Friday, April 29, 2022

Warning! Highly exciting! Handle With Care! "The Sounds of a Thousand Strings," 1959


One of my favorite mood music LPs, budget or otherwise, stereo or mono.  And this happens to be a stereo issue, and Crown Records really played up the stereo aspect: "This album is musical dynamite!  It may explode some of your previous ideas as to what is top stereo sound--and music."  Okay, okay--we get the point.

The label promises "Some of the most vibrant, colorful music you'll ever hear."  And we know this is so, if only because of the presence of such awesome fare as Grandfather's Clock and Little Brown Jug.  But, seriously, these are wonderful arrangements (by conductor de Treville, maybe?), and Journey Into Space (wish they'd given the composer) remains one of my favorite mood music tracks of all time.  (Love Affair is terrific, too.)  This edition was pressed in clear red vinyl, and the engineering is just fine, and there are only the occasional minor pressing imperfections.  Someone certainly got his or her 99 cents' worth back in the day.  I think I paid more than that, since this was likely an eBay acquisition versus a thrift find.  (I rarely remember when or where I come across my sound recordings.)

Because this is a budget product, there's a heapin' helpin' of public-domain material--Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Joseph Eastburn Winner (Jug), Henry Jay Work (Clock), and the very busy Author Unknown (Wayfaring Stranger).  But these are highly entertainingly presented.  In fact, they're graced by "just powerful, dazzling arrangements," and liner notes never lie, so...

Gosh, I wonder what famous light concert work could have inspired A Texan in Paris?  The title, at least.  And Exotic Island leaves no doubt as to which genre is being exploited.  Great stuff--but I caution you to handle the highly exciting zip file with care!  Exclamation mark.  I mean, this sonic dynamite might, um, damage your media player or something.  Leave a hole in it, perhaps?  So be careful...

Link follows:

DOWNLOAD: The Sounds of a Thousand Strings: Orch. Conducted by Antoine de Treville.

La Cucharacha

Love Affair

Journey Into Space

Dance Chinoise


Wayfaring Stranger

A Texan in Paris

Exotic Island

Minute Waltz

Grandfather's Clock

Dance de Mirlitons

Little Brown Jug

The Sounds of a Thousand Strings--Orch. conducted by Antonine de Treville (Crown CST 148; 1959)


Friday, April 22, 2022

(Mostly) solid sound-alikes: "Top Tune Time" (SPC SP 106; 1959?)


So, this is a mostly very good collection of cheap sound-alikes, save for two tracks which, though the artists may try hard, don't quite make the 99¢ cut.  I refer to the potentially good fake of Lonely Teardrops, a song to which the singer seems well-suited--but he repeatedly botches things, suggesting that his voice was worn out on that particular day.  And that the folks at SPC said, "What the heck--it's a take."  And we can be fairly certain that SPC (Synthetic Plastics Co., though there's no actual SPC credit anywhere on this LP) frowned on multiple takes.  Or (especially) the prospect of rescheduling a session.  What they got was what they pressed.  Whatever I just typed.

The other not-so-good band is She Say (Oom Dooby Doom), a Barry Mann hit for the Diamonds in 1959.  The vocal blend--and, especially, the half-step-climbing falsetto--isn't what it could be, but it should be noted that (at least in my opinion), this SPC version is the least inadequate of the three I've heard (the other two courtesy of Gateway and Broadway).  If "least inadequate" can be considered praise (and maybe it should be when we're talking fake hits), then thumbs up for this track.  But it should have been better.

A number of the other tracks make up for things--in particular, a strong Peter Gunn cover (not, it turns out, the version on that Tiara boxed set, as I had thought), a fine Manhattan Spiritual, an equally fine Stagger Lee, and an All American Boy imitation that captures the lighthearted and sarcastic feel of the original pretty skillfully.  And I find myself confused about the intention of that particular novelty, because it seems pro-r&r in spots and pro-anti-r&r in others.  Maybe it's not a song for deep thought.

Oh, and someone (on the Promenade single, the credit goes to Jimmy Grant and the Promenade Orch. and Chorus) pulls off an able imitation of Andy Williams on Hawaiian Wedding Song.  If only more practice had gone into the performance of She Say, and if only the Lonely Teardrops singer had been allowed to come back after his voice had enjoyed a rest.  But a very fun bunch of top tunes, regardless.  1959 seems the logical year for this.  Download link follows...

