The Melachrino Orchestra- Music For Two People Alone

This was originally 50 cents but with discount, came out to a lean 40. Why did I get it?  Can not remember anymore.  Most likely price.  

This record, released by RCA Victor in 1954, is from the Melachrino Orchestra, led by George Melachrino.  Born in London from Greek and Italian roots, and proficient on a variety of instruments, he worked in bands before becoming an army musician in WWII.  After the war, he lead his own orchestra with records, performance, and soundtrack work. His series of  “Moods” albums became pop staples but may be better known today for their covers rather than the actual content. Melachrino died in 1965 but the string orchestra under his name continued after his death for another decade at least. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.

Melachrino’s Space Age Pop Page

Anyway, this is a collection of songs for two people alone and draws from a diverse source of material including Hammerstein-Kern, Rodgers-Hart, Gershwin, Gonzalo Roig, Lew Pollack, and Hoagy Carmichael.  

It is Carmichael’s selection that I used for a sample.  Here is his composition, “Two Sleepy People”. On the whole, this record put me to sleep.  Meh.

Jerry Butler- The Best of Jerry Butler

This was one dollar and a good chance to put some soul music on the site. After what proved to be almost a book of a post on Thursday coupled with the fact that this is Saturday should make this brief.

This is a greatest hits compilation from Mercury Records from the former lead singer of the Impressions/ the current Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler.  Born in 1939 in Sunflower, Mississippi, The Iceman moved to Chicago as a youth and used music and church as his escape from poverty (he sung in the local church choir with Impression’s band mate Curtis Mayfield).

He left the Impressions in 1960 to pursue a solo career which spawned a good amount of hits in the 60’s and 70’s which this record (released in 1978) compiles.  Butler is still singing and performing somewhat while serving his commissioner duties.  

This record is pretty good but what else would you expect from a greatest hits album?  The songs are good an probably warrant more explanation from me but I am posted out this week so all I am going to say is here is “Hey Western Union Man”, from 1968 which was #16 on the US chart as well as #1 R&B chart.

Great little collection of R&B/pop.  Satisfactory.

Nick Noble-Music For Lovers

This was from the collection of records I received from Big Al Pallister’s estate. So it is at zero cost. Why I picked this one, I do not know. Maybe to get it out of the way.

Nick Noble (born in 1926) was a Chicago born and bred singer who had some Billboard hits between 1957 and 1959.  Although he always remained popular in his hometown, he regained some national fame both in the early sixties as well as 1978.  Besides serving in the Navy towards the end of WWII, Noble was the nephew of Lou Mitchell, who opened the namesake Chicago Restaurant, in which Noble would later become an owner. He would die in 2012 at the age of 85.

Lou Mitchell’s Web Page

This record was released by Mercury’s Wing subsidiary and distributed in Canada by Quality Records.  Wing had some success in the late 50’s so that is when I am guessing this came out.  Alright album.  Kind of that old school 50’s crooner style that died with the advent of rock and roll.

For a sample, I went with “Right or Wrong”.

This album really is not my cup of tea but I do wonder if my pal Al Jr (whose father owned this record) was perhaps conceived because of it.  For that reason,  satisfactory enough.

 

Peters and Lee- We Can Make It

This record was a bit pricey at $3.00.  I think the purple suits as well as pink lettering made me buy it.  I also liked the sunglasses on the dude.  I thought it made him look like Jose Felicano and that perhaps he may be blind as well.

Well, that hunch was correct.  Lennie Peters (born in 1931 in London and an uncle to the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts) was blinded in one eye after a car accident at age 5.  At age 16, fate cruelly came for the other eye after an incident with a thrown brick.  Despite this handicap, he became a piano player on the British pub circuit with two singles before meeting actress and dancer Diane Lee (born in Sheffield in 1950).  

Although she started as backup singer to Peters, the two became a folk/pop duo in the 1970’s scoring hit records in the 1970’s with numerous television appearances.  The duo split in 1980 with several reunions thereafter until the death of Peters from bone cancer in 1992. I believe Lee still performs in some capacity today or perhaps I just did not want to look into it any further.

This was the duo’s first album, released in 1973.  It was a #1 record in the UK and has the distinction of being one of the few #1 albums in Britain not to be transferred to CD format.  The album was bolstered by their hit single “Welcome Home” which was also #1.  Overall, a decent album.  Peters is really at the forefront of most songs. I really liked “Cryin Time”, “There They Go”, and “Never My Love”.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Good Morning Freedom”, I think because the wah-wah guitar.

