Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some local things and a surprise or two

A recent thread in 78-L got me to thinking about some of the more interesting records I have that have a connection with Boston or Massachusetts in general. More on that thread in a bit...

I think I'll start with something from my back obscure 78 recorded in 1939 on the Albie label, from that beehive of recording activity, Attleboro!

--- I Wonder If She Knows? Al Jahns and his Music That Charms Albie AW100
---There Must Be More To Love Al Jahns and his Music That Charms Albie AW100
1939; Attleboro, MA:
Al Jahns and orchestra, unknown personnel. Bob Engels, vocal.

A pair of pleasant period pop songs, by a society-styled band that sounds like a cross between those of Freddy Martin and Eddy Duchin, with a hint of Lombardo. It's a bit sweeter than most of the music I collect, but there's a rather nice trumpet solo on There Must Be More To Love.

Sadly, I know almost nothing about this band...but I do know that Al Jahns was a regular bandleader in Las Vegas by the 1950s.

I can't find anything about either the Brown Brokers or their production Savoir Faire, either.

However, I do have one of Albie/Sound Service's sleeves as's the identifying stamp on one side:

Also from 1939 (it must have been a big year for small Massachusetts labels!) is this special record of the Smiffenpoofs, apparently issued as a fundraiser for the Smith College Field House.

Label note: The typeface of the song title and artist credit looks like that of Brunswick of around that time...but the pressing and quality of recording certainly don't look (or sound) like any Brunswick product I've ever seen. There's a 3/4" section of dead wax around the edge (about three times what it should be), We're '39 ends with a locked groove (meaning there's no outgoing spiral).

And it sounds like the recording engineer also just missed the beginning of the first note of We're '39. I wonder if the engineer was Wally (~ly) Ballou, before he got into radio announcing. And the volume level fluctuates quite a bit at first too.

There's a line in that song that mentions the horrible hurricane of the previous year...they say it was a masculine invention and they weren't to blame. Cute!

M-1 We're '39 The Smiffenpoofs with Newt Perry's Orch Smith College Special Record
1939: The Smiffenpoofs, female glee club; Newt Perry Orchestra
M-2 Full Of The Devil Newt Perry Orch, Jeanne Perkins and Betty Hutchinson, vocal Smith College Special Record

1939: Newt Perry Orchestra. Jeanne Perkins and Betty Hutchinson, vocal.

I googled "Newt Perry Orchestra" and came up with a few mentions of his orchestra. Apparently they were based at Yale, but known to appear at several other New England colleges. I have yet to find any connection between this Newt Perry and the identically-named famous swim coach and founder of the Weeki Wachee Springs Attraction.


The next record was found by a was sitting on top of a pile of trash in Somerville! I must thank Lola Gee for rescuing this important bit of Boston broadcasting history. It's not an especially scarce one, but it is important.

It's by Rex Trailer, the legendary host of one of my favorite shows as a kid in the early 1960s, WBZ-TV's Boomtown! (1956-74). The show would usually open with Rex and his sidekick (Pablo in the years that I was a regular watcher) doing some sort of business in the bunkhouse before saddling up and riding to join the posse of kids gathered in the studio corral (using stock footage of Rex riding his horse Goldrush. The music behind the horseback segue was Rex's 1955 single, Hoofbeats.

And here it is! And its flip side too! And there's a cool picture sleeve as well!

AM 78-49 Hoofbeats Rex Trailer ABC-Paramount 9662

AM 78-51 Cowboys Don't Cry Rex Trailer ABC-Paramount 9662
1955: Rex Trailer, vocal; Sid Feller Orchestra.

Rex celebrates his 80th birthday sometime in the coming's wishing him many more!

I have a few other records associated with Boston television and radio that I'll post sometime soon. This entry is already long enough.....

About that 78-L posting I mentioned at the top...a couple of weeks ago, the Folks were talking about an unusual record by Robert McBride that appeared on both Liberty Music Shops (a New York specialty label) and Bissell-Weisert (another one in Chicago). It also showed up on a special Musicraft pressing, sold through Briggs & Briggs, a music shop in Cambridge, MA...a block or two from Harvard Square.

I remember visiting that shop a few times in the 1970s...apparently there's an Adidas store at the location nowadays.

GM-301-A Sweet Sue Robert McBride Trio Musicraft B.B-100
GM-302-A China Boy Robert McBride Trio Musicraft B.B-100
July/Aug 1939: Robert McBride, English Horn, Fern Sherman, harpsichord; Bert Shefter, piano.

It's a cute record, but certainly not the hottest thing on my shelves.

Aside from composing scores for a few cult films in the 1950s and 1960s, Bert Shefter is best known for a few quirky sides he did with an octet on Victor in 1936. He also recorded a couple of sides in 1938 for Brunswick. I have the Brunswick, a Victor or two, and an interesting aircheck by his group that I hope to post some time soon.


