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Friday, March 11, 2011

Harpist Holiday - Robert Maxwell

Night and Day
Harpist Holiday
Robert Maxwell
Harmony HL 7007
1957 (Original release 1947)

Robert Maxwell used the harp more as a percussion instrument, an innovative approach. This Maxwell LP, like the cover art, is soft and mood setting. Innovative for the 1947 pop easy listening market.

Pleasant Percussion - Music Of Leroy Anderson

Plink, Plank, Plunk
Pleasant Percussion
Music Of Leroy Anderson
Dean Franconi And His Sound Stage Orchestra
International Awards Series AK-176

Pleasant yes, but way little light on the "percussion".

The Zither - Ruth Welcome / The Cimbalom - Dick Marta

The Zither - Ruth Welcome
The Cimbalom - Dick Marta
Cook Laboratories 1032

Obscure 10 inch LP featuring the wonderful Ruth Welcome's Zither and Dick Marta's Cimbalom. The Cimbalom... the instrument you hear in those great 60s spy movies that sound like someone banging piano strings.

Melody Of Love - Tina Louise Gilligan's Island Ginger

The Breeze And I
Melody Of Love
Moments To Remember Volume 2
Vincent Lopez And His Orchestra
Enoch Light And His Orchestra
FDR MHK 33-1232
Waldorf Music Hall, Inc
1958

The cover model is Tina Louise who later became widely known for her work as "Ginger" on Gilligan's Island.

Louis had made a name for herself by appearing in Playboy in 1958 and '59. This would account for her name and image appearing on this album. She actually has nothing to do with the record.

The album is uneven, given that Waldorf jammed onto the LP whatever they could beg from Light and Lopez. Both instrumentals and vocal numbers are included, some tunes are pretty dated sounding, but there are a few decent tracks including The Breeze And I (Light) and Blue Mirage (Lopez).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guitar... Mottola

Carnival Time
Guitar... Mottola
Tony Mottola America's Greatest Guitarist
Command RS 807SD
1963

Tony Mottola and Command! Always a great combo!

Apparently this is a reissue of another Command title: Mr. Big (1959). This album features a different cover by the very creative Charles E. Murphy, the designer who created so many of the stylistically appealing early 60s Command covers. Curiously the back jacket informs the buyer to check for details inside the "double album jacket". This is a single jacket, not a gatefold.

The engineering, as usual, is amazing. The stereo processing is fantastic. Mottola plays over himself from one channel to the next. Mottola, out of the small group of fabulous guitarists working in New York (if I remember correctly) at the time, delivers his usual distinctive, full, warm and natural sound that is always inventive.

I chose one of the more "unique" tracks to feature. The album leans towards "jazz" but has a bit of that early 60s Command "light-pop" touch to it.

Kismet - Percy Faith

Kismet
Percy Faith And His Orchestra
Columbia CL 550
1954

I purchased this Percy Faith album for the graphically bold and beautiful cover. This album is apparently Faith's third album (of many) according to his wiki page discography.

Columbia marketed the record in billboard as an album that dealers where using to demonstrate sound systems. Apparently due to the good dynamic range of the recording.

Available on CD or purchase by the download with different and pretty awful looking art.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Around The World In Percussion

Caravan
Around The World In Percussion
Romantic Sounds From Romantic Places
With Irv Cottler and Hollywood's Leading Percussionists
Somerset SF-13900
1961

Somerset made a few great albums. This project featured Irv Cottler, who was considered an outstanding studio musician who played on Frank Sinatra's Capitol albums of the late 50s and 60s. This is the only solo album Cottler made. Read more on spaceagepop.com.

The album features an impressive list of exotica favorites: Miserlou, On A Little Street In Singapore, Moon Of Manakoora, Sorrento And Santa-Lucia, Ritual Fire Dance, Oriental, Caravan, Under The Paris Skies, Arab Dance, Espana Cani, Baubles, Bangles And Beads, Song Of India.

There are several, in my opinion, standout tunes that go beyond very good covers into a bit more experimental territory. One of those tunes is Caravan.

Highly recommended!

