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.

Bonnie Pruden/Otto Cesana- Keep Fit/ Be Happy Vol 2

This was one dollar.  Worth the price to check out.

Bonnie Pruden, born in New York City on 1914, was a pioneer in the field of physical fitness.  She developed programs, ran fitness centers, wrote books, recorded albums, marketed fitness equipment, and even designed clothing for fitness. She was also an expert climber. In 1976, she developed a system to use pressure points to allieve pain called myotherapy, which she devoted her later years to.  She moved out to Tuscon in 1992 to open  a physical fitness /myotherapy institute and despite suffering a broken pelvis, multiple heart attacks, cancer, replacement hip surgery,stents,d by-pass surgery, Pruden kept on chugging until her death in 2011.  She was six weeks away from her 98th birthday and apparently  she was still exercising at her hospice bed just days before her passing.

Of Prudden’s accomplishments, one such feather in her cap was her creation of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.  In what was known as The Report that Shocked the President, Prudden submitted to President Eisenhower data that showed the comparative fitness levels of US children to their European counterpart.   This was  pretty big deal when I was going to school.  As a pupil, I was really good at 2/3’s of the systems requirements I could run in the top 10%.  I could also reach the top 10% pull ups.  However, push-ups and sit-ups were always my downfall.  Could never complete the required amount in time and thus could never win a Council medal.

This album, released in 1960, consists of 14 exercise routines along with a photo step guide, set to music.  The music is all original, written, arranged and conducted by Otto Cesana.  From what i could find on Cesana, he was perhaps an Italian-American conductor from the San Francisco area who despite being classically trained, showed a pension for jazz and produced work more suited for easy listening/ lounge/ hifi audiences.  I am assuming he is dead now.

That being said, the music is quote good on this album.  Real good.  If you can tune out the exercise steps, it makes for a good listen. It probably makes for a decent work out as well.  The back cover notes in all caps, “YOU WILL BE STILL THE NEXT DAY” so be fore-warned.

For samples, I went with the Pelvic Tilt exercise “Black Out”.  I also decided to go with Walk #1 and Walk #2, “Ridin’ Wild” and “Rush Hour”.  I felt “Rush Hour”, in particular was quite similar in the middle to”Twisted Nerve”  which came out 8 years later on a Bernard Herrmann soundtrack of the film of the same name. It was also used quite famously in Kill Bill Vol 1.

Anyway,  good little album for the price.  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.


Martin Denny- Afro-Desia

Saturday means quick posts.  Also, since I have done many posts on Martin Denny, this greatly speeds today’s entry along.  This was from the bunch of records I got from my friend Micahl so it was at a cost of $0.00.  

This could have been Denny’s sixth or so album, released in 1959 on Liberty Records.  This collection as the title would suggest as well as the back cover would state, draws its inspiration from Africa.  Lot of really good songs on here that I have posted from other artists including “Baia”, “Temptation”, “Simba” and “Siboney”.

In what is the ultimate bout of laziness, a link to Ambient Exotica’s album review.

But for a sample, I decided to go in a different direction for once and post “Cubano Chant”.  I think it was the vocal chants that drew me to it. Also, the rest of the album skipped heavily and I was too lazy to clean it.

Really good album though.  Top Rated.

Enoch Light and the Light Brigade- Film on FIlm

This was $1.  Given the quality of work that Enoch Light has put out as well as his innovative arrangements, buying his records is usually a no brainer.  Happy Memorial Day.  Despite the fact that this post has been written in advance of the US holiday, please note that I most likely played in the annual Memorial Day Hockey Tournament here in town and am most likely pretty beat.

This record came out on Project 3 Records, a subsidiary of Light’s Command Records that specializes in what was at the time high tech recording techniques.  Keeping with this theme, this album presents soundtrack work recorded on 35mm magnetic film, aka the title Film on Film.  According to the back cover, the use of film for recording yields a high quality product, great for “stereo separation, clarity of definition, subtlety of dynamic contrast and general musical realism.”  It is also 15 times the cost of tape.  But for the purposes of the novelty of this record as well as Light’s quest for the best sound techniques, the extra cost is acceptable.

The songs are pretty good but other than “Born Free” and the “Theme from Alfie”, these are not exactly soundtrack standards compared to other numbers from the same period. As with other Light productions, there is a rather lengthy description of the songs in the gate-fold.  

For a sample, I went with French composer Maurice Jarre’s “Paris Smiles” from the film Is Paris Burning?  Pretty good track.  It features the guitar work of Tommy Mottola who was featured on this blog earlier this month.

For a buck, it is satisfactory enough.  Would have liked some more common theme songs nut what can you do.

Perez Prado- Big Hits by Prado

This record was an absolute steal for $1.00.  The Cuban King of the Mambo’s repertoire speaks for its self on this record.

This record, released by RCA/ Victor in 1960 is a re-imagining of Prado’s big hits, including the iconic “Mambo No 5” and its lesser known cousin “Mambo No 8”.  All the songs have a bit of added spunk from their originals. All and all, really good stuff.

Normally I would not post something that I have already featured on this site but I was taken aback by the version of “Why Wait”.  You can check it out on the earlier post to note the differences.  I also went with “Ruletero”.

Link to earlier post of “Why Wait”

Not much to say on this post as it is my last of the week, but great record.  Top Billing.

