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Friday, December 31, 2010

Romantic Moods

Strangers In The Night
Romantic Moods
Strings Unlimited
Oscar Records
OS-108

Here's another installment in my effort to bring you the most obscure records that no one cares about.

Beautiful Blue Hawaii

Hilo Bay
Beautiful Blue Hawaii
The Polynesians
Crown Records

This is a nice record that blends tradition folk tracks with a few jazzy modern songs. One tune, Hilo Bay, features a very cool lounge vocal.

I found this exact title online, with mp3 files for sale by the download. But the track list is completely different. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Sounds For Sick? People

Fever
Sounds For Sick? People
Shell 1711

I had no idea what to expect out of this set, an obvious gimmick album on a label that I had never seen before. On quick glance, the rear cover reveals no information. The copy is humorous fluff intended to prop up the gimmick. All of the song titles have something to do with illness or doctoring. On closer examination I found that the musicians are credited. They include Al Caiola on Guitar, Frank Rehak - Trombone, Boomie Richmond - Flute/Woodwind, Georgie Auld - Tenor Sax, Don Lamond - Drums, Moe Wechsler - Piano/Organ, Sol Schlinger - Baritone Sax.

I recognized a number of names and loved the 60s cover illustration so I bought the album. I wasn't disappointed. This is a great early space age pop record featuring many cool tunes that may help cure what ails you. The record is somewhat obscure, but I noted, today, that a copy hadn't sold on ebay for $1. I paid more than that. It's worth at least that and the cost of shipping. A fun addition to your atomic age collection.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

SPM Showcase Production Music

Rock Squad
SPM Showcase Production Music
Media General Broadcast Services SPM 233

A 12 inch stock music record with about enough content to fill one side or about 6 different tracks with repetitious short segments.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cha Cha Pops - Manny Lopez Orchestra

Andalucia
Cha Cha Pops
Manny Lopez and His Orchestra
RCA Victor LSP-1671
1958

I'd never thought Cha Cha could be done up as easy listening. This album has a laid-back Gleason vibe to it. The approach works for me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

All-Time Piano Hits - Ronnie Aldrich

All-Time Piano Hits
Ronnie Aldrich And His Two Pianos
Phase 4
London SP 44081
1966

There are some nice tunes on this album that features a rather drab looking cover. The engineering is amazing. Credit goes to Arthur Bannister.

Tracks consist mostly of 60s light pop and easy listening fare that I find pleasant, but pretty standard for the time. A few tracks rise above that vibe. They include fun covers of Miserlou and Voodoo Moon.

Strings In Hi-Fi - Pierre Challet And His Orchestra

Holiday For Strings
Strings In Hi-Fi
Pierre Challet And His Orchestra
Mercury SR 60066
1959

From the March 23, 1959 issue of Billboard: Title is apt. The sound is, why not say it, sensational. The program is composed of string showpieces ("Flight Of The Bumble Bee, "Holiday for Strings", etc.) in sprightly arrangements. Place the needle anywhere for demonstration to hi-fi fans and, if you have a special browser for audiophfles (that is how they spelled the word), the disk deserves to be included.

Mercury is one of my favorite labels when it comes to quality engineering.

Holiday In Acapulco

Baja Narea
Holiday In Acapulco
Fortuna TLPS 937

Budget release with no artist credit on the cover. On the label, the recording is credited to the Scott Mills Orchestra.

This obscure album, featuring a stock cover photo, is quite pleasant. A number of tracks are average Latin filler, but an equal number have a small combo flavor to them. The predominate instrument is the flute.

On the back cover is nothing about the music, but instead, a brief history of "The Evolution Of Stereophonic Sound".

A portion of this history includes a purchase, by The Shah of Persia, of the first three-track phonograph. A machine that was manufactured by the Columbia Phonograph Corporation in 1898. This player was advertised as "The Mulitplex Gramaphone Grand" and was the largest talking machine ever constructed.

Jackie Gleason Presents - Lazy Lively Love

Jackie Gleason Presents
Lazy Lively Love
Capitol Records SW 1439
1961

After I collect all of Gleason's albums I will count up the number of covers that feature drinking and smoking.

Normally Gleason's stuff is great but this release seems unfocused and thematically weak compared to the other Gleason sets I've got in the collection. The LP is more "light pop" than romantic mood and features "brass" which in this case, I find hard to warm up to.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blue Hawaiian Waters

Stars Over Hawaii
Blue Hawaiian Waters
Harry Kaapuni And His Royal Polynesians
Coronet Records CX 128

The sample tune above has a nice country swing vibe to it as do a number of the tracks. The album is a showcase for some great steel guitar work.

Family Record Club Artists

Come Unto Me
Guide To Family Record Club Artists
Word Records FRC-100

This is a "sampler" album that features 28 sample tracks from Word recording artists.