Time For Listening - Richard Hayman

The Touch
Time For Listening
Richard Hayman And His Orchestra
Mercury Records MG 20103

Obscure mid-50s(?) release for harmonicist, composer and band leader, Richard Hayman.

Very groovy space age cover. Nothing like a 40 something year old man relaxing and smoking while his 20 something "friend" strokes his bachelor pad rug... so to speak.

There is one tidbit from the back cover that fans may find of note. "His (Hayman) sense of prankishness and amiable comedy landed him in bit parts in several Betty Grable movies.

Check out one of my other Hayman posts to sample his exotica album titled Voodoo!

The Unicorn - Peter Pan Records

Green Tambourine
The Unicorn
Peter Pan Pop Singers And Orchestra
Peter Pan Records 8068
1968

The Unicorn? What does a unicorn and Noah's Ark have to do with any of these pop songs? Nothing... that's what. And why the implication that the unicorn was left behind to drown? Dang it! I knew Noah forget something!

Enjoy the Peter Pan Singers as they struggle through The Lemon Pipers' Green Tambourine.

Great!

77 Sunset Strip - The Arron Bell Orchestra

77 Sunset Strip
Kookie's Caper
77 Sunset Strip
The Arron Bell Orchestra
Lion L70116
1959

Not a rare bird, but this album still a somewhat obscure and cool record.

From the back cover: About Arron Bell – One of America's top jazz specialists on bass and the veteran of such great combos as those of Teddy Wilson, Andy Kirk and Lester Young, Aaron is a familiar attraction at jazz spots like The Embers and The Left Bank in New York City. With his own group, he recently captivated audiences at the famous Concord Hotel, Kiamesha Lake, NY, for a record run of eighteen months. His credits include an appearance on Broadway in the stage version of Compulsion. He'll soon be featured on a TV series. The musicians Aaron has chosen to appear with him in this recording rank among the country's finest jazzmen – Seldon Powell, flute and tenor sax; Ray Bryant, piano; Kenny Burrell, guitar; Eddie Costa, vibes; and Oliver Jackson, Jr. Drums.

Aaron Bell's wiki page.

Side one features three variations of the 77 Sunset Strip theme, vocal, jazz and blues. The vocal version, which I'll feature here, is a fun light pop affair but not what this album is all about. Side two features more straight forward jazz numbers with that "private eye" touch and this is what rocks the record.

Also from the back cover is an advertisement promoting another Lion album by Bell covering the "Music From Peter Gunn".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best Of Vincent Bell

Baker St. Mystery
The Best Of Vincent Bell
Arranged & Produced By Charles Caelelo
Musicor Records
MS 3192

Finding this album was a treat! What an awesome and outstanding space age pop record!

There is a great piece on Bell on spaceagepop.com that you will want to read.

Bell created the "watery" guitar sound that was trendy in 60s recordings. He experimented with homemade electronic devices and he may be credited with inventing the wah-wah pedal.

He was prolific studio musician who worked along side the likes of Al Caiola and Tony Mottola.

He designed the first or one of the first 12 string electric guitars and invented a number of electric guitar models for Danelectro, Coral and other companies.

Every track on this album is a gem. The music is a blend of exotica (covers like Caravan, Ebb Tide and Brazil), early 60s Enoch Light-esque light pop and Italian science fiction movie soundtrack. OK... that's a stretch... but listen to Baker St. Mystery! Maybe Italian pop musicians took a cue from Bell!

'64 NHRA Nationals

'64 NHRA Nationals
Spectacular Sounds From Indy
Datus Productions Inc.
DP 101

The sample is track one from side one. Every track sounds pretty much the same... OK... almost EXACTLY the same. One man's trash is another man's treasure?

Possibly the strangest record in my collection.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gene Estes - The Greatest Stereo Vibraphone In Recorded History

Califa
Gene Estes
The Greatest Stereo Vibraphone In Recorded History
Provocative Stereo
Carlton Virtuoso Series STLP 12/125
1960

A November 14, 1960 Billboard article announces Carlton's plans for new "Virtusos" album series. "...which will feature performances by seldom heard and new artists in the pop and jazz fields.

