Sunday, April 16, 2006

What we do after we garden

OK so the title has absolutely NOTHING to do with what I have dug out of the stacks for you. But I was out in the garden (kinda) and now I'm not, it is currently a gorgeous 74 degrees F (23 deg. C for those of you on the Metric System), and my mind is wandering.

Let's wander around the world of theater organs for a sec. These are wonderful sounding things, one of my many passions. I have some recordings on 78, on LP, on reel tape, and on CD. Not to mention what I have accumulated on mp3. But this one is a great performance, spoiled only by the usual pops and tics from a thrift store record with no jacket. But what a record! I found one of the Cook Stereo Tour LPs, pressed on something slightly resembling vinyl, in the records-without-sleeves bin. THese are recognizable by a deep purple hue if you look through the disc into the light. Supposedly, when they were in better condition, these were an audiophiles' dream, and you can still hear glimmers of that dream in this cut of "Valencia", performed by Reginald Foort on a monster Wurlitzer organ, somewhere unknown. Impressive, even though the transfer can be probably done better (and may well be in the future).

One thing the organ cut isn't is blase'... which leads into the next cut, Phil Harris singing "You're Blase'". This is from a mid 1950s RCA 10" EP, and vastly departs from the usual Phil Harris treatment of a tune.... he actually is mellow, almost to the point of one thinking he has had a few too many tranquilizers. He DOES get the point of the song across, though, in the usual Phil Harris manner.

Being deliciously random, we go from Phil Harris to Harpo Marx, and a cut from this here LP:

Harpo Marx - Harpo At Work LP cover

The cut is one that evokes the promise of warm summer evenings (and is a favorite tune of mine), "My Blue Heaven". Nice work on this one, the orchestra is subtle enough to let Harpo do his thing.

Continuing on in random fashion, I pulled a bit of an audio oddity for your pleasure, "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", performed by the Sal Salvatore Quartet. This is from one of RCA Victor's wonderful (to some) Stereo Action series. Now I will warn you, you MAY need some Dramamine to get through the track, as the recording engineers had a field day running individual tracks from right to left and back again, but the music was usually very sound (and 'lounge-y' to be sure)... played on the usual home cabinet stereo, this may not have been too bad, but if you have a system with any kind of left-right separation (or, Goddess forbid, headphones)........ have a bucket handy!

Coming back to earth after the room has come to a complete stop, I have a couple from an interesting sampler disc I landed at the thrift store. Montgomery Ward (remember them?) issued a stereo LP in honor of their 90th anniversary, and featured nine artists on it. Where they GOT these recordings, I do not know, but I suspect they raided the dustbins rather than the vaults for these. Some may even qualify as Clankers, and the audio quality is nowhere near shining, but, here they are...

First Up is David Rose & His Orchestra in a very mis-titled cut named, simply, "Berceuse". Ummmmm, aren't we overly messing with Rimsky-Korsakov here, sir? I've not heard of a Great Wall of Berceuse, have you? David Rose usually has some fine works to his performing credit, and this DEFINATELY ain't one of them. Shame, shame. Oh, and next time you go into the studio, please make sure all the wet socks are out of the microphones?

Next up, from the same piece of red vinyl, is Artie Shaw, attempting to overcome a studio engineer tho thinks that high fidelity is what can be crammed down an early 1960s telephone line. The song is the"Anniversary Song", I suppose in (dis-)honor of Monkey Ward's 90th year of providing reading matter for the Seat of Convenience. This recording definately has that 'phoned-in' sound, and, in comparison with MOST of his recorded catalogue, belongs in the outhouse catalogue that one used to use when finished with one's business there. Ewwww.

OK, let's close this mess before I get tarred and feathered... I also get reel tapes from the thrift & anteeky stores whenever I can, and sometimes there are some GEMS in them there piles. Case in point: this excerpt from the Johnny Cash television show, circa 1966-7. In this cut, Johnny shares the stage with his wife, June Carter, and singer Tennessee Ernie Ford, performing a send-up of sorts of "Ain't Nobody's Business (If I Do)". If you'll notice, towards the end of the song, the other band that joins in is Kenny Rogers & The First Edition. Kind of a nice hodge-podge send-up, no? I like finding stuff like this, mostly because, since a lot of the television companies routinely erased and/or destroyed any tapes (audio and video) of shows like this, recordings made at home may be the only extant copies remaining of performances such as these. Much like the home-recorded discs earlier in the century, reel tapes are historical records, and should be part of the archive of culture (such as it is). Just my humble opinion.

Thanks for allowing me to ramble, it's been one HELL of a week, and I think I'll go now to the porch and my lawn chair, with some pork rinds and a mix of bourbon and Mountain Dew (I couldn't get any Mexican Coca-Cola yesterday...), and watch the sun gloriously set amongst the Colorado rockies.

