Monday, April 29, 2024

Repost: The Dorsey Touch--Maury Laws' Chorus and Orch., 1957

NOTE: My April 18, 2018 text, with a new link.  Thanks for musicman1979 for reminding me to revive this:

So, why did I buy this Goodwill album?  Well, after going through eight or nine boxes, I'd picked a small group of LPs and 45s.  My brother-in-law was standing next to me.  I thought this jacket was kind of cool (it is--surprisingly so for a cheapo label), so I held it up and said, "Do I want this?"  "Yes, you want this," he replied.  So I bought it.

The label is Hollywood, and here Hollywood is pulling the standard budget-label read-the-smaller-print scam: a big (colorized?) picture of the famous artists being exploited, the artists' name in big letters ("Dorsey"), and no Tommy or Jimmy Dorsey present on the disc.  Surprise!!  Just Maury Laws' Orchestra and Chorus, which does a surprisingly decent job recreating the Tommy Dorsey sound (7 to 8 on a scale of 10).  (I don't think any of these were originally Jimmy Dorsey sides, but correct me if I'm wrong.)  Surprisingly decent, because the budget couldn't have been very sky-high.  In all, a fun LP with a few outstanding performances.  My only complaint: some truncated arrangements, including my two all-time favorite TD tracks: Marie and Sunny Side of the Street.  How could they?  But there's an excellent Opus No. 1, so maybe I can forgive this lapse in $1.98-LP wisdom.  This junk-label album far exceeded my low expectations, so I'll give it an A.  Besides, the cover rocks.

Biggest surprise: the very decent sound.  I combined left and right for fabulous results.  Not usually, but sometimes the poverty-row record companies get it right.  Well, except for putting the jacket's track listings in the correct order, but not doing so is a proud budget label tradition.  These folks have standards to uphold.

DOWNLOAD:  The Dorsey Touch--Maury Laws' Chorus and Orch., 1957

Getting Sentimental Over You
Royal Garden Blues
Boogie Woogie
Song of India
Swanee River
Will You Still Be Mine/Once in a While
Yes Indeed (Sy Oliver)
Sunny Side of the Street
I'll Never Smile Again
Opus No. 1 (Sy Oliver)
This Love of Mine/Embraceable You/There Are Such Things
Quiet Please (Sy Oliver)
Getting Sentimental Over You

Prepared and Directed by Maury Laws (Hollywood LPH-136, 1957)


Sunday, April 28, 2024

Sunday evening gospel: The Conveyors Quartet--Lovest Thou Me... More Than These?) (Crusade LP 228-02)


Don't let the cover scare you: This is terrific country-gospel quartet singing, and this quartet has already seen time at this blog, though the earlier link is now kaput, thanks to Workupload.  But here are some group pics from the previous post (alliteration unintended), plus my explanation...

Quoting me: "We can assume we're seeing the four singers plus three musicians. (I've never understood why 'musicians' doesn't include singers. It should.) I don't think we have a family group this time, though (going by another Conveyors LP), it seems the group was headed by a husband and wife team--Ardeth and Kenny Dykhoff. I can't quite pick them out in the above photo, but here they are, from their Just a Little Talk With Jesus LP. Seated is pianist Marilyn Gallaway."

Life would be so much easier if gospel LPs simply listed the singers.  Oh, well.

Anyway, an excellent collection of fine Gaither numbers, with three genuinely old oldies: There's a Great Day Coming (1886), My Saviour's Love (1905), and How Great Thou Art, whose melody consists of a Swedish folk tune.  Hence, year unknown.  However, 1949 is the year that Stuart K. Hine wrote the hymn text, as inspired by Carl Gustav Boberg hymn O Store Gut, whose words became associated with this melody in the late 1800s.  

I think this is the first slow-tempo rendition of My Saviour's Love experienced by my ears, and it's quite effective.  Surprisingly so.  And the balance between ballads and "fast" songs is exactly right.  And the 1942 mega-classic Jesus Is Coming Soon is always wonderful to hear.  It's near-impossible to render badly.

The two chief virtues of this LP (seeing as how the bass and first tenor aren't the most effective soloists) is the superb group blend and the amazing stereo fidelity.  Honestly, this could be a digital effort.  (Apologies to analog-philes.  Of which I'm one, come to think of it!)  Actually, I'm a compromised analog-phile, since I prefer to save analog sources digitally, so that I can apply EQ, filtering, etc.  So, I'm a (let's see) semi-analog-phile.  Yeah, that sounds right.

A saxophone and harmonica make their appearances throughout the LP.  Both provide a nice, novel touch.

