The Gordon Highlanders- The Very Best of Sousa

This was $2, only 99 cents less than its original extra special selling price at Sam Goody.  As much as I love listening to marching band albums (sarcasm), I bought this so I could post the three witty insights below (well, I think they are witty anyway).

No one signifies marching band mus, not just universally but here in America like John Phillip Sousa (1854-1932).  As the leader of the US Marine band as well as his own band, “The March King” composed some of the best known marches in history.

At the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, there is a section in the American instrument exhibit for both Sousa and marching bands.  On display, they have a sousaphone, a light weight tuba designed by Sousa to make it easier to march or stand with than a regular concert tuba.  From that time on, I cannot get the image out of my head of Sousa and his counterparts, staying up late at night in a creative frenzy, perhaps driven by the cocaine infused Coca-Cola they had at the time, just riffing out ideas for new instruments.  I wish I could see some of the rejected ideas.

Somehow, the story reminds me of a Mr Show skit of “The Battle of the Megaphone Crooners”.  Mr Show also combined marching band music with Amadeus for this bit as well.

Sousa’s most famous work perhaps is “Stars and Stripes Forever” (hopefully not forever).  But his second famous piece of work you may ask?  I would say “The Gladiator March”.  Unfamiliar with this you say? You probably would recognize it when you heard it as it was the theme of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Why did they go with this song? For the simple reason that it was in the public domain.

Anyway, here is this collection of songs from his marches to his operettas, performed by the Gordon Highlanders under the direction of Douglas Ford.  I believe this was a British army regiment that got Incorporated into the Queen’s Own Highlanders in 1994, to form one group simply named the Highlanders.  Or maybe they are totally unrelated.  Who knows?

For a sample, I went with “Invincible Eagle”.

As far as the record goes, it all really started to sound the same after the third song so meh.

 

Rusty Warren- Banned In Boston?

This was $2.  The alliteration in the title probably caught my eye when I purchased this.  There were a couple of Rusty Warren albums on sale at the time of this purchase. I think the Banned in Boston label is what snagged me on this one.

Rusty Warren, born in New York City on 1930, and shortly adopted thereafter to a couple from Milton, Mass, is a comedienne/singer who made her fame singing about sex.  She studied piano at the New England Music Conservatory of Music and was mentored by none other than the Boston Pop’s Arthur Fiedler. Known as the mother of the sexual revolution, she began her comedy career in Phoenix, AZ before taking her act to Las Vegas. She did around 11 records or so.  Her biggest hit was “Knockers Up”. I am not sure what she is doing now.

Warren’s webpage

Pretty comprehensive interview

 

This record is of a comedy show at the Surf Club at the Revere Beach , four miles north of Boston.  For the record, I am not sure if she was actually banned from the city or not (the interview from this link has a story about this). Anyway, the record is her comedy routine augmented by four songs.  Her routines are filed with euphemisms, double entendres, and  innuendo about sex which quite frankly, in the age of Amy Schumer, sounds quite dated. But that is how things were back then so, there you go.

For a sample, I went with the least smutty song on the album, Warren’s version of the folk standard, “Greenback Dollar”.

I liked this album just as much as the Elsa Lanchester album I reviewed two weeks or so ago.  So, meh.  Perhaps this is not fair and I do not mean to discredit the pioneering that Warren did.  However, outdated beating around the bush on issues that are out in the open today really does not do it for me.

 

Elsa Lanchester-Bawdy Cockney Songs

This was 25 cents less 20%.  If my math holds up, I believe this makes it an even $0.20.  I bought it as I used to like actress records as well as bawdy cockney songs.  However, I have been greatly disappointed with the bawdiness of the material I find.  I find it mostly tame.  Furthermore, I had listened to this album and prepped the songs for this some months back, only to shelve it I felt the month I had it slated for needed more bang.  This month, however, I felt that I wanted to lessen my burden of listening to albums by including one I have already been through.  Thus, here we are.

