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...)