Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli- Live at the London Palladium

Not exactly Broadway but very Broadway theme, we have this little gem I have been kicking around for some time. For a double record set, it only cost me a dollar.  I bought it because I thought I could get a good story out of it and it was only a buck.  However, soon after purchase, I kind of dreaded listening to it, seeing it was a double album.  In the words of my friend Sam, it seemed a bit much for one listening, at least for a straight man who likes old school country music.

However, I will say, for a double album, it went quick and relatively painless.  I mean two records of two women singing showtunes, it could of been a lot worse. It could have easily spun into a Sweeny Sister’s type affair (even though that would not be bad either).

So there was this, recorded at London’s Palladium during a series of concerts Judy Garland put on in 1964.  The first show sold out quick, prompting a second performance, which did the same, at which point the duo performed an hour long set for the BBC.  This was Judy’s first performance from her daughter, Liza Minnelli, who I believe was still in High School at the time and was really not too famous at the time, other than for being Garland’s daughter.  Garland would pass five years later in 1969. This album, incidentally, came out in 1965 and peaked at #41 on the Billboard charts.

This show is from the first performance, although I am not 100% sure “live” is in quotes.  For a rising up and comer, Liza has a good chunk of songs on her own, along with duets with her mother.  The album does a really good job of showcasing Liza’s then emerging talent  at times, kind of serves as a debutante’s coming out party of sorts.  Of course there are solo efforts by Judy as well.  Mostly all stage and movie standards on this. Medley count is a bit high with four (so it is slightly Sweeny-ish in that regards).  Did I mention I dreaded listening to this?  In actuality, it was not a bad album but I would not listen to it again any time soon.

 

For a sample, I went with Liza’s Medley on side 3, as I was really impressed with her work on this record.  Consisting of songs in tribute to her famous mother, here is “Take Me Along”, “If I Could Be With You”, “Tea For Two”, “Who”, “They Can’t Take That Away From Me”, By Myself”, ‘Take Me Along”, and “Mammy”.  Also for good measure, here is one of the encores which is mentioned at the start of the album, “Chicago”, featuring the duo.

OK.  I was pleasantly surprised by this album.  Not nearly as painful to listen.  Satisfactory.

The Avengers- The 1972 Bruins Season

This was one dollar.  I have been meaning to post this during hockey playoffs.  Chance are, if you are a hockey fan, that this years playoffs did not go as you had planned.  As an Oiler fan, you would figure I would be happy with this years performance given the last last, dismal ten years, but anything less than a Cup is a bit disappointing for me.  

If you are a Bruins’ fan, at least it was a quick exit for you.  I watched a bit of the Bruins/Sens series while switching between the Leafs/Caps.  In comparison, the speed and skill of the Caps/Leafs made the Bruins/Sens look super sluggish.  Almost like one of my men’s league games.

Anyway, back to this record, here is a season overview of the Boston Bruins’ glorious 1972 season, which saw them finish first in the league with 119 points as well as the overall Stanley Cup Winner. Phil Esposito won the Art Ross scoring title netting 66 goals along the way.  Bobby Orr finished second in scoring but had himself a busy year picking up the Norris, Hart, and Conn Smythe trophies. He also racked up 106 penalty minutes along the way.  The 70’s game was not today’s hockey and a superstar like Orr, as Don Cherry would say, was definitely not afraid to go.

Gerry Cheevers set a record which I believe still stands, going undeafeted for 33 games in a row. Other members such as Johnny Bucyk, Derek Sanderson, Wayne Cashman, and Ken Hodge also had solid seasons as well.  

This record highlights season and post season exploits of the Big Bad Bruins.  The moments of individual achievement as well as the payoff run are exciting.  It is also interesting to hear Derek Sanderson speak of his fear of flying as well as hear Garnet “Ace” Bailey speak of his game winning goal in Game One of the finals.  Bailey would pass away in one of the hijacked planes during 9/11.

As stated above, the Bruins path to the Cup lasted 5 games against the Maple Leafs, 4 against St Louis, and 6 games in the finals against the New York Rangers. Here, I believe is an excerpt from the Finals.

In general, I do not get too excited about spoken word albums and the fact that I am not a Bruins fan does not help much.  But this was a dollar and the 1972 Bruins were a great team.  This album is interesting enough for me.  Satisfactory enough.  For your Bruins fans and for most anybody else from a real hockey town, there is always next season.

Goodwin “Goody” Goodload and his Frostonia Ballroom Orchestra- Supercamp

This album was $4.00.  I am not sure who this album was being marketed for.  That is probably one of the reasons I bought it. 

