Friday, March 25, 2022

Ultraphonic high fidelity! "Tops in Pops--All the Latest Hit Recordings" (Allegro 1670)


Such a natural cover pose, no?  And, sorry, these are not "all the latest hit recordings," needless to say.  They're copies of the latest hit recordings, to be precise--but Allegro was purposely avoiding the option of being precise.  These delightful jobber rack relics were, after all, designed to work as con jobs.  Though, I'm not sure who would look at this LP at the supermarket and seriously think it contained the genuine articles.

That said, and lousy engineering aside, this is a fun set, with Whole Lot of Shaking Going On (could they have meant Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On?) the standout track, to my ears--an out of control cover with far too much low end, and a singer who loses the meter about midpoint.  But it's raw and rocking, and in some ways it's even funner than the original.  (I've been listening to these things too long, possibly.)  And, speaking of inflated bass response, I had to re-EQ Chances Are and Fascination just to get those tracks to the point of listenability.  And I'm talking about two levels of EQ'ing.  The engineer must have fallen asleep at the console, knocking one of the knobs to max setting.  However, I kept Shaking as is, since the bad engineering, oddly enough, only helps the track.  It makes a wild take sound even moreso.

Wake up Little Susie is competent by cheap-knockoff standards, while Jailhouse Rock (which I suspect must exist on Broadway, credited to Jack Richards) is quite good.  Meanwhile, its highs are quite broken up--again, the engineer goofed up.  It doesn't help that this collection was pressed on brittle styrene, and I suppose the awfulness of the Jailhouse fidelity could be blamed on that fact--however, it's the only track with "scritchy" highs, so it's likely not the pressing but indifferent mastering.

I like the way these "latest hit" LPs feature all the then-current hits, even the "adult pop" type, which means that we get to hear My Heart Reminds Me and Melodie D'Amour in the same set as Be-Bop Baby and That'll Be the Day.  That's why these albums are such good intros to their particular eras.  And a possibly little-known fact about Honeycomb is that it was penned by none other than Bob (How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?) Merrill.  True.  Personally, I prefer the 1954 Georgie Shaw Honeycomb version to the 1957 Jimmie Rodgers hit, but that's just me.

Mr. Lee--a hit for the R&B girl group, the Bobbettes--is another track I had to unmuffle from its poor EQ'ing, but I got it sounding perfectly fine.  And it's cool to have an R&B number in the mix, and one done in an authentic (i.e., non-"pop cover") fashion.  For all its engineering faults, this is one cool, zero-budget Record Corp. of America offering.  And I wouldn't pay any mind to the 1956 copyright on the back jacket, given the 1957 hits we're hearing here.  (Hearing here?)

Oh, and for once the jacket listing conforms to the label order.  That's odd.  Also, note the "M" suffix which follows the standard Tops in Pops 1670 catalog number, likely designating the edition.  To the fun, guilty or otherwise:

DOWNLOAD: Tops in Pops--All the Latest Hit Recordings (Allegro 1670M)


Wake up Little Susie

Jailhouse Rock

Melodie D'Amour

My Heart Reminds Me

Be-Bop Baby

Hula Love

Chances Are


Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

Mr. Lee

That'll Be the Day


Oh, and here's the Value Hit Parade Tunes (Broadway) co-release, sitting right there in my record rows:


Thursday, March 24, 2022

Ukraine Rocks the World

I wanted to direct you to an intriguing and inspiring essay by music journalist and critic Wayne Robins: Ukraine Rocks the Free World.  Some fascinating historical analogies in this piece, and the main topic is something I don't think the U.S. news media has given much press to: The use of international radio to make potent protest statements that the world can tune into.  That old standby medium, radio, is more relevant than ever in Ukraine's courageous and creative struggle to thwart Putin's policy of media silence.

A great read, and there's an option to subscribe for free or for a donation.

The Ukrainian band TIK.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Conveyors Quartet--Work for the Night Is Coming

Five members pictured in a quartet portrait?  Heck, that's nothing--try seven.

We can assume we're seeing the four singers plus three musicians.  (I've never understood why "musicians" doesn't include singers.  It should.)  This is expert Southern gospel, and I don't think we have a family group this time, though (going by another Conveyors LP), it seems the group was headed by a husband and wife team--Ardeth and Kenny Dykhoff.  I can't quite pick them out in the above photo, but here they are, from their Just a Little Talk With Jesus LP.  Seated is pianist Marilyn Gallaway:

The group is apparently from Indiana, though Mission Records is/was in Nashville TN.  This post was delayed by allergies--which is to say, I've got the pollen blues big-time today (so much so, I'm afraid to go online and verify the pollen count).  So, let me simply say that this is a very entertaining set, with a beautifully full vocal blend throughout, and some outstanding sacred titles in the mix, including the title classic, the 19th-century oldie Work for the Night Is Coming (text: 1854; tune: 1864).  Bringing in the Sheaves is slightly more contemporary, its tune a mere 140 years old.

Another Diane thrift gift--thanks, Diane!

