocals are loud.  Pipeline is an instrumental I've known forever, and I never knew the title until long after it had premiered.  I'm sure I knew it from oldies play, and not first-hand.  And, somehow, it's like I've always been familiar with the ultra-un-PC Speedy Gonzales, that 1962 Pat Boone Top 10 novelty.  I was five in 1962, so maybe--just maybe--I remember it from the car radio.  Or maybe, even, from my great grandmother's tall antique radio.  Speaking of which, I have the fondest, warmest memories possible of first hearing Don't Worry Baby on that 1930s radio.  That tune always brings me back to the time my brother and I lived with Grandma Clara.

Johnny Gets Angry may sound more logical than Johnny Get Angry, but the "Gets" is a Top 30 Tunes typo, which I kept because I like it, I guess.  Hal David did the lyrics, as we learned in my Hal David centenary post.  Johnny Get Angry is a title that doesn't make much sense until you hear the words.  A comma and exclamation point might have helped.  ("Johnny, get angry!")

All selections by "Unknown Artist."  As mentioned before, these are all professionally done but, of course, rushed.  Few of these fakes can be called inspired--we'd hardly expect them to be--but they're incredibly fun.  Fun in that way that only budget copycat hits can claim to be.  Since it seemed fitting, I chose 30 of the Top 30 Tunes selections, though a trio of tracks comes from a related Pickwick label called Top Tunes.  I guess Pickwick dropped the "30."

Oh, boy--now I get to type out all thirty selections...  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD: Top 30 Tunes (1961-1962)

FAKELIST (All issued without artist credits...)

Only Love Can Break a Heart (Bacharach-David)     Top 30 Tunes MO-15
Surfin (sic) Safari (Wilson-Love)
He's a Rebel
Ain't That a Shame                                                      Top 30 Tunes MO-29
Baby Workout
Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby (King-Goffin)
If You Wanna Be Happy                                              Top 30 Tunes MO-25
Take These Chains From My Heart (Hank Williams)
Hot Pastrami
I Will Follow Him
Another Saturday Night
Speedy Gonzalez                                                          Top 30 Tunes 10
Devil Woman
Dancin (sic) Party
Johnny Gets (sic) Angry (David-Edwards)
Sealed With a Kiss
Hully Gully, Baby
Do You Love Me                                                           Top 30 Tunes 7
It Might as Well Rain Until September (King-Goffin)
Ballad of Palladin
Your Nose Is Gonna Grow
Good Luck Charm
Lover Please
Green Onions                                                                 Top 30 Tunes 6
Dear One                                                                        Top Tunes 3-45
When My Little Girl Is Smiling (King-Goffin)
Dream Baby



Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sunday gospel returns! The Musical Biolans of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (1959?)

Sunday gospel is back, with a playlist of classic gospel songs--any choral LP which includes O That Will Be Glory is a must-have for this collector, and so I had to have this one.  The performances--by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles' Musical Biolans--are first-rate, and I only wish the arrangements were less languid.  Everything is sung with feeling, but some faster tempos (tempi?) and a little more gusto would have made this a perfect LP.  But, hey, I'll settle for near-perfect.

Though neither Both Sides Now nor Discogs have a release year for this, I'm guessing 1959, because the liner notes refer to "the new BIOLA Campus site in La Mirada, California," which was new in 1959.  And this LP certainly has a 1959 sound to it, so I'm going with 1959, as in "circa 1959."  Always good to qualify things, to be on the safe side.

For some time, I've had a VG/VG- copy of this, but this better copy turned up three days ago at Goodwill, and my first thought was "Sunday morning gospel."  I think this is the first time I've blog-featured the Biolans' version of Charles H. Gabriel's O That Will Be Glory--better known as The Glory Song--and versions of Glory, while common enough, are tougher to find than logic would dictate, given that it's such an important standard, and given its initial huge fame--it was the monster gospel hit of its time (1900).  I had read so much about it (and its popularity) that when I first found it in a songbook, it was nothing less than a letdown--my reaction was "That's all there is to it?"  Its extreme simplicity--its static harmonies (four full bars of I, to start out), and the highly conventional, even cliched, melody line, had me wondering what I was missing.  Well, it grew on me pretty fast, and it's now one of my favorite popular gospel numbers--I've used it as extra music (prelude,, offertory, and/or postlude) any number of times on the Sunday organ.  It was interesting to read that the famous gospel singer (and songbook compiler) Charles A. Alexander had pretty much the same initial reaction back in the day.  Gabriel was a minimalist genius, to put it awkwardly--"brilliant minimalist" might work better--who could say the most with the least.  And that's a rare talent.  He was capable of more complex things--he gave us the gorgeous, elegant tune for His Eye Is on the Sparrow, for instance--but his real genius resided in tunes which sound, at first, like exercises in the mundane but which morph into memorable ear worms before the conscious brain knows what's happening.  Gabriel could write unforgettable, not-a-note-wasted classics in his sleep, I think.

