Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Sabers Quartet--Smooth Spiritual (Pee Dee 4433): Excellent Southern quartet gospel!


I don't quite understand the title of this LP, Smooth Spiritual, but it's first-rank Southern quartet gospel from South Carolina--another thrift gift from Diane.  The back jacket gives a complete personnel rundown, and the label names the recording site--Mark V Studios.  Anyway, lead: Charles Hewitt, baritone: Clint Marsh, tenor and pianist: Travis Carter, and bass: Jay Phillips.  Phillips does a "talking" rendition of What Heaven Means to Me (a Bill Gaither number, far as I know), and he does superbly.  I'm normally not a fan of narrated numbers, but this track is the exception.

Beautiful singing and playing throughout, with a mostly excellent playlist, including the set-closing 1870 standard Pass Me Not, which boasts typically brilliant verses by Fanny (Frances Jane) Crosby.  And I pretty much knew this was going to be a winner when I beheld E.M. Bartlett's Shoutin' on the Hills of Glory (actual title, There'll Be Shouting) in the song roster.  This 1925 classic is a Southern and bluegrass gospel mega-standard, and fully deserves to be.  The Sabers do it proud.

Google searching reveals that pianist Otis Forrest (a studio guy who must have stood/sat in for Travis Carter) also played for the Blue Ridge Quartet, and that lead guitarist Joe Huffman has had quite a career.  Another studio musician with quite a resume is drummer Buster Phillips.  No wonder this LP sounds so superbly professional.

No credits for tunes or lyrics on the jacket or label, and I didn't feel like tracking these down, save for the two numbers I was certain about.  But I'm sure they're easily ascertained.  If you're in the mood for classic quartet gospel, it's waiting right here for you.  No idea on the year, though the jacket has a 1968 sort of vibe.

DOWNLOAD: Smooth Spiritual--The Sabers Quartet (Pee Dee 4433)

Crossing Over Jordan

Many Joys and Thrills Ago

Till I Know

That's Him

Now I Have Everything

Lord, I Want to Go to Heaven

When I Move

Had It Not Been

How Many Times

What Heaven Means to Me

Shoutin' on the the Hills of Glory (E.M. Barlett)

Pass Me Not (Crosby-Doane)

Smooth Spiritual--The Sabers Quartet (Pee Dee 4433; Recorded at Mark Five)


Friday, February 25, 2022

The fifth person on the Christianaires jacket.

 I received a wonderful comment from Tonya Fett, daughter of Ray Gaskill, the pianist for the Christianaires Quartet (the fifth man on the cover!).  I put her comment in my original post and included an Amazon image of the cover before Ray was added (link provided by Tonya).

It's always a joy to hear from people related to the musicians I post.  Click on the above link to see the before-and-after Christianaires jacket, and thanks again to Tonya!


Friday, February 18, 2022

Friday 78 break--Earl Fuller, Joseph C. Smith, Joe Raymond, Gene Rodemich, and old, old polkas


Or whatever day you happen to be reading this.  Mostly repeat offerings in this batch, but my goal was to fatten up the "lower" frequencies (such as they are on acoustical 78s) without overdoing it.  I think I've mentioned that I'm now using a flat response curve plus a 300 Hz bass turnover for acousticals, and this seems to be working just fine.  Naturally, for my latest experiment in EQ'ing, I chose old favorites (some of them 100-plus years old)--hence, the repeats.  The "new" titles include (pre-Columbia) Okeh recordings of Whispering and Anytime, Anyday, and Anywhere, both titles likely rushed out to cash in on the Paul Whiteman versions, which they resemble more than a little bit.  If I'm correct, this would make these two recordings early examples of budget sound-alikes, though it should be noted that Okeh wasn't typically devoted to such activity.  Alexandria, by Harry Raderman's Jazz Orchestra (not sounding very jazzy), is another new-to-the-blog title.  Ditto for Joseph C. Smith's excellent rendition of Hugo Frey's Happy (1918).

