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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Twelve Star Percussion

La Mer

Twelve Star Percussion
International Pop All Stars
Phase 4 Stereo
London SP 44011
1961

From Amazon.com: The International Pop All Stars were a group of Belgian studio musicians assembled specifically to record for Decca, and were led by Belgian arranger-composer-conductor Harry Frekin. Recorded in Decca's Brussel studios, the albums compiled here (from the very early days of Decca's 'Phase 4' imprint) display just what a top-notch band they were, with the emphasis of course on percussion.

Apparently Decca sold records in the U.S. under the London label.

There is a combo CD release (Twelve Star Percussion/Percussion Around The World). All but one of the tracks off this album are on the CD. The sample above is the track not found on the CD.

The recording is an excellent percussion album that is a touch on the jazz side of light pop. The engineering is top notch.

The Impossible Dream - Living Voices

Smile
The Impossible Dream
Living Voices
RCA Camden CAS-2322
1969

From the back cover: Today's music listener is a very aware person, and also a demanding one. No longer satisfied to hear pretty melodies with meaningless words, he wants songs which sound beautiful and yet have meaningful, exciting lyrics. Here is a collection of the more important and beautiful "message songs" of today.

Songs To Remember - Song Poems

 
Let Me Come Down by Dovie Akin - Vocalist Linda Lane

You're Always An Outsider by Carol McMickle - Vocalist Will Gentry
Songs To Remember
Royal Master Record RM 3030

Song poem albums were created by soliciting poems from wannabe song writers who paid, in this case, Royal Master a fee to put their poems to music.

Albums, of course, were created in the quickest possible fashion investing the least amount of resources. Poems were usually left alone so as not to surprise the writer who paid to have their words presented the way they submitted them and altering the poem would take time. So frequently the poem wasn't structured so that it would make for a decent song. Not that structure mattered, the music was generally so canned (pre-recorded in many cases) and presentations so lacking that the vocalist could be singing the dictionary.

What is special about these types of records, to me, is that the albums are somewhat like "folk art". You are hearing a slice of life, a story, a thought that was important to the song writer with out the message being altered by any sort of professional considerations. The song was a dream of the song writer. A moment in their life when they made a statement, took a chance and waited for their dream to be realized and delivered to their mail box.

Super Hits Volume 10

Reeling In The Years
Frankenstein
Super Hits
Played & Sung Like The Original Hits
Volume 10
Pickwick International SPC-3911

What luck I had finding a seal copy of this gem! Yes, in my attempt to bring you the scrapings from the bottom of the vinyl barrel comes another "sung like the original" cover album.

These records more often than not crack me up. They were normally released during the charting cycle or while the "hits" were reasonably fresh on the minds of the record buying public. They were designed to lure budget minded buyers into thinking that they were buying original music. I have to admit, this record is more clearly labeled than most.

The fun comes when the label tries so very hard to carbon copy pop tunes. There is no way. Projects like this point out just how hard it is to carry a tune. Even the back up band can't handle the job. Sweet!

From the back cover: FAR OUT... FAR OUT... FAR OUT!!!!!!!!!! It's Superhits time again and it's far out..... All the top groups have been grooving with some super sounds, the sounds that turn you on and turn our own folks on. Yes, indeed!!... King's Road had done it again... taken the biggies that you ask for and done them up with the kind of special sound that makes'em just like the originals. Donnie Osmond (throb... throb) struts his stuff again with the lovely THE TWELFTH OF NEVER. I mean to tell ya for a youngin' he sure knows how to sing that song. Rockin' and rollin' REELING IN THE YEARS as performed by Steely Dan rounds out Superhits Volume 10 and what can I say... I mean really... after you check out these songs you're gowna sit back and say... WOW... ole Keith has socked it to me again... an I love it!!!!!

Super Hits Volume 2

 
Chicago
Super Hits
Played & Sung Like The Original Hits
Volume 2
Pickwick International SPC-3903

What luck I had finding a seal copy of this gem! Yes, in my attempt to bring you the scrapings from the bottom of the vinyl barrel comes another "sung like the original" cover album.