The reason of course, to collect this album is the wonderful photo on the cover that features an early 60s torture chamber. Golly gee Pop… could you could bring home a Martin Denny album next week?!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hawaii Goes Percussion

Swinging Palm Trees
Hawaii Goes Percussion
Cornet Records CXS 162

The title found on the back cover and label is Hawaiian Moonbeams. I might make the assumption that Coronet changed the name to "Percussion" to capitalize on the early 60s percussion trend. However, this isn't a percussion record.

There isn't a mention on the cover of who the artists are. The album focuses on someone who can rock the steel guitar.

I just found the same album with the "Moonbeams" title...

Staccato

Staccato
A Revue Televison Productions Starring John Cassavetes
Strikingly modern background music composed and conducted by Elmer Bernstein
Capitol Records T1287
1959

From the back cover: Johnny Staccato is a private detective. He works at it because it pays well and he likes to spend money. But for sheer pleasure he's a jazz pianist – highly regarded buy other musicians, but not interested in actually working as a musician.

A fantastic jacket story should make for some fantastic music. The music is "private, playing jazz for dames and drinks, detective" cool.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jackie Gleason Presents - Night Winds

Jackie Gleason Presents
Night Winds
Capitol Records W717
1956

This album scored Gleason a Top Ten spot for '56. And the set, of course, is another terrific album amongst the many "romantic mood" entries found in the Gleason catalog.

Hawaii - A Musical Memento Of The Island

Mahina Hoku
Hawaii
A Musical Memento Of The Islands
GNP Gene Norman Presents
1959

This is a compilation album that was "Recorded In Hawaii By Hawaiian Artists".

How Sweet It Is!

How Sweet It Is!
Capitol

From the back cover: This is a Promotional album designed for programming; it is not for sale.

This album was created to promote Gleason's early work from radio programming.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carlos Salzedo

Steel
Carlos Salzedo Plays Music For The Harp
Original Compositions And Transcripts With Lucile Lawernce
Mercury Classics MG10144
1954

I love the beautiful cover illustration that graces this vintage Mercury album.

From his wikipedia page: Salzedo remains one of the greatest harpists in history, a virtuoso player unparalleled, a virtuoso pianist and conductor, and a primal teacher. He was a progressive spirit, seeking new resources in the harp, inspiring and creating new works and creating new styles of music. His composing progressed from French Romantic to Impressionist to a new style uniquely his own.

The last track on the B side, Steel, is especially "modern" sounding compared to other tracks.

Great Organ Hits - Eddie Layton

By The Waters Of The Minnetonka
Great Organ Hits
Out Of This World
Eddie Layton At The Hammond Organ
Mercury Stereo SR 60639
1961

The September 4, 1961 Billboard gave this album "Moderate Sale Potential".

Read about Layton on his wikipedia page.

This album has a few nice space age moments. Mercury might have engineered the sound with a little more depth. The music doesn't sound as though the music was mixed right to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Return Of James Bond In Diamonds Are Forever

Diamonds Are Forever
The Return Of James Bond In "Diamonds Are Forever"
And Other Secret Agent Themes
Roland Shaw And His Orchestra
London Records 2 BSP 24
1971

This album was the last in a series of "spy" albums made by Roland beginning with Themes from the James Bond Thrillers in 1964. That record was released to coincide with the American release of the film Goldfinger. This record led to More Themes from the James Bond Thriller and Themes for Secret Agents.

Side one gets off to a slow start, but the secret agent business soon picks up and by the end of side two I found it hard to choose a sample.

Sounds Unlimited - Marty Gold

Tonight
Sounds Unlimited
Marty Gold And His Orchestra
RCA Victor LPM-2714
1963

This album was yet another attempt to market RCA's "Dynagroove" technology.

The cover features a nice space age vibe which attracts collectors. But, as with New Thresholds In Sound by Sid Ramin (1963), this album fails to accomplish what I think RCA set out to do and that is to make "Dynagroove" seem new and cool.

For a 1963 release, when so many other labels, both large and small had been releasing exotica, bachelor pad, space age, light pop, percussion and other experimental forms of music, this record comes across as dated sounding. That's not to say that the music isn't pleasant listening... but RCA needed to do something way more dynamic if they intended to impress audiophiles.

Historically, "Dynagroove" was not well received. The engineering on this album is good, but not sparkling good.

The Sounds Of Adventure - Les Baxter

The Sounds Of Adventure
Les Baxter
Capitol Record Club Exclusive SQBO-90984

You'd think, this being a Les Baxter album, that I could located a date of release. But I can't so I don't know how this album works into Baxter's time line. This is a two record set with a gate-fold jacket design that smacks of a mid to late 60s (or even early 70s) issue...

