Saturday, April 29, 2006
Weekends are made for 78s
We'll start off this fine fine weekend with a couple from Bob Haring's Orchestra, also known as the Colonial Club Orchestra. "It's Too Late to Be Sorry Now" features Bob's statuesque (for lack of a better term) vocals and a nice little romper on Brunswick from 1925. Since there's no indication of electrical recording on the label, but the bass is just too full to be done on a horn, dont'cha think? The back side, "My Pal Jerry", was labelled as Bob Haring & His Orchestra on the on-line discog., but on the label it shows as Colonial Club Orchestra, with, again, no vocal credits. I don't know why I want to call Bob Haring 'Bob Hoskins', maybe it is the vocal stylings, I guess... still a nice record, though!
Next, another nice pairing for a spring sun-shine-y day, here's Gene Austin with Frank Banta on the piano with "Tamiami Trail". In 1926, when this was recorded, the road from Tampa to Miami, Florida, was basically a two-lane track through the Everglades. Now, it is a 4-lane highway, paralelled by an Interstate motorway some miles to the south. Back then, though, I'm sure there were some very romantic spots along the side of the road, where the adventurous couple could spend the mosquito-filled evenings fanning away the perspiration, on the lookout for alligators in their "little two-by-four" bungalow... I guess love conquors all in the middle of the Florida swamps... "But I Do - You Know I Do" would might be the song for the next morning, when asked if true love can get through a night of mosquito bites.... A Victor electric recording, showing that the nuances of recorded music changed drastically with the advent of the microphone.
Keeping with the 'singer-and-piano' motif, we'll go to Austria for a couple of very curious numbers, recorded by Hermann Leopoldi, recorded on Austrian HMV (His Master's Voice), some time in the late 40s. I suspect that these are political humor pieces, because, through my very faltering German, I notice that the song "Wenn der Ungar Justig ist" has several references to Hungary or Hungarian custom, and the reverse side "Powidltatsckerln" makes reference to a person from (the former) Czechoslovakia, and how they order a salad with mayonaisse. This may have been recorded when Austria was still under Allied control after World War 2 and broken up into four pieces, much like Germany was until the reconsolidation. If anyone has any more insight on these sides, please leave a comment or three :)
We'll continue with a couple of Ted Lewis sides, but only one with vocalization... the one with his crooning, "That Certain Party", recorded in December of 1925, was one of his better known sides... but I think the better side of this pairing is the reverse, "Don't Wake Me Up (Let Me Dream)". Not because of the lack of Ted's patter, but because the band seems to get a chance to stretch out, even if it is limited to the length of a 10-inch 78 side.
Closing it out today is one of the reasons I got into collecting 78s, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. These guys could STOMP it! Nick LaRocca and Larry Shields penned up a choice pair and recorded these in March of 1918 in the New York studios of Victor... you can see how jazz started to develop with "At the Jazz Band Ball" and "Ostrich Walk". Check out the opening of Ostrich Walk, now you know where perhaps a lot of musical pop, rock, and R&B opening ideas came from many years later.
These are labelled as "Original Dixieland Jazz Band" (not "...Jass..." as on the original release of "Livery Stable Blues"). You can read an excellent article on ODJB written by Tim Gracyk here that sheds some great insight on their history.
Before I forget, I'd like to thank Tyrone Settlemier for his great work on the on-line discography mentioned in the previous posting. Tim & Ty are names I remember from the 78rpm mailing list, otherwise known as 78-L, which I was active on a few years ago (and may have to re-activate myself upon once again, there are a great bunch of characters and historians there).
Have a great weekend, and see you next week!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
A quickie on a GREAT resource
The Online 78rpm Discographical Project.
WOW!! Now I can get some dates for you on the stuff I put up... this is utterly FANTASTIC stuff, and once again I bow my sombrero to Lee for getting this info to me. In fact, I sent the keeper of the project info on "Rock Love" (shudder) because he didn't have it listed in his 1950s Bell entries.
I'll have more 78s later, but I wanted to get this up ASAP... it's the Turkey's Suspenders (thanks for the great new expression, Domi!!)!!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Housecleaning & re-encoding & Jolson
I could sleep in this morning, so I stayed up way too late getting some of the older encodes cleaned up a little so I could share them with all you fine fine people... so let's get started!
Al Jolson... there was a reason that he was known as "The Jazz Singer" and not "The Waltz Singer". In the thrift-store baggie-of-78s there was this Brunswick disc that has examples of Al singing well in, and well out of, his domain. He gets the vocal duties on this hot little number with Carl Fenton's Orchestra, "Miami". I don't remember when he took a stint away from Columbia to record with Brunswick, but I usually don't see many of his recordings on that label. I at first thought this was an acoustic recording but after a careful listen, found it to be electrical! And no mention of any electrical process on the label! I guess I may have to re-think the other Brunswick stuff I have posted... anyways, you can almost hear the "Mammy!!" he is so famous for in this recording... the Jolson style is certainly there.
Now, as for the reason he was NOT called "The Waltz Singer": "You Forgot To Remember", again with Carl Fenton's Orchestra providing the backing. This comes VERY close to qualifying for a Clanker, especially how he releases his last note. I almost cried when I heard this song of the jilted lover, and not at the lyrics. Al, stick to the uptempo stuff and leave the waltzes to the waltz professionals. Please.
Well, I had a bunch of things that I just wasn't happy enough with as far as the remaster process went that I wanted to share earlier, but finally got around to cleaning them up some more. Let's begin with another Cal Stewart story, this one concerning that fine walk spoiled by frustration: "Uncle Josh Playing Golf". This recoring had a HUGE crack in it, so you'll hear some thumping through the first half, but, for a Victor 'Grand Prize' label, it's sufficiently old enough that I guess it can be excused, somewhat. And dig the pronounciation of 'gol-f'....
We'll switch gears from whacking golf balls to whacking drum skins with a couple by Gene Krupa, from the mid 40s. Irene Daye takes us on a stroll with a number about a Cuban dance instructor, "Six Lessons from Madame LaZonga". The Columbia pressing was fairly worn, but I managed to get a decent run at it... also the recording engineer rolled off the highs so badly, it made it somewhat easier to get a lot of the groove wear out of this one. Gene's band kicks, as you can see, and it is a humerous number for Irene. The flip side, "No Name Jive", is all Gene. Some very nice drumming here, ladies and gentlemen, it's just too bad that (1) the groove wear made this one real hard to get something out of, and (2) the same recording engineer rolled off a good portion of the top end... again. Maybe he was related to Thomas Alva [Edison]?
Going back a few years, let's touch upon the country-type genre. Vernon Dalhart recorded many a folk and western song on Victor before the Western genre became nationally popular. Carson Robison did much the same, only with more folk type style. Here they team up for a pair on a Victor electrical disc, with a good string band behind them. "My Blue Ridge Mountain Home" and "Golden Slippers" show why the country-folk-Appalachia sound was really suited for electrical recording, as the horn just couldn't get the nuances down well.
