Xavier Cugat- Cugat Cavalcade

DSCN4294This was $3.20.  Although the cover was a bit word, the album itself was sealed in plastic. I will buy any album with a version of “Brazil” on it so that was the key influencer in this purchase.xavier-cugat-5410693-565X720

Xavier Cugat (1900-1990) was a Spanish born band leader, who emigrated to Cuba with his parents when he was 5 and then left for New York in 1951.  Along with success in both films and records, Cugat headed the band at the Waldorf-Astoria, shuttling between New York and Los Angeles.  He held that gig for either 16 or 30 years, depending on which web site you believe.  He was also a cartoonist as the clip below shows, perhaps pre-dating Beans Barton (if you are not from Houston, this reference is most likely lost on you).

His best years were the 1930’s and the 1940’s. His biggest hits were “Perfidia”, “El Manicero”, “Babalu”, and “Brazil”.  Members of his band included at times Desi Arnez, Tito Rodriguez, Luis del Campo, Yma Sumac, and his third wife, Abbie Lane.  In the 1960’s he helped launch the career of his fifth (or fourth, again based on which web site is correct) wife, Charo for which the Love Boat was thankful.  He would retire in 1970 and die of heart failure twenty years later at the age of 90.  Also, apparently, holding his Chihuahua while he conducted was his thing as well.

This album , released by Columbia Records in 1958, is a greatest hits collection of sorts or at least his hits on Columbia .  It features the sounds that made him famous.  According to the cover, this is the first presentation of these songs in stereo fidelity.  DSCN4295

For samples, I decided to go with “Tico-Tico”.  And of course, like I always do, here is his version of “Brazil”.  Still think Esquivel has the best version, though.cugat

Top Rated Album.

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Waldo De Los Rios- Smyphonies for the 70’s

DSCN4464This was a dollar.  I totally freaked out when I saw this.  I had done an earlier post on De Los Rios and knew this of this album. Waldo de Los Ríos (2)

Waldo De Los Rios was an Argentinian composer, conductor and arranger.  Born into a musical family, De Los Rios experimented with various forms and sounds throughout his career.  Suffering from depression, he killed himself in 1977 at the age of 42.

Earlier post on De Los Rios

This album marks the height of De Los Rios’s career and is perhaps what he is best known for:  modern interpretations and pop renditions of classical music.  His most famous work was his version of Mozart’s Symphony no 40.  Purists hated his work, but it showcases a unique style and stamp on the old traditions.

This came out in 1974 and I think it is excellent.  To really appreciate it, you need to be familiar with the source material.  In some cases, the changes are subtle.  In others, they are more pronounced.  Some are simple as just adding a drum beat but the simple effects make for good music. I felt that De Los Rios established a string sound on the other album I posted.  This sound was evident on some songs on this album but not all and not on any that I used for a sample.  DSCN4465

As with the last De Los Rios album, I am going with four samples, which can be viewed as laziness on my part or the fact that I really like this album.  Anyway, to start, Beethoven’s No 1 in C Major OP 21, 4th movement has a carnival type vibe to it.  Mendelssohn’s No 5 in D Major, Op 107 3rd movement, in comparison, is presented with a less subtle effect but it comes off sounding like a Tarantino-esque western number.  The same can be said for this album’s treatment of Beethoven’s No 7 in A Major Op 92 2nd movement.  Finally, I was not going to include Beethoven’s No 6 in F Major Op 68, 5th movement but the background vocals at the end made me really like this track.  Here they are as MP3’s.s_124564_1388678478_waldo_de_los_rios_fsa_rg

I liked the first album I posted but I still think this is pretty good. This is a top rated album for me.

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The Musical Heritage Society- The Art of the Bassoon

DSCN4304I am not sure why I bought this anymore other than to add some weirdness to the site.  It was $1.80.  Perhaps the caricature on the cover playing the bassoon influenced the purchase in some form.Bassoon_breakdown_medium

The Bassoon, a double reed woodwind instrument, came into modern form in the 19th century and was derived from the earlier fagotto.  I read a whole history of the instrument but could not focus without asking myself why by God am I reading this.  Basically, there are two modern designs;the German Heckel and the French Buffet.If you want to know anything else, you can learn on your own below.