This is a nice Baxter collection that holds together musically. In other words, even though the jacket notes explain that Baxter experimented with rock and roll, you will not find any of those tunes here. The songs, tend to be more "mood" or "exotic" in nature.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caramba! - Richard Hayman

Spaixico
Caramba!
Richard Hayman And His Orchestra
Exotic Sounds Of The Americas
Mercury Records SR 60103

I have several Hayman albums, including his exotica LP titled Voodoo! (Mercury). You might also want to sample his album, Only Memories (Mercury) or a later album on The Command label, Cinemagic Sounds.

This album sports a sparkling and vibrant cover! The music, on the other hand is far from "exotic". The tracks are nice, but not up to par with many similar albums on the market at the time. Buy this one for the cover art.

Music For Hi-Fi Bugs

For Hi-Fi Bugs
Music For Hi-Fi-Bugs
Conducted And Arranged By Pete Rugolo
EmArcy MG 36082
1956

Needless to say, this album features a terrific cover. The title track, For Hi-Fi Bugs, is an especially cool tune that reminded me of Rugolo's 1950s TV drama scores including Richard Diamond, The Stranger, The Fugitive, Run For Your Life, Lie Detector and Felony Squad. Most of the set features more traditional big band jazz with extended soft smoky moments.

One interesting note from the back cover: An interesting aspect of the session for hi-fi bugs is the system of recording. Only one microphone was used – a counterrevolutionary procedure in these days of multiple mikes, tape tricks and recording gimmicks.

101 Strings - The Soul Of Mexico

101 Strings
The Soul Of Mexico
Somerset P-17000
1963

Here's a 101 Strings album that features an attractive colorful cover. Again, all of the songs found on this album can be downloaded online.

I don't believe this one is worth your buck a download price. It's nice, but there are a number of fine 101 albums out there, including one titled Que Mango! by Les Baxter that I would download first.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Jackie Gleason Presents - The Torch With The Blue Flame

Jackie Gleason Presents
The Torch With The Blue Flame
Capitol Records W961
1958

Here is another outstanding example from the King Of Easy Listening, or as I call it, Romantic Music, Jackie Gleason.

As with many Gleason albums, the cover art sets the mood. Many songs on this album are accented with the vibraphone.

Felix Slatkin - Fantastic Percussion

Caravan
Felix Slatkin
Fantastic Percussion
Liberty Records LRP 3150
1960

Liberty Records must have released a lackluster record, but I have yet to discover one. Here we have a marvelous percussion album featuring a cover design that gives the impression of a sparkling blend of instruments. Slatkin presents a set of vibrant, jangling, sparkling arrangements, a good dose of space age percussion that I highly recommend.

This is a monaural release. London also released this record with a different cover design.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Perry Como - TV Favorites

Perry Como
TV Favorites
As Sung by Perry on His Chesterfield TV Show
RCA Victor LPM 3013
1952

This 10 inch 33 1/3 sports a fabulous cover. The graphic promotes not only Perry Como, but RCA's table top set (17T200) in blond.

There is an awesome version of Summertime on this album.

Percussive Oompah

Mack The Knife
Percussive Oompah
Hofbrauhaus! Stimmung!
Rudi Bohn and his Band
Phase 4 In Stereo
London SLE 14 400 Ex

A "percussive" album based on Oompah?

All the London Phase 4 albums I have in the collection come in nice heavy gatefold jackets that feature glossy covers. This jacket is a gatefold, but printed on thin stock. The record label is not London, but a Telefunken. The catalog number is also unusual. The whole project seems like some oddball import.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Randy Rayder In Outer Space

Randy Rayder In Outer Space
Continental Production Company, North Hollywood, California
SD-1
1969

This is a gatefold album with a fold out comic book styled insert so that you can follow the story in pictures. I guess that is what "see-disc" means.

Latin Boss Senor Ros

Meditation
Jet Plane
Latin Boss Senor Ros
Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra
Phase 4 Stereo
London SP 44073

Also check out Arriba a quirky offering, which apparently, came quick on the heels of this release.

The two albums feature the same basic formula, slightly quirky instrumentals including one or two odd vocal tracks that, I assume, features Ros singing.

The engineering is excellent.

Paul Mauriat - Listen Too!

It's Not Unusual
Listen Too!
The Fabulous Paul Mauriat Orchestra
Philips Records PHS 600-197
1968

Here is another Mauriat easy album that features a graphically dynamic cover art.

Read more about Paul Mauriat on wikipedia.org.

Light, fun and just a touch quirky.