Since I'm on Massachusetts Avenue in the People's Republic of Cambridge, I think I'll go a few doors down and visit an old friend I haven't seen in quite a few years...actually I knew his sister better. She and I often went to record shows in Boston and rPovidence (intentional typo...seen 20 years ago in the local Yellow Pages).

They're of Armenian descent...I think they'll appreciate a couple of records pressed on obscure early Armenian-American labels:
Here's a record on the Margosian's's pretty badly chewed up, but I still like it.

This side's label is somewhat least in the right light.

296 Kasook Mayasee V. Margosian and Trio Margosian's No. 7
early 1920s: V. Margosian, vocal; D. Perperian, clarinet; B. Boghosian, kanon; H. Karagosian, dumback.

The flip side has a badly scratched label and the title is completely obliterated. The description "Dance Music'' is (barely) legible, as are the names of the musicians. There's also a nasty needle run that thunks through half of the song.

292 ~~~ (Dance Music) Margosian Trio Margosian's No. 7
early 1920s: same personnel, but no vocal.

The Kanon, also spelled Kanoon, Canoun, and Qanun, is a lap harp...a good video of one being played is here:

The Dumback, usually spelled Dumbek, is a goblet-shaped drum common in most music of the Middle East. There's a nice introduction to the instrument here:

The second Armenian-American record is on the M. G. Parsekian label, which supplied music to Armenian, Greek and Turkish communities.

We can assume that the sides on my record were meant for the Turkish-American trade, since most of the label information is in Arabic script (Turkey adopted a modified Latin alphabet a few years later, in 1928).

Unfortunately, I can't read it.

Anyhoooo....I've identified each side with whatever is on the label in Latin letters.

134 Tamzara, Klarinet & Oud Mesrob Takakjian M. G. Parsekian No. 522
135 Enishte Kantosi Mesrob Takakjian M. G. Parsekian No. 522
early 1920s: Mesrob Takajian, clarinet; possibly Maksoud Sariyan, vocal.

Both sides have the name Mesrob Takakjian on the label...I know he was a clarinetist.

Tamzara is a popular dance from western Armenia.

I Googled the phrase "Enishte Kantosi" (I'm guessing that "Kantosi" indicates a vocal)...and spotted (in an auction list) what appears to be an issue of the same two songs on the Pharos label. Takakjian is credited, but so is Maksoud Sariyan. Maybe he's the vocalist. Maybe he also played the oud.

What interested me most was the similarity between the Margosian Dance Music side and the Tamzara side on this record...the melodies are almost the same.

Anybody out there in Cyberland who knows more than I do about the title of our mystery song(s) or the musicians involved (and I don't know much at all) is welcome to post a comment! It would be most appreciated.

A scan of another record on this label shows credits in traditional Armenian script:

The following record was apparently a copy is a postwar red-label Columbia. But the recording itself is a good deal earlier than that...according to an earlier posting of the same side ( ), it was recorded in Los Angeles in January, 1929. Again the clarinetist here is Mesrob Takakjian. He was in great demand back then...

110266 Gigo A. Kevorkian
Columbia 28009-F
110267 March Of Antranig A. Kevorkian Columbia 28009-F
Los Angeles, January 1929: A. Kevorkian, vocal; Mesrob Takakjian Orchestra.


We started in Attleboro...and finish in North Attleboro. The traditional song for the North Attleboro High School is the trio from Our Director March by Bigelow.

Here's an early (and very short!) version of the march...issued on a 7-inch Columbia...

909 Our Director March Columbia Band 7" Columbia 909
Recorded in June 1902.

That'll do it for this installment. Until the next time...IBBY!!! (Boston TV joke...)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Another couple of Poli-Tunes

I don't believe it...Three posts since the middle of October? It never rains, but it pours, eh?

It occurred to me that I had another couple of semi-political singles to post...and here they are:

Of all of Stan Freberg's regular issues on Capitol, 1952's Abe Snake For President seems to be the hardest one to find...I know it took me a good fifteen years to snag a copy.

45-9815 Abe Snake For President Stan Freberg Capitol F2125
Hollywood, March 1952: Stan Freberg, vocal; Billy May Orchestra.

"He never was a general and he never sold a hat" are obvious references to Eisenhower and Truman. The line "The piano's got to go" is another light dig at the incumbent.

This was the first session that Freberg teamed up with Billy May, who supplied the music for Stan's later rock 'n' roll parodies and his extravaganzas (The USA albums, especially).

Record collectors, note that the OC 45 (Optional Center) is still attached. 95% of the time, the original owners of Capitol 45s popped them out and threw them away.

I notice that there's a Time reprint from May 1952 that reports on Stan's then-current record, Try...a satire of Johnny Ray's lachrymose Cry. The article also mentions his up-and-coming record of Abe Snake!,9171,935596,00.html

A while back, the 78-L folks were talking a lot about Johnny Standley's It's In The Book monologue, the retelling of Little Bo-Peep in tent-show revival fashion, culminating in a rousing version of Grandma's Lye Soap. That record sold like the proverbial hotcakes in 1952.