Excellent gospel, and I'm using Google Drive for the first time.  I hope it works out--As far as I know, I made the file available to everyone who has the link.  Let me know if there are any issues.

DOWNLOAD: Lovest Thou Me... More Than These?--The Conveyors Quartet (Crusade LP S 228-02)

Lovest Thou Me (Moe Than These)

Daddy Sang Bass

Something Worth Living For

A Beautiful Life

Redeeming Love

Now I Have Everything

Going Home

My Saviour's Love

Joy in the Camp

How Great Thou Art

Jesus Is Coming Soon

There's a Great Day Coming


Friday, April 26, 2024

A (more or less) Tribute to The Fabulous Dorseys (Palace M-707, 1957)


My guess is that (Jaques) Fontanna's A Tribute to the Fabulous Dorseys is the least of the budget cash-ins--er, salutes--to the late Jimmy and Tommy to appear in the latter half of 1957 (though Coronet's effort seems unusually tacky, even by dollar-bin, er, standards).  Jimmy had left us in June, 1957, and brother Tommy had died in November of 1956.  So, it was a race to the racks.  Other low-to-no-budget tribute LPs appeared on Broadway, Hollywood, Sutton, Omega, Pickwick, Tops, Crown, Somerset, and of course Promenade (SPC).  Not to mention the tribute packages on RCA (naturally), Mercury, and other "actual" labels.  Behold the bargain batch, in part:

In September, 1957, Jimmy Dorsey had a decent-sized (#39) posthumous hit with June Night, whose absence here leads me to guess that this rush job was sped onto the (tape) spindles circa August.  My reasoning: The early-1957 Jimmy Dorsey hit (a huge one) So Rare is included, but not June Night, the posthumous Top 40 hit (of September) for the same leader.  That would put this release date at circa August, 1957.  Otherwise, why wouldn't Palace/Masterseal/Remington have added a junk-job June Night, too?  Of course, I'm operating under the notion (delusion?) that the cheap operations engaged in any form of planning whatsoever.

Most of today's twelve tracks were associated with Tommy Dorsey: Boogie Woogie, Swing LowMarieSwanee RiverOpus No. 1I'll Never Smile AgainSong of India, and (of course) I'm Getting Sentimental Over You.  Jimmy: Breeze and ISo Rare, and Green Eyes.  As for the clunky Sy Oliver-esque Battle Hymn of the Republic, I can't establish a Dorsey connection, save that the number also appears on the Promenade and Broadway Tributes. Maybe its Dorsey association is a rack-jobber urban legend.

The unidentified vocalists aren't bad, despite a painful out-of-range moment in Breeze and I, and, on Green Eyes, a Helen O'Connell imitator whose headphones must have been on tape delay.  She needed to drop the inflections and do another take, but extra takes cost money, so...

The Palace label is related to Remington, Masterseal, and Paris, but discovering this factoid at Discogs is an exciting journey.  At Discogs, we learn that Palace's parent label was Buckingham Records, whose parent label was Masterseal, whose parent label was Remington, whose parent label was Remington Records, Inc.  The latter evidently being the end (or top) of the lineage.

So... Palace's parent-parent-parent label was Remington Records, Inc.  And there were a number of Remington Records, Inc. sublabels (and sub-sublabels), including the Remington sublabel Paris International, Inc. the parent label of Paris.  Whatever I just typed.

The album's chief--and most endearing--shortcomings include musicians either not ideally suited (or ideally rehearsed) to tackle the charts, a generally awkward feel, a few inept intros (Green Eyes, especially), and the total bombing of the Helen O'Connell slow-swing portion of Eyes.  At first, I thought the problem was with the ersatz Helen, but in fact she's fine--almost terrific--but the band, for some ungodly reason, is playing a Bolero-style rhythm which clashes with the singer's swing inflections.  In the Annals of Dumb Band Chart Choices, this moment should be graced with its own special display.

And I love So Rare, maybe because it's the essence of a cheap-label knockoff: "Well, we barely got through that one.  Great job!"  It has "cash-in" written all over it (luckily, my Spin Cleaner took care of that, though I had to change the water), and it's delightfully almost-there.  The best parts of the J. Dorsey original were probably the dramatic opening and closing sections--here, they're these moments are stripped of their inspiration via a lazy transcription.  Why I find a dumbed-down So Rare so cool is so puzzling to me.  I guess that, once bitten by the junk-label bug, there's no cure.