The Super Camp moniker puts a strange connotation to this album.  In what is really a collection of tunes from the 20’s and 30’s, is now being marketed as camp, a term that went mainstream in 1965 (after Susan Sontag’s seminal essay “Notes On Camp”)to  describe ironic appreciation of something that would otherwise be seen as corny.   The word has been interchanged with kitsch although I am told where kitsch refers to the work, camp describes the mode of performance. Finally, it has been described by camp’s grand master John Waters as   the tragically ludicrous or the ludicrously tragic, which triggered this response.

This album, released by Tower Records in 1966 and features Goodwin “Goody” Goodload and his Frostonia Ballroom Orchestra.  It features vocals from three sources; Robert, Tuttle, and Morris (a play on the American surgeon of the last century, Robert Tuttle Morris), Gi Gi Bumstead on female vocals, and Jimmy Wasson on male vocals. I do not know who any of these people are and assume they are all just aliases.  I spent about 45 seconds on this.

I truly hated listening to this album. I felt it was stereotypical and derivative. And I have liked 20’s/30’s trad jazz albums in the past but for some reason, this one did not work for me at all.  I think it was the fact that the songs are just plain silly with such comic book titles as “Popeye the Sailor Man”, “Mickey Mouse and Minnie’s In Town”, and “Little Orphan Annie”, along with such other songs as “The Good Ship Lollipop”, “Mairzy Doats”, and “Lookie,Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie”. Anyway, that is all I have to say about this.

For a sample, I was drawn to “Leaning On  A Lampost” although “I Met You At The Bijou On Dish Night”.  Both songs were sung by the previously mentioned Jimmy Wasson.

Again, I hated this record.  Meh.

Robert Shaw Chorale- Operatic Choruses

This was a dollar.  Lot of opportunities to have fun with this post.  Well, time is kind of limiting that this week.  time and bad internet connection at the house.

Oddly enough this today, I am going to see the last of the Ring Cycle, Gotterdammerung and yes, it has bothered me every year on some level that I am watching the work of a rabid anti-semite.  Well, the Houston Grand Opera has been doing a piece from the cycle every year and I have been all in up til this point.  After I went to the first part, Das Rheingold, I started getting season tickets.  The first year, I only went to two operas, but after that, I have been arguably attending most shows a season and have really enjoyed them.

As far as this production, it is OK.  Technically, it has been great.  Production-wise, I am not a fan of the modern set and custom although many people are raving about them.  I also felt the dragon in last year’s Seigfried was clown shoes. It looked like a rubik snake.

For this record, I was going to ask my pal Scott for his thoughts about operatic chorus as he served some time in the Houston Grand Opera’s chorus.  However, he has been busy , re-opening Dan Electro’s Bar in Houston.  And likewise, I have been to busy to drive to the Heights to see him.  Well,  if you are in Houston, check out the bar.  It is a Houston classic spot. I am sure if I got around to asking him, Scott would say something to the effect of the importance of the chorus to opera and its role in the production.  Here’s an idea, why not go to Dan Electro’s and ask him?

Well, there is this album from the conductor, Robert Shaw (1916-1999).  Released in 1956, I think by RCA Victor, it is a collection of popular choruses and is quite good.  Good song collection that culls famous work from the French, German, and Italians.  A lot of decent tunes including, Bizet’s Carmen, Gounod’s Faust (which I saw at the HGO within the last two years, Verdi’s Nabucco, and Wagner’s Lohengrin.  On that note, I did not realize that Wagner wrote “Here Comes The Bride” until I heard this album. That means most married folk now have an ethical dilemma as well. Turns out your drunk uncle was not the only anti-semetic thing at your wedding.

For a sample, I was stuck between a bunch of songs, but ultimately decided on Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore.  Yeah, I like the simple effects.  If you have watched any type of TV for the last 20 years, you know this song.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  I really wanted to do more with this post but , what can you do.

 

The Mariachi Brass Featuring Chet Baker- A Taste of Tequila

Welcome back to Continental Week . Although this may not fall under the true definition of Continental music, it definitely belongs with the other records I have posted this month.  It was $3.  I got it for the inclusion of Chet Baker.  I would love to put some of his solo work on this site but it is hard to come by and probably not under $5.

 

IMDB Link to Movie

On the flight overseas I made in November, I watched the Baker Biopic Born to Be Blue.  A Canadian/ UK production filmed in Sudbury, Ontario and released in 2015, it was my favorite movie from the trip.  I thought it was fantastic for two reasons.