Wiki link to the Bassoon

This baritone timbred instrument has been used frequently in orchestral works.  According to the back cover of this album, there are less frequent solo pieces for the instrument.  It is also not really used in jazz at all. And while Wikipedia suggests its use in Pop music is even less, notable examples of bassoon use can be heard in Donovan’s “Jennifer Juniper”, The Turtles’ “Happy Together”, Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown”, and the novelty number “Winchester Cathedral”. yny-bassoons-700x375-1372437479

Its use in classical music is extensive, on the other hand.  Notable pieces include Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Bizet’s Carmen Ent’acte to Act II, Beethoven’s 9th, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice , Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as directed by Ravel, and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.  In the last piece, the bassoon represents Peter’s grandfather.

What to say about this album?  It contains three orchestral pieces with prominent bassoon and three duet pieces between bassoon and piano.  My biggest criticism of this album is that it is hard for the non-bassoon fan to distinguish where each piece begins and end.  My second criticism is that it is bassoon-centric but I knew that going into the album.DSCN4305

For a sample, I wanted to choose one of the piano pieces as they were shorter in length.  However, I failed to record them individually.  Furthermore, I am not listening to this album again so as a sample, here is a 6 minute selection of pieces, namely,  Fernand Oubradous’ Divertissment for Bassoon and Piano, Jacques Ibert’s Arabesque for Bassoon and Piano, and O. Miroshnikov’s Scherzo in G Minor for Bassoon and Piano.  The back cover draws attention to the last piece in particular.  Incidentally, the bassoon on the album is played by Gerhard Hasse.  I could not find any information on him other than a $125 album of his bassoon work listed on E-Bay.bssnprog1

I get it, the instrument has a rich low sound but there is not enough on this album to make it interesting to me other than the strange looking guy on the cover.  Meh.

 

UPDATE 5/19/2017-  Just when I thought this album was behind me, I have recently been asked by a music journalist from Serbia to digitally record the tracks from side 1 of this album as I believe he/she is working on a story about Stephan Malek, the guitarist who accompanied Gehard Hasse on the first side.  Mr Malek, if I am understanding it correctly, is a very well known Serbian musician who may or may not be well recorded within his own country.  I also believe he is talented on a few different instruments other than guitar.  Ah, the joys of broken English.  Anyway, as I never want to disappoint a person who checks out my blog, here are the two tracks that feature Mr Malek’s guitar, Johnann Friederich Fasch’s Concerto for Bassoon, Strings and Continuo and Carl Andres Gopfert’s Sonata in C Major for Bassoon and Guitar Op 13.  I am not sure there is any guitar in the first piece but it is quite prominent in the second.

 

The Chi-Lites- A Letter to Myself

DSCN4291This was $5.00 at a Record Convention. I got it to add more soul and R&B to the blog.  However, I am keeping things in line with the country theme of the last two days.  Sounds strange, huh?  Then just check out the song posted below.chi-lites

The Chi-Lites were formed roughly in 1959 and continue today with one original member still alive.  Originally names the Hi-Lites, they changed their name to reflect their Chicago origin in 1964.  The classic line up seems to consist of Eugene Record, Marshall Thompson, Robert “Squirrel” Lester, and Creadel “Red” Jones.  Record was the primary songwriter.  Their biggest hit was 1971’s “Have You Seen Her”.  Most of the members ares now dead.  Thompson, on the other hand,  is still alive and touring under the Chi-Lite moniker.

Link to the Chi-Lites Web Page

This was their fifth studio album, released in 1973. It was a successful effort reaching # 3 on the Billboard Soul Charts as well as producing two hit singles, “We Need Order” and the title track.

The third single, “My Heart Keeps on Breaking” is strange choice both as a single and for being on the album.  This is a country and western ditty by a soul/ R&B group.  As a result, it did not chart as well as its predecessors.  However, I think it is a charming and catchy tune.  So here it is as a sample.DSCN4289

Satisfactory record for this track alone but the other two singles are good as well as a good version of “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now.”.  Need to give a shout out to Flannery for letting me use his fancy record cleaner to get the skips out of this track as well.