Standley did a follow-up record, a take off on Rock-a-Bye Baby called Proud New Father. It sold moderately well, but not like Book did.

Finally in 1956, Standley did another two-sider called Get Out And Vote. It's a gently amusing sendup of politics in general.

45-15863/4 Get Out And Vote (2 parts) Johnny Standley Capitol F3544
1956: Johnny Standley, vocal and monologue, Jimmy Sheldon Orchestra.

Side One originally ended with a badly spliced-in round of applause borrowed from the end of the second side. I took the liberty of performing a "clapectomy," and restored the integrity of the performance. Or something like that...I think it works better like this, anyway.

Well...these last couple of posts should be enough political humor for anybody. I've certainly had my fill of it...


Here's an old New Yorker cartoon for the 78-L gang, obviously by Charles Addams. I suppose I should have published this last week, but better late than never:

.......'til we meet again...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Campaign Records and (mostly) Presidential Singles

As I mentioned the other day, I've been fairly busy lately...and I've neglected Ye Olde Zorche Bloggue. A thousand pardons to those who follow this...Anyway, we're in the home stretch of Campaign 2008 (thank goodness!!). I suppose it's time for me to post some more-or-less forgotten items from previous campaigns...
I found these two records together around 15 years ago...The first (a 12" 33) contains ten little radio spots for the C. Estes Kefauver presidential campaign of 1956.

--- Kefauver For President - 10 radio spots - Kal, Ehrlich & Merrick advertising record, unnumbered
It's interesting that many of the same issues mentioned here are still relevant. And "delinquency" is misspelled on the label.

Of course, Adlai Stevenson got the Democratic nomination that year, but Kefauver was tapped for his running mate.
I found this 78 along with the above presidential campaign record:
DB-2084 Kefauver Is His Name Ray Charles Singers
Dot 226

But I'm not positive when this record was's obviously a jingle performed by the other "other" Ray Charles (born Charles Raymond Offenberg) and his singers. But when was this recorded?

Was this record made for his senatorial campaign (the lyrics seem to say that Estes would be great for Tennessee)? Since the fate of the country isn't mentioned, I doubt that this record would be for a Presidential campaign...besides, by 1956, most, if not all, promo singles were pressed as 45 rpm discs.
My guess is that this record dates from his 1954 Senatorial campaign.
One can guess that Kefauver's people deliberately chose Tennessee's biggest label at the time (Dot Records was based in Gallatin) for distribution. They paid for the Ray Charles Singers, but no band. Just a pianist.

Here are some more radio spots...apparently from Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign.

133256 Go, Goldwater! 5 Radio Spots advertising record
As I said before, these are probably for the 1964 campaign...the presence of a Zip code indicates that it's no earlier than that.

But we skipped the 1960 campaign, didn't we? I saved it for last.

Here's a curious record (7-inch, red vinyl), featuring recorded highlights of campaigns of the past...evidently issued in conjunction with CBS-TV's production The Right Man.

---The Right Man (2 parts) issued in advance of CBS 24 October 1960 telecast special unnumbered pressing.

Garry Moore introduces the whole thing...the other emcee is probably J. Doyle DeWitt, the owner of this collection of voices of 14 celebrities/candidates. The last two were those of the 1960 campaign, JFK and Nixon.

As we know, JFK won the are a couple of records connected to his campaign.

The first of these records has always been a little mystery to me. John Redmond is probably best remembered for being co-composer (lyricist) of I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart (with Duke Ellington and Harry Nemo...Duke's agent and publisher Irving Mills got his name listed as well).

Anyway. it seems that Redmond wrote Kennedy for the campaign, but it's not quite clear who the Pioneers of the New Frontier were. In any case, the 20th Century Fox label pressed it (Note...the label was called "20th Fox" until 1963, when the word "Century" was finally added.).

I wonder how many copies of this record were pressed (I've never seen another copy). It's numbered guess that SP stood for Special Purpose or something like that.

L9OW 9524-2 Kennedy (K-E-Double N-E-D-Y) Pioneers of the New Frontier
20th Century Fox SP-1

There's a nice paragraph on Redmond here , although it says that his song Massachusetts, My Home State had never been recorded. It's on the flip side of this.

Oh, what the it is!

L90W-8504 Massachusetts My Home State Linda Bowe and the Neighborhood Kids 20th Century Fox SP-1
Aha! Not only was the song recorded, the melody was recycled for Kennedy (or was it the other way around?)!

24 APRIL 2013 UPDATES: Mary (the grandneice of John Redmond) wrote in to say she heard John's voice on the Kennedy side.

Ron mentioned that Fox did issue Massachusetts commercially (with Tony Spumoni The Ice Cream Man on the flip side.

Thanks a lot!

The next record is fairly common up here in Massachusetts, probably given to Kennedy supporters...I've been told that this side was played on area jukeboxes as well.