From the back cover: "He enjoys a "musicians' musician" reputation as a leading virtuoso of the vibraphone although with less publicity than the Lionel Hamptons or Red Norvos... or among the modern set, Milt Jackson.

Estes did studio work on The Monkees (theme), Beach Boys (Pet Sounds) and Frank Zappa (Lumpy Gravy). He was 29 years old when this album was pressed.

Here's the only page of real info that I could find on Estes. 

Band members on this album include: John Pisano (guitar), Bob Bertaux (bass), Jerry Williams (drums), Joyce Collins (piano) and John Bambridge (bass clarinet).

Carlton's engineering is quite good on this record.

Hawaiian Favorites - Alfred Apaka With Danny Stewart's Hawaiians

Hawaiian Favorites
Alfred Apaka With Danny Stewart's Hawaiians
Decca Records DL 8361
1964

From the back cover: About Alfred Apaka... The man who is often called "Hawaii's Bing Crosby" is a handsome 200-pounder who is the "voice" of "Hawaii Calls." The notes mention his weight again at one point.

Apaka died suddenly in 1960, aged 40, while playing handball at the YMCA. He was buried with a microphone in his hand. Read Apaka's wiki page for the full story.

The jacket notes are written in such a way to suggest that everyone is alive, healthy and working even though this record was release, apparently about 4 years after Apaka's death.

A somewhat "traditional" sound, but Apaka's vocals are so smooth and strong that he was able to hold my attention. The Hawaiian guitar work is also very expressive.

This album is available on CD for almost nothing or by download at the usual online sources.

Captivation - Hawaiian Moods

The Moon Of Manakoora
Captivation
Hawaiian Moods
The Outriggers
Warner Bros. W1314
1959

Here's a lovely cover that was apparently not shot in Hawaii, but rather at The Traders in Beverly Hills.

The August 10, 1959 Billboard like this release. "Much competition in the field, but excellent sound and newness here."

This is traditional "Hawaii" with modern (1959) pop flourishes. The most notable sound is the organ featured in many of the songs. I found several "Outrigger" albums online, but no information on the group itself.

Moog Power - Hugo Montenegro

My Way
Moog Power
Hugo Montenergo
RCA LSP-4170
1969

Montenegro's electronic works were decisive and influential for the future generations of electronic musicians, giving retro/futuristic edge by the use of Moog Synthesizer, and helped to push its popularity. Read more on his wiki page.

There are a number of posts and reviews covering this album. I include it here simply to confirm that it is  killer moog/60s light psych-pop.

It is hard to offer a sample because all the songs are terrific. But for the sake of this blog... the "lounge" cover of My Way is a must.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Top Tune Time Disk Jockey Favorites

Peter Gunn
Top Tune Time
Disk Jockey Favorites
Parade Record Co, New Jersey
SP 106

Top Tune Time
Disk Jockey Favorites
SP 106

No manufacture listed on the second example, although the catalog numbers are the same as the Parade release. Nowhere on both albums are the names of the artists listed.

The cover of Peter Gunn is saved by a surprise horn passage...

Mondo Cane

Mondo Cane
Music By Riz Ortolanio and Nino Oliviero
United Artist Records UAL 4105 (Monaural)
1963

From the June 1, 1963 Billboard: Here's an album that could prove a real sleeper, should it get the play. Little of the bizarre nature of the picture is evident in the music which has excellent and some first-class themes played by a large string ork. Lots of good programming here.

Space age/exotica/easy listening all the way through.

Koto In A Latin Mood With The Old Tunes Of Japan

Sakura Sakura
Koto In A Latin Mood With The Old Tunes Of Japan
Koto Solo: Haru Tomniaga With Toshiba Recording Band
Toshiba Records JPO 1018

The title and credit on the cover is the only information in English. However, I found a "mimeographed" paper inside the jacket with this copy: Miss Tominaga is a well-known koto impressionist who recently traveled to the United States. She gave many performances there and received wonderful reviews. On her return, she made this record as a thanky you to all the people who had been so nice to her. She was formerly a student of the great Michio Miyagi, one of Japan's most famous koto players of all time.

Miss Tominaga attempts to show how versatile the koto really is by blending it beautifully with a large orchestra in a Latin vein.