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)