Oh, and there's the dreadful vocal chorus on Marie--no fault of the singer, but more the draggy backing of the percussionist, who sounds like he's 1) half-awake, 2) angry at the gig and thus determined to ruin any semblance of swing, 3) both, or 4) listening to the orchestra on delayed feed.  But had this album been competently carried out, it would be just another middling memorial of the dollar-bin kind, and not nearly as diverting (even as it diverts from the tone of the originals).  And, again, I'd have to pick the two-different-pages close to Green Eyes (a fitting sendoff) as the most genuinely hilarious moment here.  And, again, the tragedy is that the singer nails Helen O'Connell's classic vocal, only to be tripped up by the backing. The insertion of Ravel was clearly a choice made while rushed or drunk--or both.  At any rate, there's too much rubato in the O'Connell-esque vocal to allow for a strict triplet backing, but the mark is so memorably missed, it's one of the all-time best budget botches in my book.

The LP condition is pretty iffy, forcing me--for once--to bypass VinylStudio's declicker filter, since it was removing tiny portions of the audio.  First time ever, and I imagine it's because the mastering was marginal to start with--it may not sound that much better in a clean copy, but I'm too cheap to find out.  I manually removed the worst of the clicks and pops: What remains adds junky provenance to this labor of quick and cheap profit.  But I'll need to at least get my hands on the SPC and Pickwick tribute knockoffs (unless I already have them), if only to hear their versions of So Rare, though I imagine those are too close to competency to begin to compete.  Or, when is viability not a virtue?

DOWNLOAD: A Tribute to the Fabulous Dorseys--(Jacques) Fontanna and His Orch. (Palace M-707; 1957)

Boogie Woogie

Swing Low Sweet Chariot    

Breeze and I

Battle Hymn of the Republic


Swanee River

Opus No. 1

I'll Never Smile Again

Song of India

So Rare

I'm Getting Sentimental Over You

Green Eyes


Thursday, April 18, 2024

More post-WII nostalgia: "Do You Remember?"--Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1948


Internet sources give 1949 as the release year for this boxed set, despite the 1948 date on the cover.  And, in fact, the matrix numbers for the 78 rpm set reveal that these were recorded in 1947.  Anyway, I'll go with the release year, though I sometimes favor the recording date.  It's always a toss-up.

"Music has many powers, but scarcely any more potent than the ability to evoke in the listener dozens of personal memories, some of them romantic, some amusing, some poignant, and many of them half-forgotten until brought to vivid life by some melody."  In the realm of liner notes, this is a literary device called "filling space with words."  And, yes, half-forgotten memories: After all, On the Sunny Side of the Street was a whole 17 years old come 1947.  Ancient history!

In older times, ironically, people had a greater sense of "old."  "Old" was older.  Nowadays, everything is kept in rotation, and audio recording copyrights go back to 1924, ludicrously.  But, prior to the abolishment of "old," mass-culture products enjoyed a much shorter shelf life.

So, instead of a sing-along or Lawrence Welk/Sammy Kaye/Paul Whiteman rehashing of older material (and, to an extent, older styles), we have the floating-on-air character of mood music, a genre which filled the airwaves of the 1930s and 1940s but which was, for some unknown reason, greeted as a new style by pop music critics when Mantovani's Charmaine made the 1951 charts.  Short-term memory issues?  The critics never listened to the radio during childhood?  

And I suspect, minus any hard evidence, that the classic mood style didn't gel well with the "old songs" format.  And here, the majority of the tracks (much as I like Gould's arrangements) lack much of a beat.  Exceptions: Twelfth Street Rag, practically a send-up of the 1914 Euday Bowman classic, which of course was a monster 1948 hit for Pee Wee Hunt.  Plus, The Sheik of Araby, though the rhythm is hardly pronounced, save in the clever, Grofe-esque opening.

I can find no evidence that this Gould album made the transition a from ML- (Masterworks) status to a CL- (popular) release, which suggests less than excellent sales.  It apparently first appeared as a 78 set, then a 10-incher, and then as the EP set featured today.  But no CL- release in sight.  Just in case it had known life in the CL- series, albeit with a different title, I checked out each track at Discogs.  And zero indication of a popular release.

Oh, and there was this catchy edition of the 10-incher (image swiped from Discogs):

By contrast, nearly all of Ander Kostelanetz's Masterworks material made it into the CL- series.  My guess is that the languid, seamless, just-sit-back-and-take-a-nap approach to the "old songs" didn't fly with the public.  In the realm of faux-1890s-1920s, people wanted a glee-club approach--preferably with a banjo or three--or anything else with a beat.  Even if it meant the "Mickey" (Mickey Mouse) styles of Sammy Kaye, Art Mooney, or Guy Lombardo.  Maybe, especially if.