The all-time classic Europe's Society Orch. recording of Castle House Rag (here titled The Castles in Europe) is back, and I think I achieved a good balance between the "high"-end detail and the amazing 1914 percussion.  Titles making only their second blog appearance: Gene Rodemich's extremely lively 1919 Brunswick performance of George Gershwin's Swanee, the 1915 Conway's Band Victor recording of part-time country fiddler Don Richardson's raggy Hezekiah, Joe Raymond's bluesy Salt Your Sugar (1923), and Paul Whiteman's Best Ever Medley, derived (by Whiteman, who arranged) from Dance of the Hours and Love in IdlenessBest Ever Medley, while beautifully played, is an example of why Whiteman hired Ferde Grofe to handle the charts.  Speaking of Grofe handling the Whiteman charts, selections 16 and 17 feature four of Ferde's arrangements in EP style, with two selections per 12-inch side.  On its third (?) go-round, the 1918 Earl Fuller Rector Orchestra Singapore is one of my favorite dance band sides ever, and I think it has a very jazzy texture (for example, a surprising degree of independence in the trombone line).  Livelier--downright frantic, almost--is Fuller's 1917 Cold Turkey, which features epic pre-electrical-era drumming.  Meanwhile, non-fans of polka music might nevertheless be surprised by how, um, modern our two 1915 polka recordings sound, even 107 hence--in particular, Der Rote Domino, much better known as The Clarinet Polka.  

The wonderful Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag, from 1917, is genuine jazz, in my opinion, and W.C. Handy's orchestra is nothing short of amazing.  And the composer, Al Morton, certainly did a skillful rip-off of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag.  If you're going to steal, steal from the best, I guess.

To the shellac.  And more twist sounds coming to the blog, so stick around.

DOWNLOAD: 78s for Feb. 2022

The Castles in Europe (Castle House Rag)--Europe's Society Orch. (Victor 35372; 1914)

Oriental--One-step--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch. (Columbia A6075; 1918)

Singapore--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra (Columbia A2686; 1918)

Der Rote Domino--Polka Mazurka--Columbia Orchester (German Orch.) (Columbia E2268; 1915)

Cold Turkey--One-step (Will Donaldson)--Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra (Columbia A2298; 1917)

Whispering--Ray Miller's Black and White Rhythm Boys (Okeh  4167; 1920)

The Red Lantern--Medley--Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orch.; Joseph Knecht, Dir. (Columbia A2747; 1919)

Rockin' the Boat (Hugo Frey)--Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra (Victor 18521; 1918)

Slavicek Polka (Nachtigallen Polka)--Brousek's Band (Columbia E2471; 1915)

Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere--Rega Dance Orchestra (Okeh 4155; 1920)

Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag (Al Morton)-- (W.C.) Handy's Orchestra (Columbia A2421; 1917)

Alexandria--Harry Raderman's Jazz Orchestra (Okeh 4089; 1920)

Swanee--One-Step (Gershwin)--Gene Rodemich's Orchestra, 1919 (Brunswick 2026; 1919)

Best Ever Medley--One-step (Arr: Whiteman)--Paul Whiteman and His Ambassador Orchestra (Victor 35701; 1920)

Where Is That Old Girl of Mine?/Driftwood (Arr: Grofe)--Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra (Victor 35744; 1924)

Mandalay/Step Henrietta (Arr: Grofe)--Same

Hezekiah--One-Step (Don Richardson)--Conway's Band (Victor 35501; 1915)

Salt Your Sugar--Joe Raymond and His Orchestra (Victor 19178; 1923)

Happy (Hugo Frey)--Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra (Victor 18715 (1919)


Sunday, February 13, 2022

Quito Calling (Zondervan Victory Recording ZLP-544; 1959)--Outstanding "Echoes From Ecuador"!


A wonderful 1959 LP from the staff of HCJB, "The first Christian missionary station in the world" (Wikipedia).  HCJB--Heralding Christ Jesus' Blessings--had its start in 1931, and its shortwave broadcasts were heard around the world until 2009, when it shut down that part of its operation.  The station is still heard locally in Ecuador.