And it's perhaps a good time to talk about my "mission" when it comes to my Sunday gospel offerings--or, really, any of my offerings, I suppose.  Sixteen years back, when I first learned about blogs (then, without delay, put one together), gospel music was a dirty phrase in music blogging, and those blogs which did feature it tended to be blogs wholly devoted to the music.  (And, in the more mainstream music blogs, there was much ridiculing, or worse, of the music of our most popular faith.)  I like to showcase music that don't get no respect but should, and so I decided to do something daring--daring, especially because (at the time) I was a "cool music" blog of note, and nothing was less cool than gospel.  I decided to devote Sundays to my favorite sacred music, and simply to make the point that, hey, here's some really good stuff here that people ought to be aware of, regardless of your faith or lack thereof.  That was my goal, and I hope I've had some success along that line.  My by-now fairly broad acquaintance with both "gospel" and standard hymns only dates back thirty-one years--back to when I officially started my church-musician days (in a small country Presbyterian church), so I've been loving, and learning about, this stuff for approximately half my life.  My family was (alert the Understatement Police) not religious, so for half my life, my knowledge of sacred music was limited to Onward, Christian Soldiers, The Old Rugged Cross, carols, and Let It Be.  Plus a few others.  It was not a broad list.

Enjoy today's gospel goodies!  And notice how the catalog number's prefix (MB) abbreviates the group's name.  Notes Both Sides Now: "The Christian Faith numbering system of the 1950s was unusual, if not unique. It was not quite random, but it was certainly confusing. Most albums before 1965 used a two-letter, four-number format where the letters were the initials of the artists (RA=Rudy Atwood, HR=Haven of Rest Quartet, etc.)."  Cool!

 DOWNLOAD: The Musical Biolans, Dir. by Ralph Carmichael (1959?)


We've a Story to Tell to the Nations

Under His Wings

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Day by Day

The Solid Rock

The King's Business

O For a Thousand Tongues

It Is Well With My Soul

Will Jesus Find Us Watching

O That Will Be Glory (Gabriel)

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I Love to Tell the Story

(Christian Faith Recordings MB-7021; 1959?)


Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Today's faux Fab Four offering--"Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine" (Arc AS 796; 1968)


To me, it's kind of funny to encounter a fake Yellow Submarine LP on the Arc label--pun-wise, we're talking two types of vessels (submarine/ark).  However, to be successful, wordplay can't be too abstract, and I think ark/submarine may be just that.  Only you can make that judgment, dear reader.  Anyway, the title Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine is slightly deceptive, since we only get one side (Side A) of music from the movie, and the five YS selections don't quite cover 1/3 of the soundtrack's offerings, but then the LP title doesn't include the qualifying phrase "A complete LP of...," so technically it's not lying.  And what on earth am I babbling about?  Anyway, a mixture of stereo and monaural, and we'd maybe expect all of the Yellow Submarine tracks to be stereo... and we'd be mistaken. Stereo doesn't kick in until the third track, All You Need Is Love (not one of my Beatles faves), and who knows why?  It could have been a simple error on the part of the engineer.  ("Oh, wait--two channels!  I forgot.")  Side B's Hello, Goodbye (another one of my non-fave Beatles songs), is in stereo, and it's from roughly the YS period, but it's not from the soundtrack.  But I'll bet Arc was trying to pass it off as a YS track.  Budget labels pull stuff like that, you know.

My copy gave me a few noise-reduction challenges, all the result of pressing defects--surface bubbles, to be precise.  I think I pretty artfully worked around the loud noise that strikes about halfway through When I'm 64 (at around age 31 or 32), though your ears may catch a couple of very brief drop-outs--very slight breaks in the sound, all of the "Did I just hear a drop-out?" variety.  Of course, the smart thing would be for me to not even mention this, but... too late!