But I'm very fond of this set, and I like the novelty of the "midnight strings" approach as applied to Whispering, Nola, and The Sheik of Araby (the arrangement of which has more than a hint of exotica). 

DOWNLOAD: Do You Remember?--Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1948

My Blue Heaven



On the Sunny Side of the Street

Poor Butterfly

The Sheik of Araby


Twelfth Street Rag

(All arrangements by Morton Gould)


Thursday, April 11, 2024

No bummed-out banjos here: "Those Happy Banjos"--Art Mooney and His Orch. (Lion L-70062; 1958)

So, what do we call phrases like "happy banjos"?  Are they an example of anthropomorphizing or personifying?  (Clock ticking; buzzer.)  Right!  Personifying!  In this case, we're talking the happy sound of banjos, which is a human perception/experience.  As personified in the form of "happy banjos."

Aren't you glad I cleared that up?  And this was a problem LP.  Namely, with some bad engineering on Side 1, plus all-over-the-place Googling required to determine the probable recording dates.  I had to do some comparison listening, at least for one track, to determine the precise version.  But the banjos were smiling all the while!

Seven of these tracks were carried over from a 1953 ten-incher called Banjo Bonanza.  The carried-over tracks consist of the entirety of Side 1, plus 1949's Paddlin' Madelin' Home.  For some reason, 1948's Baby Face was not retained. 

So, the four unique-to-this-LP tracks--Barefoot Days, Pal-ing Around With You, In the Twi-Twi-Twilight, and Joshu-ah--were either recorded in 1958, specifically for his LP, or... they're earlier, unreleased tracks.  And there's 1953's "O" (Oh!), which was not on Banjo Bonanza, but was released as a single (45 and 78 rpm).  There'll be a quiz.

The sloppy. slapped-together quality of this enterprise suggests a quick release--namely, a cash-in on Sing Along With Mitch.  The tracks have the same general vibe, obviously, though Miller's choruses were all-male, while only three of these are men-only (Row, Row, Row; "O," and Barefoot Days).  Had all four of the unique-to-this-LP tracks been men-only, we'd have positive proof of a cash-in attempt.  But I'm nevertheless pretty sure.  

It's tempting to classify Mooney's 1947-1949 glee-style releases--Four-Leaf Clover, in particular --as part of a postwar trend of reviving the "old songs" of the 1890s-1920s, but said songs and styles were in a constant state of revival (and re-revival) prior to the late 1940s.  Beatrice Kay's Naughty 90's dates back to 1940, and Frankie Carle recorded versions of Stumbling and Twelfth Street Rag in 1942.  And there's the 1941 John Scott Trotter recording of Kitten on the Keys which I posted back in 2019.  In short, the neo-Dixieland/-Twenties/-ragtime period didn't start with Del Wood or Pee Wee Hunt.  As far as that goes, the novelty numbers of Zez Confrey were the neo-ragtime of their time, and we're talking back to 1920.  And people were assessing Dixieland as old hat as early as 1924!  ("Old hat as early..."?  Hm.)

Maybe the sing-along genre is simply a reflection/acknowledgement of an ongoing style of community singing, which would include glee and close-harmony vocalizing (Barbershop).  From the 1800s to the present, glees, church choirs, and Barbershop choruses have been happening behind the scenes of mainstream popular music, but because it rarely show up on recordings, outside of the private type (one notable exception: 1955's Alabama Jubilee), such music seems hopelessly dated.  And I think I've set the world's record for overthinking the sing-along genre!  But it has me puzzled.

Note: Heartbreaker is a 1948 number inspired by the Ferko String Band (!) and cowritten by Max (Rock Around the Clock) Freedman.  And could that group have inspired Mooney?  (The FSB did a 1948 version of Four-Leaf Clover which could almost pass for the 1947 hit.  Hm.) And Pal-ing Around With You appears to be from 1949.

DOWNLOAD: Those Happy Banjos--Art Mooney and His Orch. (Lion L-70062; 1958)

I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover, 1947

Toot, Toot, Tootsie! (Goodbye), 1949

Somebody Stole My Rose Colored Glasses, 1949

Row, Row, Row, 1949

Heartbreaker, 1952

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue (Has Anybody Seen My Girl), 1949

"O" (Oh1), 1953

(Oh Boy!  What a Joy We Had In) Barefoot Days

Pal-ling Around With You

In the Twi-Twi-Twilight


Paddlin' Madelin' Home, 1949