Those are Sammy Cahn's special lyrics...sung by a formerly skinny kid from Hoboken.

kb-2077 High Hopes - Jack Kennedy Frank Sinatra unnumbered special 45
The flip side is kind of cute too, but Ol' Blue Eyes has stepped out.
kb-2078 All The Way Unidentified Chorus unnumbered special 45

That's enough of the campaign songs.

I realized I had a couple of other JFK-related 45s. Now would be a good time to share's been 45 years since that fateful day in Dallas.

Record collectors need no reminder about just how popular the young president was in the early 1960s...we're always running into Vaughn Meader's First Family LP and the Premier Records memorial album, each of which at one time held the record for being the fastest-selling LP of all time.

In 1962, Sinatra's label, Reprise, issued an odd LP featuring Hank Levine's chorus and orchestra called Sing Along With JFK. It consisted of sampled bits of JFK's speeches, followed by the chorus singing the words.

The question this record serious? Or just a bit tongue-in-cheek? Or blatantly sarcastic and satirical? I'll leave the verdict up to you.

1876 The Trumpet Sing Along With JFK Reprise 20,154

The Trumpet was apparently the has a nice early-1960s pop feel to it. But I've always been partial to the flip side. A bossa nova piece honoring the Alliance For Progress seems so unlikely...and one has to love the pseudo-Spanish accent of the chorus...("To our sister repooblics" indeed!)

1874 Alliance For Progress Bossa Nova Sing Along With JFK Reprise 20,154
More of the LP is here:
Is Hank Levine the Henry Levine that hosted the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street radio program in the 1940s? I suspect that it is.

In 1963, Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji and his Drums of Passion ensemble recorded this lively bit of High Life, dedicated to the First Lady.
JZSP 58876 Lady Kennedy (Babatunde) Olatunji and his Drums of Passion Columbia 4-42667
I heard that this song was premiered at a Democratic fundraiser, but I'm not quite sure.

And, as a postscript, I'll add this...2008 marks the 40th anniversary of RFK's assassination.

ZSP 138584 Battle Hymn Of The Republic Andy Williams Columbia 4-44650
ZSP 138585 Ave Maria Andy Williams Columbia 4-44650

Andy Williams sang (with the St. Charles Borromeo Choir) at his friend's funeral. Columbia issued this 45. Apparently, it never was reissued in an LP.

Well...that's it for this installment...


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!!

I've been rather busy lately, and haven't posted in Ye Olde Zorche Bloggue in a while. Sorry 'bout that...

I'm working on a big post which should be up around November 1.

In the meantime, here are a few quick Hallowe'en singles to keep your ears happy.

Two recorded versions Zombie Jamboree sold fairly well in the mid-1950s, one by Harry Belafonte for RCA Victor and this one, by Calypso Carnival (featuring King Flash), for Columbia.
JZSP 39904 Zombie Jamboree (Back To Back) Calypso Carnival, featuring King Flash Columbia 4-40866
1956: Calypso Carnival with King Flash, combo.

I like this version a lot more than the other one...the LP it came from (Calypso Carnival) is a lot of fun as well.

The original title of this song, by the way, was Jumble Jamboree. More info can be found here:

There is also a picture sleeve to this 45, but I don't have it. And, for what it's worth, the flip side of this record, Mama Looka Boo Boo, also inspired a Belafonte cover.

Here's a weird side from 1959 by the Salmas Brothers:

58481 Zombie The Salmas Brothers Keen 3-2017
1959: The Salmas Brothers (Danny, Guy and George), vocal; Bumps Blackwell Orchestra; IFC (Insipid Female Chorus)

You might remember bandleader Bumps Blackwell from those Specialty sides by Little Richard. And the arranger on this side is a cat who made a big splash in the pop market a few years later, Herb Alpert.

The IFC designation is borrowed from the Greater Cambridge Record Collectors' Guild (you know who you are), who also use IMC (Insipid Male Chorus) and IXC (Insipid Mixed Chorus) to indicate the presence of this kind of vocal group, who oooh and aaaah and almost spoil hundreds of otherwise fine R & B and Rock 'n' Roll 45s from around 1956 to the Brtish Invasion.

If two zombie songs aren't eerie enough, maybe you'd like to open with a pair of Mummies? (I have a Full House of Vampires, myself)

Another fair seller (it hit #39 on the charts) is this version of The Mummy by veteran cartoon voiceman Bob McFadden. The beatnik at the end of the record is Dor, a not-too-subtle alias for composer (and future "deep" poet) Rod McKuen.
107,649 The Mummy Bob McFadden and Dor Brunswick 9-55140
1959: Bob McFadden, mummy; Dor (Rod McKuen), beatnik; Jack Hansen Orch.

(The flip side, The Beat Generation, is rather amusing too, but it's not very spooky... should you feel the need to hear it)

Strangely enough, there was another version of this piece (I almost called it a "song" but nobody sings) that was issued shortly afterward, by the completely unknown duo, Bubi and Bob.
1002 The Mummy Bubi & Bob Sphinx 1201
I know nothing about this version...who the performers are and who pressed this record will probably always remain a mystery. I've never seen another record on this Sphinx label.

