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,
I'll save the music for tomorrow morning...
Will try to find a few minutes to make a summary of the French vocal too, just in case anyone might be interested.
It's "La Marseillaise", by the way, named after... yes, the town of Marseille. Can't remember why. Probably because some revolution of some kind started overthere.
Have a nice day - I'm rushing back to work, I'm in a heck of a hurry...
The Art Tatum should make up for the Clanker, though.
One should hope.
The vocalist on the first Selvin side is... uncredited in my discography too. But the band had recorded 'Valencia' on May 13, 1926 already (about one week earlier) for Banner 1749, with vocals by Irving Kaufman. The band had two other vocalists for this sessions: Arthur Hall & Billy Jones (the pianist is Rube Bloom on this one). As for 'Betty', vocals are credited to Ben Selvin himself.
As for the Ted Lewis sides, George Brunies was on trombone.
Now to Bérard, whose first name was Adolphe, but singers back then were known by one name only -- be it their last name or a pseudonym. Think of Fréhel and Dranem (his last name: Ménard, spelled backwards). Bérard was born in 1870 and died in 1946, and was one of the most popular singers of his time, pretty much a pop-star of the 1920s & 30s, even though he was short, with a limp and a slight squint (those were the days when talent was more important than looks...). His repertoire was mostly made up of patriotic & dramatic songs.
Er... thank you, Google. I knew the name, but not all the details...