Baker was very prolific both early and late in his career.  In the middle, there was a period of struggle and that is the period in which this film is set.  That is first reason I really liked it.  This period made for a good story.  It showed his struggle to get clean off drugs, to learn to play the horn again, and to compete with Miles Davis and the East Coast sound.  Second, I thought Ethan Hawke did an excellent job in his portrayal of Baker.  Hawke was not playing a pretty boy.  He was playing a former pretty boy.

There is a brief scene in the movie (as well as the above trailer), in which Baker was struggling to get work and takes any job he can get.  One such job is with the Mariachi Brass.  In the movie he is wearing a sombrero in the studio. And that is pretty close to the truth.  Baker joined this quickly assembled response to Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.  Not really highlighted in the movie was the fact that Baker played flugelhorn on the album, quite possibly because his embouchure was still healing due to be broken by a drug dealer over non-payment of services rendered. This scene was also shown in the movie as well.

And since I was over in that part of the world, I stopped by the hotel where Baker overdosed in Amsterdam.

Baker released five albums with the Brass. This album, released in 1966, was the first, I believe.  Arranged and conducted by Jack Nitzsche, this album has a decent selection of songs with a Latin tint to them.  It should go without saying but this is not among Baker’s best work.  In fact, it is rather uninspiring.  What it is is an interesting picture of a period of struggle for Baker, the same as the biopic.  It is also interesting to hear Baker on an instrument other than trumpet.

There are some decent moments on this.  Two country standards, “Flowers On The Wall” and “El Paso” come to mind.  That is why I am using them as samples.

For the most part, this is meh territory.  But seriously, go see Born To Be Blue.  I thought it was a great film.

 

 

Al Melgard- At The Chicago Stadium

DSCN5116 (1024x1012)This was a bit mid range at $3.00 but being a hockey fan, I thought I should check it out.  Also maybe to try and get some of the Chicago people I know on the blog bandwagon.  Organ music at sports events is kind of a lost art form.  I remember it enough at sporting events when I was a kid but it was just starting to compete with pre-taped songs.  It was the beginning of the end of an era which to my knowledge is pretty much dead now.  I mean, I think some stadiums still have organs but they are used sparingly as a mere gesture to days gone by.a11

Chicago Stadium, built in 1929 and demolished in 1994, was the home of the Blackhawks for all years of its existence (It also housed the Bulls since 1967). I should point out here what little fruit was reaped during those years as the Edmonton Oilers won more cups in less than 10 years than the Hawks during their complete tenure in Chicago Stadium.  However, I am  sure I will get reminded about the Hawk’s recent history as well as how well the Oilers are doing now.

More history on the stadium

chicago-stadium

Very much an old school stadium, it the last arena to use an analog score clock.  It was also known as one of the loudest arenas in hockey due to its shape. This was also due to what was the world’s largest theatre pipe organ according to both Wikipedia and the album cover.  Chicago.ChicagoStadi.1929BartonOrga.0420.121210

Built by Barton, it consisted of 40,000 pipes, 883 stops, and six manual keyboards (according to the back cover as Wikipedia and most other sources say 3,663 pipes). There is a popular story about how during a riot after a boxing match, the organ player opened most of the stops, cranked up the volume, and blasted the middle keys.  The result was a fury of sound that blew out most of the lights, thus causing people to leave and quelling the riot.

A Link to more information on the organ

Page from the Pipe Organ Database

 

melgard

The man behind the keys that night was the subject of this album, Al Melgard, the Melancholy Dane.  Born in Denmark, he came to Chicago with his family when he was six months old. In 1930, he became the third and most well known organist in the history of the stadium, despite losing his left index finger.  With a list in his head of over 1,000 songs, he was one of the first to match songs with on ice occurrences.  For example, when King Clancy was refereeing, Melgard would play “Clancy Lowered the Boom” when he made calls.  He also played “Three Blind Mice” whenever the officials would take to the ice, a move that greatly angered Clarence Campbell. (inevitably, Campbell put the brakes on this). A very popular figure, he retired in 1974 and died in a nursing home in Las Vegas in 1977 at age 88.1734

As far as the organ, upon closure, it was bought and put in a club for a while until the owner moved it to Arizona.  A warehouse fire destroyed some of the owners other Barton’s, but it would appear the stadium console survived.  According to undated sources, it is currently in the Las Vegas home of property magnate, Phillip Maloof.