Some time ago, I posted "Sailin' On" by Ben Black & His Orchestra. Well, I remastered it again, this time with MUCH better results. I also added the Impaler Touch to the flip side, "Moonlit Waters". Again, I think you'll find an enjoyable record, albeit with just a touch of plagarism from the Masters... but, hey, it's all for a good swoon with your June as you croon the silly tune 'neath the moon....
Now, in case you were wondering, I do have a couple more German things to get to you, so I'll just hit them quickly...
Some nice singing by Frieda Benneche in the German folk-lieder style on this US Victor bat-wing acoustical record, actually... no major warble, just a couple of interesting numbers for the German audience..."Freut euch des Lebens", and "Treue Liebe". Ahhh, true love.... just makes all the snow want to go away... but PLEASE keep the birds OFF of the records!
Another interesting German singer here, Georg Gut. Recorded in Germany and released in the US on Columbia ethnic green label (12-inch disc, no less), Herr Gut sings "In meinen kleine Konditorei", and "Wenn du einmal dein Herz verschennst dan Schenk' es mir". REstaurants and love? My German once again fails me. But Herr Gut does a credible job on these... electrical recordings, too, if my memory serves me...
I'll close this session out with a couple hot off the turntable, a pair of sides on a Romeo label disc that are good for the springtime and love and all that horseradish. I have NO idea who The Lumberjacks are, but they saw their way quite nicely through "Let Me Be Alone With You". Acoustic recording (of decent quality), no vocal credits, but still quite a hummable number. I'm gonna have to invest in a Rust's Discography book to help get me through this, I guess, as far as dates and personnel....
On the other side, Vincent Richards & His Orchestra take over the duties with an almost down-tempo 'pouty' love song, "I'd Rather Be Blue Over You". Nice muted cornet solo in this after the vocal (again uncredited), and the tuba player sure wants to get somewhere, but the drummer, with his work, keeps it in line.
OK, I'm outta here, hope you enjoy it, keep safe, and have fun! Congrats to Lee on his 100,000th hit on his blog, one day, maybe the Shanty will be as well travelled :)
Peace & Blessings,
Sunday, April 23, 2006
"God is in the house..."
It is anecdotally recorded that one night, at the Cotton Club in Harlem, Fats Waller was in the middle of a set where he was just plain 'on it'. He was cooking. Suddenly, after he looks out into the audience, he stops playing, in the middle of a number. Just stops. He then stands up and steps away from the piano, picks up the microphone, and says "Ladies and gentlemen, God is in the house tonight..." as he points and bows to Art Tatum, who had just come into the club.
Art Tatum. One of the BEST improvisational piano players EVER. Few could hold a candle to him. He could take a simple tune and expand upon it until it became a symphony. He was extremely gifted, yet a very shy man off the stage. He would let his fingers on the 88 keys do all the talking he ever needed to do.
Art Tatum. What else can I say?
I have an incomplete set on ARA records of Art in a solo setting. I'm missing one of the discs, but I'll gladly post the contents of the other three.
"Memories Of You"
These six tunes show just how easily Art could jump from one mode into another, stride one minute, and almost free-improv the next. These were all recorded in one session, as the matrix numbers are pretty much sequential... just imagine Art ambling into the studio, sitting at the piano, and all the recording engineer had to do was to start the lathe and nod to the Man. Then Magic occurred. Can't be more elequent than that, I guess. Or, maybe, further elequence would be wasted... listen and be transported into Art's World. It's well worth the trip.
I am sorry to say that "Hallelujah" was pressed off-center, that's why it sounds off-key. ARA was never very good with their quality control, but at least the shellac quality on these was well above their average.
If anyone has the fourth disc to this set, please leave me a note in the comments, if nothing more than to get mp3 files to complete this set digitally. Thank you.
A Clanker and some older (but good) encodes
I did get to taste some of the roast though. It was good.
We'll start with the Clanker of the Week. This was an absolute BOOGER to get cleaned up to any kind of hearable file. Took at least 4 days of cramming in time to try this, and finally on the third attempt I got something workable.
The song is "Rock Love" by a group called The Three Belles. The recording is on a 7-inch polystyrene 78rpm disc on the Bell label. Yes, Bell records, same label that brought you groups like Bread and the soundtrack of Godspell. Bell did these right at the end of the 78 era (late 50s in the US), and had absolutely NO 'name' artists. Why these sold, I'll never know. This release is actually one of the more 'rocking' releases on Bell, most of their 78s were the usual dentist-chair pap (or poop, according to your taste). The musicians on Bell at that time were pretty much all house groups, and nothing of any real noteworthy distinction. In other words, Drek-on-78.
To show you how much of a challenge this was to get cleaned, here's an excerpt of the disc BEFORE any processing: "Rock Love" - pre-processing excerpt.
Why did I spend all this time working on a disc like that? To show all you fine folks that I'm dedicated. Or should be institutionalized maybe (grin).
Just hearing the lyrics makes me wonder, is this a love song? A gospel song? Certainly not rock-n-roll, even with the 'catchy' (NOT!!!) background vocals....
A clanker, a cringer, and certainly a melt-into-an-ashtray candidate. I give it a solid 9 on the Cringe-o-meter, plus points for having a hook that you CAN'T GET OUT OF YOUR MIND.
I'm making up a surprise to make up for inflicting Rock Love (shudder) upon you, so the remainder of today's post will be older encodes that I went through and re-cleaned up as best I could.
I was looking back through the Shanty postings and noticed that I mis-named Charles Trenet. What finer excuse for a side from such a fine chanteur! Here'tis: "'Y'a d'la joie'". Recorded on Columbia (a French recording) and repressed for the US in the late 40s, and one I encoded sometime in 2001. Perhaps earlier than that, because of the original bitrate, and the fact that there was a lot of noise in the encode. But, I managed to make it listenable, but I need to find those discs and re-encode them. That way I can get all the corrent numbers on the ID3v2 tag. With springtime coming on fast, I think I'll put more of these French chansons on, if for naught else than that they make me feel all happy and spring-time-y and stuff.
Here's another, MUCH nicer encode of a band called the Frivolity Club Orchestra. I suspect, from the sound quality, that this was also on a Columbia Vita-tonal recording, and that this MIGHT have been a Harry Reser group. He had the Cliquit Club Eskimos, and a couple of other bands in his recording stint for Columbia, and this just has the Harry Reser 'sound'. Here's "All I Want Is You". Again, no definate dates or personnel, because I was a twit and didn't save such things. But it's a good encode, for 2001 technology, one that I didn;t have to do much cleanup on.
Anyways, if I'm gonna get your next posting off, I'd better finish this one. Sorry it is a bit short, but I guarantee that the next one will be worth the wait.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Digging in the bins....
