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Friday, March 11, 2011

Harpist's Holiday - Robert Maxwell

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

Harpist's Holiday
Robert Maxwell
Columbia CL 6104
1950 (10 inch disc)

Robert Maxwell was known to use the harp more as a percussion instrument, an innovative approach. This Maxwell re-release HL 7007), features eye-catching cover art. The set is soft sounding and a good "mood" LP for 1957 and ahead of it's time when originally released in 1947.

From the back cover (CL 6104): Maxwell began playing the harp almost on impulse. As a result of a musical aptitude test, he was awarded a scholarship at the Juilliard School of Music, with a choice of instruments. He selected the harp, and after six years of hard work obtained his first job as a professional harpist. After a short time with local orchestras, he appeared with the National Symphony at Carnegie Hall and later appeared in recitals and with many great symphonic organizations. When war broke out, Maxwell joined the Coast Guard and it was then that his career really got under way.

While touring the South Pacific with a service band, Maxwell was heard by Rudy Vallee, who encouraged him to arrange and play solos with the band as background. His solos met with immediate and outstanding acclaim, and he made many of his popular arrangements at this time. His success continued after his discharge and he has since appeared in many of the country's most famous night clubs and as guest artist on scores of radio programs. Writing his own arrangements, he drew fully upon the potentialities of his instrument, and endowed it with a warmth and humor missing since the days of the late Caspar Reardon and the fantasies of Harpo Marx.

From Billboard - December 13, 1947 (C-149 review): Robert Maxwell's harp plucking make for a novel and interesting musical package. Going the gamut from the boogied "Harping on a Harp" to the strictly interpreted classic selections, Maxwell displays technique and imagination that has been lacking among harpists since the death of Casper Reardon. The package should do best in class shops but lacks universal interest.

From Billboard - March 13, 1950: An enchanting and varied program of harp solos in the popular idiom has been transferred from regular shellac to long-play to make up an entirely delightful item for relaxing listening. At the same time, it serves to preserve the tremendous virtuosity of Robert Maxwell, whose work is the contemporary equivalent of the late Casper Reardon's. But the limited popularity of the instrument will confine the sale of this platter to class locations for the greater part.

Jerome Kern Medley: Make Believe - Old Man River
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Sorrento (HL 7007)
Fantasy On Chopsticks
Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2
Clair De Lune
Harping On A Harp
Night And Day
Ay, Ay, Ay

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 - Volume 2

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

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.

The set is an uneven sounding collection. Both instrumentals and vocal numbers are included and some of the tunes are pretty dated sounding. However, 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

Tony Mottola and Command! Always a great combo!

Apparently this is a re-release of another title from the Command library: Mr. Big (1959). This album features different cover design by the creative Charles E. Murphy, the designer who created so many of the graphically appealing early 60s Command covers. Curiously the back jacket informs the buyer to check for details (album production information) inside of the "double album jacket". However, this is a single, not a book-fold jacket.

The engineering, as usual, is amazing as is the stereo processing. Mottola plays over himself from one channel to the next.

What's New
Dancing On The Ceiling
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
Carnival Time
The Song Is You
Spring Is Here
Prelude To A Kiss
Am I Blue

Kismet - Percy Faith

Percy Faith And His Orchestra
Columbia CL 550

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

Around The World In Percussion
Romantic Sounds From Romantic Places
With Irv Cottler and Hollywood's Leading Percussionists
Recorded under the direction of D. L. Miller
Miller International Co.

From the back cover: Irv Cottler is considered by record and film producers as one of the greatest drummers in the U.S.A. He has played in the top dance bands of the golden age of dance bands – Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown and Claude Thornhill.

Born in New York, he studied at Radio City and after leaving the bands, he moved to the West Coast. He currently plays the Dinah Shore show and records with top acts in the country, including Billy May and Frank Sinatra.

On A Little Street In Singapore
Moon Of Manakoora
Sorrento And Santa Lucia
Ritual Fire Dance
Under Paris Skies
Arab Dance
Espana Cani
Baubles, Bangles And Beads
Song Of India

Time For Listening - Richard Hayman

The Touch

Time For Listening
Richard Hayman And His Orchestra
Custom High Fidelity
Mercury Records MG 20103

From the back cover: Born in Cambridge and reared in Winthrop, Massachusetts, Hayman as a boy taught himself the harmonica and the accordion. In 1938, fresh out of high school, he joined the famed Harmonica Rascals led by Borrah Minnevitch. His sense of prankishness and admirable comedy landed him in bit parts in several Betty Grable movies. Then Georgie Stall, a musical director at MGM took a strong liking to Richard and he taught him the highly specialized art of arranging background music for films. Among his major credits are "Meet Me In St. Louis" and "State Fair."

Vaughn Monroe lured Hayman away from Hollywood for four years until Hayman stepped out as a free-lance arranger-composer and he linked up as musical director with a singing discovery at Mercury Records, Bobby Wayne. Once his orchestral talents became conspicuous at Mercury, the company signed him as an artist in his own right, to conduct and play harmonica in his own enviable style.

Arthur Fiedler and the Boston "Pops" Orchestra have recorded composition of Richard Hayman, a source of great pride to the young musician.

From Billboard - September 22, 1956: Harmonic virtuoso and ork in a surprising variety of rhythms, with unique arrangements. Hayman has woven some standards and some tunes not so standard into a pattern for extremely pleasant listening. Plenty of stuff here worth deejay attention and platter should attract.

The Touch
The Cuddle
Back Street
April In Portugal
Spanish Gypsy Dance
Mr. Pogo
No Strings Attached
Drive In
Hernado's Hideaway
Plymouth Sound

The Unicorn - Peter Pan Records

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

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.


77 Sunset Strip - The Arron Bell Orchestra

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

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.

From Billboard - April 27, 1959: The low-price label could have another hot seller as a follow-up to its "Peter Gunn" LP which also features the Aaron Bell Ork. This set contains the well-known theme from the TV show, played in jazz style, in blues fashion and with a vocal as well as other songs from "77 Sunset Strip" including "Stu Bailey's Blues" and "Caper at the Coffee House." It's timely and should grab a lot of sales on the racks both stereophonically and monaurally.

77 Sunset Strip (Vocal)
77 Sunset Strip Jazz
77 Sunset Strip Blues
Swingin' On The Strip
Stu Bailey Blues
Caper At The Coffee House
Kookie's Cape

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 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

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

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

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
Hawaiian Moods
The Outriggers
Warner Bros. W1314

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

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)

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.