This record is somewhat better than the hundreds of cheap knockoff versions of pop songs, which were nothing new (the Tops, Prom, and Hit labels specialized in them)...there is a pleasant instrumental on the flip side (Biscayne Beat, if you want to hear it) that appears to be an original. The composer of that ditty is one L. Norman...perhaps he was Bubi or Bob.

And there you have it, friends...four little examples of candy corn (and a couple of parenthetical marshmallows).

I hope this'll holdja until I get the November post up. I think it'll be worth the wait.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jo Stafford, CSL, and a whole lot more!

I'm finally getting this posting certainly took long enough, didn't it?

Last month, one of the last surviving singers from the pre-rock 'n' roll era, Jo Stafford, quietly passed away at the age of 90. There have been so many tributes in the blogosphere and newspapers
( is probably the best one) that there's little that I can add.

(5 November 2008 flash: I just found a nice Stafford discography here: )

However, there are a couple of interesting 45 rpm singles that you probably haven't seen:

I've always been fond of the records that Jo and her husband Paul Weston recorded under the name of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards...their impression of a truly awful lounge act. "Jonathan" would play the piano in the worst possible manner... hitting wrong notes everywhere and losing (or adding) a beat here and there. "Darlene" would sing a quarter-tone sharp.

I knew that a 45 rpm single was issued from their first Columbia LP, 1957's The Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards...but I didn't know that there was also a special promotional picture sleeve that went along with it. A very special promotional picture sleeve. I got my copy fairly recently on eBay for a couple of bucks plus postage.

JRZSP 40180 It's Magic Jonathan & Darlene Edwards (Paul Weston & Jo Stafford) Columbia 4-41001
Hollywood, 8 April 1957

Marvelous, isn't it? Jonathan's piano artistry is particularly good here...the fingers on his two right hands (check the pic sleeve!) are certainly nimble.

While I'm at it, here's the flip side (Jo sits this one out):

JRZSP 40269 Nola Jonathan Edwards Columbia 4-41001
Hollywood, late 1957

That tiny picture at the top of the B-side of the sleeve is just too good not to blow up...

I've never seen this pic anywhere's not on the LP.

The LP cover is here, by the way:

In the mid 1950s, there were many (far too many, actually) cover versions of rhythm 'n' blues hits, taking the rough edges off of great R & B songs, perhaps sanitizing the lyrics a bit, and having someone like of Pat Boone or Gale Storm record them for the white pop market. Sadly, many sold better than the original records.

Here's one of the strangest ones...

RZSP 33324 I Got A Sweetie Jo Stafford Columbia 4-40451
Hollywood, 4 February 1955: Jo Stafford, vocal; Paul Weston Orch.

Yep...that's a completely retooled and retitled version of Ray Charles's I Got A Woman. Don't blame Jo...she was probably forced to do it by the head of Columbia's pop division at the time, Mitch Miller (I'm thankful Mitch didn't use Stan Freeman's harpsichord this time around.) Actually, Jo sings it fairly well, but nobody can make lyrics like "he's my dreamboat" sound anything but ludicrous. Notice that the only composer credit is Ray Charles...perhaps the dreamboater decided to remain anonymous. Paging Alan Smithee!

Oh, did you happen to notice the CSL notation at the 4:00 position on the label? I've seen it on many Columbia promos of the period. I remember asking around at the various record shows a few years back...and nobody knew what "CSL" stood for.

I finally came across a little notice here: (and look about halfway down the page).

So the "CSL" notation was to tell the deejay that this record conformed to the Columbia Standard Level!! It's amazing what one can find on the 'Web, isn't it? At least in this instance, anyway.

Here's another oddball record I spotted on eBay (cost me a buck or two) a while back...

It's the original CSL calibrating record! Here's a little bit of it.

It's a real toe-tapper, isn't it? Needless to say, it doesn't get a lot of play at Chateau Zorch. At least the label is interesting.

A while back, someone in 78-L remarked that he seemed to recall that the "Hi Fi Plus" logo at the 9:00 position on many promos of the period was the indicator for the deejay that the record conformed to some standard level.

If that was the case, why are stickers like this

often found on covers on LPs that were issued to the public? My guess is that "Hi Fi Plus" was Columbia's answer to RCA Victor's "New Orthophonic High Fidelity"

Of course, it was the CSL that the 78-Ler was thinking of. Since both the CSL and Hi-Fi Plus were first used at around the same time, it's understandable that there was a little confusion...and it's been over half a century since most people have given these matters any serious thought.


In February, I mentioned all of the recording activity that followed the first From Spirituals to Swing concert in December 1938. ARC/Vocalion recorded Mitchell's Christian Singers, Sonny Terry, and the three boogie-woogie pianists, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis.

Shortly thereafter, the three pianists recorded for Blue Note....the first sessions for this new label.

From what I've heard, Alfred Lion had fifty copies each pressed of the first two records. He wasn't sure how well they'd sell. They sold quickly enough for him to continue pressing the rest of the sides and do more recording as well.