I was donig some more 78s and found another set of Ben Selvin acoustic sides, this time on Brunswick (instead of the sister Vocalion label). These are acoustic, but not as 'sharp' as the Vocalion sides, but they're very nice indeed! We'll start out with everyone's favorite orange... yes, another version of "Valencia". Not a pipe organ to be found, sorry to all you Jesse Crawford fans. Again, no vocal credits, but I'm again suspecting 'Scrappy' Lambert on this recording. The disc, for being a B-side, is pretty groove-worn, but I managed to get a decent remaster out of it. And don't blame me if that tune gets stuck in your head. It will. You were warned. And stuff.
Coming close to being almost a perfect transfer is the A-side, a rousing little number named "Betty". WOW. Great tune, great recording, great transfer. Same vocalist, no credit, all it has on the side of the label is "For Dancing". A toe-tapper, surely, and hopefully something to help my friend Domi either get or stay awake. Ben Selvin sides are always discs to look for, at least for me. This one shows why.
We'll crank up the time machine a few years, not many though, to a pair of electrically recorded Columbia sides by another of my favorite band leaders, Ted Lewis. "Hi Diddle-Diddle" shows Ted at his spoken-crooning best, with just enough silliness to be a trademark Ted Lewis hit. And notice the 'adultization' of the nursery rhymes he uses as lyrics... makes it quite suggestive for the era, but was toned down enough to get it past the censors...
The other side to this one, "Iyone My Own Iyone" also brings in Hawaiian Guitar legend Frank Ferrera for one of his few electrical appearances. "Iyone" was usually just another dance number, but Ted decided to give it a Hawaiian feel (and change the spelling of the subject, too, from "Ione"), and he pulled it off quite nicely. This was a pre-Vita-Tonal D-series disc, but the engineers were on their toes this session, a nicely done recording of a pair of nicely done tunes.
I was looking for some things from the back bins to put in here, as I haven't been keeping up with the current encodes, and I found a bunch of Pathe' vertical recordings from the mid 1910s, actually possibly done very close to World War One. These are originally French recordings, but were also pressed in the US, probably from the original French Freres Pathe' cylinders. Pathe' vertical discs were recorded using a 'hill-and-dale' method of modulation, with the recording coming from a vertically modulated groove. Edison, and all the other cylinder recordings used the same methodology... Edison Diamond Discs were also vertically modulated, as opposed to horizontal modulation, used by Emile Berliner on his discs, and picked up my 95% of the other disc systems. Rex and OKeh used vertical modulation for a while, until Rex went away, and OKeh went lateral. The actual groove on these is more of a U-shape, and is much wider than a standard V-groove. The stylus used for playback was an actual sapphire ball mounted on a shank instead of a steel needle. The discs, because of this, usually suffered very little wear, and thusly transfer quite well, if you have a way to track them accurately. If you use a standard conical stylus, you'll get print-through from the adjacent groove, which is what you hear, and why you hear it. These are older transfers, done when I was living in Idaho and didn't have a good Pathe' stylus. I still don't have one, but one of these days I'll pop for one, since they're available for Stanton cartridges now.
Enough blather & history, here's a couple of the sides.
The first one, is more of a French-Swiss piece, sung by a singer credited only as Charlesky. "L'Echo Tyrolien" features M. Charlesky singing in French and.... yodeling. Tyrol is a region of Switzerland (for those of you geographically-challenged) that is oft-sung about. I wish my command of French was better, but I like just listening to this stuff. You definately won't hear this on most other blogs, it's pretty obscure!
The second one, from a different disc, is a very patriotic number by a singer credited only as "Berard". "Le Depart Du Bleu" sounds to me like a patriotic call to arms, something to counter the "Mister Dinkelspiel" type pro-German recordings. You can hear bits of "La Marsialle" (yes, I probably blew the spelling) in this one, which points it towards rousing the blood of the French Patriot overseas against the marchies of the Kaiser and his followers.
Well, I was looking through the bins some more, and found the Jesse Crawford theater organ recording of "Valencia". For some reason, this is one of the most ridiculed and least sought-after recordings... it is usually on the Bottom Ten Favorite list of a lot of collectors. One reason may be that there are so many copies of this disc out there. I think I have four or five, just from thrift-store grab-bags, and none of them are in any decent condition. This is actually the best one in the house, and it still has issues, but here it is, anyway. Jesse Crawford made several theater organ recordings, well into the early 1960s, but this was his 'break-out' recording (or, for some 78 collectors, a 'breat-IT' recording). It is an early Victor electrical recording, still on the Bat-wing style label (before the scroll-type label, which usually denoted an electrical recording). It has power, it has the deep bass, and it has the groove wear to go with it. History lessons later, if anyone wants it.
I just got done with another interesting record, so I'll post it. Back to the Brunswick acoustic recording room for Isham Jones' version of "I Can't Realize". Some goofiness in this one, as you'll note that the 'trombone' solo after the tasty piano chorus ain't no trombone! THEN, we get ANOTHER piece of silliness, the near-comb-and-paper solo. Isham, Isham, Isham.... don't know who was not credited with this goofiness, but I'm sure there are some very famous names hidden in this group.
Do we have time for one more? Sure! It's more pedestrian (dare I say, pre-lounge?), but it is more of a typical Isham Jones disc... "Lady of the Nile" is almost bland, compared to the cut on the other side of the record. Some thematic Mysterious Sounds of the East (well, I guess Egypt is east of Hoboken...), since that was a popular topic of the day, and flappers used the Egypt influence in their fashion style. So, there are a lot of recordings that used Egypt and the Middle East as a recording theme, and basicly they all sound a lot like this cut. Oh, yes, it was written by Gus Kahn and Isham Jones, so I guess that makes it a little less pedestrian than the other fluff of the day...
I was going to save this for later, to give some relief to the planned Clanker of the Week. And boy howdy, are you gonna need relief from this one. I'll leave you in blissful suspense as I think this recording will BREAK the Cringe-o-meter! Yes, even worse than Choke & Stink! And this was commercially released! Be afraid, be very afraid!
Until then, I remain,
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A quickie on a Tuesday afternoon
I don't have any dead rabbits or anything on my porch or such to relate (the Pinkster views them as chasing material, but not for the catching, that is, of course beneath her stature... she would rather watch them frolic and let the other felines of the area exert all their energy. The Pinkster is by no means fat or lazy, just too dignified for all that fuss. Squirrels? That's another matter entirely! If you go to my home page you will see the Pinkster in all her grandeur.
Music, Maestro, PLEASE!
I was going through the discs and found this pair by Roy Evans on COlumbia Vita-Tonal (electric recordings) that immediately reminded me of Leon Redbone, or at the least material he would have in his trick-bag. "I'm Tickled Pink With A Blue Eyed Baby" and "It's An Old Spanish Custom In The Moonlight" just feel like Leon Redbone songs, even though Roy sings them a couple of octaves above Leon's usual velvety growl. No orchestra credit is given, unfortunately... it's a nice, unobtrusive band. Oh, one more thing, Roy: lose the gargling effect, PLEASE.
