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.

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.

Dennis De Souza- Moods 2

This was $1.00  It had a decent amount of songs that I liked on it.  Plus it looked like one of those small localized records that I seem to like.  Oddly enough, the small, local records as well as the tourist/souvenir records seem to be the most viewed on this site.  The way I figure, someone is searching (or possibly Googling themselves) and my blog about their small effort comes up, hence the increased popularity of my site.  

This record as well as Dennis De Souza are from Trinidad.  Well technically De Souza, a musical prodigy,  was from Guyana, (born in 1935?) but a stop over in Trinidad on a trip to England to study composition began a love affair between the artist and the island.  De Souza did not take the trip to England and instead, stayed in Trinidad.  It should be noted that it was not music that initially drew him to stay. It was cricket.  It was during a celebration party at the Port of Spain hotel, that he was asked by the hotel band leader to play piano.  That led to a lengthy stay at the hotel as well as a run at various hotels throughout the Caribbean.  De Souza died in 2012 at the age of 77 from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.  He died in Canada.

Obit for De Souza

This record, which I am guessing is a follow up to Moods 1, is by my guess a hotel souvenir/ tourist album.  It features De Souza’s piano work pretty prominently.  De Souza is backed up by his trio drummer Johnny Marquez and bassist Knolly Sorzano. Kenny Soranzo (who I am guessing is related) provided the occasional acoustic guitar.  A good collection of songs featuring “Mandy”, “My Elusive Dreams”, “The Way We Were” and his own composition “Nicky’s Theme”.  Who is this Nicky? Well your guess is as good as mine.  But overall, this is a nice album.

For a sample, I went with “Jumbie Call” which I felt was a good number.  I probably wanted to go with “My Elusive Dreams” but if memory serves me right, I think it skipped.

Good album. Satisfactory. Lately, my fact checking has been reduced to one source and mainly Wikipedia at that, so if anyone finds something non-factual. please let me know.  Leave me a comment and I will amend my site.

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.

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.

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

Ace Cannon- Cool ‘n Saxy

This was $1 and had a bunch of songs I like on it.  Ace Cannon has been on this site many times in the past so this should make for a brief post as I have exhausted the subject.  Dare I get caught up with this week’s posts?  We shall see.

This was released by Hi Records in 1977, a bit later in his career as a storied session man.  Pretty decent record.  It has a lot of songs I know and like including “My Elusive Dream”, “Let It Be”, “Everybody’s Talking”, “Lodi”, and “House of the Rising Sun”.

Again the songs are pretty good but not really what I would describe as cool or sexy with the exception of “Rainy Night in Georgia”.  That is why I used it as a sample.

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Good album for a dollar.  Satisfactory.

VA- Curtains Up! Music and Plunk, Tinkle, Ting-A-Ling

This was a dollar.  I like percussion-esque albums as well as orchestra pops.  This combined both. Internet service is still intermittent at best in my apartment.  This leads to brevity for today’s post.

This is a collection of various symphony orchestra’s conducting various numbers with a focus on various mood effects, mostly percussion.  The conductors on this album include Howard Hanson, Antal Dorati, and Frederick Fennell.  The composers on the record include Leroy Anderson, Percy Faith, Cole Porter, John Phllip Sousa, and Bela Bartok among others.  It was released by Mercury Records in a series of Curtain Up! Releases.  My guess is it was released sometime around 1958 to 1960.

I really liked this album.  A bunch of good interpretation of songs.  Musically, it covers a large span of sounds.  A lot of goods spots.  I had to pick two.  I went with Anderson’s “The Typewriter” and Porter’s “My Heart Belongs To Daddy”.  But I did like a whole lot of other songs on this album including “From The Diary Of A Fly”, “The One-Hoss-Shay”, and “Butantan”.  But I felt Porter’s song was the best on the album and “Typewriter” has that gimmicky appeal that I do love so.

Great little record.  Satisfactory. Probably deserves more writing on this post but not happening this week.

VA- Cotton Eyed Joe & Other Texas Dance Hall Favorites

This was $4.  I got it for good ol’ Cotton Eyed Joe, which is sort of a rite of passage in Texas.  I am reminded of the words of a friend of mine, Cullen, who told me if you are going to pay music in Texas, got to know “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Jole Blon”, which is also on this record.

This record was released in 1979 by producer/ engineer David Stalling’s Delta Records.  The label, based in Nacogdoches, I believe put out records by various country musicians as well as other genres.  This album was recorded at ACA Studios in Houston and features Ex-Texas Playboys Herb Remington on steel guitar and Bob White on fiddle.  Eddie Nation, from Houston, handles the lead guitar.  Apparently, he also played on some of Freddy Fender’s albums.

This record is what the title implies, a collection of Texas dance hall favorites.  No vocals on here. Instead, it is all instrumentals.  A lot of classics on here besides the two mentioned above, including ” Faded Love” Whiskey River”, “San Antonio Rose”, “Waltz Across Texas”, and “Maiden’s Prayer”.  Probably would have liked some vocals on this, but the songs are quite technically good country playing.  Decent album.

For a sample, as I always go with the same tunes, here is “Cotton Eyed Joe” along with “Faded Love”.

Good Record. Satisfactory.