Anyhooooo....those first fifty copies used a pink and black label. Here's one of those records:

441-5 Boogie Woogie Stomp Albert Ammons
Blue Note 2
442-8 Boogie Woogie Blues Albert Ammons Blue Note 2
NYC, 6 January 1939: Albert Ammons, piano solos.

Great sides, aren't they? One can see why they sold fairly quickly. But all subsequent pressings used the more familiar blue-and-white label (and for a while, Blue Note used a blue-on-yellow color scheme too).

(shameless plug coming...)

Psssssst....want this rarity? I'm thinking of selling it. Money's a little tighter than usual, and I'm feeling the pinch. A copy of this record sold a few months ago on eBay for close to $1,000.00. I'd be a happy Zorch indeed if my copy earned almost as much.

But do I sell it on eBay, send it to a certain well-known 78 dealer, or conduct a private sale?

Decisions, decisions....


Here's another record I think I'll put on the block...what is probably the only time you'll hear a jug band doing...waltzes! Strange as that may seem, it proves how versatile Will Shade's group could be...they could (and did) play posh social functions, even if they had to come in through the back door to do so.

It's a pleasant record, but one that leaves some collectors flat...I got this from a big Boston-area record dealer who really didn't like it much at all. I traded a Miles Davis Prestige LP for it (shoot...the Miles would go for a pretty penny nowadays too!).

And, yes...this is also up for grabs. I have it on CD. As I said, it's pleasant and historically interesting, but it's never been a huge favorite here (if it was something else by the MJB I'd probably keep it). In the past three years or so, I have seen two or three copies of this record go for between $500-975, depending on which way the wind blew that week.

Oh, did I mention that my copy has its original dealer's sleeve?
Or, rather, a sleeve with the original dealer's sticker on it? These stickers would be put on any heavy paper that would temporarily house a certain record. Most of the time, the sleeve would be used several times over (notice that this sticker is on top of another one).

37038-2 Jug Band Waltz Memphis Jug Band Victor V-38537
37039-2 Mississippi River Waltz Memphis Jug Band Victor V-38537
Memphis 15 September 1929: Will Shade, harmonica; Ben Ramey, kazoo; Charlie Burse, Vol Stevens, guitars; Jab Jones, jug.

You might ask why I left the pre-music noise in...there's a tiny, almost imperceptable pressure crack that goes in about 7 or 8 grooves...and I wanted to prove to the record-buying public that the crack is inaudible. The thumping noise that is audible at the beginning is only the bit of nail polish I put on the crack [in the lead-in only, of course] to 1) make sure the crack wouldn't get worse, and 2) to locate the crack in the first's so small it's almost invisible. In the 25 or so years I've had the record, it's never gotten any worse, and it's unlikely to do so in the future.

A pair of pairs:

Something unusual...the same title, the same label...but completely different compositions! The first version of White Heat is a lesser song from The Band Wagon, sung here (and on stage) by some cat named Austerlitz. I heard he could dance a little too.

70259-1 White Heat Leo Reisman Orch. Victor 22836
NYC 28 September 1931: Leo Reisman, conductor; large society orchestra; Fred Astaire, vocal.

Just over two years later, Will Hudson's frenetic piece with the same title was waxed by the Jimmie Lunceford orchestra:

81324-1 White Heat Jimmie Lunceford Orch Victor 24586
NYC 26 January 1934: Lunceford, conductor; Eddie Tompkins, Tommy Stevenson, Sy Oliver, trumpets; Henry Wells, Russell Bowles, trombones; Willie Smith, Joe Thomas, Earl Carruthers, reeds; Edwin Wilcox; piano; Al Norris, guitar; Moses Allen, tuba; Jimmy Crawford, drums.

Here's another pair of sides that share the same title...this time you can't get much more's a 1920s (oh, all's 1930!) classic jazz piece, the other a mid-1950s country number.

404047-A Louisiana Swing Luis Russell Orch OKeh 8811
NYC 29 May 1930: Henry "Red" Allen, Otis Johnson, trumpets; J. C. Higginbotham, trombone; Albert Nicholas, Charlie Holmes, Teddy Hill, reeds; Louis Russell, piano & conductor; Will Johnson, guitar; Pops Foster, bass; Paul Barbarin, drums.

RZSP 33350 Louisiana Swing Johnny Bond Columbia 4-21383
mid 1954(?): Johnny Bond, vocal, unknown band.

This is the only time I've seen a CSL promo with black print. Then again, I've never seen the "Sleeper" notation or a photo on a Columbia 45 either.


That should nail the seeds to the roof...Hope y'all have some fun with my music this time around...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Dinner in Providence...and a couple of plugs!

In late February, "famous author dude" Will Friedwald came up to Brown University to speak and show a few film clips of Frank Sinatra. I met up with him there, we swapped a couple of CDs, and he introduced me to the professors in the Brown Music Department who asked him to come up. After the program, I was asked if I'd like to dine with them...but nobody had any ideas for a suitable restaurant. I recommended a favorite of mine... .

