Al Melgard- At The Chicago Stadium

DSCN5116 (1024x1012)This was a bit mid range at $3.00 but being a hockey fan, I thought I should check it out.  Also maybe to try and get some of the Chicago people I know on the blog bandwagon.  Organ music at sports events is kind of a lost art form.  I remember it enough at sporting events when I was a kid but it was just starting to compete with pre-taped songs.  It was the beginning of the end of an era which to my knowledge is pretty much dead now.  I mean, I think some stadiums still have organs but they are used sparingly as a mere gesture to days gone by.a11

Chicago Stadium, built in 1929 and demolished in 1994, was the home of the Blackhawks for all years of its existence (It also housed the Bulls since 1967). I should point out here what little fruit was reaped during those years as the Edmonton Oilers won more cups in less than 10 years than the Hawks during their complete tenure in Chicago Stadium.  However, I am  sure I will get reminded about the Hawk’s recent history as well as how well the Oilers are doing now.

More history on the stadium


Very much an old school stadium, it the last arena to use an analog score clock.  It was also known as one of the loudest arenas in hockey due to its shape. This was also due to what was the world’s largest theatre pipe organ according to both Wikipedia and the album cover.  Chicago.ChicagoStadi.1929BartonOrga.0420.121210

Built by Barton, it consisted of 40,000 pipes, 883 stops, and six manual keyboards (according to the back cover as Wikipedia and most other sources say 3,663 pipes). There is a popular story about how during a riot after a boxing match, the organ player opened most of the stops, cranked up the volume, and blasted the middle keys.  The result was a fury of sound that blew out most of the lights, thus causing people to leave and quelling the riot.

A Link to more information on the organ

Page from the Pipe Organ Database



The man behind the keys that night was the subject of this album, Al Melgard, the Melancholy Dane.  Born in Denmark, he came to Chicago with his family when he was six months old. In 1930, he became the third and most well known organist in the history of the stadium, despite losing his left index finger.  With a list in his head of over 1,000 songs, he was one of the first to match songs with on ice occurrences.  For example, when King Clancy was refereeing, Melgard would play “Clancy Lowered the Boom” when he made calls.  He also played “Three Blind Mice” whenever the officials would take to the ice, a move that greatly angered Clarence Campbell. (inevitably, Campbell put the brakes on this). A very popular figure, he retired in 1974 and died in a nursing home in Las Vegas in 1977 at age 88.1734

As far as the organ, upon closure, it was bought and put in a club for a while until the owner moved it to Arizona.  A warehouse fire destroyed some of the owners other Barton’s, but it would appear the stadium console survived.  According to undated sources, it is currently in the Las Vegas home of property magnate, Phillip Maloof.

Link to the Organ restoration

This album, released in 1958,  is a collection of simple tunes played on the great organ by Melgard.  Apparently the sound of wind thru the pipes made recording difficult.  Anyway, other than the US service songs and “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”, the rest of the melodies are from a bygone era.  But despite not knowing the songs, this is a decent piece of history and an interesting collection of sound.  It would probably sound better live but those days have past. I believe this and three more records Melgard put out sold well.   DSCN5117 (1009x1024)

For a sample, I was really torn. I really liked “Asleep in the Deep” with its aquatic tones.  I also thought “Butcher Boy” was a more traditional stadium piece and had a gone range of tones.  Then I was torn between the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the “Marine Hymn”.  Posting anything over four songs is sloth to me but I am sure this is out of print, so for historical reasons, here is all four songs.


Satisfactory enough record.

