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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
1969

This is a two record set, book-fold jacket design.

This nice Baxter collection holds together musically. The jacket notes explain that Baxter experimented with rock and roll, but you will not find any of those tunes here. This is a mood set.

Quiet Village
Normandy
Paris Interlude
Lost In Meditation
Fascination
Dawn On The City
A Distant Star
Our Kind Of Love
Moonlight Stroll
Love Is A Fabulous Thing
Autumn Leaves
Blue Mirage
The Enchanted Sea
Dancing Diamonds
Hong Kong Cable Car
Blue Tango
The Other Side Of The Moon
Tom Dooley
Blue Jungle
Bustin' The Bongos

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 - Pete Rugolo

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 and the title track, For Hi-Fi Bugs, is an especially cool tune that reminded me of Rugolo's 1950s TV drama scores such as 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-sounding 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.

From Billboard - December 1, 1956: Pete Rugolo can always be counted on for a provocative listening experience – and he has planned an LP here that will be the talk of many strata of Jazzville. He has a big band composed of leading West Coast "modern" jazzmen and he puts them thru a number of highly original, and sometimes pungently dissonant, exercises. There is a variety of instrumentations and voicing that keeps the ear ever alert to the goings-on. Material consists of several originals and off-beat standards. Personnel include Shelley Manne, Maynard Ferguson, Dave Pell, Frank Rosolino, etc. Good listening for it's own sake – but an added kick because of its brilliant sound reproduction.

For Hi-Fi Bugs
Once In A While
Fawncy Meeting You
These Foolish Things
Later Team
Oscar And Pete's Blues
Dream Of You
Snowfall

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.