DOWNLOAD: Top Tune Time (SPC SP 106; prob. 1959)

Hawaiian Wedding Song

Peter Gunn

All-American (or, All American) Boy

My Happiness

Stagger Lee

Manhattan Spiritual

Lonely Teardrops

The Lonely One

She Say (Oom Dooby Doom)



Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter 2022!! Eddie Brandt, Jerome Hines, Meadowlarks, Cincinnati Baptist College Quartet


Twelve Easter selections--six egg-cellent novelties, followed by six outstanding religious numbers.  The novelties commence with Eddie Brandt (see Eddie's Wikipedia page) and His Hollywood Hicks performing Easter Bunny Polka, the vocals by Eddie and his first wife, Ruthie James. Then three more from this cheapest-of-the-cheap budget label, Irene Records (part of the JEB/TunePAC group), including a nicely done sound-alike of Peter Cottontail (as Peter Cotton Tail).  Then it's on to the Peter Pan (Synthetic Plastics Co.) versions of Bunny Hop and the title tune from a 1934 Disney Silly Symphonies short, Funny Little Bunnies.  

I'm not sure how Eddie Brandt and George (Goodnight My Love) Motola got away with writing a song (Easter Bunny Polka) about a certain, um, cartoon wabbit and his inept pursuer, but it appears that they did.  I'd think that Mel Blanc, at least, would have been annoyed.  But this is the Irene label, so in any lawsuit, the litigants might have collected... what?  Thirty bucks?

Jerome Hines, the born-again Metropolitan Opera bass who gave Salvation Army concerts, follows our humorous helpings with superb performances of How Great Thou Art and The Old Rugged Cross, recorded for Word Records in 1965.  The Cincinnati Baptist Quartet (thanks, Diane!) offer up a lively version of Lewis E. Jones' 1899 gem, There Is Power in the Blood, and there are excellent choral renditions of He Lives and Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.  The concert closes with the Church of the Nazarene Male Quartet (from the Showers of Blessing radio show) singing Victory in Jesus. a very famous gospel song whose melody is quite close to an earlier Charles Gabriel hymn, Pentecostal Power.  However, from approximately 1870 to, oh, the 1940s, gospel songbooks were being produced by the hundreds, and, given that circumstance, melodic overlap between any two songs was well within the realm of probability.  You might even call it inevitable.

Happy Easter!  Link follows:

DOWNLOAD: Easter 2022

Peter Cotton Tail--Meadowlarks

Old Rugged Cross--Mac McFarland

Easter Parade--Eddie Brandy and His Hollywood Hicks, V: Ruthie James

Easter Bunny Polka (Brandt-Motola)--Same, V: Eddie Brandt, Ruthie James

Bunny Hop--Peter Pan Orch. and Singers, Dir. by Vicky Kasen, 1955

Funny Little Bunnies--The Cricketts, Feat. "Hoppy" the Bunny, Peter Pan Orch.

Power in the Blood--The Cincinnati Baptist College Quartet, prob. 1971

How Great Thou Art--Jerome Hines, Arr. and Conducted by Kurt Kaiser, 1965

The Old Rugged Cross--Same

He Lives (Alfred H. Ackley)--Unknown choir, Word Records

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus--The Billy Graham Crusade Choir, Dir. by Cliff Barrows, 1962

Victory in Jesus (Bartlett)--Church of the Nazarene Male Quartet


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Wednesday afternoon gospel: The Valley Voices--What Will Your Answer Be (Riverside Records 102; 1975?)

I originally posted this wonderful LP by the West Virginia gospel quartet The Valley Voices back in February 2019, and someone just wrote me about it--and... that's when I noticed that the link was long gone (Good ol' Zippyfile--how I don't miss it).  No problem, I thought to myself--I'll just re-upload the zipfile from my hard drive.  Except, no zip file.  So, I did a new rip.  And here it is.

I need to note that there is a big and deep crosscut on Side Two (spanning two bands) which I managed to mask over when with a maximum declicker setting, plus some "manual" sonic surgery. So, when you hear what sound like brief tape drop-outs during the first four tracks on Side Two--2 and 4, especially-- you're actually hearing splice points that I connected with rapid fade-ins and fade-outs.  A lot of work, but the affected tracks sound a lot better.  Whoever previously owned this LP had a heavy home stereo tonearm and accidentally (I'm assuming) knocked it across the disc when setting down the needle.  How well I remember the days when a simple slip with the tonearm meant a partially ruined record!

