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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Mystic Moods Orchestra - More Than Music

The Mystic Moods Orchestra
More Than Music
Philips PHS 600-231
1967

Groovier than ever, The Mystic Moods do covers of popular movie themes.

This is one of the earlier Mystic Mood records. Mystic Mood recordings are a blend of nicely arranged easy listening/mood and natural sounds. The effect is one of creating one continuous piece of music that sets a mood and takes you for a journey. Sound effects for the first track on the B side, Grand Prix, are of course, the sound of sport cars racing.  That sounds… well... works!

Command Performances - Enoch Light

Stairway To The Sea
Enoch Light
Command Performances
Command Records RS 868SD
1964

Here's another installment in the many great Command recordings released in the early 60s sporting a minimalist cover design art directed by Charles E. Murphy.

As usual the engineering on this record is excellent. Stairway To The Sea sounds like throwbacks to the late 50s mood.

Romantic Guitar - Tony Mottola

Tony Mottola
Romatic Guitar
Command Records RS 847 SD
1963

Many of the Command label recordings are only available on good old vinyl. This one can be found on CD.

This recording was originated and produced by Enoch Light. The cover was art directed by Charles E. Murphy who was responsible for creating a minimalist design trend on album jacket during the early 60s.

As usual, the engineering on this record is amazing. I'm listening to a very clean copy, through headphones and the audio is outstanding. Mottola's guitar is left channel and the back up instruments are right channel. The effect of listening to the record on a good stereo would be even better. It sounds like Mottola is sitting playing his guitar right next to me.

The album is a smoky smooth, on the light side of jazz, spiced up with vibraphone, organ and bongos.

Poor Butterfly

Korla Pandit
Poor Butterfly & For All We Know
Vita Records V-216

This 10 inch 78 RPM isn't listed on the Korla Pandit (site) discography, but going by the Vita catalog numbers this record was probably release 1950/51.

Provocative Percussion Volume 2

Temptation
Volume 2
Provocative Percussion
Enoch Light and The Light Brigade
Command Records RS 33-810
1960

Here we have another Command percussion record with a cover art directed by Charles E. Murphy. Murphy was responsible for the great minimalist look of Command covers during this period. His design style was copied by most other record companies and applied to their percussion offerings.

As usual the Command engineering is excellent.

The music styles are mixed. Most Light records I've listened to which tend to be thematically  more consistent.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Latin And European Cha Cha Cha

Oriental Cha Cha
Latin And European Cha Cha Cha
Los Cangaceiros El Super Orquestra
King International 2002
1961

This record was produced By King Records of Cincinnati, OH in a short-lived series (of "international" recordings) that lasted through 1961 - 62.

There are no album notes to draw information from. I can only find one other album cover by Cangaceiros online.

The music is pleasant and well engineered but overall the album lacks the flare of a Cugat effort. Curiously, the Oriental Cha Cha sound more like Klezmer Cha Cha

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Amazons From Space - Wonder Woman

Amazons From Space
Wonder Woman
Peter Pan Records BR-517
1977

The B side is a terrific story of a disease that makes men crawl behind their woman.

Wonder Woman
Power Records
Peter Pan 8165
1975

I just found the album above which was released several years before the "comic book" version. The audio stories are the same. This record is a single jacket with no comic book insert.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harry Owens And His Royal Hawaiians

Cool Head - Main Thing
Harry Owens And His Royal Hawaiians
Voice Of The Trade Winds
Capitol T333
1957

Harry Owens wikipedia page. 

Owens arrived in Hawaii in 1934 when he became the music director of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Owens became a great advocated of Hawaii. He set about studying local culture which included writing down many traditional Hawaiian songs which he orchestrated in Western notation (many songs for the first time).

Bing Crosby, having heard Owens work,  persisted that Owens tune Sweet Leilani be used in his film Waikiki Wedding. The song won Best Song category at the 1938 10th Academy Awards and became Crosby's first gold record.

Despite these achievements, this album seems late to scene in 1957. The record had to compete with the emergence of exotica recordings and many other tropical themed albums that were stylistically more sophisticated for the times.

Canciones de la pelicula - El Ultimo Cuple - Sarita Montiel

Sarita Montiel
Canciones de la pelicula
El Ultimo Cuple
London ffrr LL 1772
1957

The jacket notes are in Spanish as well as English. Montiel's vocals are in Spanish.

Montiel was the most commercially successful Spanish actress during the mid-twentieth century in much of the world. And apparently she had one night stands with Ernest Hemingway as well as actor James Dean.

How could anyone resist, I ask you?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Music For A Rainy Night

Music For A Rainy Night
Paul Weston And His Orchestra
Columbia CL 574
1954

In a curious matter of taste, I read one online a comment about Weston's work being "quite superior" to Jackie Gleason. I have to disagree, this work sounds a dated or average compared to the many Gleason albums I own. In comparison, many Gleason LPs sound fresh today.

Wild Stereos Drums

Wild Stereo Drums
A Wide-Ranging Program of Music Accenting Powerful Percussion In Dazzling Stereo
Capitol ST 1553
1961

This is a compilation album of percussion filled tracks from the likes of Pepe Dominguin, Felix Slatkin, Dick Harrell, Stan Levey and Les Baxter. The March 20, 1961 Billboard gushed over this album: Truly a virtuoso drum set, and one that could entertain any sound buff. Potent wax here.

101 Strings - A Night In The Tropic

101 Strings
A Night In The Tropics
Somerset P-4400
1957

I'm a sucker for any album with a tropical theme... even a 101 Strings album... although you never want to get your hopes up. In fact, there are at least three very good 101s out there to be had including a wonderful album titled, Que Mango! which was arranged and conducted by Les Baxter.