HCJB ("Voice of the Andes") had some outstanding musicians working for it, if this LP is any indication.  I loved every minute of it, though some listeners may find the proceedings too much on the sedate side.  I have no problem in that regard--the performances are great.  A good amount of volume "normalizing" was necessary for these tracks, though I did my best to maintain a decent dynamic balance.  The selections are well recorded, and the between-track artifacts (an inevitable part of such productions) were easily removed.  As luck would have it, this is an RCA Victor custom pressing, which left no doubt, year-wise (1959).  The K prefix in the RCA number tells us as much.

A number of first-rate standards grace the playlist: To God Be the Glory, He Lives, and Jesus Shall Reign among them.  There are "newer" numbers, too, but so far my guesses have been off.  For instance, No Sunset in God's Tomorrow and He Giveth More Grace had the ring of freshly-recorded titles, but both are from the 1940s.  Unfortunately, the LP doesn't provide composer/author credits.

Virtuoso accordionist Dixie Dean amazes on Jesus Shall Reign, violinist Gene Jordan provides a memorable What a Friend, and the Heralders Male Quartet is nearly on a par with the Old Fashioned Revival Hour Quartet.  Fine performances throughout.  Another gift from Diane--Thanks, Diane!

Quito is Ecuador's capital.  And I should note that nothing sounds South American here, despite the promise of the cover photo.  Great stuff, nevertheless.

DOWNLOAD: Quito Calling (Zondervan Victory Recording ZLP-544; 1959)

To God Be the Glory--Ensemble

He Lives--Gene Jordan, Marimba

Satisfied--Men's Chorus

There Is a Green Hill Far Away--Dolores Van Der Puy, Soprano

Jesus Shall Reign--Dixie Dean, Accordion

Down in the Valley--Vern Van Hovel and Joe Springer

O Jesus, Jesus--Ensemble With Lois Hatt, Contralto

I Cannot Hide From God--Joe Springer, Bass

My Tongue Shall Praise Jehovah--Mixed Trio

He Giveth More Grace--Jeanne Odell, Contralto

I Will Sing the Mercies of God--The Heralders Male Quartet

What a Friend--Gene Jordan, Violin

Deeper and Deeper--Ensemble With Ruth Jordan

Thirty Pieces of Silver--Ruth and Jack Shalanko

No Sunset in God's Tomorrow--Vern Van Hovel, Tenor


Monday, February 07, 2022

Do the Twist, already! Or, Mercury Wing makes like a junk label with a generic Twist LP.

The Original Twisters, no less--accept no substitutes.  I think I LOL'ed when this showed up at Goodwill.  Basically, we have an independent label acting like Golden Tone, Design, or SPC.  I guess Mercury Wing was eager to jump on the junk-label Twist-ploitation train.

And we know that the Original Twisters was a "fake" group.  We know this, because their name sounds fake--plus, they have only one LP to their credit at Discogs.  This one, of course.

That being said, the musicianship is first-rank, even if the tenor sax is featured a bit too prominently for my ears.  The titles are the standard P.D. specials--Red River Valley, Little Liza Jane, Clementine, Golden Slippers.  And this is how and why we know that the Twist--even though the dance was treated, in its day, like some evolutionary step in pop music--was basically boogie-woogie redux.  In its most basic form, boogie-woogie equals instrumental blues, though any song could be (and was) given the boogie-woogie treatment, regardless of its structure.  (It's even possible to tease a non-twelve-bar blues toward twelve-bar-blues territory.)  Hence, all the boogie-woogie songbooks of the c. 1941 era.  Just as one could give the boogie-woogie treatment to just about any number, so could just about any number be rendered in Twist fashion.  You simply need a straight-eighth-note accompaniment pattern (or, in piano terms, a straight-eighth-note left hand).  

Fats Domino did a boogie on Swanee River with his 1953 Swanee River Hop, and so the Original Twisters do a twist on the same song.  This is history repeating itself.  It's fun when that happens.  Well, usually.

We have to wonder if the anonymous dancers on the jacket are supposed to represent the Original Twisters, at least subliminally.  That, or Mercury Wing simply tossed the cover together in as little time as possible.  That sounds reasonable.

Confusingly enough, the cover promises "fake" stereo with its "This is an electronic re-processing to permit reproduction on stereo players of a performance originally recorded monaurally."  Yet, the stereo is genuine.  Not that I object, but it's odd that Mercury Wing would promise reprocessed stereo and yet provide the real item.

From (when else?) 1962.

DOWNLOAD: Come On and Do the Twist--The Original Twisters (Mercury Wing SRW-16217; 1962)

The Twist

Little Liza Jane


When You and I Were Young, Maggie

Swanee River

When the Saints Go Marchin' In

Let's Twist Again

Red Wing

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Red River Valley

Camptown Races

Golden Slippers

Come On and Twist--The Original Twisters (Mercury Wing SRW-16217; 1962)


Sunday, February 06, 2022

Sunday morning gospel: The Christianaires Quartet in Concert (CQ 9126)


It only just now occurred to me what the "CQ" stands for in the catalog number.  (Duhh...)  I think I'm still recovering from our recent ice storm.  My sinuses, that is.  They have a rough time with this kind of weather.  I can't say that I blame them.

So, from Fort Wayne, and with the excellent Ray Gaskill at the piano, this is The Christianaires Quartet--Dave Russell (first tenor), Howard Russell (second tenor), Dave Pletcher (baritone), and Cliff Mossoney (bass).  The tall guy on the cover is Ray.

Very enjoyable tracks--and it's always great to hear When God Dips His Love...  Well, in my opinion, at least.  These guys sounded fine when I spot-listened to the LP (and during the sound-editing), but, upon closer aural examination (actually, that's an old term for a hearing test), I decided the harmonies could have been a bit tighter.  But, again, the material is fun, the group energetic and sincere, and the sound is very acceptable for a "local" effort.  At any rate, we can't expect the Christianaires to be operating on the level of, say, the Blackwood Brothers or the Statesmen Quartet.  And--is it just me, or is there a slight country gospel sound to these tracks?  I use that phrase to describe music which stylistically lies between Southern quartets and bluegrass gospel.  Groups like the Sego Brothers and Naomi, for example.  The country gospel feeling is slight, but it's there.  So say my ears, anyway.

The group's theme song, written by first tenor Dave Russell, may be my favorite track--it's very catchy.  And it's always a treat to hear I Shall Not Be Moved and Hide Me Rock of Ages.  This is another thrift gift from Diane (thanks, Diane!) and much appreciated, and, as luck had it, she sent two copies.  This was good, because I had to trade off a couple tracks that someone had (best guess) played with the wrong needle.  (Actually, it looks like someone sat on the tonearm.)  Plus, I used the better of the two front jacket images.  I used a blue filter to enhance same, and the result is very close to the jacket in real life.

No idea on the year, though the photo looks to be c. 1968.  Enjoy!

UPDATE (2/25): I received a comment from Ray Gaskill's daughter, Tonya Fett: 

Hello all, I happened upon this blog by googling this album. I can't thank you enough for uploading this. The tall guy on the right? Ray Gaskill. That's my dad. I laughed when I read the comments about the group being called a quartet when there are clearly more than 4 people in the photo. This album was released originally with just the 4 members on the jacket. My dad was not invited to the photo shoot and when I found out the cover had only the quartet on it he was pretty upset. My dad could be difficult sometimes. He had a heart of gold though and loved what he did. Anyway, they gave in and put him in the photo too. Now you know! LOL I have at least one more album of this group if anyone is interested. Below I have posted a link to Amazon that someone is selling the original jacket.          

And here's the original jacket, prior to the addition of Ray (taken from the Amazon image).  Many thanks to Tonya for her input!