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Roger Miller- Golden Hits

DSCN4308This was a dollar.  My folks had a Roger Miller cassette which I used to listen to in the car when I was a pup.  I used to like “Do-Wacka-Do”.  I still like that song.  I like his other songs as well.  “King of the Road” is pretty much a classic now.20121231_roger_miller_91

Roger Miller was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1936 but moved to Erick, Oklahoma as a young boy where he was raised.  After a stint in Korea, he moved to Nashville and began a life as as songwriter before writing his own hit numbers.  44945286.cached

According to country legend Bill Anderson, “Roger was the most talented, and least disciplined, person that you could imagine”.  His songs were honky tonk with a sense of humor.  Some of his best numbers which showcase this style are shown below on this clip from the Muppet Show.

Coincidentally, he did the narration and the music for Disney’s Robin Hood. Later in life, he wrote and stared in the musical Big River, for which he won an Emmy.  He had previously won several Grammys for his country music.  Miller would die of lung cancer in 1992.

 

More Complete Bio of Miller plus his webpage

This was a greatest hits compilation that came out, I believe, in 1965.  It has all his big numbers.  Overall, it is a pretty good compilation of his work.DSCN4309

For a sample, I went with “It Happened Just That Way”, which is pretty autobiographical.  At least the first two verses are.  I don;t believe he had any sisters.9FCEEEB6-FFCD-4F7E-86C4-A663ACCE2B05_w640_r1_s

This is a good record and excellent buy for the price.  Satisfactory.

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Sonny James- The Biggest Hits In Country Music History

DSCN4302This was $3.00.  It had a good chunk of popular country songs on it.  sonny-james-portrait-1960-billboard-650

As most people know, 2016 has been a horrible year for losing musicians.  Many big names have passed away this year.  I was surprised, however, that there was no recognition for the Sonny James, who died of natural causes on February 22 of this year.  Born in Hackleburg, Alabama in 1928, the Southern Gentleman was a formidable country and western star, who’s career was interrupted by sevice in the Korean War.  When he returned, he became a superstar, landing an unbelievable string of 16 straight #1 Billboard Country hit singles.  To me, this is pretty remarkable.  In all, he had 26 #1 hit singles. Hockey fans might also know him from his song from the movie Slapshot, “A Little Bit South of Saskatoon”.

Country western star Sonny James performs at Tennessee State Prison in 1977 at Nashville. (AP Photo)

The Southern Gentleman’s Webpage.

This album was done in 1970 .  It is a collection of popular country songs made famous by such luminaries as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Roger Miller among others.  The song selection on this album is pretty good but I found the backup vocals to be overwhelming and perhaps too overbearing. These songs would do better if the background vocals were dialed back a bit.DSCN4303

For a sample, I did not know which path to take.  I was stuck between a song like Hank William’s “Your Cheating Heart”  which illustrates how overboard the backup vocals are or Ted Daffan’s “Born To Lose” which has sparse vocalization on it.  To show the contrast. here are both numbers.720x405-GettyImages-74986009

Meh.  The backup vocals really kill the album for me.

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The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem- I’m A Free Born Man

DSCN4310Today is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Easter Rebellion in Ireland, when a rag tag group of volunteers hung the Irish flag over the GPO in Dublin.  The rebellion was short lived and its leaders were executed but it started the flame that led to the province becoming a nation once again._88900005_hi011968262

Wiki Page

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A page on the Rebellion

Some Irish rebels lying in wait on a roof getting ready to fire during the Easter Rising. Ireland, 1916 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Another Page

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Yet Another Page ( I am lazy on Sunday’s)

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An interesting article marking the peaceful observance of the event

I was going to play this album last month during St Paddy’s Day but decided to hold off until today.  Here is the Clancy Brothers with a Medley to commemorate what was at the time the 50th anniversary of the uprising.  It includes “The Foggy Dew”, O’Casey’s “Drums Under The Windows” and Yeats’ “Easter 1916”.  I have heard better medleys on this from the Clancy’s but this will have to do.