These records more often than not crack me up. They were normally released during the charting cycle or while the "hits" were reasonably fresh on the minds of the record buying public. They were designed to lure budget minded buyers into thinking that they were buying original music. I have to admit, this record is more clearly labeled than most.

The fun comes when the label tries so very hard to carbon copy pop tunes. There is no way. Projects like this point out just how hard it is to carry a tune. Even the back up band can't handle the job. Sweet!

Exoitc Guitars - All Time Guitar Hits

The Enchanted Sea
All Time Guitar Hits Played By The Exotic Guitars
Arrangements and Conducted by Bill Justis
Ranwood Records R 8090
1971

This is the first Exotic Guitars album I've happened across. From the back cover I can tell that the Ranwood produced at least seven Exotic Guitars albums including this one.

I don't know if this album is a compilation album or fresh covers. From what I can tell there are three CDs with Exotic Guitar tunes on them floating around out there. Those CDs include two or three tracks that are found on this album. I think those CDs feature cherry picked tracks as well. There are a number of great tunes on this album and other Exotic Guitar albums that you can only enjoy on vinyl. You also get the original cover art with vinyl.

Enjoy one of the more "exotica" tracks off this album.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Music For Dancing - The Merlin Trio

Nightingale
Music For Dancing
The Merlin Trio
Grand Prix Series K-189

Obscure budget album on Pickwick's reissue label. The Grand Prix Series discography lists this catalog number as Moonlight Dance Time - Velvet Sounds.

The cover look askew because it is. The jacket black has STEREO printed on it at the top and then the artwork was fix to the front at an angle.

The music is a touch space age, light pop. No mention online as who The Merlin Trio are.

The Sound of 94 Speakers - Don Baker

Theme From Sanctuary
Don Baker At The Console Of The Rodgers Electronic Organ
The Sound Of 94 Speakers!
Great Motion Picture Themes
Capitol Records T-1626
1961

This is an organ recording made in The Portland, Oregon, Memorial Coliseum.

From the back cover: The Rodgers is unique. Completely electrified, it uses neither simple pneumatic nor electrical-pneumatic action. Each of its 600 tones is produced by a separate match-box sized transistorized etched circuit, housed within the console. To allow the Rodgers to sound throughout the 14,000-seat Coliseum, technicians arrived at the highly unusual solution. 32 speaker enclosures hold the 94 speakers, and together with 26 amplifiers, they were placed in a two-ton "basket" suspended from the arena ceiling. Pointing slightly downward and covering a full circle, the speakers beam sound to every seat in the arena.

What this all means to the non-technically minded record listener is the more dramatic pieces on this album sound cool because the sound is spacey and full of reverb.

Satan In High Heels

Satan In High Heels
Mundell Lowe
Charlie Parker Records
Apex Record Corporation
Produced and Directed by Aubrey L. Mayhew
1961

The movie, released in 1962, is a budget exploitation film (what else). I bought the record, sucked in by the title like the good/bad boy I am. I expected some wicked 60s shlock sound track, but, instead I put a cool space age jazz album on the turntable. The album is basically a "normal" record in that it doesn't play like a soundtrack. There has to be a story behind how a movie such as this gets hooked up with Charlie Parker Records.

The album is available on CD. Vinyl is pretty easy to find cheap. I post a clip from the movie below. The record is way better then this clip... Not to say I didn't enjoy the leather!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jose Greco - Danzas Flamencas

Fandango
Jose Greco
Danzas Flamencas
Decca DL 9758
1954

This is a somewhat obscure LP.

Jose Greco was a well known flamenco dancer and choreographer. He is credited on the jacket for "choreographic and musical arrangements". This album isn't mentioned on his wiki page. The expressive folk music fits nicely into record buying trends of the period when folks were intrigued with exotica folk music from across the world.