Lovely a cappella singing in pure straight-from-the-hills fashion, and be prepared for a sameness of sound from track to track--it's a stylistic thing and not at all a flaw in the performances.  I'm just noting this for anyone not used to the "mountain" gospel sound.  Don't let the seeming monotony put you off--there's actually a good deal of variety in the material and vocal arrangements, and be assured that this kind of smooth and professional musicianship is anything but off the cuff or casual--these folks are superbly together in their performances, and the listener knows, from the first measure, that the Valley Voices believe every word they're singing.  Cyber-wise, this is a very obscure LP, its only on line mention being my own post of last week, plus a library listing at the Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.  My blog is earning its title today.

Two more LPs by this quartet are presently at eBay, plus a "Valley Voices" singing fake-hit Bill Joel covers, plus a sacred choir (?) directed by Merrill Staton.  Neither has anything to do with these folks, I'm sure.

Enjoy!  Zipfile link follows...

LINK:  The Valley Voices--What Will Your Answer Be

What Will Your Answer Be
I Am on the Road
Hard Working Pilgrim
I Know I'll Feel at Home
Lord I Want to Go Home
You Can Take My Place
When I Get Home
When We Gather by the River
Sinner You'll Miss Heaven
I want to Hear Little David Play
Let Me Go Down to the River

The Valley Voices--What Will Your Answer Be (Riverside Records 102; recorded in Crum WV)


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Twenty-two 45 sides: Mel-O-Dots, Betty Nickell, Paul Hampton, The Four Lads, Tracey Twins, more!


Or, "A Mess of 45s, Part 2."  Nineteen 45s from my collection that were crying out to be posted, with at least a few repeats from lost links gone by.  For example, friend-of-the-blog Betty Nickell's marvelous I'm Ready is back, and this time I have the year: 1970.  That's what the ARP (Atwell Record Pressing, Inc. of Lafayette TN) 1160 matrix number tells me, at least.  And 1970 seems like the right year, as I was thinking 1970-1973-ish.  Betty's rockabilly gem is fifth in the list, preceded by two tracks sung in duet by the Tracey Twins of Cleveland, Ohio on a 1958 EastWest 45 (a subsidiary of Atlantic!). The twins, Eudice and Eunice Margolis, sound a little bit outside their stylistic comfort zone on these, but they have marvelous voices, and the sides rock, so who's complaining?  They are followed by the Chargers, a group which likely includes Jesse Belvin, whose name appears, with Jo Ann Belvin, in the song/adaptation credits.  Beautifully smooth 1958 doowop, courtesy of RCA Victor.

Then, the terrific Cathy Johnson is backed up (literally) by the Four Lads, one of my favorite '50s pop quartets (Canadian, natch), as they cover a Maddox Brothers and Rose number called I've Got Four Big Brothers (To Look After Me).  To hear it in country mode, click here.  Then, Ella Mae Morse with a pre-Elvis Money Honey from 1954, which in turn is a cover of the 1953 Drifters hit.  Penned by the great Jesse Stone.  Then a distaff Thirteen Women (as Thirteen Men, in the usual superb and sexy Dinah Shore manner), a tune which was going to be the A-side of Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock--until Clock had its second, smash chart run in 1955.  Then, the superbly inane Be Bop Grandma, beautifully and soulfully sung by Solomon Burke, with a Twist-style backing and a memorable guitar break (Mickey Baker?).  Sounds a little odd for Atlantic, but I do not complain.

And we have the Marty-Robbins-pretending-to-be-a-teen gem, 1959's Cap and Gown.  The songwriters use a Pachelbel I/vi/ii/V scheme, with some modifications, plus a lovely bridge/interlude, and Marty is great as always.  Oh, That'll Be Joyful is well sung by the Four Lads, and, as I once explained in the now-missing portion of my blog, Joyful was a glee club number (dating back at least as far as the late 1800s) usually titled The Peanut Song, and the melody, including the refrain, can be found (under the title "Joyful") in the 1844 Sacred Harp tunebook.  So there.