Peace & Blessings be upon you and your House... I hope that your holiday was pleasant and restful, whichever holiday you celebrate was the one of your choosing (why am I writing in a style worse than BabelFish on Prozac??).... anyways, enjoy the day, enjoy the music, and Deities willing, we'll return later in the week with more STUFF!

Right-click to download, you know the drill :)


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Not odd, just not shellac...

Well, since Lee decided to post some Ides of March on his MY(P)WHAE blog, and since I have been getting emotional support from Lady Domi (which is GREATLY appreciated), I thought I'd share a few cuts from one of my own "Desert Island Discs". The LP is a French RCA sub-label release (on ARC records), from a band called "Synthesis". Recorded in the early to mid 1970s (and purchased in a record shop somewhere in the Montmarte district of Paris when I was there in 1974 for a high-school jazz ensemble tour of Europe), I think that this thing is now waaaay out of print, and that's a shame, as it has some very funky stuff on it, as well as some very hard swinging straight-ahead jazz. I'll have to dig out the jacket for personnel, but to my recollection, this was an amassing of Paris studio players, that really really came together. I'll let you decide... in fact, I'm going to post for you the entire second side of the LP. Four tracks that fit very well together, even with the different stylings of each track. The tracks are in the order they appeared on the LP.

Synthesis - Feeling
Synthesis - We Need It
Synthesis - It's No New
Synthesis - Sophie's Gift

Tracks are older encodes (apologies) so I didn't get a chance to really remaster them well, but I think I'll let the music to the talking, and transcend the little clicks that occasionally show up.

Enjoy, my friends, for the strange stuff shall be returning!

PS - awww crud, the ID tags got left off of them... I'll repost later with ID3 tags, sorry gang...

PPS - links are now fixed, sorry about that, been one heck of a week...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

American Idol, 1944 style!

Welcome to the first post of AudiOddities... as stated in the description, this is where I'll be posting stuff that's not commercial released 78 shellac... and I have quite a few things in here that aren't in the mold of the Shellac Shanty. Amazing what kind of gems (and junque) you can find at the thrift stores and the flea markets and the anteeky stores......

...kinda like these recordings here. I found three 7-inch home-recording discs in a bag of 45s at the thrift store tonight, all dated 1944, and done on a RecorDisc machine. These were recorded in someone's living room, and probably during some kind of party where alcohol was involved (as you can probably tell in a couple of the recordings). The two gentlen singing billed themselves as "Chick & Stick", and, well, would have been given the old heave-ho by the british guy on American Idol in the very early rounds. Not to mention a distinct lack of microphone technique (very overdriven during the alleged singing)...

Home recordings were popular in the mid to late 40s, and could take many forms. I have seen some recordings of voices from home front to the soldier fighting on the lines in WW2, I have seen some transcriptions of radio broadcasts, and some others of just voices of family for rememberance. I have some also of some darn good country/western artists rehearsing in their living room in Grangeville, Idaho (which I'll post one of these eons, because this family was DARN GOOD, musically). It's kind of like pot-luck with these, you never know what you're gonna get until you drop the needle on the disc. And hope that the disc doesn't self-destruct. I have had that happen with some acetate-on-glass recordings, the record groove surface was flaking off DURING PLAYBACK! Good thing I had the computer and the reel-to-reel in record mode as I was playing the disc.... I hate seeing history go bye-bye.

(deep cleansing breath)

The other reason for this blog is to include stuff like this:

I found this record in the same bag of 45s that had the Chick & Stick sides in it. It was put out by Mattel Toys for one of their Barbie-type doll lines, only the doll's name was apparently "Heather", and was supposed to be a singing pop star type thing, marketed under the name of "Rock Flowers" (how groovy and hip was THAT...). The disc is a burnt-orange plastic (always condusive for that pristine pressing quality...NOT!) disc with some slots next to the spindle hole for the doll to put her feet in so that it would spin merrily at 33 1/3 rpm and the pre-teens of 1970 (when this was released) would go "Ooo!" and "Ahh!" and then dance merrily around the room, knocking kiddie-phono and doll off of the table, onto the floor, etc etc etc....

The music is, well, not too bad on the second side, "Sweet Times" (aimed at the non-white kids), it's got some kick to it! The "Sing My Song" side? Break out the insulin! Someone was on some of the leftover brown tabs from Woodstock when they wrote THOSE lyrics!


Oh well, enough drivel. I'll post some more later on, after you get over the initial shock of these recordings.

As always, please feel free to leave comments, and the tunes can be enjoyed by right-clicking on the link and downloading, if you don't want to hear them straight off.