None of the others had tried Vietnamese cuisine before.

We started out with a terrific appetizer, Bánh xèo, a large crepe filled with shrimp, pork and beansprouts, with a yummy sauce on the side. I have a picture of the dish here (taken at the same restaurant, but on a different day. Those are the hands of Orlac Count Petoffi Metal-Muncher, an old friend, who finally has a blog of his own: )...
Will said that he thought it looked like a gigantic taco.

The rest of the meal was delicious always!

Even better, however, was the conversation! We talked about all things musical...from Franz Liszt to Jelly Roll Morton to Sinatra (of course!) to doo-wop groups. Here are some of the records we talked about:

We were gabbing about the rarity of certain records when I mentioned that a copy of Sun To Sun Blues by Blind Blake had recently been had been a "lost record" until then. One of the Brown professors, a hot jazz fanatic, mentioned that he wasn't too familiar with Blake. I said I had a good session for him to check out...and here it is.

20517-3 Doggin' Me Mama Blues Blind Blake Paramount 12673

20520-2 C. C. Pill Blues Blind Blake Paramount 12634

20521-3 Hot Potatoes Blind Blake Paramount 12673

20522-2 Southbound Rag Blind Blake Paramount 12681
Chicago, ca. April 1928: Johnny Dodds, clarinet; Jimmy Bertrand, xylophone, slide whistle, woodblocks and speech; Blind Blake, vocal & guitar.

An unusual, free-wheeling session. Dodds's presence is always welcome (although he's not on the first side), and Bertrand's contributions are a lot of fun too. Blake (born Arthur Blake, although there is evidence that implies that his real last name may have been Phelps) was one of the best guitarists ever...very nice, ragtime-influenced playing. Good singer too!

By the way, a C. C. Pill was a Compound Cathartic, a fairly powerful laxative.

one of us (probably Will) mentioned Jo Stafford...and her hit version of Shrimp Boats came up. I said that I thought the best version of the song was by Jerry Jackson. None of the others had heard it. This record didn't do all that well when it was issued in the middle of 1964, but apparently it's still a dance favorite in the UK now. I can see why.
Shrimp Boats Jerry Jackson

For many years I've treasured an old mono Columbia 45 of this song...when I poked around on the 'Web, I found this stereo version! I think it's a bit better than the single!

Another record I mentioned was what is probably my favorite doo-wop side. To be sure, there are better ones out there...but I love this one most (probably because I've had it since I was five or six years old). So many things are going on musically...that jangling piano in the background...the group, with a doo-doo-doo bass singer and that falsetto, all backing Joe Weaver's lead vocal, which was truly great, as the label said.

I only wish that the pressing and recording were better. The behind-the-scenes knob twiddling adds to the charm of the record. The echo comes and goes...

Baby, I Love You So Joe Weaver and the Don Juans
Fortune 825
Detroit, Late 1955 (issued in January 1956)

Apparently the vocal group was originally known as the Five Dollars. Here's more info:
While I'm at it, I think I'll include this little gem for the other doo-wop collectors I know in the southern New England area...they all know and love the 1954 Cadillacs' version of Gloria (The 1960 version by The Passions is also a favorite...).

I wonder if they've ever heard the 1948 record of the same song by the Mills Brothers. It's just as pretty, in my opinion.
Gloria Mills Brothers Decca 24509
22 September 1948: Harry, Donald, Herbert and John (Sr.) Mills,
vocal quartet.
Yeah, I know this is a mid-1950s repressing...but it sounds better than shellac ever did! It's nice that Decca retained the original serial number, though.


PAIRS (part one)

Here I'll post some sides, two at a time, to compare and contrast...I hope to keep Pairs as a continuing feature at the Sanctum...

I sometimes wonder what records might have influenced certain musicians in their formative years...

I'll inaugurate the Pairs section with a couple of songs about the hour of 4:00.

Here's a fairly big seller from 1922 (I've had four or five copies over the must have sold fairly well):

80529-5 Four O'Clock Blues Johnny Dunn's Original Jazz Hounds Columbia A3729
NYC 21 September 1922: Johnny Dunn, cornet; Earl Granstaff, trombone; Herschel Brassfield, Rollen Smith, reeds; George Rickson, piano; John Mitchell, banjo.

It's a pleasant little number. But does it sound familiar, especially to you country blues nuts out there?

Maybe it's because you're thinking of this:

DAL-379-1 From Four Until Late Robert Johnson Vocalion 03623
Dallas, 19 June 1937: Robert Johnson,
vocal & guitar.
Notice that this song is also about 4:00! My guess is that Johnson was familiar enough with the Dunn record to write his own lyrics to it...probably a few years before.

Hmmmmm...let's make this pair a threefer! Here's the Original Memphis Five doing their cover of the Dunn title. This Grey Gull is from a master leased from Paramount.

1265 Four O'Clock Blues Original Memphis Five Grey Gull 1153
NYC, December 1922: Phil Napoleon, trumpet; Charlie Panelli, trombone; Jimmy Lytell, clarinet; Frank Signorelli, piano; Jack Roth, drums.