Decent album but a bit higher than I would have liked and I do not think it translates well outside of 1970’s Britain.  But being that I am in a good mood today, satisfactory,  That is really what my reviews come down to: what side of the bed I get up on,

 

The Charles Randolph Grean Sounde-Quentin’s Theme

This was $1.00.  I could say I got it for the Dark  Shadows‘ Theme but in all honesty, I am sure the light blue made me go ahead with the purchase.  I m a sucker for aesthetically pleasing colors.  At the time of writing this post, Real Madrid just won their 12th European Crown over Juventus.  When I had money, I used to go watch Madrid play.  Of course, given the insanely short time span of the useful life of football players, Sergio Ramos and possibly Marcelo are the only players left from when I used to go to games.  Anyway, there that is. Back to the post.

Dark Shadows was the soap opera which ran from 1966 to 1971 portraying the ups and downs of the gothic Collins family.  Kind of a radical concept for the time.  It was made into a Tim Burton movie starring Johnny Depp in 2012.  The theme music was written by Robert Corbet and actually became quite popular. 

Charles Randolph Grean, on the other hand, worked mainly behind the scenes, spending his early years as a copyist for Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw.  His career led him to become a composer, arranger, producer, and A&R director for such labels as RCA Victor.  Among others, he worked with Nat King Cole as well as Vaughn Monroe on “Ghost Riders In The Sky”. His cover of “Quentin’s Theme” from Dark Shadows in 1969 was his first and perhaps his only foray into the charts as a performer.  The single peaked at #13 on the Billboard Pop Chart as well as #3 on the Easy Listening chart.  He would die of natural causes in 2003 at the age of 90.

This album, produced by Grean, was probably meant to capitalize on the success of the single.  It features 3 songs from Dark Shadows, two songs from the Grand Canyon Suite, two other TV theme songs, and some standards.  Overall, it is ok.  I have heard better.  I guess there is nothing that really jumps out at me on this.

For a sample, I went with “Manolito” from the TV series High Chaparral.  I thought it was the best number.  I also went with “Shadows of the Night” which is a variant of “Quentin’s Theme” because I thought I should post something from Dark Shadows after writing about it.

I thought this album was meh but in all fairness, I am doing about 20 things at the same time when writing this.

Jerry Reed- Sings Jim Croce

Last post of technically the month although we are 3 days deep into June.  I got this as I like Jerry Reed and who doesn’t like Jim Croce.  I thought the two would go well together. It was high end at $5.

Jim Croce (1943-1973)was an ultra-talented singer song writer from Philadelphia who died too young in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana at age 40.  A funny story about Croce, his parents gave him $500 as a wedding gift with the stipulation that he use it to record an album.  His folks thought this would get music out of his system after it failed and he would pursue college (at least that is what wikipedia states).  Well, it did not fail.  And from that start, Croce’s career grew.  At the time of his untimely death, he was disillusioned with the music industry and was looking to get out (which again, if you trust wikipedia, which on Saturday, you will have to do).

Jerry Reed has always had a story telling quality to his good songs although it is slightly different from Croce’s.  However, Reed is able to take Croce’s catalog and really do it justice. The record, released in 1980 had the blessing of Croce’s wife, Ingrid, who really carried Croce’s torch after his death to keep his memory alive.

Pretty standard collection of Croce songs and all of the real big hits are here.  Besides masterfully running thru the catalog, Reed is also able to add some country twang to these tracks.  Real good album.  Could say more but it is Saturday. For a sample, I went with what I felt was my favorite song on the album, “One Less Set of Footprints”.

Top Rated Record.

Bonzo Dog Band- Beast of the Bonzos

This was not marginally $5, but I had the clerk assign the extra amount to a $1.  I got this as I really wanted to feature this band on this blog as they have two tie ins to pop culture.

The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (later shortened to the Bonzo Dog Band) was an English trad-jazz band formed by art students who were swept up in the early 60’s 1920’s sound spearheaded by the Temperance 7 and The Alberts.  As they started to move thier sound into rock, they got two big breaks.  First Paul McCartney asked them to appear in the Magical Mystery Tour where they performed “Death Cab For Cutie”.  This is where the band of the same name got said name (pop culture tie in #1).

Second, around the same time, they got a gig on the TV for the children’s show Do Not Adjust Your Set in which they were the resident band.  Along with David Jansen and Denise Coffey, the show also featured Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and the occasional cartoon by Terry Gilliam.  Two writers from The Frost Report, John Cleese and Graham Chapman, were fans and from there, Monty Python was born.  Bonzo’s Neil Innes also appeared on a few episodes as well as movies. (Pop Culture tie in #2).

