Wednesday, June 21, 2023

"8 Full Length Hits A' Poppin'" (Parade 5012; 1955) and Top Hits V-20: The fake hits don't get much faker!


Another Parade Records Hits A' Poppin' ten-incher, credited to Bobby Powers and his "hits a 'poppin' orchestra," plus all six tracks from the six-track 78 rpm EP Top Hits V-20.  You have been warned!

As ever, the Parade LP is made up of Prom label singles, and finding the original artist credits was complicated by two epic Prom misattributions--"Bob Hanley" for the female trio performing It May Sound Silly, and a vocal credit for Cherry Pink... in the absence of any vocal.  I thought there was an outside chance that, in this case, maybe Parade had used the 18 top Hits version of Silly, as credited to a "Larsen Sisters," but a side-by-side comparison torpedoed that theory.  Two very different fakes.

Prom/Waldorf crossover would have been cool, of course, and I have in fact discovered some early instances of such crossover--namely, from 1954, when Enoch Light departed SPC (Enoch must have carted some of his sides with him during the transition).  But there's no SPC/Waldorf crossover happening here.  What a great side story that would have made.

The true credit for each Parade track is listed below, and, as for the Top Hits titles, these were also released on Big Buy 4 Hit Tunes (a Gateway label), and the epic-train-wreck version of On Night also showed on the 1959 Crown 12 Top Hits (CLP 5038).  On Gateway, the number is credited (discredited?) to one Al Christi, who sounds exactly like the equally bad vocalist of With the Wind and the Rain..., though Gateway blames that one on a "Paul Boonton."  But, between these two epic misfires, One Night is the more "memorable."  Basically, we have not only a vocalist who can't handle Elvis' part to save his life, we're presented with backing musicians who relentlessly plunk the wrong chords (I and IV instead of I and V).  This understandably throws the singer even further off key.  Thus, what would have been merely a lousy budget cover becomes a for-the-ages-awful counterfeit.

The other Top Hits tracks aren't that great, either, but they're reasonably competent, even if the Louis Prima and Keely Smith surrogates seem to lose the tricky rhythms near the end of That Old Black Magic.   But it could have been a great deal worse.  We might call it not-quite-magic.  But a noble try, with a good band.  Somehow, I had gone my entire 66 years without (to my memory) hearing the Prima/Keely hit.

As for the "Bobby Powers" Parade sides, I did a major audio-save on those, isolating the right channel (the left was beyond hope) and patching over the needle-dig repeat in Ebb Tide.  I bridged the repeat pretty smoothly, though you'll nevertheless hear a gap.  Don't worry--it's not your player.  These Prom reissues are all competently done, as we'd expect, though the trio on It May Sound Silly had at least one consistently too-sharp singer (as in +-#).  But, next to One Night, anything and everything can be forgiven in the way of pitch imprecision.

Pledging My Love is the single blog repeat--I posted the Prom single on Feb. 15, 2019.

I added the Peter Pan (SPC) label seven-inch 78 issue of Where Will the Dimple Be? which credits Lee Adams and the Crickets.  The engineer mixed it with noticeably less bass than the LP cut.  As for the "James Etta and P. Otis" credit on Dance With Me Henry, that's how it appeared on both the Etta James and Georgia Gibbs singles (Wallflower and Dance With...).  And, of course, James Etta and P. Otis are Etta James and Johnny Otis.  For once, we're not looking at a rack-jobber-label error.

I added a composer tag this time, using Mp3tag.  And, in fact, as I type this I'll have to re-tag the Parade numbers, since I had to revise the credits after discovering that It May Sound Silly is, in fact, not the Top 18 Hits version.  And if this essay sounds silly, you're not alone--it reads silly to me, too.  Such is the risk taken when describing fake-hit track offerings.  It's often impossible to chronicle these things in a manner remotely real-world in nature.  They seem to exist in their own zone.

DOWNLOAD: Hits A' Poppin' and Top Hits (Parade 5012 and Top Hits V-20)

Hits A' Poppin' 5012

Unchained Melody--Bob Haley With the Prom Orchestra

Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White--Bob Daily (false credit) With the Prom Orch.

It My Sound Silly--Bob Hanley (false credit; unknown female trio) With the Prom Orch.

Ebb Tide--Loren Becker With Enoch Light and His Orchestra (1953)

Dance With Me Henry--Patty Kay With the Prom Orchestra

Pledging My Love--Mona Grey With the Prom Orchestra

Top Hits V-20


One Night

That Old Black Magic

With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair

The All American Boy

My Happiness


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Sounds of Silence (Modern Sound MS-1020)--A Hit Records classic from 1966!