I found yet another version as this was going to press...a vocal version (with the original lyrics! Lucky that Johnson probably never heard this one, or his record could have been very different!)...I suppose it's fitting that there should be four Fours.

71323-C Four O'Clock Blues Esther Bigeou
OKeh 8054
NYC, c. early March 1923: Esther Bigeou, vocal; accompanied by Rickett's Stars: Bob Ricketts, piano; others unknown.


Here's another pair...two completely different songs with the same title!

Surely you don't need an introduction to Duke Ellington...

Do you know this side?

400032 Harlem Twist Lonnie Johnson's Harlem Footwarmers OKeh 8638
NYC, January 19, 1928: Louis Metcalf, Bubber Miley, trumpets; Joe Nanton, trombone; Barney Bigard, Otto Hardwick, Harry Carney, reeds; Duke Ellington, piano; Fred Guy, banjo; Wellman Braud, bass; Sonny Greer, drums.

I can see you now...saying to yourself "Hey...that's East St. Louis Toodle-Oo!"

You're right, of course. Why the retitling?
In the late 1920s, Duke Ellington made dozens of sides for several labels...usually under a pseudonym (He was under contract to Victor, but that didn't stop his aggressive manager, Irving Mills, from getting his best client some extra recording work). Most of Duke's OKehs were labeled as by The Harlem Footwarmers. On one of those sessions, guitarist Lonnie Johnson sat in, and those sides were issued as by "Lonnie Johnson's Harlem Footwarmers."

So far, so good.

Here's where the retitling comes in...My guess is someone, probably a bigwig at OKeh (or Mills or Ellington himself) thought that the title East St. Louis Toodle-Oo might set off alarms at Victor. So they retitled it Harlem Twist. The flip side, Move Over, was one of those sides from the aforementioned Ellington/Johnson session, so Harlem Twist also came out under Lonnie's name. But Lonnie isn't on this side at all... (PS. I do have this 78, but only in V- condition...and there are a couple of badly stressed grooves. So I used my CD version here.)

Oddly enough, the previous year Victor recorded a completely different piece with the same title, Harlem Twist. This one was a Fud Livingston & Chauncey Morehouse composition played by a small group led by Loring "Red" Nichols:

45814-2 Harlem Twist Red Nichols Orchestra Victor 21560
NYC, 21 June 1928: Red Nichols, Leo McConville, trumpets; Miff Mole, trombone; Dudley Fosdick, mellophone; Fud Livingston, clarinet & tenor sax; Arthur Schutt, piano; Carl Kress, guitar; Chauncey Morehouse, drums and vocal.


...and, since you've been very, very good, you may have a dessert! A wafer-thin mint!
Oh, what the hey...I have this piece on my hard drive...I suppose I should share this. It's very seldom heard:

A couple of weeks ago I found several twelve-inch records by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra (the picture below was snapped moments before I found those records) Included therein were some of the fairly common ones (The 1927 recording of Rhapsody In Blue [with Gershwin at the piano], for example), but there were several that I've never seen except in collections (all three Columbia records to Gershwin's Concerto in F were in this stash).

Anyway...I transferred all of them within the past couple of weeks. While recording each side, I was checking the discography for the recording dates. I was surprised to find that the first two sides of the following were recorded on 13 March 1928, the day my mom was born! That's an odd coincidence, considering I had already posted several early 1928 sides the last time around...but I could never find anything from the actual 13 March date.

Here's the complete recording of the rarely-heard Metropolis, composed (originally for solo piano) and orchestrated by Ferde Grofe (Two of its themes, however, were provided by fellow Whitemanites Matty Malneck and Harry Barris.). It was originally issued on two records (Victor 35933 and 35934), and the first two parts were indeed recorded on 13 March 1928 (I heard that composer Maurice Ravel attended this session, but wasn't exactly thrilled by what he heard.). Part 3 was recorded the next day (14 March) and the finale on 17 March.

Metropolis is a classic genre-straddling's an epic "concert jazz" item, much in the Gershwin Rhapsody tradition, and paving the way for Grofe's later
Grand Canyon Suite.
I'm aware that this kind of "concert jazz" isn't for everybody. Even I have to be in the mood for it. In any case, the virtuosity of the Whiteman band, and especially pianist Roy Bargy, is to be commended. They blast through the tricky score with nary a clinker. Oh, listen for a few quick bars played by cornetist Bix Beiderbecke (he's the fourth voice in the fugue 10:55).

I took the liberty of combining all four parts into one file. It's fairly obvious where the original side breaks were. I'm also borrowing the image from the poster to Fritz Lang's classic motion picture of the previous year.


43141,-2,-3,-8 (four matrices) Metropolis (Grofe) Paul Whiteman's Concert Orch
Victor 35933-4
13-17 March 1928: Paul Whiteman, conductor; 24-piece orchestra.


That's enough for now...keep watching the skies.