Claudius Alzner – Cocktails International Vol 3

DSCN5114 (1024x969)This was $3.00.  The title and the playlist made it worth looking into.  One strike against the record, right off the bat is the fact that this has a plastic record sleeve with round ends.  I hate these.  They never seem to fit back in with any real ease.  I would almost prefer no sleeve at all.Caipirinha-and-Bottle

Last Friday, I found myself making cocktails at a party, Caipirinha’s to be exact.  A lot of muddling and shaking was involved.  All that work and I did not drink any except maybe a sip to make sure I made them right.209990

Claudius Alzner was the arranger and bandleader of this ensemble.  Born in the home of great music, Vienna, Austria in 1930, he played the klavier or piano for Johannnes Fehring’s orchestra before striking out on his own.  Besides records, he also worked on film soundtracks.  Between the years of 1967 to 1980, he made SEVENTEEN of these Cocktail International Records.  As far as German Wikipedia knows, he is still alive although nothing is known about him after 1980.DSCN5115 (1024x992)

If I had one sentence to describe this record, I would say it was made for Gin drinkers. It is an easy listening collection of light and airy piano tunes with a band backing, grouped in clusters of two or three.  Pretty straight forward but with interesting combinations.  Manhattan_Cocktail2

For samples, I am going with the combination of “If I Was A Rich Man”/ “Winchester Cathedral”/ “El Condor Pasa”. I was leaning heavily on a grouping that included “Cielito lindo” since I can still remember the Frito Bandito.  However, I thought the whole piece was not strong enough to warrant its inclusion.cocktails-

Meh.  Too much money for this plus the plastic record sleeve that gets on my nerve.  Plus a bit too on the easy listening side and not enough lounge for me.

Mireille Mathieu- ST (Les Bicyclettes De Belsize)

DSCN5111 (1024x1014)This was three dollars.  Mademoiselle Mathieu seems to be the most constant French female that I find during my record searches.  Perhaps I should mention Claudine Longet but she was more a product of the US as compared to my favorites such as Jane Birkin, Frances Gall, Brigitte Bardot, and  Francoise Hardy.  Even if they were in the record racks, I bet they would be over $5.00.  So I take what I can get.  This is the third album of Mathieu’s that I have posted.d7f4e524821e41a08e9d6520750bca9c

This album was released self titled by Capitol Records.  A simular album with the same playlist and cover was released by Columbia in the UK in  1968 titled Les Bicyclettes De Belsize, which is the first track of both albums and a hit single for Mathieu (as well as Englebert Humperdinck).

It was the soundtrack from the British 1968 short film The Bicycles of Belsize.   This was a play on the title of the French film, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg .  A wonderful movie indeed, its soundtrack has been posted on this blog.

Link to The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Otherwise, this is a pretty decent album.  It is less swinging than the ladies listed above but it is good solid vocal work.  Highlights include the track mentioned above, “Et Merci Quand Meme”, “Un Homme Et Une Femme” and the track below.DSCN5113 (1024x1012)

For a sample, I went with  “Celui Que J’aime”, (The One I Love). It actually is pretty swinging.552880-mireille-mathieu-elysee-le-26-637x0-2

Satisfactory record.


DSCN5109 (1024x1019)This is the third prog rock album I have posted this month.  No smoking gun reason why.  I post what I can find. So when I found this for a dollar, there was no way I was going to pass it up.  I always like when I can post something from the 1980’s.kerrang-10.1982-1

This was Rush’s ninth studio album, from 1982, and it came of the heels of their  biggest seller, Moving Pictures.  It marked a stylistic move towards synthesizers, played by Geddy Lee.  It also was the last album with producer Terry Brown.  “Subdivisions” is the big hit off this album, becoming a live staple in their show.  “New World Man” also had some traction as well.DSCN5110 (1024x1002)

Signals sold well, going to number 10 on the Billboard chart and going platinum in November of 1982, two months after its release. The new direction, aided by the synthesizers differentiated the album so it was not a case of Moving Pictures II, which they could have easily done.  The record buying public reacted gratefully for this.