I've given the date as 1966 (question mark), because there's the slimmest chance that 1965 was the release year.  But I doubt it, since Day Tripper (released in December, 1965) enjoyed its peak Billboard chart position in January of 1966.  This leaves a tiny window for this LP to have happened in 1965.  Maybe I could give the year as "1966-ish."

UPDATE: Hit Records expert Paul W. Urbahns informs me that this was released in January, 1966.  Thanks, Paul!

Bergen White himself was kind enough to identify the clever (and poignant) Another Year as one of his own Hit Records "B" side compositions; Then I found it in Discogs' Country & Western Hits discography, where I grabbed the artist's name (pseudonym?): Bob Adams.  The rest of these (all in excellent compatible stereo, a special type of stereo mastering which allowed play with both stereo and monaural styli) were first released as Hit Records singles, and so I've given the artist credits in the playlist (since, in the usual fashion, they weren't provided on the LP).  And how about that cover design?  Pretty snappy, no?  My scan very nearly captured the pink hue, though I had to doctor things a little.  I also had to clone out bends, wear spots, and a rip, but it's all part of the blogging biz.  I tried to keep the contrast consistent, but scans don't always work as they should.  Scanners have their own mind, sometimes.

Enough behind-the-blog data--What about the music?  Well, a perfectly decent Sounds of Silence fake by Sandy and Theodore (of whom Bergen was a member), and a more than adequately performed and beautifully engineered You're Just My Style copy by (brace yourself) Jason Allen and the Gigolos.  And I'll pause while we all recover from that credit.  Next, Paul and Paula's (Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson) Young Lovers, as faked by Bob & Bobbie (aka Bob and Bobby; see comment section), and then the near-excellent Bergen White You're Not the Same Now, which is amazingly effective for a rushed-to-press "B" side.  The song had considerable potential, and ditto for the aforementioned Another Year.  I especially like the payoff tag (how's that for a term?) at the close of the latter--"At least I'll never have to wait another year."  A very distinguished example of build-up-to-the-final-punch lyric writing.

The Sheridan Brothers give us a fine Flowers on the Wall imitation which ranks with the best of Hit Records' output, imo, and then we get to enjoy two Fab Four numbers, included the hauled-out-of-the-back-catalog-during-Beatlemania My Bonnie.  If I had to pick a favorite Hit Records track, Bonnie would be it--this wild and energetic, rock-the-needle cover may be even better than the original (by Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, aka you-know-who, 1962).  This version of Day Tripper has a special place in my fake-hits heart, as well, being a very effective Fab Four counterfeit, almost in spite of itself.  That is to say, the middle-break harmonies don't quite come together as planned, obviously, but it's such a nice try, and I love the way the group almost gets it right.  Someone decided things were close enough, and they were right.  And the track has a lot of punch--perhaps even more than the original.  

The Roamers' 1964 Never Forget Me is quite well-performed, and this Bergen White effort is an ingenious copy of the British Invasion sound--it could pass for the real deal.  Given the epic number of downright awful budget-label attempts to steal said style, Bergen's number is all the more impressive.  Quite the budget exception, we could say.  Then, Connie Dee (Connie Sue Landers) with Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater, a beautifully performed, dead-perfect imitation of the Girl Group sound, and apparently penned by Connie herself.  That is, it's hard to imagine that composer "Connie Sanders" would have been anyone but Connie Sue.  Great side.

This may well be the most fun Hit Records/Modern Sound offering yet to make its appearance here.  And thanks again to Bergen for his composer i.d.

DOWNLOAD: Sounds of Silence (Modern Sound MS-1020; Jan., 1966)

Sounds of Silence--Sandy Sammy and Theodore

She's Just My Style--Jason Allen and the Gigolos

Young Lovers--Bob and Bobbie

You're Not the Same Now (Bergen White)--Fred Hess

Another Year (Bergen White)--Bob Adams

Flowers on the Wall--The Sheridan Brothers

Day Tripper--The Jalopy Five

My Bonnie--The Boll Weevils

Never Forget Me (Bergen White)--The Roamers

Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater (Connie Sanders)--Connie Dee


Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Finally, background music for pouring steel! It's about time. "Music for Pouring Steel" (Rotolok 1464; 1965)


1965: "We have music for ironing, for dating, for babysitting, for fishing, for reading, for changing a tire, for skydiving--but what about music for pouring steel??"--Common complaint from the steel casting industry.  So, it would seem that in 1965 Rotolok, by way of RITE Record Productions, decided to shape its own answer to this burning need with this LP of stylish cocktail-jazz piano medleys by Richard Nussbaumer, for which this LP is his sole Discogs credit.  Richard was a Catholic church organist--in 1975, the associate organist at the Oakland PA St. Paul Cathedral.  This much I have able to discover through a Google search.  Oakland is three miles from Pittsburgh, where the Vesuvius Crucible Company (Rotolok) originated.  Coincidence?