Tony Mottola- Roman Guitar

Hey it is Friday (As of the writing of this post, it is really Sunday and I am banging out this week’s posts).  But here we are with another one of my favorite record labels, Command.  This was a dollar. I got it for the song I am going to post.

Here is a collection of songs produced by Enoch Light and led by Command’s number one guitarist, Tony Mottola (not to be confused with record exec and Mariah Carey’s ex Tommy Mottola ).  Born in Kearny, New Jersey in 1918, Mottola was a well respected sessions guitarist, working with Frank Sinatra and Perry Como among others.  His work included thousands of albums as a session player as well as 50 records of his own as well as some time with Doc Severinsen’s band on the Tonight Show. His technically mastery primed him for a position with Command Records. Mottola would die in 2004 after suffering a stroke.

This may have been his second album for Command under his own name.  Released in 1960, it is a collection of Italian songs that take advantage of Mottola’s Italian heritage as well as his signature guitar sound.  I ran into the same problems as I did with the Wildcat album this week, whereas the sound on one channel was not coming in as strong.  This leads me to believe there is something wrong with my recording setup.  Otherwise, it is a fine album of instrumentals.

For a sample, I am going to use the one I always use, “Anna.” It is one of my favorite songs.  You can see the original in the link below.

Link to earlier post about “Anna”.

Anyway, ok album.  Satisfactory

Baja Marimba Band- Heads Up

Well, finishing this anniversary month with this effort.  I am sure Herb Alpert would have been a more fitting choice, but as I do not have anymore of his albums, here is the next best thing.  This was $1.  I got it for “Georgy Girl”.

I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but this month’s selections are rather vibe heavy.  Well, no turning back at this point.  Released in 1967, this would have been the band’s fifth album.  It is a decent collection of songs. led by marimba-ist Julius Wechter. A decent enough track list although it has one of the more tepid versions of “Temptation” on it.

For a sample, I went with the song I liked the most, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” although it sounds very derivative of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” which was presented on an earlier post from this band. I also decided to go with “Georgy Girl” as well since it was the reason I bought this record.

Satisfactory record.  Thank you for joining me this month for what has been this blog’s second anniversary.

Terry Snyder and The All Stars- Persuasive Percussion Vol 2

This was $2.40.  Since it is a Command record, plus it has a version of my favorite song, “Brazil”, buying it was a no-brainer.  In fact, as with other Command records, I bought this twice.  I am unsure how much I paid for the second copy.

About a couple weeks ago, I saw Pink Martini play at Jones Hall.  In all honesty, when I bought the ticket, I thought I was going to see the French Pink Turtle, who play pop tunes in a hot/swing jazz style.  After discovering my mistake, I read enough good things to go ahead and see Pink Martini.  And they were pretty good.  If I had to describe them, I would say they were a lot like seeing this blog  live.  Interestingly arranged tunes from a diverse source, with styles and languages from around the world.  They were backed by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke.  They had a great version of Dvorak’s Moon aria, from Rusalka. It was a really great show.  Anyway, they also closed the set with a great version of “Brazil” which brings us here.

Of all the songs I frequently post on this blog, “Brazil” written by Ary Barroso in 1939, takes the title as the most posted. I am not 100% sure why this watercolor ode to the country where I should disclose I was born and spent the first year of my life hits home to me.  Perhaps it is the beat and the rhythm, or the wonderful melody lines.  I am not going to go much deeper in the subject other than my favorite version is that done by Esquivel.

This is the second series of Persuasive Percussion.  The first volume sold well and proved to be popular for the label.  Drummer Terry Snyder served as the band leader on this effort and for his part assembled three groups of Command musicians for this record.  The first group featured a large orchestra along with additional drummers Wille Rodriguez and Artie Marotti.  The second group keeps the three drummers with a simple saxophone, trumpet, and trombone, plus a rhythm section.  The third group adds Doug Allen to the drum circle along with an expanded rhythm section.  Standard Command performers include Doc Severinsen, Tommy Matola, Urbie Green, and Dick Hyman.  The effort was produced by none other than Enoch Light.

Link to Terry Synder’s Spaceagepop page

This album is a pretty good collection of tunes and does put a highlight on the percussion end which some percussion albums oddly fail to do. A lot of good moments here.  For a sample, I decided to go with ” In A Persian Market” which features Severinsen’s trumpet. I also went with the centerpiece of today’s blog, “Brazil”.  Pretty decent version.  I have yet to hear a real awful version of this song but as soon as I can post one, I will.

Good record, Satisfactory

Enoch Light- Command Performances

Starting another week of the Two-Year Anniversary month for this blog with artists who are frequently spotlighted on this site.  Enoch Light is one such artists. Due to the high quality standards and imaginative arrangements of Light, I always buy a Command Record when I see one for sale.  That would probably explain why I have two copies of this album. This copy was $1.00.  The other was $1.20.

This album is a collection of songs from previous efforts from the first five years of the Command label.  I guess that is why I thought I had heard some of these songs before when I read the song titles. With selections personally chosen by Mr Light himself, this record features a collection of showtunes and standards, arranged specifically for stereo performance.

Anyway, this album, from 1964, has everything you would expect.  Good sound quality and excellent arrangements that sonic-ally push boundaries.I liked a good bunch of these songs, but I finally settled on “Rio Junction”, a bossa-nova which was written by Light and his associate, Lew Davis.  It is an excellent piece.

Satisfactory record.