Saturday, May 27, 2006
A Memorial Day Marching Salute
We'll start the martial madness with a few recordings of the immortal Prince's Band, all on acoustically recorded Columbia discs. The All-American March seems like a good enough place to start... unfortunately I don't have the disc in front of me at the moment, but I'll insert composer info when I do find the disc again. On the back side of this 78 is Prince's Band playing John Phillip Sousa's Directorate March. Not as well known, but still very capably performed. Next up, we have a Medley of Patriotic Airs, arranged by Maurice Smith for Prince's Band. Stirring! We conclude with Meacham's American Patrol March. Wow. Break out the flags and rally 'round 'em boys!
We'll move way up the timeline to some more modern recordings that I found by The Goldman Band. These are some REALLY nice recordings, especially for the time, and ESPECIALLY since they're on Decca (albeit late 40s-early 50s Decca). There were 8 sides in the set, but I only had 3 discs, so, once again, 2 sides are missing... maybe one day I can get the last missing sides of this, but for now, here are the 6 sides I have:
Boston Commandery, written by T M Carter
2nd Regimental Connecticut National Guard March wriiten by B W Reeves
Colonel Bogey March, written by K J Alford
Our Flirtation, written by J P Sousa
National Emblem March, written by E E Bagley
Stepping Along, written by E F Goldman
The last one was written by the conductor, by the way. Nice stuff for a parade!
Well, I wish you all a very Blessed and safe holiday weekend, I'll be watching fast cars try and negotiate Monaco, Indianapolis, and Charlotte Motor Speedway all day tomorrow, if the motorsport gets boring, I'll encode some more!
Monday, May 22, 2006
Bob & Marek & Ted and the Debutantes
The weather has actually been good for transferring stuff, especially from reel to mp3: warm, humid, just a little breeze to make the studio bearable. It also works pretty well for 78 transfers too, for some reason, the discs are a little less noisy, and I don't get the static discharges that one gets in low-humidity climes.
But that doesn't mean that the transfers are easy, no sir-ee... the first one will be a bit of a pain to listen through, and I almost didn't post it, but it is some good trad-style jazz by one of the premier players of the post-WW2 era, Pee Wee Hunt. This pair is on the FM label, out of Los Angeles, and they look like they were pressed on ARA machines (the matrix numbers look very much like ARA pressings), which means that the ARA 'standard' shellac mix was not used, this stuff is WORSE. I don't know what got into these grooves, but it was nasty-nasty! The A-side, After You've Gone, is almost unlistenable, for which I apologize, but the B-side, On The Sunny Side of the Street fared somewhat better. Still noisy, but at least you can get an idea of what was being laid down that day.
While we're on poopy shellac quality, let's play us an early Decca from 1935... Mike Reilley & Eddie Farley and the Reilley-Farley Onyx Club Boys, in a little bot of pseudo-trad jazz called The Music Goes Round And Round. Reilley & Farley get the composition credits on this one, perhaps this is the original recording? Again, poor shellac quality (typical early Decca), but a worthy recording. The B-side, Looking For Love, is a VERY nice instrumental romp, especially considering that the shellac didn't get played to death.
Shifting gears, we'll play a little Marek Weber. Or at least I think we will, because the recording engineer, in his infinite wisdom, on a VERY nice recording of waltz medleys, decided to roll off the top at somewhere around 8000 Hz I think. Apaprently the studio was connected to the recording machine by two paper cups and a string? Shame on you, Columbia Records, for cloning Thomas A. Edison's ears onto some poor recordist.... in any case, here's In Old Vienna: Waltz Medley and In Old Vienna: Franz Lehar Waltz Medley. Dance cards please.....
All RIGHTY then... let's spice things up a bit with a gen-yew-wyne OKeh Oater... Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys! I think these were recorded in Houston, TX (matrix number starting with "H"), but they could have been done in Los Angeles... but they were cut on a July day in 1941, and Bob was definately feeling his oats on these. Tommy Duncan takes the vocal reins on Please Don't Leave Me, and then Leon McAuliffe rips it up on My Life's Been A Pleasure... well Bob certainly was doing SOMETHING pleasurable with his signature "Awww-HAAAWWW!!" calls during the song... all in all, a VERY good Wills pair here.
We'll close with what might be called the Clanker(s) of the Week.
I like Hawaiian music. Really I do. And I thought that this would be a good pair of Hawaiian sides. Really I did. But then, after playing them and encoding them, I remembered why I don't like Ted Fio Rito. Aside from the very Lawrence Welk schmaltz, aside from the inane and obnoxious wood-block playing, aside from the uninspired vocals from The Debutantes, Ted takes two GREAT Hawaiian Johnny Noble songs, and turns them into POOP! In A Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua, Hawaii... the girls could be singing about the Corn Festival in Salina, Kansas, for all I know. And what they do to King Kamehameha... I ought to post the Sol Hoopi version, done on Brunswick a few years earlier. MUCH more noble Noble song. Ted, you ought to have been thrown off the boat, sirrah. No wonder Spike Jones made an early target of you. These were recorded in April of 1938.... but they shouldn't have been. Cringe-o-meter? Off the scale.