I'll follow the Roy Evans sides with a couple of Victor electrical pressings... it was a conundrum I faced with these, as I was between sides of some pre-lounge stuff from the early 50s (pretty unremarkable stuff, that, but I'll let you decide, as I am posting them in today's audio journey), and looked down at the stack and saw "Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders" on a VIctor Scroll disc. Oh joy! Gotta encode this! "That's Why I Love You"... yep, I love the sound of those Victor Scrolls, the bass is just so... THERE. But wait... where did it go?? The rest of the recording is, um, well, OK I guess, but someone forgot to add in the bass! There's usually some great tuba or bass sax in there, but for some reason, someone put a sock in it. It's too bad, because this is a nice hook-y tune, typical of Johnny Hamp's work. The recordist must not have had something quite right because it sounds like there was some actual diaphragm buzz in this, wonder where THAT came from... And just who is responsible for that there fiddlin'... fess up now, or it's back to the bread lines....
So, I decide, let's do the other side, since it's a Jan Garber track. Gotta be at least a decent rendition of "Baby Face"... and it is. Benny Davis does the vocal chores in this recording while Jan cranks up the swinging orchestra all the way to 'Jaunt'. There's also some very hot muted cornet licks in there too before the vocal.
Now, the other part of the conundrum. I was in the midst of recording a disc by Wladimir Selinsky & his String Ensemble. Wladimir WHO? Well, Columbia thought he was worth something, as these two semi-unremarkable cuts came from a disc out of an early 1950s set called "Dinner Music". First alarm bell for a dull disc. But these aren't that bad... Wladimir is no Andre the K, but I guess he holds his own... you decide. In "Neopolitan Nights" you get a kind of feeling that you're in an Italian restaurant and Eisenhower has just been elected... and for that after-dinner martini, we have the "Sleeping Beauty Waltz"... is it nap time yet?
I'll close with another interesting side... this is an Oxford single-sided disc, and I wonder what the story is on it. "Mister Dinkelspiel" is sung by an unknown baritone (the only credit is "Baritone Solo with Orchestra") and is apparently an attempt to make the Germans look good in the US at around the time of World War 1 (before we became involved in actual fighting). There's a slight slam on the Irish, but mostly the lyricist shows the good German Guy as friend to America. A little propoganda you say? No more than the junk seen today on Fox & CNN and the rest of the media... remember, records were a way of spreading propoganda to the people in the early 20th century. I'll post some WW1 stuff later and you'll see.
Nuff-a-dis, gotta go to work... enjoy the day and I'll have more for you soon. Right-click on the link to download the tunes, you know the drill :)
Until next time,
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Oh boy, what a great record!
I was going through the stack-that-has-no-Hawaiian-78s, encoding away, and found a disc that I wish I could get a clean transfer of for you... the recording is SO good... FOR AN ACOUSTIC RECORDING! I heard highs on the trumpet that made me weep, a clarity that would not be reached by the electrical recordings for some years, and a very hot pair of numbers as well! The band responsible for these sides-o-hotness was Ben Selvin's Orchestra, and the pressings were on Vocalion (the filigree-type label). "Sweet Child" opens up with a piercing horn statement, and then rolls on from there. Mr. Selvin sure knew how to knock 'em out. The vocal credit is not given, I'll have to do some looking to see if it is who I think it is... the vocalist almost has a Harold "Scrappy" Lambert feel to his voice, but then again, a lot of male singers did at that time. I'd place this one smack in the middle of 1920-1923, and the recordist has his notes very handy. My only woe is that this disc is so hammered that I can't give you a true feel for the quality of the recording. I heard it and my first thought was "This is an ACOUSTIC recording??"
The other side picks up from where "Sweet Child" left off and rollicks even merrier... "I Wish I Was In Peoria"... this side just plain STOMPS. It's a tune that will catch in your hook-memory and never let go after a few listens. I had to go very easy on the filtering to try and capture how GOOD the recording originally was, but as with the other side, the wear factor is pretty darn high. I can see why, though, as good as this tune is. Mr. Selvin: hats off to you!
Calming down just a touch now... fanning myself after those two rollickers...
I posted over on AudiOddities (see sidebar for link) a cut of theater organ music. As a keyboard player, anything with a good piano or organ recording is a must for me. Yes, I have 4 or 5 copies of Zez Confrey's "Kitten On The Keys" along with some of his other recorded works. Not wanting to get into a dissertation on the Joys of Ragtime (and Why Scott Joplin is not the Be-all and End-all of Ragtime Composers), let me just say that I enjoy all forms of keyboard music, from Biggs to Joplin to Waller to Shearing to Kenton to Tatum to Brubeck to Vince Guaraldi to Corea to Jarret to Keith Emerson to to to....... I think you get the idea. "There's A Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder" is an example of a singer (Ned Miller) being accompanied by a good player (Milton Charles) on a halfway decent Wurlitzer Theater Organ (in this case the organ at the WENR Radio Studios in Chicago, Illinois). The recording is on a Columbia Vita-Tonal electrical recording, and you do get a sense of how full and rich a theater organ can sound, even in this late 20s recording. Try THAT with a horn, Thomas Alva! This song was recorded by other, more conventional dance orchestras, but it still somewhat swings with the theater organ booming away.
The reverse to this side, "Sonny Boy", is kind of a quasi-Irish lament... but it still shows off the stylistic capabilities of Ned Miller, in that he can do the Irish Tenor thing as well as make an honest attempt at a hot dance number.
Let's shift some gears now... I love the Hawaiian Steel guitar. That's a given. I also love performers that don't give a poop about their critics. Sure, you can have great steel players like Sol Hoopii and Mr. Ferrera, but this player was accused once of having "absolutely no musical taste, whatsoever." BAH! Roy Smeck has more taste in his little fingernail than all of his detractors, I think so anyways... I only wish that he had recorded on a label that had decent shellac quality! I do know that others that get Roy Smeck 78s have a dreadful time remastering them, because they are mostly very worn because of being played to near-death. Combine that with Brunswick's use of cruddy shellac on their Melotone subsidiary label, and you get headaches during the restoration process. Anyway, here we have Roy Smeck's Vitaphone Trio performing "The Waltz You Saved For Me", and it illustrates the headache factor perfectly... great recording of a guitar trio (and I do not know who does the vocal here either), on absolutely horrid shellac, played to near death. Sigh. But, there's a good college try in the restoration... the reverse side, "By The River Ste. Marie" came out much much better, however... again, uncredited vocal and Roy doing the zany things he did on the steel guitar, but it is all quite quite tasteful. He's got to be right up there with Sol (Hoopii) and Sol (K. Bright) and Frank Ferrera and Felix Mendelsohn for acumen in playing the instrument...
I've got more things to get posted for you, but I just HAD to get the Ben Selvin sides up tonight. I think you'll see why.
Right-click on the link to download the tunes, you know the drill :)
Until next time,
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Some talking records and some good news
Now, ON TO THE RECORDS!