Elsa Lanchester, born in London in 1902, worked on the British stage before meeting her future husband, Charles Laughton.

From there, she made the leap to film.  Playing notable smaller roles in some important films on both sides of the ocean, the role for which she is most famous is that of The Bride of Frankenstein. She would die in the Los Angeles area in 1986 from pneumonia.  

But back to Lanchester’s origin, her career began in night clubs and cabaret’s where she sang song similar to the style presented here. During this time, she made several 78’s of her material including “Please Sell No More Drink to My Father” in 1926 (also included on this album).  After she was established as an actress, she made several albums in the 1950’s.  These albums all featured tawdry songs with vague lewdness and double entendres, which were wildly popular in an age of censorship and repression (double entendres, that is.  Not sure how successful these records were).  

This album, from Tradition records, was released in 1968.  I believe it consists of materiel from the albums above.  Lanchester is accompanied by pianist Ray Henderson.  Songs such as “The Husband’s Clock”, “Rat Catcher’s Daughter”, and “Lola’s Saucepan” do not really hide the subject for which they are skirting around.

Well, I decided to take the high road and go with “Please Sell No More Drink To My Father”, one of the early cabaret songs of Lanchester.

Overall, I felt this album was pretty weak and not really bawdy enough for my liking.  Or perhaps, the double entendres is a lost art. Anyway, meh.

John Schneider- Quiet Man

This was $2.40 at a discount.  I used to like getting celebrity records on this site but that was when I was unemployed and had all day to write post.  Those days have past.

John Schneider, born in Mount Kisco, NY in 1960, is best known for his portrayal of Beauregard “Bo” Duke from the Dukes of Hazard.  As a child from the 80’s, this was my favorite TV show.  Like most kids my age, I had a crush on Daisy Duke as well as hated shows when Bo and Luke’s cousins took over during contract disputes (or going on the NASCAR circuit as the show stated). Along with playing Chips, me and my pal used to play Dukes of Hazard but for some reason, I always had to be Luke (since my friend argued that his name was Jon, I was always Paunch in Chips). Back to Schneider, it should be noted that he had a re-occurring role as Superman’s adoptive father in Smallvile.

Not sure of those were simpler times or if we just turned an eye to casual racism.  Well my bet is on the latter but I do not want to turn this into a big debate.  I will say this: Sorrell Booke and James Best, who played Boss Hogg and Roscoe P Coltrane, were good friends and were allowed to ad-lib on set.  Best also taught acting classes later in his career and one of his students was a young Quentin Tarantino.  It was at Best’s classes where Tarantino met collaborators who would work on his films.

Schneider was able to parlay his popularity on Dukes to a successful music career.  He recorded ten albums (including a Christmas album with Dukes’ co-star Tom Wopat) with four Country #1 singles to his credit.  This was Schneider’s third album, released on the Scotti Brothers label in 1983.  It did not chart.

Decent album but I would have probably liked it more if I was a girl in the 80’s.  There are some decent moments.  As a whole, I really do not like much 80’s country so I am a bit biased to start with this. 

For a sample, I went with the old Johnny Burnette classic “Dreamin” which was released as a single.  It charted at #32 on the country chart.

Meh.  As stated above, do not like 80’s country and I am pretty much over the Dukes.  Not 10 anymore. I mean it sounds just as good as anything else from that decade, it is just not my proverbial cup of tea.

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.

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.

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.

The Finlandia Male Chorus of Detroit

This was $3.  It had enough songs that have become standard covers of the 60’s.  Finland… an odd country wedged between the Scandinavian countries and Russia, sharing elements of both societies while rejecting others.  I have had the strange honor of playing hockey with a number of Finish people in Houston, more than I thought was statistically probable. From Timonen who weaved his way in and out jail in the 90’s (known for the saying “to jail I go”, to Ansi, who was the first choice for sub defense men in my Thursday league ( I was #2), along with a few other kids with strange names with a lot of vowels.