One More Time is a rocking 1952 track by the Mel-O-Dots, and I have a fondness for the hunt-and-peck organ solo, though I suspect many listeners will regard it as the ruination of the side.  And the R. Allen-J Stone I Just Don't Know (crooned by the Four Lads) is perfectly titled, since I just don't know whether or not songwriter "J. Stone" is the great Jesse Stone.  A Google search failed to turn up an answer; rather, just a bunch of "J. Stone" listings.  Good, bluesy number, so it could be Jesse.  Meanwhile, don't ask me to explain 1964's Burn Baby Burn, save to note that I don't think any political statement is being made.  You've got to love the label.

Next, Big Maybelle does a soul rendition of the onetime garage-band-oldies champ 96 Tears, and then Paul Hampton provides us with further proof that Mitch Miller was not nearly as unwilling as legend would have it to give rock and roll a go at Columbia--I refer to the rockers Slam Bam Thank You Ma'am and Live a Life of Love, both co-written by Otis (All Shook Up) Blackwell.  Hampton was one of Burt Bacharach's early songwriting partners, by the way.  Then, and not very logically enough, Woody Herman's 1941 recording of Misirlou, as reissued on a 1950 Decca 45--perfect for those who didn't know that, long before Dick Dale did it, Misirlou made the big band rounds.  Then, Jo Stafford (possibly in "Mitch made me record this" mode) ably crooning Ray Charles' I Got a Woman--as I Got a Sweetie.  And then I had to turn around and follow Jo's sublime vocalizing with Dick Stop's Class Cutter, which I'm guessing was intended for humor.  If so, it works.  The final two bars are something to hear.  Or not hear, depending on your tolerance level for terrible falsettos.

From a 1957 London 45, two sides of Winifred Atwell tickling the ivories to the latest rock and roll hits, including (wait a minute)... Singing the Blues?  Hm.  Well, I suppose Singing... could kind of, sort of, maybe fall into that camp.  Winifred thought so.  It works, so why ruin the party?  Go, Boy Go (why the missing second comma?), on the other hand, is definitely rock and roll--at least to the extent that the instrumental backing is straight out of Essex-era Bill Haley, complete with the riff from 1953's Crazy Man, Crazy complete with a riff rhythmically identical to the "Go, go, go, everybody!" portion of Crazy Man, Crazy (another curious instance of punctuation).  Meanwhile, Carl Smith's vocal is unadulterated country.  The side bops ably, and I've always wanted to type "bops ably."  The download link follows...

DOWNLOAD: 22 45s April 2022

Heartbreak Hill--Tracey Twins, 1958

Don't Mean Maybe Baby--Same

Old MacDonald (Adaptation by Jesse and Jo Ann Belvin)--The Chargers With Shorty Rogers' Orch., 1958

Dandilyon (Jesse and Jo Ann Belvin)--Same

I'm Ready--Betty Nickell and the Mystics, 1970?

I've Got Four Big Brothers (To Look After Me)--The Four Lads and Candy Johnson, O. Dir. by Ray Ellis, 1955

Money Honey (Jesse Stone)--Ella Mae Morse With Big Dave and His Orch., 1954

Thirteen Men--Dinah Shore With Harry Zimmerman's Orch. and Chorus, 1958

Be Bop Grandma--Solomon Burke, 1961

Cap and Gown--Marty Robbins, 1959

Oh, That'll Be Joyful--The Four Lads, Orch. Dir. by Jimmy Carroll, 1955

One More Time--Mel-O-Dots, 1952

I Just Don't Know (R. Allen-J. Stone)--The Four Lads With Ray Ellis, 1957

Burn Baby Burn--Rockin' Rebels, 1964

96 Tears--Big Maybelle, 1966

Slam Bam Thank You Ma'am--Paul Hampton, 1958

Live a Life of Love--Same

Misirlou--Woody Herman and His Orchestra, V: Woody Herman, 1941 (1950 45 rpm re.)