I loaded up for you a while ago a Cal Stewart "Uncle Josh" disc, but today we have something a bit different in the spoken-word vein. Charles Ross Taggart recorded these two poetic recitations from Holman Day's writings of "Up In Maine". "Plain Old Kitchen Chap" (subtitled "Farmer Jones Prefers a Corner by the Kitchen Stove to the "Best Room"") tells a story of how Farmer Jones reacts to his Missus going all a-fancy on the Parlour, so that the place can be 'cultured up'... It is a good recitation, done in what is supposedly a Maine accent by Mr. Taggart, acoustically recorded for Victor in the early 20s. The record itself was VERY worn, and had a multitude of fairly deep gouges on it, as well as a bunch of surface noise. This took a couple of days to 'get right', and it still isn't perfect, but with a lot of material from this period, you have to pretty much work with what you have. At least the file is playable, and listenable now, whereas before it was pretty munged.
The reverse side features Mr. Taggart reciting from the same collection "The Stock in the "Tie-Up"", subtitled "Farmer Jones Talks on Cow Comfort". The recording, labelled "Humorous Dialect Story" on both sides, has Farmer Jones talking about his day and how he feels about his livestock faring the Maine winters. He also goes on about those who stand pious on Sunday yet leave cracks and holes in their barn walls, leaving their poor cattle far less than comfortable. This side is more worn than the other, and it shows, unfortunately. Again, a lot of work went into getting this one playable, but you'll probably notice a lot of artifacting when it gets noisy towards the end. My apologies, but this is a case of preserving the content as much as possible over getting the "perfect transfer". At least with my meager equipment :)
I promised you all a cat-realted recording, and here it is: "The Kitten With the Big Green Eyes". Recorded on a later (for Vocalion) blue label, Ronnie Kemper goes into a good bit about how the eternal war between kitties and mousies progresses over cheese... granted, it's not "Dingbat, the Singing Cat", but it has its' cuter moments... kinda... rough recording, the shellac quality makes Decca's blue-label stuff look good, and I'm sure Domi will give me a better idea on the dates for this side. For which I am eternally grateful :)
The A-side to this little novelty is a nice little sweet song, "Make-Believe Island". Harry Cool does the vocal duties on this ditty, and even though it pales against the efforts of Ray Kinney and the other Hawaiian bands, you gotta give 'em an 'E' for Effort... also another 'E' goes out to Helen Forrest for her nicely done rendition of "I Heard You Cried Last Night". This song touched a chord within me because of the week's events, so I recorded it into the computer... well, that's ONE reason anyway...
The OTHER reason, is that it is the reverse side of a very favorite platter of one of my listeners, Brian (Fool on Hill). A long time ago, he had asked me if I had this side, and I thought I did, but the recording I had was either someone else's transfer which they shared, or it was from a CD. Well, I finally have a copy of Columbia 36677 here in the Shanty, so, here is "James Session". Domi, you're gonna have to help me on who the session men were, but I *think* it is Krupa on drums, although I could very well be mistaken. Harry does a darn fine job on the solo as well. Brian seems to remember this being more "hot" and "swing-y" than it was, but I think this one rates right up there with "Tom Foolery" for a straight-out swing session. I had a bit of bother with the remastering, as CoolEdit has a problem with raspy-toned brass in the click reduction, which I haven't figured out how to fix... The other remaster I have is different than this one, mine sounds more muddy than I'd like, I guess I'll have to play with it at a later date to see if I can clear it up some more...
I promised you a Clanker of the Week, one that would blow away any credibility the artist had, and I think this one delivers. Oil up the Cringe-o-meter and prepare yourself for "Rice, Red Beans, and Turnip Greens", performed (probably under duress) by none other than Little Richard Penniman (as frontman to the "Tempo-Toppers"). This goes past a multitudes of "Oy Vey" to a heightened level of "GEVALT!" The story on this one is: when Little Richard got his start recording, he was under the production of one Don Robey (who, apparently, has had a multitude of stories written about him, none of them very flattering). Robey had, among others, the Peacock label in the mid 1950s (this was recorded in 1954), and was, to his credit, one of the pioneers of getting the R&B artists released and onto the radio stations that would play such music. This was, obviously, done before Penniman's very successful stint on the Specialty label, and, to its' credit has some nice sax work on the solo (completely cancelled by the organ break)... but just the sheer concept of someone who made his fortune singing about how "She's Got It" and many others that just plain ROCKED.... well, I'll give it a 7 on the Cringe-o-meter.
A bit of administratia before we close this post, I discovered that on a couple of things last time I forgot to put on the MP3 ID3 tags... these should be fixed, but if you run into any more, please let me know, and I'll remedy that.
Next time, we'll have a few more Hawaiian things, somoe more acoustical recordings, and well, STUFF! Hopefully, I can get a mid-week posting in, even if it means that I give you some old encodes that are laying about (with over 3/4 of a terabyte in MP3 files, I think I can find SOMETHING...)
Again, thaks in advance for all your thoughts and prayers, we appreciate them all.
Right-click on the link to download the tunes, you know the drill :)
Until next time,
Monday, April 10, 2006
I was going to start out with another side with a Colorado motif that I found in the thrift-store stack. But after listening to the B-side of that one, I kinda feel led to post the B-side first. It puts how I feel at the moment into song, and is a request for those of you who know me (via the net, no matter how fleeting the relationship) to please follow the advice of the title: "Light A Candle In The Chapel" (sung by Johnnie Johnston & His Orchestra). This is a bit melancholic but for a "sweet" music side, it has just the right bit of poignancy in it, especially for my current mood. I don't know much about the orchestra, but looking at the matrix number, it is very early on in the Capitol run, so this would be maybe 1940-ish? The shellac quality is remarkably good, and the recording is many shades above OK (not referring to the OKeh label, mind you). Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, I and my 16 year old daughter, as well as the rest of the house, could certainly use them.
The side with the Colorado motif is the A-side to the above, "The Singing Sands of Alamosa". Johnnie croons nicely about the valley in southern Colorado that is basically a desert... sand dunes and all. Alamosa is only a town of roughly 10,000 people now, I can imagine what it was like in the 1940s... a dusty, sandy, windy clapboard town with not a heck of a lot going for it... but I do hear that the scenery has an allure of its' own down there, especially in the spring. I do know that it gets hotter than blazes there in the summer, and it is not unusual for Alamosa to get well over a foot of snow at a time in the winter. How that equates with a desert is one of the wonderful conundrums of this state... but Colorado is a beautiful place overall, from the prairies out east, to the majesty of the Rockies (which I have a view of from my house), to the very arid western slope. And many natural wonders in-between. If I find any more Colorado songs, I'll be sure and post them up.
I feel the need for something soothing here, so I am gonna delve back into the Hawaiian pile for the remainder of the night's posting...