Flamenco is the only dance that I know of that translates to auditory rhythm and, therefore works on recordings as "percussion". This album is way better then most flamenco records I've found. The vocal treatments are outstanding.

Million Seller Hits - Les Baxter

Million Seller Hits
101 Strings
Arranged and Conducted by Les Baxter
Allshire S-5188
Recorded in London, January 1970

Not all 101 Strings albums are made alike. I've got a handful that are great fun. Baxter recorded another 101 Strings album that I have in my collection titled Que Mango!. I perfer Que Mango!, but this is a fine effort with a cool 60s/70s light pop sound that only Baxter can deliver.

Many 101 Strings albums are available for download. Some, but not all of the tracks off this album can be had by the download although I must say, they did cherry pick the best tunes. But you can't find the MP3s by album title and the art attached to the MP3 isn't the original.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yma Sumac - Fuego del Ande

Yma Sumac
Fulgo del Ande (Fire Of The Andes)
Capitol Records ST 1169
1959

This album was recorded twice, mono and stereo. This is the stereo release. Apparently the mono release is difficult to find. However the CD available online was mistakenly mastered from the monophonic release.

Well, there's tons of more insightful material to read online then here in the dusty Atomic Attic. I posted the cover here just because I love her work so much I just have to promote Sumac when I find a new album.

Much of the album sounds remarkably more like it was recorded in the early 60s. The sound seem a bit ahead of it's time. Dale Que Dale, a track on the A side features some pretty hip guitar work and is so very cool. But you can hardly go wrong with the more "traditional" folk tracks. Sumac does it all so very uniquely.

I would love it if someone like Sumac would walk into an American Idol try-out and blow today's music lovers out of their socks.

Below is a clipping I found tape to the record sleeve. Now I know Yma is pronounced E-ma!

Serenade For Love - Richard Hayman

Americano
Serenade For Love
Richard Hayman And His Orchestra
Mercury MG 20115

It is difficult to pinpoint the date of release. I suspect 1958 or 59 from the cover. And I have to love the cover. This was back in the day when NO meant YES!

The tracks are pleasant easy listening pop. Some songs seem to have a little reverb added to the string section which gives the sound a bit of space age life. Dansero is a nice Latin track, The song Tears On Satin is cool featuring Hayman playing his harmonica. But I like Americano, the second track on the A side is the more groovy offering.

Hayman's album, Voodoo is still one of my favorite albums.

Provocative Percussion

Song Of India
Provocative Percussion
Command Records RS 806 SD
Produced And Originated By Enoch Light
1959

Command recordings are always a treat for the ear. Enoch Light engineering is always amazing. Especially if you can play a clean copy. The sound will rock you.

This is an early percussion entry and features that signature Command "ping-pong" and "light pop" sound. But the sound favors light pop trends of the 50s over the 60s excess. Light can be credited for most of those pop trends including cover design which his label is known for.

Song Of India is the standout tune!

Ghost Town 1952

Ghost Town 1952

This was a interesting purchase. An 8 side, 10 inch, 78 rpm private prep school Christmas project.

The name was so intriguing that I had to have it! All original songs written by the music teachers (I assume). The problem is the singing is recorded using more primitive equipment and you just can't understand the words.

Still, The Musical Magical Christmas Tree is quirky enough... with some odd screeching towards the end to be fun.

And the real treasure for me was that the cover art. It is terrific! The art is silk screened to paper which was fixed to the record book. VERY NICE piece of original art!

Soundproof - Ferrante And Teicher

The Sound Of Tomorrow Today!
Soundproof
Ferrante and Teicher
Westminster Records WP 6014
1956

No hidden treasure of course. But I wanted to pile on and say this is a great space age pop record! From the cover (the photo is "courtesy MGM Pictures – producers of Forbidden Planet") one of my all time favorite movies and soundtracks.

I can't find any back story on how Ferrante and Teicher came to acquire rights to the cover image while not having any direct connection to the film.

Great space age pop flavor, but there are also nice touches of exotica on this LP as well. The cool thing is that you feel like you are sitting in the studio while they play through these songs. The sound is very natural and very human-like for "space" music.

