Thursday, August 10, 2006
Some Sweet, Some Swing, Some Stuff
Let's start off with the stuff... I had in the latest round of thrift store shellac this album by Frank Froeba & His Backroom Boys. Unfortunately I only have, you guessed it, 3 of the 4 discs in there, but all 6 sides are some pretty nice bar-room piano with a very light rhythm section behind Frank. No info on who he is, but he's got some nice chops, and the ability to go from waltzes to boogie without any problems. I put all 6 sides in an archive, so if you want Back Room Piano just click on the link. It WORKS now!
First off, a couple of light classical sides. These got mixed in with the current batch of 78s, they sounded good, so here they are. Charles Kullman sings with his tenor voice, two songs from the motion picture "Song of Scheherazade", backed by the orchestra conducted by Julius Berger. It is unknown whether or not these are from the sound track, but they're nice to listen to on a summer's evening... his renditions of Gypsy Song and the Fandango from Capriccio Espagnole are good, nice recordings, nicely encoded. This bunch of shellac was, for the most part, in really decent shape, but there were a couple of exceptions... this one wasn't one of them though.
Going into the Sweet side of things, here's a pair by legendary Golden Throat (and butt of many jokes) Vaughn Monroe. His rendition of The Legend of Tiabi makes my skin crawl. I can see why Spike Jones said what he did about him... Vaughn takes this Navajo legend song and turns it completely into sticky sticky gossamer goo of Wonder Bread. The only thing worse is actually bringing in the Sons of the Pioneers for his butchering of Cool Water. WHAT IS WITH THE SWING BREAK IN THERE??? How RCA Victor could sell this stuff, I'll never know. I really really want to make this my Clanker of the Week, but I feel bad about doing that with the Sons. Vaughn Monroe? You deserve every bit of Clanky-karma you get over this one. Bleah.
Let's move on to a VERY politically incorrect version of Missouri Waltz, performed by Eddy Howard & His Orchestra, on the Majestic label. Majestic had some winners out there, and some LOSERS. WARNING: this song has references to darkies and picaninnies in it, sung by a white guy, recorded in 1946. Just thought I'd warn you. The back side is a bit more soothing, except for the fact that the record has some pretty bad damage on it... this is one of the exceptions to the general level of quality in this batch, so, my apologies. I tried to get most of the poo out of it, but there's still some artifacting in there, so best to play this with the treble decreased for better results... unfortunately the title, My Best to You, isn't the best of quality, but, hey, I tried.
Continuing on in Sweet-ville, here's a pair of recordings by Jo Stafford and Gordon MacRae on the Capitol label from 1949... Whispering Hope and A Thought In My Heart. Orchestral duties on these are by Paul Weston, and they're nice... if you like Geritol or Serutan and Carter's Little Pills with your Wonder Bread... I really don't care too much for the sweet side of the shellac era, maybe it was being forced to watch Lawrence Welk too much as a youth. But, I post these for your edification, education, and entertainment, because I know that SOMEWHERE out there, people like this stuff (he says as he grins...).
We'll go now to another Majestic record, this one a bit better than the Eddy Howard cringer.... The Three Suns. Their version of Twilight Time and It's Dawn Again show their smoothness (and nice work on the Hammond organ, too, for which I am a sucker for...). Recorded in early 1945, a pleasure to the ears. THIS is the sweet stuff I can relate to!
We'll go about a year into the future, into November of 1946, for this pair by Ray Noble & His Orchestra. Buddy Clark croons a good croon here on Love is a Random Thing, and Linda. Ray Noble was another of the great sweet band leaders of the time, and you can see where the popular music trend was heading from these two very well-recorded Columbia sides.
Earlier in the same year, Kay Kyser recorded a pair of fairly famous tunes, one sweet: The Old Lamp-Lighter, with one Michael Douglas on vocals (anyone for a loverly bunch of cocoanuts?), and one swingy: Huggin and Chalkin', with Jack Martin singing about his girthly girl and the betrayal by a piece of chalk. The Kaydettes were the backing vocalists on both sides, as well. Another pair of nicely done Columbia sides!
--- ADDENDUM ---
It is with sadness that I just learned that Mike Douglas passed away this morning, 11 August, on his 81st birthday.
Had enough sweets and want to burn off some of the energy? Well, here we go!
We'll start with a VERY early Phil Harris pair, one song of which we have heard before: Woodman, Woodman, Spare That Tree. This recording is from 1937 and is VASTLY different than his ARA treatment of the tune recorded 9 years later. It is the same song, to be sure, but done in a much more down-tempo rendition. Phil was with Columbia/OKeh at this time, before he went to ARA and then eventually on to RCA VIctor, where he recorded his big hit "The Thing". The B-side is a very laconically recorded version of Nobody... it shows his smooth Southern Gentleman style of delivery at its' best. I'm NOT knocking this record, believe me, it is just that these songs are so DIFFERENT than what I've heard from Phil in his later years.
Keeping up with a bit of the diginified country theme, here are a pair from Dorothy Shay. Dorothy was very good at taking what would be considered 'hill-billy' songs and putting them up with a very swanky (and VERY GOOD) swinging arrangement and orchestra. Pappy's Predicament and Another Notch in Father's Shotgun show this off quite nicely, with backing vocals by a group known only as "Her Kinfolk". On Pappy's Predicament, listen for the joke-play with the names of cities and states, it's a hoot. A pair of Columbia sides, recorded in 1949, and the quality of the encode is pretty doggone good.