DOWNLOAD: The Conveyors Quartet: Work for the Night Is Coming (Mission Records MR CQ 139)

I've Been Born Again

Oh, What a Love

Sheltered in His Arms

Old Camp Meeting

Pity the Man

I Don't Need to Understand

If You Believe

I Just Steal Away and Pray

Medley: I'm Bound for That City/Shoutin' on the Hills/What a Day That Will Be

Medley: Work for the Night Is Coming/Bringing in the Sheaves

The Time Is Now


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Rhythm and Blues in the Night (Hollywood Records LPH 30; 1957)


An excellent, if discographically confusing, R&B LP on the Hollywood label, with at least five tracks from the Abbey label, whose dates appear in the playlist below.  The Both Sides Now website talks about this LP, but the most useful one-stop info is at Discogs.

A number of these tracks are rock and roll, really--I've never bought into the conventional notion that R&B and rock and roll were separate genres, at least early on.  Simply put, Blacks were recording r&r before it had an established label.  And, for a while, the two labels were used interchangeably in popular culture, anyway, as in an early Elvis Presley interview (the source of which I can't locate--I think it was in Look magazine).  At any rate, apparently the credits listed on this label are nonsense.  What we have are artist-unknown covers of Dinah Washington's 1954 I Don't Hurt Anymore, and of the Drifters' Honey Love of the same year (info courtesy of Brian McFadden), plus the Abbey label tracks Call Me Darlin' (Bobby Marshall, 1950), Don't Cry Darlin' (The Master Keys, 1950), Steady Roll (Bill Gooden, 1949?), Tell Me Pretty Baby (Ralph Willis and Spider Sam, 1949), and Featherweight Baby (Brother Blues and the Back Room Boys, 1949)--the latter a hard-rocking, super-distorted-lead-guitar number in early Howlin' Wolf mode.  Plus, a number of other so-far artist-unknown numbers.

The Inks Spots-esque Don't Cry Darlin' (The Master Keys, 1950) has a lead singer crooning in Elvis-ballad fashion, only years earlier, of course.  Meanwhile, the track Rain, Rain, Rain is your typical out-of-nowhere budget addition, an uptempo gospel song that doesn't fit very well into the playist scheme, though at least it rocks.

The badly photographed front jacket model is Julie (Catwoman) Newmar, looking like she just woke up.  Surely, they could have come up with a better shot.  Anyway, a famous and "desirable" LP on a label that typically didn't offer such product, and I was pleased with my rip.  The transfers were clearly not that great to begin with, so don't expect A+ fidelity, but I think my stylus did a good job on this classic rocker.  If only I could remember which needle I used--my wide 1.12 mil LP needle or my regular sized conical stylus.  My short-term memory is failing me, as usual...

My favorite track, Featherweight Baby (original title: Feather Weight Mama) might not set a sexual-innuendo record, but it's a contender.  Love the Willie Johnson-style guitar.

I'm using a new storage site--let me know if there are any issues.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: Some of the "Unknown Artist" tracks had previously been released on the Record-O-Mail label, which advertised in Charlton mags: Hit Parader, Song Hits, etc.)

DOWNLOAD: Rhythm and Blues in the Night (Hollywood Records LPH 30; 1957)


Call Me Darlin'--Bobby Marshall (Abbey 3014; 1950)

I'm Gonna Live for Today--Unknown Artist (1949) (UPDATE: Buster has ID'd track as "I'm Going to Live for Today"--Bobby Marshall (Ray Parker Orch.), on Abbey 3018; 1950.

Don't Cry Darlin'--The Master Keys (Abbey 3017; 1950)

Steady Roll--Bill Gooden (Abbey 66; 1949?)

Tell Me Pretty Baby--Ralph Willis and Spider Sam (Abbey 3005; 1949)

Featherweight Baby--Brother Blues & The Back Room Boys (Abbey 3015; 1949)

Rain, Rain, Rain--Unknown Artsit

Mister Blues--Unknown Artist  The Masterkeys (as "Mr. Blues") (Abby 3017; 1950)  Thanks, Bob!

I Want to Rock Till I Drop--Unknown Artist (1949)

I Don't Hurt Anymore--Unknown Artist (Record-O-Mail RB-2204, 1954)

If You Believe--Unknown Artist (Record-O-Mail RB-2203, 1954)

Honey Love--Unknown Artist

Come to Me Darlin'--Unknown Artist (Record-O-Mail RB-2203, 1954)

When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer--Unknown Artist

Rhythm and Blues in the Night (Hollywood LPH 30; 1957)


Sunday, March 06, 2022

The Singing Reynolds Family--I'll Be a Friend (Reynolds Records 80725; 1968)


I'm always looking for outstanding family-gospel albums, and this one (thrifted from Volunteers of America for 90 cents) looked like a likely suspect: Cool group photo, great stock front-jacket art, and a promising song listing.  And... it turns out to be terrific.  The label is Reynolds Records (wonder how the Reynolds Family came up with that?), and the group's address is given as Route No. 1, Milton WV.  Meanwhile, the back jacket tells us this was recorded in (ominous city name alert) Hurricane WV.  Luckily for us, the album was manufactured by Queen City Albums of Cincinnati OH, which makes it easy to determine the exact date: July 25, 1968.  