And, looking at the phoned-in liner notes, I do see a fib: "They're all here on this fabulous album."  Um, no, as noted earlier, these fakes comprise slightly less than 1/3 of the movie soundtrack's offerings, so Arc Sound Ltd. was being less than sincere (i.e., fulfilling a classic budget-label requirement).  And I was so certain, for some reason, that Arc would turn out to be the Allied Record Company, whose logo on its fake-hit 45s was A.R.C.  I thought I'd pinned down the origins of Arc, but I was wrong--Discogs set me straight.  Oh, well.  We can't be wrong unless we risk being right.  Er, I mean...

And how, you ask, do I rate these fakes?  As totally and solidly not-bad.  If anything, they're competent to the point of being a bit bland--take the totally professional harmonizing in the vocal break on Day Tripper.  I guess I was spoiled by the Modern Sound/Hit Records version, on which the singers totally lose their place (yet, like troupers, carry on, regardless).  

I haven't checked Arc's discography to determine where the pre-Yellow Submarine tracks may have come from--I'm guessing that Arc participated in the first wave of Fab Four fakery, but that's just a guess.  And I was just reading about how John Lennon's songs are mostly admired for their words, while Paul's are admired for their melodies.  That's a reasonable generalization, I guess.  As a teen, I remember loving Lennon's tautologies--nothing you can sing that can't be sung, for example--and I loved his John Cage-style exercises in minimalism and tape effects (though I'm sure George Martin had quite a hand in those, since Martin was a tape-manipulation pro).  At the same time, such beautiful Paul melodies as She's Leaving Home touched me deeply, and Yesterday is still astounding after all these decades.  But, back to topic, let me just say that I wish Arc had made these fakes a little quirkier--the fakes are almost too placid, or something.  Most fakes from the Beatles' psychedelic period attempted to imitate the group's goofy sense of fun (I think of the Beatles' psychedelic stuff as generally more Monty Python in feel than drug-soaked), but Arc takes what, by budget-label standards, could be called a conservative approach.  But... these are fun enough fakes.  Nothing sub-standard about them.  Get it?  Sub-standard!  Ha, ha!!

To the fake Yellow Submarine soundtrack LP, with the usual budget filler tracks. (At least the filler tracks are all John and Paul songs.)  Arc, by the way, also had "real" acts in is catalog, including Catherine McKinnon. I forgot to note this.  But now I have.

DOWNLOAD: Yellow Submarine--Unknown Artist (Arc As 796; 1968)


Eleanor Rigby
All You Need Is Love
With a Little Help From My Friends
When I'm 64
Hello, Goodbye
I Want to Hold Your Hand
A Hard Days (sic) Night
Can't Buy Me Love
Day Tripper

Music From the Beatles' Film Yellow Submarine (Arc AS 796; 1968)


Sunday, June 06, 2021

The ODJB, Earl Fuller, W.C. Handy, and Harry Raderman return--plus, songs by Youmans and Gershwin (1911-1930)


Some more fake Beatles coming up, but first... a redo of some 78s I posted last year, plus a number of "new" shellac titles, including (in the last part of the playlist) some Gershwin and Youmans, including a version of Youman's I Want to Be Happy which isn't on David's playlist.  Fred Waring takes the number at a seriously rapid tempo, and I don't know how Clare Hanlon managed all the words.  And I'm not sure I hear the Popeye-voiced Poley McClintock in the vocal trio, though Brian Rust says it's him (on the low notes, we can assume).  So I defer to Rust, unless "PM" refers to some other band member.  (On second thought, it's not so much a matter of tempo--Waring's tempo is actually pretty standard for this classic--but more the inclusion of the verse, with its lightning-fast notes.  Most renditions of IWTBH feature only the refrain/chorus in the vocal section.  Now we know why!)

But... our playlist begins with redos of the Prince's Band classic, Black Diamond Rag (1913), early dance band fare by Harold Veo's Orchestra ("The Zoo Step," Don't Leave Me Daddy, Wait Till the Cows Come Home--Victor, 1917), Harry Raderman making his trombone laugh in 1920's Make That Trombone Laugh, 1913's Another Rag--A Raggy Rag (Prince's Band, again), The Original Dixieland Jass Band's two superb 1917 Columbia label sides (Indiana, Darktown Strutters' Ball), W.C. Handy's excellent The Snaky Blues and that fun Maple Leaf Rag rip-off, Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag (the latter pure early ragtime-style jazz), Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band with jazz-ish renditions of Li'l" Liza Jane and (yikes) Arthur Pryor's Coon Band Contest (as you can hear, with some groove damage in the uppermost end), and, from 1921, A Little Close Harmony, also known as The Old Songs.  These redos are a significant improvement on the original rips--if you ask me, anyway.  And my 1959 S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America--whew!) songbook includes The Old Songs as the society's theme song.  Missing, not surprisingly, are the racist words to Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield, which (as you'll hear in the 1921 performance) was widely quoted in Geoffrey O'Hara's number.  The Criterion Quartet does a great job with the song, but it's a bit chilling to hear the bass voice sarcastically substitute "a colored gentleman" for a less correct term.  It's like a wink-wink, nod-nod concession, and not very funny.  But this was one hundred years ago, to the year, so...  Progressive, things were not back then.  The performance is pure Barbershop, though the barnyard sound effects are an unexpected plus or minus, depending on your taste.

