Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween 2023, Part 3: Monster-Size Monster tracks! Or, look out for "Lookout Mountain"!


I think we all prefer our monsters monster-sized.  So long as they obey.  And so long as they aren't mutant insects...

With Jeane Dixon, break-ins, and seasonal soundalikes out of the way, it's time (just barely) for more of my favorite pieces of tongue-in-cheek terror.  And, for some reason, it was only last nght that I found the recording dates for Haunted House Polka and He's Going to Eat Me Up (thanks, 45cat).  I'd searched for them in the past, but you know how that goes: Locating data is often a matter of using the exact correct phrase or phrase combination, or you're up a haunted creek without a crucifix.  I'm probably showing my age, but I can remember when Google searches were pretty straightforward.  You put in a search phrase, and up popped the object of your search.  That was, what?  1888 or so?

And, save for the creepy Lookout Mountain, the rest of the slaylist is classic October 31 absurdity: Haunted House Polka (1955), The Screemin' Meemies From Planet "X" (Merv's finest novelty, and he made a number of them), Close the Door (a lighthearted take on The Thing), Rip Van Winkle, Munster Creep, In the Hall of the Cha-Cha King (the least dread-invoking title, after Planet "X"), Which Witch Doctor, Funny Farm, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (nothing to do with Robert Louis Stevenson's brilliant novella).  My worn Jekyll copy sounded best with my 1 mil mono stylus, so that's the rip you'll hear.  Also, Spooky Movies, which seems to me a Halloween variation on the "I took my girl to the movies, hoping for romance, but she just wanted to moon over Troy Donahue/Guy Madison" genre, only with monsters the target of her ardor.  (No, not a love for big-screen pirates.)

Bob Hudson's 1966 I'm Normal, and The Napoleon XV Revue's 1975 He's Going to Eat Me Up are our two axe-cellent copycat answers to They're Coming to Take Me Away, though there are other thump-a, thump-a, thump-a, thump-a knockoffs lurking around.  Any number of them, actually, and I have--or used to have--a CD-R of same, though one would have to be strapped down (or in) to take them away in one session.  I mean, to take them in.  Note that the latter contains a phrase not suggested for family listening.

And this is just from my boo-point, but I seriously believe Merv Griffin made the best, most campy novelties of all time, and of course I've included his two moss-terpieces for the season: the above-mentioned Screamin' Meemies and House of Horrors, both penned/co-penned by Doris Roberts.  Another Merv novelty accomplice was the famous Charles Randolph Grean (Quentin's Theme), who produced Merv's RCA hits (during Merv's brief period of chart success) and, far as I know, all of his later special productions, including the immortal Have a Nice Trip (1968), co-written by Charles.

1961's Rip Van Winkle is not so much Halloween in theme but feel, with sound effects fit for the season, and a sufficiently supernatural theme.  And a Halloween without Steve Allen is, well, a Halloween without Steve Allen.  Allen's "rockin'" ghost rocks in the fashion of cool jazz, as we'd expect from Steverino, who was (hardly) one of rock and roll's early champions.

I cited Lookout Mountain as the single credibly creepy title in the mess--er, mix.  That's because there's no lightness in the handling, and, really, it would be a chillingly challenging task to add levity to a narrative about a vengeful ghost coming to kill his widow and her new man.  But, a couple questions, at least: Were the Voodoo (?) hexes love spells which backfired?  And, if they knew the ghost would find them on Lookout Mountain, wouldn't the simplest solution have been to not go there?

And we get a soul version of Buck Owens' It's a Monster's Holiday.  Had I been able to find Owens' own recording (I failed to exhume my copy of same), I'd have made coffin space for it, but...  Oh, and there's an incredible story (thanks, Charlie Christ!) behind The Incredible Shrinking Man, on which Ray Anthony is credited as "Ray Anothony."  This title music, not surprisingly, started as an acetate not related to the film to the tiniest degree.

And the theme from William Castle's The Night Walker (1964) by (who else?) Sammy Kaye, the fondly remembered (by me, anyway) King Kong cartoon theme, and SPC doing some PD-graverobbing (in this case, from Charles Gounod) with The Alfred Hitchcock TV Show (aka, Funeral March of a Marionette).

A demon's dozen today: Thirteen titles!  Well, actually, that was true last post, but I neck-glected to depart that fact.  But, today we have a double demon's-dozen today: 26 grisly groaners!!  So, be careful!  Times two.  

DOWNLOAD: Halloween 2023, Part 3


Lookout Mountain--Chuck Miller, 1956

Haunted House Polka--The Cavaliers, 1955

The Screamin' Meemies From Planet "X"--Merv Griffin, 1961

Spooky Movies--Roy Clark, 1963

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

Close the Door--Jim Lowe With Norman Leyden Orch., 1955

Big Bad Wolf--Don Cherry With Ray Conniff and His Orch., 1958

The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Danse Macabre--Dick Jacobs and His Orch., 1958

Rip Van Winkle--The Devotions, 1961

Munster Creep--The Munsters, 1964

House of Horrors--Merv Griffin, Orch, conducted by Charles Grean, 1962

The Naughty Ghost--Jan August With Vocal Group, 1955

I'm Normal--The Emperor (Bob Hudson), 1966

The Rockin' Ghost--Archie Bleyer Orch. and Chorus, 1956

He's Going to Eat Me Up--Napoleon XV Revue, 1975

In the Hall of the Cha-Cha King--Belmonte and His Afro-American Music, 1955

Tennessee Hill-Billy Ghost-Red Foley With the Anita Kerr Singers, 1951

It's a Monster's Holiday--Chick Willis, 1975

Murder, He Says--Betty Hutton With Pete Rugolo and His Orch., 1951

Which Witch Doctor--The Vogues With Al Kavelin's Music, 1958

The Alfred Hitchcock TV Show--Unkown (Diplomat, 1962)

The Incredible Shrinking Man--Ray Anothony (Anthony) and His Orch., 1957

The Thing--Danny Kaye, Orch. and Cho. Dir. by Ken Darby, 1950

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde--The Emersons, 1959

The Night Walker--Sammy Kaye and His Orch., 1965

King Kong--Wade Denning and His Port Wawshingtons, 1966


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Halloween 2023, Part 2--Break-ins, Jeane Dixon, and fakes--oh my!

Break-ins!  Get it?  (Frankie says, Hi!)  "Break-ins," as many of us know, are a genre invented by Bill Buchanan and Dickie Goodman with The Flying Saucer (1956). Of course, counting any given example as the "first" can be perilous, in the event someone manages to scare up any earlier instances.

After all, once magnetic tape became the chief audio medium for recording studios and radio stations, it was inevitable that folks would insert "sampled" sound effects into their records.  As Spike Jones did on his 1953 Dragnet, and Carl Weismann, pre-B&G, with his Singing Dogs.  But the use of snippets from current hits and oldies to accompany a silly storyline?  Maybe Bill and Dickie were the pre-cursers.  I mean, precursors.

"Break-ins, Jeane Dixon, and Fakes," I call the zip.  And is the "and" redundant, since we're talking a psychic famous for predicting an event she didn't predict?  Well, Jeane was--let's say--not a total truth teller, but she was providing a service for superstitious folks like my maternal grandmother, who cherished the $15 lucky leprechaun pendant and handwritten Jeane Dixon letter she ordered from Fate.  And I wouldn't be surprised if the note was in Jeane's own hand.  Compared to the big-time fraudsters in the ESP, telekinesis, and "past life" rackets, Jeane did no harm, in my opinion.  Nor did her 1966 single A Gift of Prophecy.  In fact, it's a camp classic.

But... neither did she actually predict JFK's assassination.  It's even stretching things to suggest that she made a lucky guess in that direction.  What happened was, back in 1956, Jeane predicted a Dem would win the 1960 election and would die during either his first or second term (if he was to have a second term--she didn't know).  As in, from natural causes or from assassination.  Between 1956 and the 1960 election, Jeane changed gears and decided the winner would surely be... Richard Nixon.  She held to that prognostication until, I guess, Nixon didn't win.  But, given that Jeane had made a none too specific guess in 1956, only to take it back, well... I'm not convinced that some people have a "gift of prophecy."  Including her.  And, not to be too critical, but what kind of "gift" did it prove to be in this case?  Was the 1963 tragedy averted?  Ummmm... no.

I'm no fun at Halloween, I guess.

In other noose--er, news--Elementary, My Dear Watson! is a don't-hear-ever-day novelty by William Indelli, whom I once devoted a post to--and ought to, again.  In a 2020 comment, I described Indelli: "(Bill) was a member of the Tommy Dorsey Orch. and had some songs recorded on legit Chicago labels, and then ended up in the song poem circuit."  A talented guy, if not the luckiest.  With a gift more useful than, say, Jeane Dixon's.

As for the budget Halloween sound-alikes, it seemed like epically good luck to locate John Logan's Promenade EP Dinner With Drac fake in my not-in-order 45 rpm boxes.  But not such good luck to discover the fatal needle gouge which ruins the final few grooves.  So, I ended up swapping the last several seconds of the Peter Pan LP (Monster Mash) reissue of the track, taking care to reduce PP's fake stereo to something like monaural, plus painstakingly match the two EQs.  Which I did so well, I doubt anyone will notice.  Well, unless I tell them.

Other seasonal fakes: Little Blue Man, Witch Doctor (both SPC) and Purple People Eater (Gilmar and maybe Broadway?).  I guess they could be classified as "Budget Boos!"

And the Buchanan and Goodman, Dickie Goodman, and Buchanan and Ancel "break-ins"?  Masterpieces of the art of so-stupid-it's-funny humor.  I mean that as praise--I love these things.  And, lest you think that just anyone can put out a halfway decent "break-in," I have a number of dreadful Buchanan and Goodman imitations which prove there was an art to that weird genre.

Time to enter "Halloween 2013, Part 2."  Nary a thing to dread.  And I can (possibly) assure you that your visit will be unlived.  I mean, short-lived...  (And thanks to Ernie for the year correction.  I'd originally traveled back a decade...)

DOWNLOAD: Halloween 2023, Part 2: Break-ins, Jeane Dixon, and Fakes, Oh My!


A Gift of Prophecy, Pts. I and II--Jeane Dixon, Arr, and Cond. by Joe Sherman, 1966

Ben Crazy--Dickie Goodman and Dr. I.M. Ill, 1962

The Mystery (In Slow Motion)--Buchanan and Goodman, 1957

Batman and His Grandmother--Dickie Goodman, 1966

The Creature (From a Science Fiction Movie)--(Bill) Buchanan and (Bob) Ancell, 1957

Buchanan and Ancel Meet the Creature (From a Science Fiction Movie), 1957

Frankenstein of '59/Frankenstein Returns--Buchanan and Goodman, 1959

Elementary, My Dear Watson!--William Indelli and His Orch., 1960

Purple People Eater--Stevens Mark (Thanks, musicman!) (Gilmar GH-92, 33 and 1/3 EP)

Witch Doctor--John Logan (Promenade, 1958)

Little Blue Man--Melody Jane (Promenade, 1958)

Dinner With Drac--John Logan (Promenade, 1958)

Transfusion--"Scat Man" Crothers With Lew Raymond Trio (Tops, 1956)


Friday, October 27, 2023

Frank-Tin-Stein presents... Halloween 2023, Part 1!


Three years after christening this cookie tin "Frank-Tin-Stein," I'm realizing, more than ever, what desperate word play that was.  But desperate word play is a sacred (or profane?) Halloween tradition.  And, at least in theory, the worse the pun, the better.  Not sure that works in this case, but Frank-Tin-Stein it is.  I built that crypt, so I'll have to live in it.  (Er, maybe "live" is not the right word.)

So, awful puns by the gravesite, let's proceed with the in-augggh-ural "I Decided at the Last Minute, With workupload Having Disposed of Most of My Rips, to Resurrect My Favorite Halloween Novelties, Plus Some 'New' Stuff" post, which I've shortened to "Halloween 2023, Part 1."

The moldies include David Rose's terrific Satan and the Polar Bear (1957), Mantovani's outstanding 1956 rendition of Morton Gould's 1938 Deserted Ballroom, Lawrence Welk's 1965 recording of Theme From the Addams Family (very snappy), and... Does it give me gruesome gratification to present Halloween classics by three "MOR" conductors?  I can't lie.  Well, actually, I can.  Who among us has always told the truth?

And, the Monotone's zany Zombi from 1958, plus Beatrice Kay's 1947 classic, Hooray, Horray, I'm Goin' Away, which must have been heard by a young Jerry Samuels (aka Napoleon XIV).

Then, a "new" offering from 1963, which was superbly imaginatively titled: Halloween, it's called.  On both sides, no less.  And no "Part 1" and "Part 2," even, though the A side is credited to the Friendly Ghosts (did the Casper people know about this?) and the B side blamed on the Lively Ghouls.  If only these two guys had put as much thought into the main title.  Anyway, these two sides (which I spliced together) are certainly cryptic--to the point of inspiring the listener to wonder what the point was (or, indeed, if the two culprits had a ghost of a point).  Bells sounding, a lot of moaning, and much screaming, then more screaming, and, to top it off... even more screaming/howling/screeching.  Enough inspiration for, say, 30 seconds, but they managed to push it past nine minutes.  The only thing crazier than someone listening to the entire combined track has to be the hour or better which I devoted to getting the sound (almost) up to par.  All the while, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?"  I don't recall reaching an answer.

Really, Halloween isn't so much a poverty row Halloween sound effects disc as an obsessive study in reverb/echo.  "Wow, we can make stuff sound weird if we crank this knob to ten"--Friendly Ghosts, aka Lively Ghouls.  The effect isn't so much like two guys providing dungeon-style sound effects, plus short snippets from other recordings, but more like two guys thinking these things.  With their thoughts somehow captured on magnetic tape.  We just may be listening to a bold paranormal experiment.  I can picture Bellaire Records after listening to these sides: "You were supposed to provide us with a record."  "We did."  "Oh, okay.  If you say so.  I guess we'll, um, put this out."

Halloween makes Revolution 9 sound like a Top 40 ditty.  Anyway, feel free to use it for Halloween spook audio.  It'll have your guests asking, "Is that your plumbing, or...?"

Frank-Tin-Stein wants to know why he's always referred to by his creator's surname.  I dunno.  Because it's a by now ancient pop culture tradition.  And, really, thinking bout it, Frank-Tin-Stein isn't quite as awful as Frank N. Stein or Frank and Stein.  At least it breaks new ground.  Speaking of cemeteries, I have grave-loads more ripped and almost ready to go, but will I make the DEADline?  I'd better, or I'll suffer eternal darn-nation.  (Countless repeat-plays of Halloween.)

As the angry villagers said to the Frankenstein monster, "You've been warmed!"  Stay tombed to this charnel.

DOWNLOAD: Frank-Tin-Stein Presents...

Satan and the Polar Bear--David Rose and His Orchestra, 1957 (from the MGM LP, "Hi Fiddles")

The Deserted Ballroom--Mantovani and His Orchestra, 1956 (from the London LP, "Musical Modes")

Zombi--The Monotones, 1957 (Argo 5301)

Saturday Evening Ghost--Frankie Stein and His Ghouls (from the Peter Pan EP, "Monster Mash")

Hooray, Hooray, I'm Goin' Away--Beatrice Kay With Mitchell Ayres Orch., 1947.

Halloween--The Friendly Ghost/Lively Ghouls, 1963.


Sunday, October 22, 2023

(Almost totally) Expert instrumental "interpretations" of "contemporary composers." The Sound Symposium, 1969.


With a jacket this weird and cool (if not a bit creepy!), and with the "Contemporary composers interpreted" claim, I figured the music couldn't possibly be as good as the packaging.  Luckily, I was wrong.  These are expert arrangements (by Larry Wilcox) which do justice to the mostly lite rock titles in question.  This LP affirmatively answers the question, "Can late-60s Top 40 be effectively rendered in a high-quality EZ style?"  A question we've all asked ourselves, and probably two or three times a day, I'm sure.

"Gosh, can late-60s Top 40 work in a pop-instrumental vein?  I wonder..."  "Honey, the Gorton's fish pieces are burning!"

But... one misfire in the bunch, and I can only guess that there wasn't time for a retake.  I refer to MacArthur Park (which Richard Harris insisted on calling "MacArthur's Park").  It starts with the harpsichord player hitting a series of wrong chords, and later we hear the pianist almost getting Webb's tricky syncopation as-written.  As if the performer were sight-reading his chart.  Park does have the feel of an "almost there" run-through.  Too bad, as it could have been terrific.

Because the excellent stereo is best experienced through headphones, I was unimpressed after my first boombox playing: The arrangements seemed lacking, and the stereo not properly balanced.  Wrong on both counts, as revealed by my decent quality phones.  This is the sort of stereo which, played through a middle-quality boombox, loses much of its detail.  I guess this is a classic example of a "headphone" stereo mix.

This LP is unlike any similar pop-instrumental effort I've heard to date--from Ken Thorne on Reader's Digest to the famous (Who was) Terry Baxter on his many Columbia Record Club releases.  The same pro-level playing, and the same level of creatively in the charts, but.. with a sound almost wholly consistent with that of the originals.  There's little sense of genre transplantation.  And, of course, I've always wanted to type "genre transplantation."  Finally, my wish fulfilled.

This set even got me to liking America and Little Green Apples, whose melodies are quite superior.  I just needed to hear them in the right setting, I guess.  But, why oh why did they have to retain the fumbled intro to MacArthur Park, plus the miscounted piano passages?  Oh, well.

I'd have to rate this as the best LP of its type (which I've heard to date), if only because it sounds (after all these years) every bit as contemporary as the source hits.  It promises an up to date sound, and it delivers.  Excellent engineering by Bill MacMeekin, even if it doesn't sound right on my middle-quality boombox.  I'm sure Bill wasn't thinking in terms of early-2000s boomboxes.  The probability seems quite remote.

Let me end with some awful word play: "This symposium doesn't seem very sound."  "Well, it's an old building.  And we didn't expect such a huge turnout."  Sorry.

DOWNLOAD: The Sound Symposium--Contemporary Composers Interpreted (Dot DLP 25909; 1969)

You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

Darling Be Home Soon

Medley: Respect/(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay

If I Were a Carpenter

Hey Jude

Don't Think Twice

Medley: Alfie/The Look of Love


Medley: Honey--Little Green Apples

MacArthur Park


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Music From Hollywood (Themes From Great Motion Pictures)--Al Goodman and His Orch. (1953)


At Facebook, I was discussing the great mood music orchestras, and Al Goodman popped up.  His name, that is.  In connection with his superlative pop-orchestral music.  And this 1953 EP set is as good as mood music gets.  And its value as a collectable?  Between one and three bucks at Discogs.  Well, nobody said good and collectable were necessarily the same thing.  I never did, certainly.

Fabulous early-RIAA curve RCA Victor sound, incredible arrangements and musicianship, and... My pick for the all-time best rendition of The Song From "Moulin Rouge," the famous hit by Les Six member Georges Auric.  In this set, Rouge is followed by the almost-as-amazing The Happy Time, a Dimitri Tiomkin title from the 1952 movie starring Louis Jourdan, Charles Boyer, and The Outer Limits' own Marsh Hunt (memorably thought to death by a swarm of intelligent bees).

I knew Goodman made great recordings, having heard his fabulous forget-Arthur-Fiedler version of A Hunt in the Black Forest, but this is my first time listening to a Goodman LP.  (Unless I put up one of his Brand "X" releases.)  Or EP set.  Same thing, in this case.  Oh, yes, there's his wonderful 1950 12" RCA Victor 78, Christmas Fantasy.  Same killer arranging, fidelity, and playing.

So, why don't he get no respect?  Well, that's not an issue at this blog--here, he's going to get plenty of appreciation (once I find out what I've got by him and what I need).  Pure A-plus "semi-Class."  And whoever coined "semi-Class" (shortened form of semi-Classical) wasn't expressing a compliment, I'm sure, unless by some tiny chance he or she wasn't engaging in word play.

So, along with the two gems already mentioned, the themes from A Place in the Sun (Franz Waxman), Quo Vadis and Ivanhoe (both Miklos Rozsa) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, credited to one Bernard Herman, otherwise known as Bernard Herrmann.  Bernard was never one not to repeat himself (and why not?), and so listen for the hints of Vertigo in the 1952 theme.

Was Al's stuff too lacking in gimmicks, too straightforward?  Musicals, the GAS (Great American Songbook), Strauss waltzes... no jungle drums or other "exotica" fare, no Al Plays the Great Beatles Hits.  (Wait, wait...  I take it back.  He did a Fab Four LP for SPC's Diplomat label!)  He did record an awful lot, but that shouldn't work against him.  Well, count me hugely impressed by this wonderful set, and if you're only up for two tracks, please experience Moulin Rouge (which I keep mistyping as Rogue) and The Happy Time.  Oh, and catch the Vertigo chord progressions to come in the Herman/Herrmann selection.  So, if you're only up for three tracks...

I determined the track order by the matrix numbers.  I suppose I could have consulted the ten-inch LP...

DOWNLOAD: Music From Hollywood--Al Goodman and His Orch. (RCA Victor EPB 1007, 1953)

High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)

Theme Music From "The Snows of Kilamanjaro


Theme Music From "David and Bathsheba"

The Song From "Moulin Rouge" (Where Is Your Heart)

The Happy Time

A Place in the Sun

Quo Vadis


Monday, October 02, 2023

The Today People, more

 I just revived the Today People post (several entries past) at Box.  Using Box for the moment--still checking out storage site suggestions.

A little shakeup at the blog isn't a totally bad thing.  Usually.

And I came across two of my original pieces at Box, both of which I'd forgotten (he wrote, not shamelessly promoting his own stuff).  The second is a space-themed Halloween offering:

Dorky Dinos (Hartsfeld)

The Deserted Launch Pad (Hartsfeld)