Of the great Finland migration to the USA, a good chuck of these migrants settled in Michigan, most notably the Upper Peninsula.  There was some over spill however, to some of the bigger cities and Detroit was no exception.  Given the plight and flight of the city, I believe  Finish numbers have dwindled over the years, while the Upper Peninsula still has one of the biggest Finish populations in the country.

This record, released in 1970 under the direction of Eero B. Keranen, features a choir that originated in 1923 under one John Karhu. They performed at mostly Finish function until the 30’s, where they started to branch out slightly.  Keranen became the director in 1966.  AT the time of this recording, the chorus features 50 singers and six string players.

Link to some info on Chorus

The album is a mixture of chorus songs as well as a few instrumentals from all across the board.  Songs include “Born Free”, “Never On  A Sunday”, “Somewhere My Love”, and “Hello Dolly”, along with some Finish tunes as well.  I mean, it is what one would expect.

For a sample, I went with the instrumental Russian classic, “Those Were The Days” as well as what I assume is a  Finish number, “Finlandia”.

Meh.  Maybe, I would rate this better if I paid a dollar for it.

Milton Berle- Songs My Mother Loved

This was $1.  I got it to see what Milton Berle’s contribution to music would be.  Hey, where are my manners?  Another month of 2017 and another month of Donkey Show.  Most of the year, I have been running ahead of writing these posts.  Well, I have now fell behind.  Oh, well.  I have all month to get caught up.

Milton Berle (1908-2002), known as “Mr Television”, was America’s first major TV star. Getting his start on vaudeville and radio, Berle jumped on the rising medium of television in 1948 with the Texaco Star Theater, renamed later to the Buick-Berle Show, and later, just the Milton Berle show.  

This record, from Roulette Records, came out in 1957 at the end of his show’s run.  As the title would suggest, the album is a collection of songs for his mother, Sandra Berle, who passed three years earlier.

The Hugo and Luigi, who received producer credits at the bottom were Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti, songwriters who were also co-owners of the label.  The duo would work with Perry Como, Sam Cooke, and Elvis Presley.

Since this record is dedicated to Berle’s mother and given the fact that my mother is probably going to read this, I am going to skip over the fact that Berle was known as one of the largest endowed performers in show bidness.

And although, he worked clean for the large majority of his acts/shows, his performances at the Friar Club were often blue and made light of his gift.  Anyway, below, is a rather comical story from SNL writer Alan Zweibel, who oddly enough, used to write the jokes for the Friar’s Club roasts.

Zweibel’s recollection of Berle

Anyway, back to general decency, this record is a collection of older tunes from the first half of the century.  I am unsure who the orchestra and chorus are but they do most of the heavy lifting.  Berle does an occasional speak over on some of the songs. It is ok, overall.  I thought I was getting more Berle content when I bought this.

For a sample, I decided to play tribute to the boys of summer and Bull Durham with “Try A Little Tenderness” because women do get woolly.

Overall, meh.  Really don’t get to much out of this.  The arrangements are pretty bland and Berle’s voice overs don’t salvage this act. I guess I should factor in what I paid for this but still, meh.

Mireille Mathieu- Fidelement Votre

When I was putting together records for this Anniversary month, I noticed I had no French female singers in the lineup.  Well , this omission could not stand so here is a frequent visitor to this blog, Mirelle Mathieu.  This record was $3.

As is the case with many French female singers who put out great swinging music in the 60’s, later output is generally less appealing and a reflection of musical tastes at that time as well as general aging. Frances Gall’s records of the 1980’s come to mind for me.   This record, released by Phillips in 1978, reflects a more adult contemporary sound for better or for worse.  I mean, one can’t make young, hip records forever.

This record is decent enough but obviously not among my favorite eras of the genre.  A decent collection of slower adult songs done in French with the inclusion of “A Blue Bayou”.

For a sample, I went with “Un peu de bleu” or “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” which was an earlier hit for Crystal Gayle.

Eh,  there are better Mathieu albums on this blog.  I have not gone meh this month so here is the first.