Then, we're in the electrical era, with songs by Vincent Youmans and the Gershwins... and did I say electrical era?  Well, one exception: The 1926 Harmony label rendition (Lou Gold and His Orch.) of Sweet and Low-Down, which was clearly recorded acoustically.  I guess Harmony was going full budget-label.  Nice side, nonetheless, though Ferde Grofe's arrangement for Paul Whiteman was way better.  And, as mentioned before, a I Want to Be Happy version not included in David's list, so hopefully David will be happy to get this one, despite its let's-go-to-the-races tempo.  We need to remember that, at the time, dance music was primarily instrumental--vocal refrains were becoming a thing, but arrangers of the day weren't necessarily making their tempo choices in accordance with the text--the goal was to impress dancers with the instrumental aspect.  And Waring's band certainly does one heck of a virtuosic job racing through the thing, though, again, poor Clare Hanlon.  The Man I Love is also faster than we think of it today, and it seems that every vintage version races through the thing, save for Paul Whiteman's "concert" version, which waits until after the vocal to mess with the tempo.  (Whiteman's "concert" arrangements, in the interest of variety I guess, switched tempi and mood in an attempt to give popular numbers a more serious sound, though that's not necessarily the effect all these years later.)  The versions of  Youman's Sometimes I'm Happy and Hallelujah!, by contrast, are in tempi that seem very reasonable by 2021 standards.  The Benson Orchestra's 1924 Tea for Two is one of the happiest finds of my 78 collecting career--it's absolutely gorgeous, and the quick tempo very much suits it as an instrumental (a vocal would have sounded rushed).  The, back to 1920 and 1911, with Oh! By Jingo and the Columbia Band's gorgeous rendition of Neil Moret's Silver Heels.

Enjoy!  And don't try to sing along with Clare Hanlon--it could have your vocal cords tied up for weeks.

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Black Diamond Rag (Henry Lodge)--Prince's Band, 1912
Make That Trombone Laugh (Henry Scharf)--Harry Raderman's Jazz Orchestra, 1920
"The Zoo Step"--One-step (Clarence Williams)--Harold Veo's Orchestra, 1917
Don't Leave Me Daddy (J.M. Verges)--Same
Wait Till the Cows Come Home (Ivan Caryll)--Same
Another Rag--A Raggy Rag (Theodore Morse)--Prince's Band, 1913
Indiana--One-step (Hanley)--Original Dixieland Jass Band, 1917
Darktown Strutters' Ball (Brooks)--Same
Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag--One-Step ()--Handy's Orchestra, 1917
The Snaky Blues (Nash)--Same
Li'l' Liza Jane (Countess Ada DeLachau)--Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band, 1917
Coon Band Contest (Arthur Pryor)--Same
A Little Close Harmony (O'Hara)--Criterion Quartet, 1921
The Man I Love (Ira and George Gershwin)--The Troubadours, Dir. Nat Shilkret, 1918
Hallelujah! (Robin-Grey-Youmans)--Nat Shilkret and the Victor Orch., v: Franklyn Baur, 1927
Sometimes I'm Happy (Caesar-Youmans)--Roger Wolfe Kahn and His Orch., v: Franklyn Baur, 1927
I Want to Be Happy (Caesar-Youmans)--Waring's Pennsylvanians, v: Clare Hanlon, Trio, 1930
Lila (Gottler-Tobias-Pinkard)--Waring's Pennsylvanians, v: Tom Waring and chorus, 1928
Tea for Two (Caesar-Youmans)--The Benson Orch. of Chicago, Dir. Don Bestor, 1924
Sweet and Low-Down--Lou Gold and His Orchestra, 1926
Oh! By Jingo (Von Tilzer)--Sam Lanin's Roseland Orchestra, 1920
Silver Heels--March and Two-step (Neil Moret)--Columbia Band, 1911

(All 78s from my collection and restored by me.)