I Got a Sweetie (Ray Charles)--Jo Stafford With Paul Weston and His Orch., 1955

Class Cutter--Dicky Stop, 1959

Let's Rock 'n' Roll, Pts. I and II--Winifred Atwell and Her Other Piano, 1957

Go, Boy Go--Carl Smith, 1954


Saturday, April 02, 2022

25 Prom/Promenade soundalikes--in stereo (!!)


The Golden Treasury of the American Hit Parade ("A Rollicking set of 100 Tunes from 1951 to 1960 with Top Ten hits from each year," no less) is a Tiara seven-disc boxed set which, unlike most Tiara releases, offers SPC (Synthetic Plastics Co.) material--specifically, SPC soundalikes (fake hits, that is) which originally showed up on Prom and Promenade EPs (usually in edited-down versions) and in complete form on Prom (or SPC no-name label) LPs.  All in monaural.  But the cool thing about today's tracks: Genuine stereo!  Tiara actually remastered about one-third of these in honest-to-goodness stereo.  And it's the kind of strictly separated stereo (binaural?) best appreciated on headphones.  You may find yourself surprised, as I was, by how good these stereo mixes sound, not only in performance (though there are some shaky vocals, especially the D- Elvis impression on A Fool Such as I), but also in the fidelity department.  Some of the instrumentals are amazingly hi-fi.  Well, on a Synthetic Plastics Co. scale, at least.

There were a number of late-1950s titles which I'd hoped would be in true stereo (Purple People Eater and Where the Boys Are, for instance), but approximately half of these are in lousy fake stereo of the "rechanneled" variety, so I didn't bother with those ("Lousy fake stereo" being an oxymoron, btw.).  But I pulled out 37 good actual-stereo sound-alikes, and then I pared those down to 25, and... we have our playlist.  By the way, speaking of badly-faked Elvis, whoever crooned Conway Twitty's Only Make Believe had the Presley sound down pat--just like Conway Twitty in his early days, come to think of it.  SPC should have used him (Bill King) for A Fool Such as I.

My favorites include the skillful copy of Lawrence Welk's 1960 Calcutta, plus the equally proficient imitations of Percy Faith's 1960 Theme From a Summer Place, Ray Anthony's 1959 Peter Gunn (the Henry Mancini TV theme thereof), Perez Prado's 1958 Patricia, Billy Vaughn's 1958 La Paloma, and the Reg Owen Orch.'s 1959 (rec. in 1958) Manhattan Spiritual.  Other sound-alikes I dig: Perry Como's vocal doppelganger (and resident SPC Christmas LP star) Johnny Kay doing the  fabulous Perry Como soundalikes (logical, no?) Kewpie Doll (1958) and Moon Talk (same year)--plus, Where or When (imitation of Dion and the Belmonts, 1959), To Know Him Is to Love Him (the 1958 Teddy Bears hit), and the infectious Billy T, which seems to be a retitling of Kathy Linden's 1958 Billy (a tune dating back to 1911!).  Plus, passable copies of the Platters, Kingston Trio, Peggy Lee, and the Fleetwoods.  At the same time, SPC/Tiara has treated us to superior impressions of Frank Sinatra (Mr. Success, 1959), Dave "Baby" Cortez (The Happy Organ, 1959), and The Virtues (Guitar Boogie Shuffle, 1959 again).  Who could ask for more?  In the present context, I mean?

All selections by the world-famous The Broadway Pops Orchestra With Featured Vocalists and Chorus.  I found the Prom/Promenade artist credits for all but three titles--A Fool Such as I, Where or When, and Calcutta.  Of the three, I was only able to trace Calcutta to a Synthetic Plastics Co. release.

DOWNLOAD: Prom/Promenade Soundalikes in Stereo!


Peter Gunn--Promenade Orchestra (UPDATE: Not a Prom/Promenade track!  My bad.)

Beyond the Sea--Jim Everett

A Fool Such as I--(Unknown Artist)

Guitar Boogie (Shuffle)--Glitters

Since I Don't Have You--The Grasshoppers

Beep-Beep--The Kays

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes--The Glitters

Moon Talk--Michael Reed (Johnny Kay)

Come Softly to Me--Grasshoppers

Fever--Betty Green

Mr. Success--Al Freed

Harbor Lights--The Promineers

Patricia--Jose Gonzales

Where or When--(Unknown Artist)

Kewpie Doll--Bob Mitchell (Johnny Kay)

Theme From a Summer Place--Donnie Rounds

Calcutta--(Unknown Artist)

(It's) Only Make Believe--Bill King

Billy T--Hildy Tree

La Paloma--John Logan

Twilight Time--The Promineers

Manhattan Spiritual--Bill King

To Know Him Is to Love Him--The Grasshoppers

The Happy Organ--Pat Vale

It's All in the Game--Michael Reed