Next we have up a pair by the DeCastro Sisters. Don't know too much about these fine singing ladies, except that they recorded this pair on a local Los Angeles label, Abbott records. They do very well with their renditions of It's Love, and Teach Me Tonight, backed up by Skip Martin & His Orchestra. I would suspect that these were done in the early 1950s, kind of when swing and sweet were mixing it up and emerging as the period of popular music. It is too bad these girls didn't land a major record deal, they would have done quite well...
Next up, a pair by one of the best boogie pianists in the 40s and 50s, Albert Ammons. His version of Swanee River Boogie is a hep boogie treatment of the old standard. The B side has Jack Cooley singing I Don't Want To See You, with Albert kicking his Rhythm Kings as hard as they would go. A prime example of 1946 R&B here, and it only got better as time went on. These were on a pretty ratty Mercury disc, but I think I got most of the groove-poo out...
Next up, we have a very popular 78 by Ethel Smith and the Bando Carioca. Yes, ladies & gentlemen, it is that quintescential Hammond organ showpiece, Tico-Tico. Almost every Hammond player (myself included) has a copy of this, as it was (I think) the first real pop recording of the venerable Hammond B-3. Nice samba background too. Ethel definately had the Hammond Chops going on this, as well as the back side, a medley of 2 songs, Lero Lero & Bem te vi Atrevido. This Decca recording was really really decent, which is a surprise as this Ethel Smith record was usually played to death. Nice stuff!
We close with what I think is one of my best encoding and remastering jobs ever, on one of my most favorite recordings ever, of one of my most favorite songs ever, by one of my most favorite groups ever. Spike Jones & the Other Orchestra's Laura. This 78 was damn near pristine when I pulled it from the album. Yes, I used a protective cloth on it so that no finger oils got into the grooves, and yes, I breathed on it a little in the remastering. THIS is an example of the high fidelity one can get out of a 78rpm record when it is remastered correctly. I'm kinda bummed that the back side, When Yuba Plays the Rhumba on the Tuba, didn't come out as well, but, hey, it is still a great pair of tunes to end this session with. Dick 'Country' Washburne was one of the best tuba players around, ever, and this shows how fanatical Spike was about the musicality in any of his recording efforts. His bands and orchestras were always perfection-tight, very professional, and it showed. I love Spike Jones' stuff, and I'm glad to have as many 78s of him as I do, and I'm glad to have this particular one in the excellent condition that it is in. And I'm always glad to encode 'em up and share them with all you good people out there in Internet-land.
Until next time!
What was that guff about Frank Froeba?
All I can hear is Artie Shaw - not that I'll grumble about that...
Secondly, re MoodieToonz - when are you going to post the liner notes for the Jackie Gleason Lovers' Portfolio? You did promise.
I need to have the liner notes scanned as they didn't turn out too well on the camera & my 11.5x14" scanner bit the dust :(
I love the Davis Sisters for "Fiddle Diddle Boogie"
have you some tunes like this?
Thank you for your amazing moods.
I'll tell you why I was so interested in hearing them: I remembered that in the mid-1950s the ABC-Paramount record company released a 12" LP of his - and since then I hadn't heard anything more by him until now.
If you're interested, the following is from
"Biography by Eugene Chadbourne
As Froba, Froeba, or misprinted variations such as "Freba" and "Froba", Frank Froeba's discography is impressive in both size and scope. While it may have seemed as if the change to Froba and a hiatus in Miami meant a distancing from jazz, the pianist's recording career continued to include material that discographer Tom Lord considered to be jazz, eventually numbering some 91 records done between 1924 and 1978. Those first recording sessions were done when he was only 17 — he may have been young then, but not inexperienced as he was around 15 when he began gigging with bandleaders such as Johnny Wiggs and John Tobin. Decades later, continual upswings in swing interest have, of course, contributed vastly to the marketability of elderly players such as Froeba, who regularly takes part in projects paying tribute to former overlord Benny Goodman."
I have been unable to find any further biographical information.
Many thanks for another opportunity to hear him.
Thanks much for the Mike Douglas side, but "Coconuts" was Merv Griffin with Freddy Martin!
Of course, it's very easy to confuse Merv with Mike--former big band singers turned talk show hosts, both with "M" given names, both Irish-American, both popular with pretty much the same audience.
Hm. Maybe they were the same guy (???).
Hey, great selections! Keep up the fine work,
Thanks, enjoy your blog very much, my mom had this record but it has a big chip bite out of the shellac, haven't heard it for so long, I've been lookin' for it a long time.
Byron in c/o of Lee's my(p)whae
Ernie: I will be putting up the RCA version of "Woodman Spare That Tree" in the near future, along with some other Phil from the RCA era... stay tuned!
Glad y'all are enjoying the sides, I got a LOT more to do up, just as soon as I finish up the UK stuff over on MoodieToonz.
Frankie Froeba was making records even in the 1920s. In fact, I'm blown away by his dexterity and enthusiasm in his early Brunswick sides. The Decca sides are pleasant enough, but Frankie was slowing down by this time.
The Albert Ammons tracks are wonderful, also. I'd heard his earlier tracks for Victor Records, but never these later ones for Mercury. Clearly, Al still "had it!"
I'd never heard the early "Woodman" track before, either. Phil is definitely doing his idea of Black dialect on this one.
A minor correction: Spike's tuba player is JOE Washburne. Spike made only one session for Victor with this big band. I guess it was just too expensive to keep it going, but Spike was awfully proud of it.
And the early label for "It's In the Book" is another surprise. The edit is the same as the Capitol version, including Johnny's adlib, "Thank you kindly, Conley" to the pianist. I've read on other discussion boards that most people can't decipher those words.
I seem to remember hearing on the radio in the 1990s that Johnny Standley was working on a new CD for release, but if anything ever came of it, I've never come across it. Too bad. Truly a funny man with such a small output.