Link to the Organ restoration

This album, released in 1958,  is a collection of simple tunes played on the great organ by Melgard.  Apparently the sound of wind thru the pipes made recording difficult.  Anyway, other than the US service songs and “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”, the rest of the melodies are from a bygone era.  But despite not knowing the songs, this is a decent piece of history and an interesting collection of sound.  It would probably sound better live but those days have past. I believe this and three more records Melgard put out sold well.   DSCN5117 (1009x1024)

For a sample, I was really torn. I really liked “Asleep in the Deep” with its aquatic tones.  I also thought “Butcher Boy” was a more traditional stadium piece and had a gone range of tones.  Then I was torn between the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the “Marine Hymn”.  Posting anything over four songs is sloth to me but I am sure this is out of print, so for historical reasons, here is all four songs.

ChiStadLastgame

Satisfactory enough record.

Mickie Finn’s- The Now Sound Of Mickie Finn’s

DSCN5097 (1008x1024)Hey, it’s Monday again.  The circle of life.  This was $3.00.  I probably got it for the Beatles tune, along with some other songs I liked.  Looking at the cover, I had a pretty good idea of what this record sounded like.  It reminded me of a resturant in Houston I went to as a kid that had peanuts.  I believe it was called Ruby Red’s. You used to be able toss your empty shells on the ground.  Then one day, they reversed policy and we stopped going.  They were kind of dicks about it. Then they closed.TVGuide-Actors-1966-Mickie Finn_1_page1

Mickie Finn’s was the brainchild of one Fred Finn, who began the Finn Empire with a night club in San Diego when he was 22 years old.  Due to the high cost of moving his musical equipment, San Diego was chosen as his location.  The theme of his club was Gay 90’s, Roaring 20’s, and Swinging 30’s.  This was in 1960.  The club was a success and led to regular performances in Las Vegas, records, and a television show in 1966. Additionally, they opened a second night club in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row.

Fred was joined by his wife, Mickie, who sang and played banjo (additional banjo duties were also handled by Red Watson and on this album, Don Van Paulta).   The couple divorced in 1973 but Fred’s second wife, Cathy, took over the reigns.  The band continued in Vegas after the closure of the night club in 1974 .  This lasted until 1988 with several encore performances.  I am not sure what happened after this.  Some sources point to retirement after some work out of Florida after 1990 (my money would be on Branson). I also believe that both Mickie and Fred are still alive (they were both born in 1938).

Website for the Mickie Finn Show

This album I imagine was riding the brief success of their TV show.  It sounds just as it looks, full of barrelhouse piano with a mix of dixieland, ragtime, and swing. It’s what the Simpsons would call “pianie”.

DSCN5098 (1024x992)This was released in 1967.  What else can I say on a Monday? I liked “Lady Godiva”, “Cabaret”, “Sail Along Silvry Moon”, and “Red River Valley”.  Other than that, if you do not like or can not stomach old timey music, this is not for you. At the very least, the songs are short. Also, Fred can play the keys off the piano.

For a sample, I went with a track from on of my favorite musical movies, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.  I wanted to go with the Beatles “With A Little Help Form My Friends” but it skipped and I was too lazy to clean it.mickiefinns04

Satisfactory enough.  I mean, if you can’t figure this out before you buy it, you must struggle then with the obvious.

Joanie Greggains- Aerobic Shape-Up II

DSCN4859 (800x790)Every once in a while, I like to shake things up and put a bit of a novelty item out.  I know some of you are thinking why don’t I shape it up by playing something good.  Back to the point, this is this month’s said novelty.  It cost 80 cents.downloadff

Joanie Greggains is a fitness instructor from California who had a syndicated TV show in the 1980’s along with instructional videos, books, and records.  She was part of the 80’s fitness invasion which hit America in that decade. She currently in the state of California.  I am not sure what she is doing these days, but whatever it is, she is doing it.

Note in the clip above that Greggains is going off on Don Johnson and Miami Vice. I found that funny. I also was a bit disturbed that she looks the same today as she did in the 80’s but that’s healthy living for you.Joanie_Greggains_18_crop_a

Joanie’s webpage

When I bought this, I was hoping the backing music would be self produced and cheesy but this album uses the original songs.  Greggains gives instruction of the tunes and there is an illustrated book wit the record to show you do the exerices.DSCN4860 (738x800)

Artists on the album include Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, The Everly Brothers, Kool & the Gang, and Dianna Ross.  Again, it is no fault of anybody’s but I was really hoping for some cheesy self produced musak.DSCN4861 (800x784)

For a sample, I went with a tummy toning exercise backed by Frankie Smith and “Double Dutch Bus”. Greggains’ instructions over the music give this an “Electric Slide” kind of feel.hqdefault

I know this was cheap and worth taking a risk on but I was really looking for bad musak.  So meh.