Starlight Serenade - Morton Gould

Starlight Serenade
Morton Gould And His Orchestra
Columbia Records CL 664
1955

Easy listening from Morton Gould. Downloads are available from usual sources. I recommend the track, Speak Low.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Mystic Mood Orchestra - Extensions

The Mystic Moods Orchestra
Extensions
Philips PHS 600-301
1969

This was the 17th "Moods" release. The April 19, 1969 Billboard "spotlighted" the album saying: Their (Moods) revolutionary sound in music will again prove to be another sales giant.

Mystic Moods sets blend natural sound effects, easy listening, 60 pop and quirky arrangements. The albums are like concept projects even though popular tunes are covered. On this album your will find a beautiful cover of The Beatles Norwegian Wood. And there is also a cover of Mac Arthur Park on the B side that is totally outrageous!

The Bossa Nova Beat!

Canvan
Si Zentner And His Orchestra Play Desafinado
The Bossa Nova Beat!
Liberty LST-7273
1962

The November 17, 1962 issue of Billboard gave this release a nod as a "A Billboard Pick".

This is a smooth jazz album with a focus on the bossa nova beat.

Zenter played with Les Brown, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey in the 1940s. He formed his own band in 1959 and was signed by Liberty. His ensemble was voted Best Big Band for 13 straight years. He also accompanied Mel Torme at The Blue Room in Las Vegas.

Sears Golden Strings - Be My Love & Other Love Songs

Stairway To The Stars
Sears Golden Strings
Be My Love & Other Love Songs
SP-212

This is the second Sears produced LP I've found. My first find (Golden Voices In Hollywood) was a bit of a treasure because Sears tried to cover pop songs with studio vocalists. That release was a campy 60s disaster. Sears, however, left the vocals off this release and gifted us with a straight forward and smooth mood set.

The Sears price was $1.49.

Arriba

From Russia With Love
Arriba
Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra
London Phase 4 Stereo SP 44080
1966

Here is an album sporting a great cover and excellent Phase 4 Stereo engineering. Musically it a quirky mix of light pop songs, including covers of Get Me To The Church On Time and Hello Dolly.

Heart Of Spain

Ravel's Bolero
Heart Of Spain
Santiago & Silver Strings
Coronet Records CX-123

Here's a festive cover on a budget record. The music is straight forward easy listening. Ravel's Bolero has a touch of "rose clenched between the teeth" feel to it, but that's about it.

The Singing Zither

Jingle Bells/Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
The Singing Zither
Christmas & Old Time Hymns
Willie Dittrich
Jim Loyd Presents (WMT Radio, Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Here's a fun private press album found today at one of the thrifts I frequent.

From the back cover: The Singing Zither belongs to Willie Dittrich of the Amana Colonies in Iowa (Homestead, Iowa).

Although none of the venues are named, Dittrich played at least one local restaurant as well as other local venues including "one of eastern Iowa's local television programs."

Superstar Guitar - Tony Mottola

Spinning Wheel
Tony Mottola
Superstar Guitar
Project 3 PF 5062SD
1972

This is an Enoch Light label release. Mottola made a number of albums for Light. The arrangements on this set are just quirky enough to hold the attention. Check out Spinning Wheel! Mottola manages to make something out of this song.

There are some great tunes on this album including a solo cover of a blend of Yesterdays/Yesterday by Harbach/Lennon.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Supersonics In Flight - Billy Mure

Supersonics In Flight
Billy Mure
RCA Victor LSP-1869
1959

This is one of my favorite space age covers that features a Grumman F11F-1 Tiger.

This album is a follow up to Mure's excellent Fireworks LP. I also have a blog post up featuring Mure's work on Blue Hawaii.

Tracks from this album are available online. I suggest Flaming Guitar as a download.

Excellent space age pop with awesome supersonic guitar playing!

Read more about Billy Mure on spaceagepop.com.

Songs Of Christmas

Songs Of Christmas
The Norman Luboff Choir
Columbia CL 926
1956

Great vintage cover on this album.

Moon Of Manakoora

Hawaiian War Chant
Moon Of Manakoora
Lush Strings
Custom Records CM 2006 Monaural

Saul Bihari, head of Crown Records, announced in a 1965 issue of Billboard a "new label" called Custom. Custom would feature his answer to Living Strings and be sold at discount prices ($1.98 or less). Recordings would be made domestically and in Europe.

There are a number of Lush Strings albums out there, including a few with interesting titles such as Spellbound and Ebb Tide.

This album is fully orchestrated mood that features some nice vocal touches to give the music a hint of tropical mysteriousness. However, I picked a nice dramatic cover of Hawaiian War Chant to feature as the sample above.

Ghostly Sounds

Ghostly Sounds
Peter Pan 8125
1975

Narrated by Peter Waldron. Produced by Gershon Kingsley.

This halloween record really isn't scary and the cover isn't all that garish but the album was a fun listen. Each side is like a weird electronic mini-opera with sparse narration.