I still have a bunch of marching music here, I think I'll post those for Memorial Day. Have a great week, and see you next time!
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Another Sunday mixed bag
We'll kick it off with a smoothie that was somewhat of a commercial success for one of my favorite singing pianists, Nat "King" Cole. Released in 1951, backed by Les Baxter's orchestra, we have Nat crooning Too Young. Nicely melodicized... smoothly sung... have another Manhattan as we curl up by the shellacophone, Dah-h-h-h-ling.
What's the better side? Of course, it would be Nat with his trio (uncredited) in a number with MUCH more jazz flavour: That's My Girl. Phil Rugolo's orchestra this time, and Nat sounds like he is having way too much fun on this take.
Turning back the clock a tad, we have a bit of a mystery here. I have this killer-diller V-Disc, y'see, and the label for one side is completely ripped off. It also looks like it had a milkshake spilled on it at some point in time. So, I clean it within an inch of its' life, do the encoding on it, and it SOUNDS like it may be Jack Teagarden, BUT I AM NOT SURE. [note correction in next paragraph!] There are the two songs on the one side, I'm Confessin' That I Love You, and Pale Moon. [The original title I had was "Song of Hiawatha" as the lyrics are directly from the poem of the same name] The singing style is definately unique, the music jumps quite nicely, but I still can't get a handle on who the leader is of this band. The catalogue number is 140b, but I have not been able to find it on any of the online discograpy tools to confirm just who it is, so that I can give it proper credit.
AND PROPER CREDIT IS FOUND!!!! Thanks to Lady Domi, these 2 cuts are Identified as TONY PASTOR! I'll be changing the ID3v2 tags on the files shortly to reflect the correct artist and title info.
The other side is a nice little small group session by John Kirby & His Orchestra, Do You Savvy. Shades of the Goodman small groups, this is definately tasty. the V-disc sessions were unique in that a lot of players could combine talents 'for the War Effort'... usually contractual obligations and restrictions would have prevented a lot of the group sessions from occurring... there's a couple of websites with some very interesting stories about V-discs and some of the things that went on during the sessions. Worth a Google!
While we're on the subject of longer sessions, I found a nice Hit of the Week recording by Phil Spitanly's Orchestra, I Apologise. Oh yes, I left the Cal Fight Song in there too, along with the announcement for "next Thursday's record." Hit of the Week records were basically paper-backed discs with a coating on them in which the grooves were pressed. They were one-sided, and played about 5 minutes length. Released by the Durium Co. during the Depression Era, the company thought that people would buy records at newsstands for a nice cheap price. Unfortunately, Durium fell to the economic woes, but we still have the music to remember them by.
As an aside, the concept of a magazine with a CD in it is definately not new!
Scooting up to 1937, we have these recordings of the Quintette of the Hot Club of France that were re-released by Victor on their Hot Jazz Classics label. You can hear the synergy that Django Reinhart and Stephaine Grapelli brought forth on these cuts, Miss Annabelle Lee, and Mystery Pacific. These Victor pressings aren't the greatest (I suspect somewhat worn masters) but they do show one heck of a great group swinging like there is no tomorrow.
Nine years, and one war later, we have a couple of nice tunes by George Olsen & His Orchestra. First, we have Judith Blair singing about war surplus! I've Got A Walkie Talkie... gee, well we had to do SOMETHING with all that surplus military equipment, I guess... the disc looked like it had gone through WW2, and the transfer is nowhere near as good as I would have liked it, but I did this up for a couple of friends that are fellow Amateur Radio operators, and this is my little tribute to them. The other side, Surrender, has Ray Adams singing about something that happened well over 9 months before the recording date... I guess the military theme was still on a lot of people's minds (at least until the V-J babies started appearing!).
Cranking up the time machine to September of 1950, we have Sammy Kaye with another sweet piece of romantic moosh, Guilty. It's not that bad, Tony Alamo does a credible job of singing here, but it just epitomizes the 'sweet' swing that makes me want to reach for the insulin after each playing of the song.
So, why did I inflict this upon you? For the B-side, of course! Who can resist anything with the words "Novelty Polka" on the label? Certainly not me! Cheeky Cheeky Hoopla fits this bill... with Tony Alamo and the Kaydettes singing this bit of drivel for the masses in Pennsylvania or Ohio (no offense intended to residents of Ohio or Pennsylvania...), I guess it is just another piece of undiscovered dementia. But it IS kinda fun though.
We'll close this week with a swinger and a swinging oater. From 1939, on the Varsity label, here is Will Osborne and his Slide Music with You Call It Madness. Nicely done, nicely swung, but otherwise nicely unremarkable. Will Osborne does the vocal work here, and not too bad of a pressing for a smaller record label. Sometimes you get the better stuff on the smaller labels (gee, kind of like today, you can get better stuff on the indie labels than what the big boys are spewing forth with...)