 

Iron Butterfly-Heavy

DSCN4639 (795x800)This was $3 at a record convention.  The album itself is pretty worn. Very scratchy but you can tell this by listening to the sample.iron-butterfly

Iron Butterfly formed in San Diego in 1966.  The band went thru a few lineup changes before and after this album, finding their classic lineup until 1971.  Reunions would follow in later years with various lineups starting in 1974  up into present time.  The bands sound was driven mostly by founding member Doug Ingle (organ and vocals).  Ingle’s father had been a church organist and his influence is pretty heavy on what was their biggest single, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” seen here in the classic Simpsons’ clip.

 

Official Website

This was the bands first album on Atco Records in 1968.  The personnel were Ingles, Danny Weis on guitar, Darryl De Loach on lead vocals, Jerry Penrod on bass, and Ron Bushy on drums.  Penrod, DeLoach, and Weis would leave shortly after the recording paving the way for Erik Braunn and Lee Dorman to form the classic lineup.  Also according to Wikipedia, most of the vocals on the album were handled by Ingle.  The album was a moderate commercial success for the band.4388396311_206f95c3f7

The album itself is pretty good and a precursor both the future work but Iron Butterfly as well as the hard rock sound.DSCN4641

For a sample, I went with “Unconscious Power” although the instrumental “Iron Butterfly Theme” was a close second.

I am not sure if this version off Playboy After Dark is better or not. The people dancing 1968 style are a bit disturbing to me despite being pretty tame compared to today’s standard. Can’t believe any girl in this video went home with the guy they danced with and vice versa.

IRON_BUTTERFLY_12

Satisfactory Record.

Nilsson-Nilsson Schmilsson

DSCN4628 (798x800)This gem was only one dollar.  I got it at a record show.  It reminded me much of a friend of mine who worked at Leon’s Lounge and who would play this album.leons-lounge

Oh Leon’s Lounge.  It was one of my favorite bars.  My home away from home when ever I was away or in exile from the Maple Leaf Pub.  And what made those exile years (more like months) bearable?  It was Leon’s Lounge and my friend who used to bartend there.   Leon’s was and still is the oldest bar in Houston.  Some people argue that the oldest bar is Lacarafe,  but this is incorrect.  Lacarafe is the oldest building, starting life as a trading store/ bakery founded by John Kennedy who had a contracts to supply Confederate troops during the Civil War.  He is buried with the Catholic Confederate soldiers off of Navigation in a cemetery in a Hispanic part of town.   I was there two months ago.  Dick Dowling is buried there.  They named the street Tuam (or 2 a.m. as it is known in the vernacular) after the county in Ireland were he was from.  So don’t let anybody tell you it is Vietnamese.  I get in that argument with people all the time.leon_s_two_0_0

Getting back to the point, the ownership of the bar has changed hands a few times, most recently last year. It is back up and running and I guess it is probably just as good as it ever was but I no longer drink so I would not know.  I wish the place luck and I am sure it is doing fine.  It seems kind of hard to mess that place up given location and history.

Leon’s Yelp Page

 

harry-nilsson-blog

Harry Nilsson, on the other hand was a prolific singer/songwriter from the 60’s and 70’s.  Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in 1941, he had much success writing songs for groups such as the Monkees as well as recording his own material.  His song “Everybody’s Talkin” was used in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy and netted him a Grammy.

1973HollywoodVampires_01_Getty_070915_hero He was a hard drinking buddy of John Lennon and Keith Moon among others.  Oddly enough, his flat in London which he lent out to friends was the scene of death for both Mama Cass and Moon.  Nilsson himself would die in 1994 of heart failure.

Nilsson’s Webpage

Various

This was Nilsson’s seventh and most successful album, released in 1971.  “Without You”, “Coconut”, and “Jump In the Fire” proved to be big hits.  “Without You” went to number #1 on the charts.  The album went to #3. Overall, the album is a good showcase of both his songwriting and singing skills.DSCN4629 (790x800)

For a sample, I went with “Jump In The Fire”  which was my friend at Leon’s favorite song.  It was also used well by Martin Scorsese in Good Fellas.  keeping with the theme of jumping off tangents in the post, many people talk about Wes Anderson’s brilliant use of songs in his movies but Scorsese is very good in this vein as well, albeit of a different period. however.henrynilsson

Top rated album.