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



Buster said...

Well, this is an obscurity for sure. I assume that the artist was a cocktail lounge pianist as well as a church organist.

Come to think of it, I was a busboy in a cocktail lounge with a pianist when this record came out. Was that place smoky! I think it's what gave me asthma.

Anyway, thanks for the amusing notes, as always.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I agree--he had to have an active lounge career--he was too good at that kind of thing. And it takes lots of chops to rush through everything the way he does. "Cast" gave me a lot of wordplay opporuntiy.

Ernie said...

I'd love to find this record! And here it is right here! :) I don't think I'd ever listen to it though...

Lee Hartsfeld said...


You mean, you discovered you have a copy of it? And, actually, the music is a lot of fun--worth a listen. It's standard cocktail-type jazz but extremely well done (and to hear him RUSH through tough Classical selections is worth the price of admission). Nussbaumer was a jack-of-all-trades musician, and they're always fun to listen to. From choir accompanist and Classical organist to cocktail piano pro. I wish I'd been able to find out even more about him. That he was chosen for this privately-pressed LP suggests he was a local music celebrity.

musicman1979 said...

So far, I don't know if I will be listening to this one or not. Just when you think vinyl covered almost every possible subject during it's golden age, we have this unique gem. '

Yes, the cover art still shows up in the downloads. I do think the covers look a little bigger with the tweaks.

I may only listen to the "Pop" stuff on this album and probably not the classical. I will see how ambitious I am. A perfect album choice for a blog such as this.

Ernie said...

No, no, I don't have it. Wish I did. I meant that you had found it and were gracious enough to share it with all of us undeserving visitors. Thanks for sharing! :)

Lee Hartsfeld said...


My pleasure! And how could anyone own this LP and NOT share it? The cover cries out, "Post me! Post me! I command you!"

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Or maybe that's my meds talking...

Mac said...

Let's see, 2800 degree molten steel being poured, wooden piano and nattily dressed man close by - what could go wrong here?

Hope they got the picture in one shot cuz I doubt there would be second.....

Thanks for the share and narrative - highly enjoyable

Lee Hartsfeld said...


You're welcome! And, yes, the danger factor had occurred to me. That image is "wrong" on so many levels...

The Macs said...

I have found records dedicated to paint, ceiling tiles, tractors, mattresses, dry cleaning, cars, soft drinks, liquor and so much more. You, however have taken the top prize in this category for molten steel. There is truly music for every occasion. Thanks!

musicman1979 said...

You would have a had a great time going through the contents of the two crates that I dug through today at the thrift store I was shopping at today. For starters, days after you created this post, I found an RCA Camden LP with the similarly titled "Music For Skaters"by the Organ Masters, which combines Classical pieces with up-to-date Pop fare like "Happy Heart."

I also unearthed a "Best of Burt Bacharach" promo LP that MCA Special Markets put out in 1972 that includes some Kapp Burt cuts interspersed with other MCA/Decca/Kapp/Coral artists like Peter Duchin, Brenda Lee (her gender-changed "This Girl's In love with You" from her Johnny One Time Album), Pete Fountain, and Jack Jones (his classic version of "Alfie."

Another frequent blog favorite, Paul Whiteman, showed up in the form of a 1988 Readers Digest single-LP collection.

There were also quite a few Brand "X" LP's to choose from as well. There were 4 Golden Tone albums (including a Golden Tone Hymns album in a Crown Hymns LP Jacket), the Best of Gilbert and Sullivan) and Down Memory Lane by the Golden Strings, which is the one I Bought because some of the titles looked like the ones you posted from your Tops All Time Favorites albums this year. I also bought a new-to-me variation of the Charlie Barnet Plays A Tribute To Harry James on Crown Records in addition to a handful of better copies of albums that I already have plus oddities like Crazy Otto Plays Crazy Hits on MGM Records released in 1963 in pristine condition and a Readers Digest Best of the Sons of the Pioneers LP collection from 1988.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps "pouring steel" was actually a (very short lived) euphemism for something! 😆

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I hope not, but we can't be sure! 😁


I have that Organ Masters LP--I think I put up "Skaters' Waltz" this Xmas or last. And I have the MCA Bacaharch LP--good stuff, but then I like alternate Burt renditions. I think that was possibly a record club issue?

It would be amusing if the Golden Strings LP contains some of the same Tops tracks--Tops was second only to SPC when it came to re-re-re-recycling material. Sounds like a great haul, and I don't think I've ever seen that Crazy Otto LP.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

The Macs,

Thanks! That's high praise! (My email has been out for six days, and I'm getting to messages in reverse order...)

I find the contrast pretty comical between the epically weird cover image vs. the very conventional (if double-in-tempo) piano sounds in the grooves.

musicman1979 said...

I also found in that same haul a Ferrante and Teicher LP you probably already have, "You Asked For It."

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I know that I had it at one time--and maybe still do. I had to do a lot of F&T downsizing, because I owned about two-thirds of their catalog! Hard to explain, but I love even the campiest output of that wonderful duo, and probably because of their preternatural two-man precision and beautifully clean arpeggios. One can only listen and marvel, even when they were performing, say, a Disco chart hit.