I'm not sure why the Vesuvius Crucible Company went by the name Rotolok, but I've no desire to investigate further--I just know that the back jacket says, "© 1965 Vesuvius Crucible Company."  So, I guess VCC approached Mr. Nussbaumer in 1965 and said, "We need music for pouring steel.  We're thinking a Continental Interlude, 'Love' and 'Young' medleys, a Manhattan Suite, some popular concert favorites, including Warsaw Concerto, and so on."  "This is for pouring steel?"--Richard.  "Why not?"--VCC.  "Well, we could use the piano arrangement of  Ferde Grofe's Symphony in Steel"--Nussbaumer.  "No, too obscure.  And I didn't know Grofe wrote anything beyond the Grand Canyon.  Anyway, we want to stick to familiar pop and Classical stuff.  The kind of music people would associate with the casting of steel."--VCC.  "They would?  Ohhh-kay."--Richard.  

And, true story: For this post, instead of looking at the back cover for the year (duhh), I figured out the date of issue through the RITE matrix number inscribed in the dead wax.  Only afterwards did I notice the year as printed on the back jacket.  Oops.  I've only been collecting vinyl for better than 50 years.

My favorite "band" (old term for LP track) has to be the Manhattan Suite, and maybe because I love Louis Alter's Manhattan Serenade to death.  And note that Chopin's Etude in E Flat is actually his Nocturne in E Flat Major Op. 9 No. 2.  Maybe a nocturne for pouring steel was a bit too out there, even for VCC.   

In sum, an intriguing (to say the least) jacket image (though, how could Richard have directed the molten steel AND tinkled song standards at the same time, especially with his left hand raised from the keyboard?), and standard background-music fare.  A promise of something unusual--say, the sound of a grand piano combined with steelworks racket--but, instead, highly competent and pleasant stereo-den sounds, with no special effects.  Hence, as a novelty item, the LP is a bit of a letdown.  But, as superior "Music for..." sonancy, Nussbaumer and his grand piano are perfect casting.  (Get it?  Casting?  Ha, ha!)

Come to think of it, we do have the outer limits of rubato in the gorgeous middle section of Debussy's Clair de Lune, a passage which is supposed to speed up, yes, but not in a way which suggests a horserace.  In fact, Nussbaumer zips through the entire piece, which takes impressive technique, but... why?  Maybe it was a case of, "We need a little over two minutes of extra sounds.  Can you insert Clair de Lune?"--VCC.  "I'd have to double the tempo."--Richard.  "No problem.  Oh, and can you please play the gorgeous opening thirds forte, instead of pianissimo? Thanks."

From the notes: "'Music for Pouring Steel'" is a selection of songs displayed against the most velvety of musical backgrounds...the magnificent sound of the world's finest piano, Mason & Hamlin, whose soaring, singing tone is the essence of unsurpassed beauty."  How to better suggest the deafening clamor of a steel factory?

Oh, and Windows 10 dumped the handy Groove app (anything handy must be replaced by something which sucks--first rule of tech) and replaced it with "Media Player" (not to be confused with Windows Media Player).  At the moment, I'm able to add the jacket image to the files, such that they show up on Windows Media Player but NOT on "Media Player."  Which, you'll recall, is not the same program as WMP.  Anyway, the album art should show up on the downloads.  Should.

DOWNLOAD--Music for Pouring Steel--Richard Nussbaumer, Pianist, Rotolok 1464; 1965

Continental Interlude--Foggy Day in London Town, The River Seine, Wunderbar, Arrividerci Roma

"Love" Medley--I Wish You Love, When I Fall in Love, Love Is a Simple Thing

"Young" Medley--You Make Me Feel So Young, Young at Heart, When the World Was Young.

Manhattan Suite--Manhattan, Autumn in New York, Manhattan Serenade

Etude in E Flat (Chopin)

Warsaw Concerto

Clair de Lune

Themes From the Masters: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff