Sunday, March 31, 2024

Easter 2024!! Eddie Brandt, Jerome Hines, Smith's Sacred Singers, Collegiate Choir, "Hoppy" the Bunny, Haydn Quartet


Joyous Easter music, rescued from Workupload exile.  As you can see, the bunnies are excited.  A mix of secular and sacred, though many (most?) details of Easter were, at some point in time, religious.  In All Around the Year (1994), Jack Santino (a former prof of mine) writes about Easter eggs as "natural symbols of birth, new life, resurrection, and renewal," and we won't even mention bunnies (rabbits) as symbols of fertility.  Except, I just did.  But Easter eggs, come 2024, are regarded as "secular" in nature.  (Actually, most eggs have no professed religion.)  Or an unpeeled egg, once peeled, can be regarded as a symbol of Christ's rebirth--a victory over death.  It's your call.

Meaning that any and all controversy over religious holidays (at least in my culture) is a matter of sacred vs. popular rather than sacred vs. secular.  Approximately 80 percent of U.S. citizens celebrate Easter, and it's closer to 90 percent for Christmas.  Which means, obviously, that a hefty number of non-Christians are happily engaging in Christian events.  This, of course, inevitably leads to debate over whether or not these holidays are, in fact, Christian.  My take is that, if we celebrate them in the (so to speak) mode of Christianity, they are Christian.  Historically, that is. This fits in with my "The past can't be conveniently jettisoned" cultural-history stance.  To put it another way, Silent Night doesn't cease to celebrate the Nativity, even if sung by an atheist or a religiously-undecided person as part of the popular celebration.  That is, unless the text is radically altered to eliminate that central reference--in which case, it's an utterly new number, since the removal of the Nativity theme would necessitate a title change and the elimination of "holy," among other details.  It's enough to know that millions of Americans annually sing Christmas carols and hymns with little or no thought to the sacred nature of caroling.  It's simply something people do during "the holidays."

As to whether the spring equinox, the winter solstice, and other vital planetary events are the property of a given faith, or any faith at all, my take (forgive me) is that the planetary events take precedent.  Holy details are "scheduled" around the seasons, and obviously not vice versa, so...

How did I end up on that tangent?  I guess I'm saying that, even as a Christian, I'm overjoyed by the fact of any Christian holiday pulling popular duty--i.e., becoming a holiday of and for the people.  Such as Easter.  Hence, I feel that How Great Thou Art conveys the joy of the event (birth, rebirth, the return of leaves and flowers, "longer" days) as legitimately as Eggbert, the Easter Egg, though I would argue that the former is a more inspired work of art.

And any excuse to put Eddie Brandt (of Spike Jones fame) and (His) Hollywood Hicks, Jerome Hines, Smith's Sacred Singers, "Hoppy" the Bunny, Ray Heatherand the Cincinnati Baptist College Quartet in the same playlist is an excuse to be cherished.

And the "Anthony Auletti" credit for Bunny Hop (by the Peter Pan Orch. and Singers) is actually, "Anthony, Auletti," but we believe in keeping typos as they originally appeared.  And my all-time favorite gospel songwriter, Charles H. Gabriel, is represented by three selections, including the gorgeous 1925 Homer Rodeheaver--Mrs. William Asher duet, Love Led Him to Calvary.  Incredibly vivid fidelity on a nearly 100 year old 78.  And we close with two joyous Gabriel anthems, by way of conveying the joy of the season.  And nothing says "joy" quite like joyousness.

DOWNLOAD: Easter 2024

Peter Cotton Tail--Meadowlarks (Irene Records)

Old Rugged Cross--Mac MacFarland--(Same)

Easter Parade--Eddie Brandt and (His) Hollywood Hicks, V: Ruthie James (Same)

Christ Arose--Collegiate Choir, 1920

Easter Bunny Polka--Eddie Brandt and (His) Hollywood Hicks, V: Eddie Brandt and Ruthie James (Irene Records)

Jesus Died for Me--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1929

Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1929

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

How Great Thou Art--Jerome Hines, 1965

The Old Rugged Cross--Jerome Hines, 1965

Unknown Choir, Word Records--He Lives

He Arose--Haydn Quartet With Orchestra, `1908

Victory in Jesus--Church of the Nazarene Male Quartet, 1959

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

Love Led Him to Calvary (Webster-Gabriel)--Mrs. William Asher-Home Rodeheaver, With Pipe Organ, 1925

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

Reapers Are Needed (Charles H. Gabriel)--A.T. Humphries and Lee College Choir, c. 1959

Awakening Chorus (Charles H. Gabriel)--Same

Peter Cottontail--Ray Heatherton (The Merry Milkman), 1951

Eggbert, the Easter Egg--Same


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Stardust Melodies: Raymond Paige and His Orchestra, Raymond Paige's Young Americans, 1940-41 (RCA Camden CAL-153)

Sorry for my longer-than-planned absence.  Today's offering is from the mood-music/easy-listening radio heyday, though these are reissued 78s, not airchecks.  This appears to be the second edition of this reissue, and I have a dim memory of once owning the earlier Camden LP.  As ever, I love the "How This Record Value is Possible" bit on the RCA Camden back jacket: It amounts to, "We're doing you a favor by offering back catalog material."  No, we're doing RCA a favor by keeping its back catalog profitable.  Then again, "Here's some older stuff, priced down because charging a current tab would be unethical" wouldn't have the same ring.

For once, LP-wise, I did a good deal of equalizing, dynamic adjustment, and even added very slight reverb, just to pump more life into the sound.  It seemed a bit too "flat."  Normally, I would have pushed up the treble slightly and let things be, but I felt these transfers needed more punch.  My plan was to retain the main file, in case I didn't like the changes--but I blew that.  I should have used the "save as..." option for the original file and not the extra-doctored "project."  Live and learn.  I had the right idea, only in reverse.

These tracks, recorded in 1940 and 1941, originally appeared on two 78 sets by Raymond Paige and His Orchestra and Raymond Paige's Young Americans (falsely credited here as "American Youth Orchestra").  These images come courtesy of eBay:

No idea if "Young Americans" refers to a youth orchestra or if Paige simply used it for a catchy handle.  However, going for youth association while performing older songs: That's kind of odd.  But no one asked me.  (I was nowhere to be found in 1941.)

Because Paige was an RCA artist, his performances, while Kostelanetz-esque (how's that for an adjective?), lack the lovely spacious, distant-miked sound that graced Kosty and Morton Gould's Columbia recordings from the same period.  And the arrangements, while perfectly good, aren't quite up to Kosty's or Gould's.  On the other hand, all examples from the first wave of mood/easy-listening have historical significance, even if nowadays it's hard to picture folks relaxing to soothing music from 12-inch 78s as they plopped, one after the other, onto the turntable platter.  (These sets were typically designed for changers.)  Then again, a good phonograph would have produced better fidelity than a radio set, despite the lesser ease of use.

And, checking just now, I didn't enter "Endearing Young Charms" as "Enduring Young Charms."  Whew!  I often think one thing and type another.

To the radio-era easy-listening sounds of Raymond Paige...

DOWNLOAD: Stardust Melodies: Raymond Paige Orch. and Young Americans, 1940-51

Rhapsody in Blue

When Day Is Done--La Cumparsita

Mood Indigo

Donkey Serenade (Chansonette)

Night and Day

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Star Dust


My Moonlight Madonna

Believe Me, If All These Endearing Young Charms--A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody

Thru' the South (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Turkey in the Straw; Deep River)

By the Bend of the River