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I planned to do a better post for this but it is Sunday and I am lazy today.

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The Real Thing Steel Band- The Clayhouse Inn Presents

DSCN4460This was $3.00 and is probably one of the most blatant marketing attempts since the movie Mac and Me.  For those to young to remember the real thing or Mac and Me, Google them.map

This is the first album by the Real Thing Steel Band. Obviously by looking at title and cover, they are sponsored by the Coca Cola bottler in Bermuda.  The first and last song are the Coca Cola theme.  The Clayhouse Inn, on the other hand, was a popular hotel and music club on the North Shore in the 70’s in Bermuda.  Sister Sledge, the Supremes. and Gladys Knight all played there.  It was not uncommon in the Caribbean islands for hotels to put together and sell records of local musicians to tourists.  The hotel weaned in popularity at the turn of the century and then caught fire sometime thereafter.  The last I could tell, they were trying to turn it into a residential development, though I am not sure if they were successful or not.  Below is a link to a nice little video showing the ruins after the fire.84450

Link to video of the Clayhouse Inn

The Real Thing Band, formed in 1970 and directed by Willard Paul with Captain Edgar Andrews on Double Tenor, are pretty good.  As far as steel drum albums go, this is the best sound quality I have heard.  It is really amazing the complete symphonic sound they are able to achieve on these basic instruments with little idea of music theory and as the back cover puts it, “a vague idea of reading music”.  This means that the majority of these musicians play by memory.  The song selection is okay.  This album includes “Somewhere My Love” from Dr Zhavago.  For those keeping score at home, this is the fourth album this month to feature this song.DSCN4461

As a sample, I went with “Siboney”.  The leader on the record says it is South American, but in reality, it is Cuban , written by Ernesto Lecuona while away his home in Siboney, Cuba.  It is about homesickness.steel-drums

This is perhaps the best steel drum album I own, sound quality wise.  Satisfactory indeed.

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VA- Steel Drum Jamboree

DSCN4458This was $3.20.  I am always looking for that one great steel drum album that I know is out there.dsc_9894-steel-drums-sq-web

This is a collection of various steel drum bands.  According to the cover, these include the Casablanca Steel Band, Brute Force Steel band, the Virgin Island Steel Band and others.  However, there is nothing on the back cover or on the record to indicate who plays what.  There is a brief write up on the make up of steel bands as well as techniques of playing.  This is translated into French, Spanish, and German.  I believe the songs are pretty standard steel drum fare.  “Hold’em Joe” seems to be on most of the steel drum albums I buy.  Sound quality is pretty low as well.  This also seems to be the case for most steel drum albums I buy.DSCN4459

For a sample, I went with one of my favorite numbers, the Cuban “Peanut Vendor”.steel-pan-steel-drums-players-at-the-thames-festival-2012-performance-cyby7f

I was not really impressed with this album and the price was a bit high so I give this a meh.

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Calypso Rose- Leh We Punta

DSCN4283This was $3. The cover looked interesting enough.  I think I said that yesterday as well.  I have been lumping a bunch of similar styles/albums this month.

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McCartha Lewis, or Calypso Rose is from Bethel Village, Tobago.  She has written over 800 songs and recorded more than 20 albums.  She wrote her first calypso at age 15.  Her aspirations were at first discouraged by her conservative parents.  However, she stuck with it and as a result won many awards, contests, and fame.  She won the title of Calyspo Queen five years in a row (1971-1976).  She also won contests that traditionally were dominated by men.  She moved to New York in 1983 and I believe is still active, although there is not a whole lot of information past 1999.

Bio from Ice Records

This album, released in 1987, was produced by Granville Straker for Straker’s Records in New York.  The songs were written by Lewis/Rose.  The music was arranged and performed by Frankie McIntosh, who also worked on yesterday’s post.  I like the ad for shipping and moving smack dab in the middle of the back cover.  As far as the music, it is similar to yesterdays post and is pretty good for a modern calypso style.DSCN4284

For a sample, I went with “Mama Coming Down”.4786835

Again,  not to sound redundant, but like yesterday, I was expecting something else from this record.  That being said, this is an ok album so I will say satisfactory.

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