And things are a little weird in regard to the catalog number, since, in addition to using the matrix number (80725) as the main number, the label also says "Record No. 6801."  I don't know what to make of this, but maybe I wasn't meant to.

There's a superb balance throughout, with the numbers consistently switching between uptempo "Hallelujah!"-type numbers and slower, soulful ones.  The singing is very competent, and the instrumental blend is excellent.  Whoever engineered this wasn't gifted in the editing department, with many instances of noise (in one case, loud hum) happening seconds before the tracks begin (and, sometimes, after).  However, your friendly blogger/editor fixed these goofs so that you won't have to deal with them.  The liner notes had me slightly confused at first, since they describe both the original and the then-current group line-up, but I think I got it straight: Clyde Reynolds--bass; Louise Reynolds--alto; daughter Betty Jean--lead and piano; daughter Carolyn--organ; Bob Morris--bass guitar and occasional lead; and Earl Higginbotham--tenor.

Great versions of Sweeter as the Days Go By, I Can Almost See the Lights of Home, and Ring the Bells of Heaven (by Albert Brumley and Marion Easterling, 1947--i.e., not the 19th century classic by that title), and just a generally fine program which had me in family-gospel heaven.  

As for the front jacket scan, I have no idea why it turned out like that--I gave it two tries, with the same result (the second time practically in the dark).  Maybe it's time for a new scanner.  Anyway, time to let the Singing Reynolds Family be your friends.  They will not disappoint.

DOWNLOAD: I'll Be a Friend--The Singing Reynolds Family (Reynolds Records 80725; 1968)

When Morning Sweeps the Sky

Closer to Thee

Ring the Bells of Heaven

I Can Almost See the Lights of Home

When Judgement Reaches Home

Glory, Glory, Amen

Sweeters as the Days Go By

Until You've Known

I'll Be a Friend to Jesus

Saviour Gently Take Me Home

Each Step I Take


The Singing Reynolds Family--I'll Be a Friend (Reynolds Records 80725; 1968)


Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Come on Everybody Let's Twist!--Steven Garrick and His Party Twisters (Golden Tone 3092; 1962)


Come on, everybody--let's twist!  And that means everybody.  An unexpectedly excellent twist LP on the Golden Tone label--a label which resulted from the 1958 merger between Tops and Precision Radiation Instruments Inc. Evidently, PRI was a very shady outfit, though I forget the sordid details.  I just know that much of their LP output consisted of reissued Tops material, albeit in trimmed-down editions.  This 1962 release, however, is clearly not a reissue, since it's contemporary with the twist craze.  And the music is exceptionally good, owing, no doubt, to the talented conductor and arranger Steven Garrick.  The track titles are unusually imaginative and mostly amusing, though I don't quite get "Intimitwist."  "Psychoanalytwist," however, is genuinely fine wordplay.

These tracks rock the needle out of the grooves, and this may be the best-ever budget twist-ploitation effort--it certainly musically outdoes the "Original Twisters" on Mercury, as fine as that one may have been.  The fidelity is outstanding, too, though I did boost the treble a bit.  Not much I can say beyond my estimation that the music is exceptionally well done, and the fact that it's always a pleasure to encounter a recorded effort that's way better than could logically have been suspected.  A thrift find that's been sitting in my rows for a while--something I bought probably because, despite the banged-up jacket, the vinyl survived in more than acceptable condition.  For some reason, that fact conveyed, "Buy me."  I felt a kind of duty to do so.  Photoshopping did wonders for the front and back covers--the back cover, in particular.  Golden Tone used the kind of cardboard that forms brown spots over time--real bottom-of-the-barrel paper.  And what a totally nothing label design, no?  But Steven Garrick didn't let any of these factors hold him back, and we should be twistfully grateful.  In regard to twisting along, I can't instruct you one way or another.  That's your call.

Excellent fidelity, excellent music.  Some nice Tequila-style numbers tossed in, too.  "Each and every selection in this superb album will fascinate you," the liner notes promise.  The musicians are identified on the back, including Cheryl Blythe, who provided the "vocal chant."  To be regarded as a plural phrase.

Tunes written by Sanford Bellini. Wonder if he came up with the titles, too?

UPDATE: I accidentally omitted track 9 (Thou Shalt Not Untwist) in the original file.  This has been corrected.  Sorry about that!

DOWNLOAD: Come on Everybody Let's Twist -Steven Garrick and His Party Twisters (Golden Tone 4092; 1962)


Sister's a Twister


A Twist of Lemon

Ten Cents a Twist


Strictly Informal Twist

Don't Holler on Me Twist

Thou Shalt Not Untwist

Doublemint Twist

Chalah Twist


Tunes written by Sanford Bellini.