I know that there have been a bunch of Ray Kinney discs on here already, but he was one of the more prolific recordists of the Hawaiian genre in the late 30s and early 40s. His stylings may not have been as accurately 'Hawai'ian kine' as, say, Sol Hoopii, but he still had a following in the nightclubs of Honolulu and the west coast of the US... enough so to have a TON of stuff released on Decca, both hula stylings as well as the more 'mainland-sound' band arrangements. This one, "Don't Play Aloha Oe When I Go" refers to the tradition of performing "Aloha Oe", the song written by Queen Liliukolani when she was basically kicked out of what was once her soverign country by the US in the 1900s when Hawaii became a US colony & territory. It is a VERY sad song, with very sad connotations for native Hawai'ians, so Ray basically says here, "Don't be sad, I will return to my island home some day." It's more of a 'mainland' arrangement, but still features some nice Hawaiian steel guitar, and is just a nice piece of music. Decca blue-label recording again, with the inherent lousy shellac quality, but I think I got most of the offending clicks out.
Next up, we have Ray Kinney doing more Island-style hula songs. From an earlier session and release than "Don't Play Aloha Oe...", we have a nice pair here: "Haleiwa", and "Papalina Lahilahi". Both these tracks are sung in the native Hawai'ian and are a fair representation of hula stylings of the late 1930s. I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of the music, mind you... but still nice to listen to, and a pair of darn good mood-mellowers.
We'll close this session with another pair of sides from one of my most favorite Island artists, Sol K. Bright and his Hollywaiians. His great cut "Hawaiian Cowboy" is one of my absolute most favorite sides. I first heard that song on a CD of Hawaiian Steel Guitar remasters, and it really opened up my eyes to two new worlds: Hawaiian Steel Guitar, and Hawaiian Slack-key Guitar. I have always been on the look-out for recordings of either ever since, and have found some absolute treasures, on 78, 45rpm signles, LPs, and CDs.
Tonight, we do not have "Hawaiian Cowboy" but two later, and more restrained sides from Mr. Bright and his troupe. The first one, a 'loper' (listen and you'll see why) is "I Wonder Where My Hula Girl Has Gone". This song has one of the most ambitious use of wood-block rhythm I think I have ever heard. It's almost Hawaiian-sweet-western, but the vocals are nice, and it's not a frenzy (to some Sol K Bright fans, this recording was a dissapointment in its' mellowness). Recorded in the 40s on Bluebird (the Victor sub-label that crossed many sonic genres in its' life), the quality of the recording is quite nice as well.
The flip side, "Tropic Trade Winds", is somewhat of a rarity for Sol K, because, unlike a vast majority of his recorded works, it is sung in English. Sol sang his lyrics in Hawaiian, Samoan, and even Tahitian; this is the first one of his sides that I have heard him sing in English. Mayhaps this was a disc for the tourist trade? I know not... but it is still, I think, worthy of inclusion onto the Shanty Virtual Turntable.
Well, kids, that be it for tonight. Bear with me & my moods, things should look brighter in a few days' time.
And again, thaks in advance for all your thoughts and prayers, we need 'em.
Right-click on the link to download the tunes, you know the drill :)
Until next time,
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Let there be SWING!
I want to start off with the other side of a Will Fyffe 78 I put up a few postings ago. Since now I have a hour-plus each way commute to work, I threw the contents of the shellac shanty holding folder and Lee's MY(P)WHAE & Vintage Lounge sites onto a mp3 CDR so I can haev wonderful randomness to soothe the jangled nerves instead of the crap one hears on commercial radio. Makes one HELL of a difference! Anyways, I was listening to the Will Fyffe sides, and thought, 'What the hey, I should share the other side too', so, here it is... Will Fyffe's "Sailing Up The Clyde", a story about leaving one's home to venture onto the high seas, or at least that was the original intent :) I'll have to do up some Sir Harry Lauder sides so you can compare.
Next, we have a nice waltz from Joseph C Smith's Orchestra (a companion to a side posted earlier), "Three O'clock in the Morning". A classic Victor Bat Wing acoustical side, nicely recorded and the remaster came out nicely, or so I think anyways.
Does it look like I am doing house-cleaning here? Well, maybe, but there's a method to my madness... it's called 'sharing the wealth' :) either that or 'drown them with material!!'
Here's a companion, kind-of, to the bird call story disc, "Children's Songs and Games (part 1)" and "Children's Songs and Games (part 2)", performed quite aptly by Prince's Orchestra on a blue label Columbia acoustic recording. Prince was very good at taking the mundane children's songs and making a nice orchestral suite out of it. Mr. Prince was quite prolific at recording suites of airs and collections of songs, to the point that the practice of combining two or three popular tunes of the day into a medley, and calling it by another name, may have originated with his technique. I know a lot of artists did that during the mid-acoustical era...
One more comedic oddity before we get to the swing stuff... Cal Stewart made a lot of records under the name "Uncle Josh". These were stories from the point of view of a person from 1900-era rural America, a 'country bumpkin' as it were. There are several people that collect Cal Stewart "Uncle Josh" recordings exclusively! Cal recorded for Victor, Columbia, and Edison, and his stories can be found on both disc and cylinder format. This recording, "Uncle Josh Gets A Letter From Home", is on a Columbia disc, and dates from some time in the 1910s. His laugh is pretty infectious, too.
Now, on to the good stuff (if you're a swing fan)... I found these in the same pile as the Hawaiian discs, in pretty good shape, and quite listenable!
If you're into Frank Sinatra, here's an early recording of him while he was with the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, "Snootie Little Cutie". Frankie shares vocal duties with Connie Haines and the Pied Pipers in this song about a girl so taken with romance and moonlight and stuff... All penned by one of my favorite songwriters of the day, Bobby Troup. Yes, he was Dr. Joe Early on the old "Emergency" TV series, the frumpy one who was hooked up with Nurse Dixie (played cool as a cucumber by Julie London). Bobby and Julie were married in real life, and I think that she did some singing for the band he had going in the Los Angeles area. Bobby wrote a BUNCH of good material, and this is one of his gems, I think. The recording is definately post-WW2 (or the release is, anyways... the label actually says "RCA Victor" and not just "Victor"), but I think that the recording engineer had stuffed the mics with his old socks or something... very muffled. But it still swings... I tried to get some of the high end back on the re-master, but to not much avail...
The reverse side (which is actually the 'A' side) is a VERY nice instrumental swing session by Tommy & the band, "Tom Foolery". I don't know who did the hot trumpet solo, but it COOKS. I'm gonna have to get out all my information on sessions, but, in the meantime, if anyone has information or session data, PLEASE leave a comment and I'll share it.
(Addendum: much thanks to Lady Domi who supplied me with this in the comments:
"If you're talking about Victor 20-2116, 'Snooty Little Cutie' was recorded on February 19, 1942 in Hollywood and 'Tom Foolery' on April 8, 1946 in New York. Judging from the line-up, the trumpet player must be Charlie Shavers (he's the hottest guy in the section, at least)..."
Thanks again!!! Brilliant stuff :) )
The other swing 78 I'll share with you is in not as good of shape as the Dorsey side, but it's still a couple of nice numbers...
one of which was written by Bobby Troup! Here we have Johnny Messner and His Orchestra backing Jeanne D'Arby doing the Bobby Troup classic "Daddy". This is an earlier version of the song than the June Christy & Stan Kenton version, and does not show up on the ASCAP database. The release is, I THINK, pre-WW2 Decca (blue-label) and suffers from their inconsistent shellac quality, but I think I got most of the crud out of it.