This album is a collection of hits of sorts.  It has some of my favorite tunes which showcase the British wit and humor that is the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.  Pretty good little album which if there is any complaint, is too short. If you want to learn more about the band and its members, well here is a link.

“It May Be Rubbish- But by Golly, it’s British Rubbish”

For samples, I went with three.  First off, to start is the “Intro/Outro”.  It should be noted that this track actually does contain a snipet of Eric Clapton playing ukulele. Also, if you are curious, the first seven or so members are actually in the band. The band plays an abridged version the very beginning of this episode complete with members of the show.

Second, I went with what is probably one of my favorite tracks and one that throws back to the group’s original sound, “Hello Mabel”.

Finally, I am ending it with a distortion heavy ode to self-help ads and body building, “Mr Apollo”.

Great little record.

Connie Francis- Live At The Sahara In Las Vegas

This was one dollar.

Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, born in that beautiful part of the world that is known as Newark, New Jersey in 1938, became a pop star in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I believe she was one strike away from giving music for medicine when she scored a hit with “Who’s Sorry Now”.  Despite not liking the end result, the song eventually became a hit and Francis became an international star. Her career has been marked by several tragedies as well as Francis’s ability to bounce back from them. She is still relatively active today with an autobiography coming out this year.  She also works with various US Veteran groups.

Connie’s Webpage

This album came out in 1966.  Recorded at the Sahara Casino,  this was oddly enough released by MGM.  The Casino was one of the last Rat Pack Casinos in Las Vegas and closed briefly in 2011 before reopening as the SLS Hotel & Casino. They had a real cheap steak and lobster combo there for a while.  I went one year with friends and we walked all the way down their from our hotel until we got there and found it was closed.  I had been talking about the combo for some time and my friends did not have the heart to tell me it was closed. I wish they did.  It would have saved me the walk.

But here is this record, which is a pretty decent collection of tunes.  Francis’s skill is pretty evident on this disc, both singing and ad-libbing between songs.

For a sample, I went with something that details both of these with “La Bamba”.

Decent album.  Satisfactory.

The Moody Blues- Days Of Future Passed

This was unbelievably only a dollar,  which is strange to me considering it was in pretty good shape.  I mean it was one of the biggest records of its period, at least the biggest one for the Moody Blues, I believe.  At the time of writing this, I am watching Game 7 of the Oilers-Ducks so I may be in and out of this post.

This was The Moody Blues’ second album. After not finding a lot of success as a R&B band, a few members shuffled and a new larger sound was formed with a more symphonic edge. Essentially, it was the beginning of prog rock. In order to capitalize on this sound as well as payback the debt the band owed the Decca on advances, the band agreed to make a record of Dvorak’s “Symphony No 9”.  It would be released on new subsidiary, Deram and used as a model to showcase the new Deram Studio Sound format.

The band was given creative control of the project but decided to abandon it for a different project, a pop record with orchestral interludes based on the concept of a day(Note”:  this story has been disputed). Anyway, the band recruited Peter Knight and the London Festival Orchestra to provide the interludes.  The result was this record, which was a huge success for the band.  “Nights in White Satin” also became a massive hit and was the only instance of interplay between the Blues and the orchestra.

Pretty good album.  Kind of dated concept now, but in 1967, I imagine it was pretty radical.  I liked the album.  I went with “Lunch Break: Peak Hour”, mainly because it is brief, but also because it is a good example of both Orchestra and band.

Good album. Satisfactory. Well, the Oilers, sadly enough did not make it.  I know to a reasonable person, just making it as far as the did was a big accomplishment, given their record in recent years. Well, I guess I was just expecting a Cup this year after the way they played.  Losing Game 5 hurt.  But, still, got to give credit to a good young team who will be a force to reckon with next year.

Caterina Valente- Cosmopolitan Lady

I liked the last Caterina Valente album I bought so I decided to pick this one up.  At $3, it seems a bit pricey considering the cover is falling apart in all directions and there was no record sleeve.

Caterina Valente, the Italian bred, French born singer, made a career out of her international style.  I wrote a bit about her on the last album I posed of hers.  Well, not much, but it is more than I will write today. As the clips show below, she knew how to work early television.

Link to Earlier link

This seems to be, according to discogs.com,. a South African release from 1958 from Polydor.  It is a collection of her early hits, including “Malaguera” and “The Breeze and I”.  In regards to the latter, I found this album’s version of “Breeze” to be quite tempid compared to the last version I posted.  Anyway, she sings in five languages on this album (Spanish, Italian, French, English, and German).

For a sample, I went with “Malaguera”.  I also went with “Bravo Caterina” as I think it takes a pair of brass ones to name check yourself in a song.

Great little album that is falling apart on me.  Satisfactory.