DOWNLOAD: The Christianaires Quartet in Concert (CQ 9126)

Christianaires Theme Song (Dave Russell)

My Anchor Holds (Martin-Towner)

I'm Feeling Fine (Mosie Lister)

I Shall Not Be Moved

When God Dips His Love in My Heart (C. Derricks)

Heavenly Love (V.B. Ellis)

I'm Bound for the Kingdom (Mosie Lister)

I'm Too Near Home (C. Wycuff)

The Touch of His Hand (Mosie Lister)

Hide Me, Rock of Ages (B. George)

I See Jesus (C. Wycuff)

What a Day That Will Be (Jimmy Hill)

The Christianaires Quartet in Concert (CQ 9126)


Tuesday, February 01, 2022

The In Group, The International Hits Orchestra, The New Dance Band, and a mystery outfit (1968, 1974)


We'll be hearing choice tracks from two Columbia boxed sets--six from 1974's The Unforgettable Years, and sixteen from 1968's Young and Warm and Wonderful.  The former is a ten-record set made for J.C. Penney, and it offers "120 of today's most popular melodies."  Which is kind of a weird claim, given that the songs tend toward the 1961-1965 period.  Among the ten-LP offerings: King of the Road, Satisfaction, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, and Moon River, none of which were 1974 hits, of course.  (I was there; I know.)  Strange.  Anyway, we'll be hearing from Record 10, Side B, which is called "Dance Time Discotheque."  Its six numbers were worth wrestling with the entire set (assuming I got it for a thrift store price, which I probably did): they are delightful big band discotheque selections in the style of Enoch Light on Command and Si Zentner on RCA.  Wish we had an artist credit.  My favorite of the six tracks: Downtown, whose arrangement pleases me to no end, for some reason.  Satisfaction is charming (and a bit amusing), too.  As to what Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goodbye) is doing on a "Dance Time Discotheque" disc, I cannot begin to guess, but it's well done, so what the heck.  The remaining 114 The Unforgettable Years selections didn't make the cut, though I almost included Blowin' in the Wind and Mr. Tambourine Man from the "Folk Festival" disc.  However, those are done in a silly, sing-along "hootenanny" style--plus, they're in rough shape.  So, I passed on them.

Honestly, The Unforgettable Years sounds like a delayed release--something that sat around for nine years, just waiting for a retail chain to offer it as a premium.  Despite the release year, it sounds totally 1960s.

Next, from the seven-disc Young and Warm and Wonderful, I ripped every one of the eleven sections by the In Group (give me a break!), all but one of which fall into the "fake" hit/sound-alike category--and all very well done.  But, well done or no, Mrs. Robinson has never grown on me--like most of Simon and Garfunkel's music, I can live without it.  However, the In Group's sole pop-instrumental cover--Those Were the Days--features such an imaginative and lively arrangement, it has me liking the song for the first time I can remember.  Light My Fire, unfortunately, copies the Jose Feliciano version (which is fine, but I'd have preferred imitation Doors).  There's fantastic piano work on Misty, and fine fakes of Land of 1000 Dances and Respect.  I guess these could be called fake-tastic.  Then it's on to The International Hits Orchestra (another likely-sounding appellation) with the world's worst fake of It's Not Unusual, along with superior sound-alikes of Don't Sleep in the Subway and DowntownWinchester Cathedral is an instrumental cover--and quite good--and that closes our playlist.

No, wait--there's also an excellent Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In copy by The New Dance Band.  For those who prefer their dance bands new.

A nice mix of fake hits and instrumental hit parade covers.  Columbia Special Products is the label for Unforgettable, while Young and Warm was released on Columbia Musical Treasuries--in other words, Columbia House.  A mail-order special.


I Want to Hold Your Hand
I'm Telling You Now
She Loves You
Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goodbye)

The Unforgettable Years: Dance Time Discotheque (Columbia Special Products CSS 375-84; 1974)


The "In" Crowd
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay
Hang On Sloopy
Land of 1000 Dances
Both Sides, Now
Mrs. Robinson
Anyone Who Had a Heart
Those Were the Days
Light My Fire


Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In


It's Not Unusual
Don't Sleep in the Subway
Winchester Cathedral

Young and Warm and Wonderful (Columbia Musical Treasuries P7S 5114; 1968)