The B-side is an interesting little instrumentsl semi-stomper, "Mobile Flag Stop", subtitled "Catching the 8:02 Local". A good train-motif song, it chugs along merrily, something harder than the Toonerville Trolley, but not as hard-charging as a good version of "The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe". Again, suffering from the Decca shellac issue, but listenable, nonetheless.
Well, enough for one night, I'll post some more Hawaiian stuff tomorrow, because I have gobs of it here!
As always, right-click on the link to download & enjoy!
Thanks for posting feedback, please continue, it makes my day :)
Kind words from across the sea
Being of morose mood and so much is not very sadistic in this rainy Sunday, I do not resist the pleasure of recommending the blog of Brad to you, which on the other side of the Atlantic prevails (and more precisely in Colorado) under the soft name of "The Impaler", and whose "Shellac Shanty" (the "Hut with the shellacs", the shellac being matter whose the 78 turns were made) conceals some completely dispensable scarcities.
Not need to be anglophone: it is enough to click on the titles of pieces... Hold, for example, this "Where Did my Snowman Go" interpreted by Patti Page and a chorus of children as you never heard some before (to be downloaded in own way of weapon defensive, very practical to make flee a guest who encrusts yourselves)...
But, I exaggerate. There are also at Brad very full with curiosities very sympathetic nerves: inter alia, two songs hawaiiennes with matched guitar - very pleasant to listen while the rain tambourine with the windows.
Merci beaucoup, my friend :) I speak and read the language somewhat, so I got the gist of her kind words, but Babelfish helped in the intricacies...
Ah, it does the heart good to be commented upon positively :) Her site is VERY good when it comes to the realm of jazz and reviews of same... if you read French, you can go directment to her Jazz Corner. If you don't read French, there's always Babelfish :)
In honor of her very kind words, I think I'll share some shellacs aux Francais that I encoded up a few years ago with you fine folks... I enjoyed these when I got them, and going back and listening to them again make me wish I was somewhere in the French countryside with a basket full of wine, cheese, breads, and my portable gramophone... watching the world go by... a spring day perfect for romance. The artist I speak of is Jean Sablon, a voice not very familiar with American listeners, but he should be (at least I think so)...
La Chansons des Rues
Un Poisson Dans l'Eau
Vous Qui Passez Sans Me Voir
All of these are from Columbia 78s recorded and mastered in France but pressed in the US. If I remember correctly, the releases came after WW2, perhaps 1946 or 47. They sound good, or they WOULD sound better than these encodes are... reason being: I encoded these YEARS ago on somewhat slower computers and inferior equipment. If I can find the discs I want to re-encode them, because (1) they are sonically very interesting, very 'warm and comfy' in the recording room, and (2) I like the material.
Oh sure, there are a BUNCH of releases by Jean Sablon, Charles Trenet, even Maurice Chevalier available on CD, but I find that getting the shellac disc, cleaning it, recording it into the computer, and then sitting back with a nice glass of wine on a sunny Sunday afternoon as they merrily play along (and not having to worry about scratching or dropping or breaking the disc), what could be better?
Lady Domi, I wish for you sunny, breezy Sunday afternoons, but if it rains, I wish for you (and all my readers) a warm fire, a sense of quietude, and many cabinets (or hard drives full) of good music to wash away the melancholy of the day.
Shellac, good companionship, good wine, and cats. Can it get any better?
Friday, April 07, 2006
Patti, Patti, how COULD you....
I have a couple more German sides, but I won't inflict them on you. Instead, we're going to go DIRECTLY to the Clanker of the Week. This one should have been recorded on Don't-ium (Hit of the Week records were on Durium... sound it out... OK, so it ISN'T funny...). And, although it is supposed to be some kind of Winter Yule Holiday release, one of those that make you want to sip that hot chocolate as you curl up to the warm toasty log fire in the fireplace, after hearing this record, I wanted to double-slam-inject some insulin, hurl my Christmas cookies, and vehemently throw this disc into the cheerily burning fire. I'll explain in a bit why this disc was saved from that cruel fate reserved for Jesse Crawford 78s.
The Clanker of the Week is..... Patti Page (with the Hugo Peretti Orchestra, and a bunch of kids screaming at the top of their itty-bitty screeching lungs) performing (or mayhaps, suffering through)
"Where Did My Snowman Go". Have your most cringing expressions at the ready, my friends. I would give this one a solid 8 on the Clank-o-meter. Or the Cringe-o-meter. Patti, Patti, Patti, was this actually in your contract?
Now, as to the reason why this disc is not in a kajillion pieces on the floor: "Changing Partners". This is the B-side of this Mercury 78, probably recorded in the 1950s, definately with a different orchestra (Joe Reisman), and a WHOLE LOT more feeling. As bad as the kiddie record is, this one is just so much..... BETTER. It is good to find a side that restores one's faith in a singer, no?
While we're on love songs, a couple of them popped up on the Hawaiian stack I am going through, and these would definately qualify as late-early Exotica. Recorded in the late 30s, and on Decca (but with decent shellac quality for the blue-label variety), Ray Kinney offers up "Wahini U'i", or "Beautiful One". Written by James Kahale, and featuring George Kaniapau on the vocals, this is a truly beautiful number. Add in the tasty Hawaiian steel guitar, and you're ready for an evening with a drink with an umbrella in it on the lanai at the Royal Hawaiian, watching the surf roll in and out as the sun sets.
The reverse side, "Mi Nei", or "How About Me?" is even that much better. I truly got lost in this one. Vocal duties by George Kaniapau and Henry Paul, and written by Charles E. King, this is soooo silky and sooo smooth, you should be on your several-th umbrella drink by now. My goodness. Decca sure knew how to get the good stuff. These two sides are actually from an album (which I don't have the jacket for), and I sure hope there's more like these in the Hawaiian stack-o-shellac. Looking down at the next few discs, there is. Yay-ness!
Anyone up for some Armenian crooning? Sure ya are :) I found this in a stack of Soviet LP recordings of Armenian folk songs and stories, and it is actually the best record of the bunch. Imagine my surprise when I opened the sleeve (yes, it has a cardboard sleeve), and the disc came out all nice and shellac-y. I was surprised, to say the least. I was even more surprised when I got done remastering it! The LPs are a lot of Armenian folk tales in spoken-word format, so I didn't give them too much consideration (they're here though, awaiting the day when I start up a THIRD music blog...). But this I had to get posted, because it is a neat little bit of Armenian language crooning. "Karine", sung by Karo Tonikyan, with appropriate backing by the Armenian State Variety Orchestra, conducted by A. Alvazyan, who also composed the selection. Yes, the MP3 tag reads Armenian State VARSITY Orchestra (my oopsie), which was going to lead to the comment about wondering about the Armenian State Junior Varsity Orchestra and all that, but, as usual, I digress yet again.