My favorite tune is on side B: Dark Eyes. A very haunting piece that is very exotica.

What Is This Thing Called Love?
El Cumbanchero
Greensleeves
Mississippi Boogie
Mermaid Waltz
Man from Mars 

Baia
Breeze and I
Someone to Watch Over Me
African Echoes
Dark Eyes
Lover

The Sound Of Tomorrow Today!
Soundproof
Ferrante and Teicher
Westminster Records WST 15011


When I bought this I thought that I was purchasing the stereo version of the record you see above. I glanced at my review and noticed that I mention liking a track titled Dark Eyes. Well... the tracks on this album are completely different from the tracks found on WP 6014. Surprise. I do find mention of this online. But no mention why the same cover. I assume the release date to be 1957. A CD reissue contains tracks from both LPs.

These two albums are outstanding experimental works. The sonic quality is excellent. Really stunning stuff if you are into exotica/space age music.

The track list on this album:

Peg-Leg Merengue
Brazil
Poinciana
Mama To Quero
Orchids In The Moonlight
Cumana

Tico-Tico
Frenesi
Mexican Hat Dance
Siboney
Loose Ends Merengue
La Cucaracha

The Magic Islands

Sweet Leilani
The Magic Islands
Alfred Newman and his Orchestra with the Ken Darby Singers
DL 79048

I can't pin point the date of this project. Decca invested a lot of money into the album jacket. I suspect Decca decided that is was time cash in on the "Tiki" craze (which began in the late 50s) with a big splashy project.

The jacket is a gate fold with a die-cut. The die-cut is through the white cover, the rectangle shape around the model's head. This is very expensive to do. There are a number of full color spreads on the inside of the gate fold with bleed. Also expensive. A very elaborate press job.

The music, by Alfred Newman is all at once, exotica, easy listening and soundtrack. Newman is known for scoring numbers of well known soundtracks. The music has that nice melting otherworldly exotica flavor, but the vocals weight the record down and seem "old fashion" or as if they were lifted from a soundtrack. Possibly the creators thought Denny's work was too weird and they hoped to appeal to a more conservative market? Hard to say. This is only my opinion, but the LP would have been wonderful without the lyric treatments.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kiss Of Fire - de los Rios

The Exotic Sound of (Waldo) de los Rios
Kiss Of Fire
Columbia CL 965
1957

The tracks from this LP are available as MP3 download at the usual online stores. But, as is often the case, you don't get the original terrific cover art. I have no idea why this is so common.

De los Rios was an Argentine composer, conductor and arranger who moved to the USA in 1958. The returns I'm getting on this album date it at 1957. This album doesn't appear on his wiki page discography.

He apparently moved to Spain in 1962 and committed suicide in 1977, a victim of acute depression.

This is a terrific "latin/exotica" album. The album begins with a few easy listening tunes that feature some "exotic" flourishes. The fourth track, a medley titled India; Pajaro Campana really goes exotica featuring almost experimental use of percussion and screeching strings. Side one finishes up with an easy listening tune that favors light pop that would soon be very trendy.

Side two kicks off with a tune that is more space age than anything and reminds me of Ferrante & Teicher's early experimental piano work. Just when you think the record will go back to easy listening de los Rios throws in some interesting sound or surprise instrument to perk your interest.

This recording is so fresh and cool. I just don't know if buying MP3s is the way to go over vinyl. The album is a bit like a journey through a musical landscape. I believe de los Rios created the recording to be listened from start to finish to get the full effect.

The Touchables

The Touchables
20th Century-Fox Record Corporation S 4206
1968

This album was a great find at my local Goodwill. The bins seemed well picked over, but I found this LP sporting an interesting cover that promised to delivered some light 60s pop fun.