I don't think 101 Strings ever set foot on a tropical island because they knew their instruments would immediately go out of tune in the humidity. Lucky for them this album was recorded in Hamburg, Germany and likely in the dead of winter.

This album is pleasant lush mood, but even the track titled "Exotic Night" is far from exotic sounding.

Selling By Telephone

Selling By Telephone
How To Increase Sales And Profits By Phone
Businessmen's Record Club
By J. George Frederick

United Film And Recording Company, Chicago, Ill. BRC 108
1961

Is this guy that we all can blame for telemarketing?

Apparently Frederick wrote a book, also titled "Selling By Telephone". This book was reviewed in a 1928 issues of The Rotarian.

It is amazing that he was still actively pushing his concepts over 30 years later.

Moog Groove - The Electronic Concept Orchestra

Atlantis
Moog GrooveThe Electronic Concept Orchestra
Limelight LS-86070
1969

That's a massive wall of electronic hardware behind the model!

Covers of Beatles songs are always of interest as are many of tracks on this LP that hold your attention with a variety of rhythmic "electronic" tones.

From the back cover: For years it seemed that no really new instrumental sounds were being discovered for the world of pop music (except perhaps the "wa-wa" pedal)—and then it happened. Within the past year electronic music has exploded upon the scene. After more than fifteen years of development and experimentation mostly in abstract avant-garde serious music, electronic music has finally been applied to songs that really set a groove.

This exciting development hasn't happened automatically. Only within the past several years have there been electronic music instruments that are compact enough to be used in a recording studio. At present, of the available instruments, the Moog Synthesizer is gaining the greatest use (in the background on the front cover). Developed by Robert Moog, it has been used for effects on rock records for quite a while. Now with the creation of the Electronic Concept Orchestra it becomes a pop instrument of amazing versatility. By electronically producing tones with an infinite variety of frequency characteristics, the "Moog," through the technique of multi-track recording, can create a whole range of entirely new musical colors.

The Electronic Concept Orchestra was formed to create a musical approach to pop and rock music that is as fresh as Walter Carlos' efforts in the classical area with "Switched On Bach." Although many "spaced-out" effects can be created with electronic music, we, have made an effort to put melody, music, and "good vibes" first and novelty gimmicks second. To that end, the efforts of Eddie Higgins as performer and arranger have been invaluable. Well known as a jazz pianist, Eddie has entered the world of electronic music with a real feeling for the fusion of the pop and electronic fields.

So here is the Electronic Concept Orchestra and its "Moog Groove." With thanks to The Beatles, Donovan, Joni Mitchell, Joe Cocker, Michel LeGrand and many others for bringing these great songs to our attention, we hope that you dig these sounds where you can feel it. Relax, loosen up, and get into the "Moog Groove"!

- R. M.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:

Sometimes magic happens in a recording studio. It happened on this album. From the moment that drummer, Morris Jennings, walked into the studio, set up his drums, and started to play, we all knew we were into something special. As a result, most of the instrumental backgrounds were "one take" affairs. A good performance, like good food, is fine, but that really exceptional performance (just laying it down right) is like a gourmet meal— and Morris is a terrific "cook"!

The Keyboard Sounds Of Today!

Green Hornet Theme
The Keyboard Sounds Of Today
Derek & Ray
RCA Victor LSP-3665
1966

Here we have a groovy 60s "atomic age" keyboard recording with orchestration arranged and conducted by none other than Marty Gold. Gold also gets credit for producing the LP.

Amazingly, there is almost no information to be found on this duo. It appears as if they made one other album, Two Different Worlds (RCA LSP 3426, 1965), also with Gold arrangements. Billboard gave that effort a good review.

Sounds Of The Schober Electronic Organ

Sounds Of The Schober Electronic Organ
LP-soc7
1966

Demonstration and advertising records can hold musical moments so I pick them up when I find them. In this case, the jacket was appealing with the image of the family excited about the sounds of the electronic organ. As a child, and I was the same age as the boy on the cover when this record was released, I would have found the prospect of playing the organ a nightmare from a horror movie. This is just a matter of how you grow up and what tastes you develop folks.

Anyway, on second glance I saw the phrase "easy-to-assemble kits". The Schober organs were sold as kits and the idea of buying an organ as a box of parts intrigued me.

I found, online, a 1966 Schober ad they ran in Popular Mechanics. The top model, Recital, sold for $1500 (compare that to $2500 for a "ready-built" organ). The ad goes on to state the organ is "easy to assemble" and "You supply only simple hand tools and the time."

Then I found a webpage that describes restoring a Recital model, purchased new by the owner in 1973. One paragraph from that page grabbed my attention: "In 1973, my wife and I bought a Recital organ kit, then spent nine months soldering circuit boards, building the console and pedal clavier, and wiring everything together. We had a big party when we finished, and we were very happy with the results."

So, the "easy-to-assemble" kit didn't arrive as components that would take an afternoon to assemble with a pair of pilers and a screw driver. No, you had to actually solder you own circuit boards!!!

I wonder how many people expected that they would be required do such a total assembly? How many organs were returned and if you started the build, how many folks were defeated by the assembly process and never finished?

Apparently enough organs were sold to keep the company in business for some time. The company was formed in 1954 and went out of business sometime after 1973 (in the 70s).

I'm enough of a collector to know that anything that came as a "kit" is desirable, because not many people had the "time and tools" to mess with this type of high-level assembly. Therefore, there probably aren't that many surviving examples. So, if I may, I'd say a real organ collector couldn't give up the hobby until he or she found a nice Schober organ to show off.