The recording, I would place as being done in the late 50s or early 60s... I'll have to consult with some of my friends on the 78rpm mailing list as to when the Soviet State Recording Ministry quit pressing 78s. The B-side, "Karavan", ain't half bad, either. Almost a tango feel to it, but with the Armenian flavor. Not to be confused with the Ellington version of "Caravan", but still a nice piece. And I have the correct info on the MP3 ID tag, too. This one has a bit more of the crackle to it, and try as I might, I could not get all of it out.
Never mind, I fixed the first bad tag.
Six selections, will that hold you over for a day or two? I surely hope so
As always, right-click on the link to download & enjoy!
AND POST SOME FEEDBACK!!! ELSE I WILL PUT UP MORE GERMAN STUFF!!!
(because I fixed the comment dealie)
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Just a couple more German things, I promise
I really did want to get these German & Austrian things posted, as some of the recordings are quite good, and the material is, well, different! I have a huge stack of about 60 Hawaiian things to post, as well as a bunch more acoustic sides from the 1910s and early 1920s to get encoded (and share with you all)... and since my work schedule will only get worse for the next few weeks, I'm resigned to only posting a few sides a week (unless I get a burr under my saddle and post some other stuff I have already encoded)...
Last posting, I offered up a pair by a duet, A. Engel & L. Nolte. I have another pair of recordings by Herr Engel, on the Odeon label this time. The artist credit on this disc is "Altmeister Adolf Engel, Wien - Tenor mit Orchesterbegleitung", so now we have a first name for this singer. Whether or not he is the Austrian equivalent of Billy Murray, I do not know... the vocal register is similar though... see what you think about "Die alte Uhr". This is an excellent example of how good an acoustical recording can be. Yes, meinen Damen und Herren, the singer & orchestra are playing into a recording horn (or horns). The recording engineers really had the arcane art of adjustments and tunings of the recording diaphragm down by this time, to the point that recording engineers' notebooks were highly valued secrets, and many of them took their notebooks with them when they left the studio they worked for for other ventures. This is an American recording of Herr Engel, as opposed to the European recording of the duet on Columbia in the previous posting.
Die alte Uhr is actually the B-side of the disc, "Weisst du Mutterl was i traumt hab'" being the A-side. Again, a really well done acoustical recording, I believe done in the mid 1920s. I don't have access to any of my dating guides so I am in the dark as to pressing and release dates.
One more thing about Odeon orange discs... the German ones (whether American or European pressings) will have the labels in the German font, which is a headache to read. But, at that time, that was the de facto font for anyone speaking or reading German. So, those make for some interesting additions to the shellac collection.
Giving the Germans a bit of a break, let's hit a couple of classical sides from this batch. Victor had Enrico Caruso as their flagship tenor in the 1910s and 1920s. Columbia had a few good voices of their own, one of which was Oscar Seagle. His recordings of "Chanson Bachique", from the opera Hamlet, and the Prologue from 'I Pagliacci'" by Leoncavallo, demonstrate his apt and able handling of both the French and Italian styles, at least of the day. Victor and Columbia were at each others' throats to get the classical masters on their respective labels, and the recordings sometime suffered for it. Mr. Seagle's efforts, though, were not wasted here, even though the orchestra sounds like they were playing in a closet full of blankets. Either that, or the recording engineer left his notebook at home that day.
We'll head merrily back across the Atlantic with another acoustical recording of the Columbia Quartette, "When The Sheep Are In The Fold, Jenny Dear". This is a nice example of almost-barbershop harmony with a meager background orchestra. I do not know the personnages behind the generic name 'Columbia Quartette', but there are a few familiar voices in there. I'll have to give this another serious listen to see, but I don't think either Billy Murray or Edward Smalle are in there (two names very familiar to aficionadii of early 1920s music). This has to come from the mid to late 1910s, as the matrix number and catalog number are embossed under the label, instead of being in the run-out groove. Early Columbia pressings are like that. It is even quite possible that this could have been recorded and released on cylinder as well, but usually a separate recording was done for the cylinder release. By this time, cylinders were on the wane, and discs were rapidly becoming the media of choice.
Well, I think I am going to leave you with these for the next few days. Please, pass the word around if you like the site, and please also feel free to leave comments. It gives me something to read besides the 295 pieces of eMail that fill my inbox
As always, right-click on the link to download & enjoy!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
More of the Germans (and them damn birds)
OK, we'll start with some German Volkslieder (folk-music) from the same batch that the last 2 German sides were from. Note that these are German recordings on US-pressed discs. I do have some German discs around here, and may post them at some future date. There was a large market for German 78s in the US as there were a lot of German immigrants in the midwest in the 1920s and 1930s (about the time when these were pressed & released). If you get fortunate, you can find some of these 78s in estate sales & thrift stores.
The tracks are longer than usual, as all the sides for today's posting came from 12 inch discs as opposed to the usual 10 inch discs. 12 inchers were usually reserved for longer compositions (duh!) such as classical works, and, in some cases, extended jazz takes. In the 1910s, Columbia did waltzes on 12 inch discs, and Victor recorded a lot of light opera 'highlight' discs, known as "Gems of...".
Enough of the rambling, first up is a pair of sides by A. Engel & L. Nolte, a male & female duet, backed by an unknown orchestra (and the occasional track of those damn birds). I don't know what it is about German Volksleider adn birds, but apparently it is supposed to be a Schwartzwald (Black Forest) type of thing. Annoying.
"Voger'l Fliagst in die Welt Hinaus", and "Im Prater Bluhen Wieder die Baume". Both are electrical recordings, and I think date from the mid 1920s.
We'll continue with a track on a more pure classical vein, "Transcription of the Folk-Song 'S kommt ein Vogel gefolgen", done by the ubiquitous (and anonymous) Grand Odeon Orchestra. Electrically recorded in Europe and released on a US-pressed Odeon 12-inch disc, I combined both sides into one file, so you don't have to turn the mp3 file over and restart it on the turntable to hear the second part. This is a very nice performance, and the recording ain't too bad either.
Finishing this weekend's offering off is this clanker, "Neue Wiener Volksmusik" (New Vienna Folk Music), performed by the also (well-deservedly so) anonymous Columbia Konzert Orchester. I also combined the two sides into one file for your convenience. The composer is listed only as "Komzak" and the conductor is listed as an "A. Weiss". As you can hear, the first part comes off credibly enough, but the second part begins to deteriorate to the point of belonging on Peter Schickele's program segment of Mediocre Performances. There are some SERIOUS clankers in here, perhaps due to the amount of beverages consumed by the performers? Who knows, but these gaffes were preserved on shellac for all the world to forget...... except us poor shellac archivists who are (un)fortunate enough to run into pieces of well-intentioned drek like this.
I think I am going to start a Clanker Of The Week 'feature'.... and this recording would sure qualify. As far as Clankers go, this one isn't TOO bad (about a 5 on the Cringe-o-meter), but, believe you me, there are some cringers out there. I'll share them, with appropriate warning, of course. With an evil grin. And an even more evil gin. And stuff.
As always, right-click on the link to download & enjoy!