Side one did deliver the light 60s pop fun that I had hoped for. The surprise tune on the A side,The Chase, is a terrific piece of ping-pong fueled percussion. Side two really grabbed me. Sadies Theme and Christian & Melanie are track one and two. Those songs are experimental, by comparison to side one tracks. Christian & Melanie ends with a beautifully crafted orchestrated segment that has a hint of King Crimson Court Of The Crimson King. No one else may get that... but it struck me.

There is never a dull moment, even a cover of Jalousie on side two, done up in a 30s big band fashion, doesn't seem out of place because it is so odd in context of the rest of the music.

The Touchables Theme is the last track on the B side reminds me of early Pink Floyd (A Nice Pair). A lovely tune. What a great record!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pipe Organ And Percussion

Song Of India
Pipe Organ And Percussion
Promenade Records 2228

Obscure budget percussion album from Promenade. No artist/orchestra listed. No date, although I'd have to guess early 60s because of the "ping-pong" effects.

For budget, this is pretty good stuff. Whoever recorded the album made some effort to blend all the instruments into a sound with personality. And the pipe organ/percussion approach is odd enough to hold your attention.

Also released as:

Fabulous Sounds Of The Pipe Organ And Percussion
Pirouette Records
RFM 64

Martin Goes Latin - Ray Martin

Portuguese Washerwomen
Martin Goes Latin
Ray Martin And His Orchestra
Imperial LP 9087
1960

Here's a somewhat obscure and great space age pop Latin album.

Ray Martin moved from Europe to the U.S. in 1957 and produced more than 2000 works until he returned to the UK in 1972.

This album fits nicely into what was happening in light pop in the early 60s.

Carlos Molina - The Latin Touch

Tico-Tico
Latin Touch
Carlos Molina And His Orchestra
Cornet CX-270
Premier Albums Inc.

Somewhat obscure Latin album featuring Carlos Molina who, from the back cover, was engaged at New York's famous Biltmore Hotel. The jacket notes also go on to say that Molina, through radio, had the "distinction to have introduced the Tango, Rhumba and Conga in the United States for the first time, and he has been the headlining orchestra in every fine hotel in the country."

It is difficult to find any hard information on Molina. If he introduced all these forms to the American audience he did it long before this album was released. The material on this album was very likely repackage from other Molina recordings.

The vocalist singing Tico-Tico is Charlita.

Side one is more "pop" in nature, while side two is very traditional (folk) in sound.

Let's All Sing With The Chipmunks

Let's All Sing With The Chipmunks
David Seville And The Chipmunks
Liberty LPR 3132
1959

This is the original Liberty release on red vinyl. Several years later the reissue would feature The Chipmunks in their more recognizable form (from the 1961-62 TV cartoon, The Alvin Show).

This jacket cover is red foil with over printing.

Around The World With The Chipmunks and David Seville
Liberty LRP 3170
1960

OK... I'm 55 years old and I still LOVE this record! Once again, we have a Liberty Chipmunks released just before the animated representations of the characters set their look in stone.

The music is fun because of all the "folk styles" required to create the songs the "boys" sing as they travel around the world. And of course... who can forget the catchy tune Japanese Banana? I know I can't.

Echoes Of Latin American - The Continental Trio

Peanut Vendor
Echoes Of Latin America
The Continental Trio
Plymouth P-12-138

Obscure album released on the one of the most budget labels I've ever come across, Plymouth. However Plymouth did feature graphically appealing album jackets. This LP was probably a mid-50s pressing. Surprisingly, Plymouth listed the group's name, but Lord knows who made up The Continental Trio.

There are no tracks on this album. I've seen this before on budget records, maybe it was Plymouth. The songs butt right up against one another as if the group played through a recording session without a break.

As you can tell from the sample, the music is very much like you were sitting in a lounge listening to some guys playing away as if they were waiting for their next break. Very uninspiring.

But the fun doesn't end there. Why on the cover does Plymouth bill a Latin album as being "Recorded In Europe"? Who knows. Plymouth didn't even have enough "Latin" music to fill an entire LP. They padded out the album with canned classical music on side two. I can't even imagine what a record buyer must have thought when they put this gem on their turn table.