The swinging oater, and GREAT surprise, is Will's rendition of the Bob Nolan classic, Tumbling Tumbleweeds. It's country-swing at its' earliest? Country-jazz-swing? Jazz-western? Certainly not Hilbilly-bop.... and probably something that Buddy Rich wouldn't be TOO allergic to! It is interesting that Will took the chance with the arrangement on this tune, personally I think he pulls it off quite well, and this is one of MY favorite versions of the song.
Well, time to call the mothers in my life and wish them a happy day, enjoy the sides, and we'll see you again soon with more shellac-y STUFF!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess" suite
The shellac quality is typical Columbia Masterwork late 1940s (which means it's OK but very susecptible to any kind of grunge on the disc and almost 'mooshy' in places), but a little bit of CoolEdit's juju and it cleaned up to about 90% of where I'd really like it to be.
CoolEdit Pro also has a nice way to combine the discs using their multi-track mixer... makes the side transitions almost seamless!
The complete file is about 23 megs and runs around 24 minutes... I do not recall seeing this on LP or CD, so here's a perhaps-lost piece of very nice symphonic pop-ness for you.
Porgy & Bess - A Symphonic Picture
A couple of notes - there are moments in here that sound an AWFUL lot like the arranger was listening to Whiteman's version of "Rhapsody in Blue"... I think I can tell where Russell got a couple of his transitional ideas... also during one point in I think the 5th side, someone needs to shoot the clarinet player.
Anyways, I have some more 'conventional' 78s lined up for you for next time, in the meanwhile, enjoy a little symphonic Gershwin!
Sunday, May 07, 2006
A classical journey....
I found a nice looking set, "A Night At The Met" on Columbia Masterworks, with some nice operatic numbers from Rise Stevens, Lily Pons, and Ezio Pinza (whom I shall never forget as the voice narrator on a Magnavox hi-fi demo record... which I may post later on AudiOddities...), so, I figure that this should be an easy posting, and bring some culture to the Shanty, right?
This set has to have been one of the MOST challenging I have ever done. This includes spending a night trying to get all the sonic crud out of one track, only pitching it after five hours of frustration.
The tracks DID finally come out, with a bit of coaxing (and THOROUGH cleaning of the discs... even one side was wet-played to try and get a recording of it, which is almost an absolute NO-NO), I got these tracks out of the mire for you.
Some are brilliant. GORGEOUS recordings of EXCELLENT performances. Take, for example, Rise Stevens singing Mon Coeur s'Ouvre a ta Voix from act 2 of Saint-Seans' Samson & Delilah. Fausto Cleva & the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra do the honors here in a very nicely done rendition of the song. Even with the rapid cutoff of the ending note ("Record's almost over, boys, cut it off quick!"). There's still some pops in here, but I think you get the idea.
Another wonderful performance is Rise teaming with tenor Raoul Jobim, singing the Seguililla and Duet from act 2 of Bizet's Carmen. Here, George Sebastian takes over the reins of the Met Orchestra, and does it quite nicely. This was the recording that I had to finally do a wet-play (spray the disc with water, clean it out with a toothbrush, then spray again and get the crud out with a record brush, THEN wet it AGAIN with a spray bottle and play the disc and pray... the disc played with minimal damage) treatment on, as this was the one that I fought with for five hours before punting the file and starting from scratch. You can see it isn't perfect, but it is a whole lot better than it was.
I don't know why Columbia threw in Lily Pons' rendition of the Bell Song from Delibes' Lakme... it's a pedestrian version, maybe an alternate take, who knows. The album cover says that these were from the soundtrack of United Artist's "Night At The Met", but I think they stretch the point juuuuuust a tad.
Case in point: Ezio Pinza's frantic (or traumatic) recording of Finch' Han al Vino from act 1 of Mozart's Don Giovanni. Was this recorded in a closet and Ezio needed to go to the bathroom? It sure sounds like it. For lack of a better (or worse) disc, I nominate this one as the Clanker of the Week. Short and sweet.
Which is strange, because also on the same side as this poorly recorded bomb is a VERY sweet version of Serenata deh Vieni alla Finestra from act 2 of the same opera. MUCH better recording, nicely recorded, nicely sung, just Ezio and a mandolin or lute with the Met Orchestra well in the range of subtle-ness.
Ezio does redeem himself with this performance of Il Lacerato Spiritu from act 1 of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. Now THIS is the power of Mr. Pinza... with Fausto Cleva whipping the Met Orchestra quite well.
The Lacerated Spirit... that how this week has gone, to sum it up... but tomorrow brings a better day and all that stuff...
.......so there you have it. A mediocre set with some highlights, and one very very LOW-light.
My work schedule should let me do some more popular discs and other stuff this week, so enjoy the operatic respite, and always remember to keep your discs clean and your wits about you.