For a sample, I went with “The Analog Kid”.  I find it kind of a bookend to the “Digital Man”.prog-02.2014-3

There you go.  Satisfactory record.  Five paragraphs to the point, a video, and an MP3.  Less than 5 minutes to throw together.  It is Saturday.  That is all you are going to get,

Renaissance- Live At Carnegie Hall

DSCN5106 (1024x1014)This gem of a double album was $2.60.  I heard of Renaissance thru my buddy Hugh, which is strange as it is not really his taste in music. This was my first exposure to the band although I did buy their first CD shortly thereafter.Renaissance 1969 (1)

Renaissance is an English progressive rock band that started life in 1969 as the brainchild of ex-Yardbirds’ Kieth Relf and Jim McCarty.  After a brief turn as a duo, Together, the two formed Renaissance to express a more folkish and classical form of music.  They were joined by Keith’s sister, Jane Relf on vocals.  Some festivals, concerts and records followed, but the group found that due to their Yardbird ties, they were often paired on bills with groups such as the Kinks, which made no sense musically at the current time.  Both Relf and McCarty dropped out and the band underwent several lineup changes until coming across their classic lineup.

Relf went on a 180 degree turn and formed Armagedon.  It was said, however, that at the time of Relf’s death, by accidental electrocution, he was looking at reforming Renaissance. That reformation would had to have been a separate entity as the classic lineup at the time was in full swing.  That fact is evident on this album as they mention Ashes Are Burning as their second album, ignoring the previous two by Relf.


Featuring Annie Haslan on lead vocals, John Tout on keyboards, ex-Nashville Teen Michael Dunford on guitar, Jon Camp on bass, Terence Sullivan on drum, and Betty Thatcher writing lyrics, this lineup lasted from 1973-1980.  It was at this time that the band focused their efforts in the US and as a result, got less attention back home.

They scored a big hit in 1978 with “Northern Lights”.  The band continues today with Haslam. Tout, Dunford and Thatcher are dead.

A more in depth history

Band’s Webpage

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This album, recorded in over three shows in 1975 and released in 1976, is augmented by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  It is perhaps the apex of acceptance of both the band and 70’s prog rock in general as  both punk and disco were on the horizons.  Some critics have complained that this album is nothing more than a note for note live version of previously recorded songs. Others praise the band for its reinterpretations of older material.  So which one is it? After hearing more of their recorded work, I have to go with the latter opinion.DSCN5107 (1024x991)

Regardless,  I like this album. It really showcases the amazing three-octave vocals of Haslam and the wonderful piano of Tout. Along with orchestra backing, this is a real gem of folk/classical rock.ArtReillyAnnieHaslam8

The best songs on the album are “Ashes Are Burning” and “Scheherazade” but both are over 23 mins long and take up a complete side of an album.  It is my policy not to post songs longer than 5 mins when I can.  “Mother Russia” is also quite good, especially with the orchestral backing, but alas, almost clocks in at 11 mins,  I decided the best I could do was include the shortest song, which according to the recording, is one of Haslam’s favorites, “Carpet of the Sun” along with “Prologue” which is longer but provides an interesting picture of the band.renaissance1975

Top Rated record for me.  If you do not like long songs, than this and the prog rock genre are not for you.

Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor- Two Heads Are Better Than Yin

DSCN5104 (1024x1022)This gem was only a dollar.  I know a lot of Irish songs so that is part of the reason for buying this.  Also, it had two songs that the Pogues have done. Sadly enough, I do not know as many Scottish songs and I have a Scottish heritage.  So I am working on correcting this.  The Scottish tunes are not as pretty as the Irish ones, however. Or maybe I just have not found the right Scottish ones.BBC-publicity-shot-with-Robin-1960s2

Robin Hall (born in Edinburgh in 1936 or 1937 depending on the source) and Jimmie MacGregor (born in Glasgow in 1930) were a popular folk singing duo. They formed in 1960 and were quite popular in England, appearing on the BBC.  They also had headlined shows at The old Cavern in Liverpool with the Beatles opening (before Beatlemania). “Football Crazy” was their biggest hit. After about 20 records, the duo split in 1981.  Hall would die in 1998.  MacGregor is still alive but has played sporadically since the split and  I believe he is mostly retired now.

Jimmie’s Web Page

This album came out I think in 1962.  It has been reissued several times, most notably by the Smithsonian Folkways label for the preservation of folk music.  It is a quite good collection of simple Scottish and Irish folk songs, mostly in duet form but with some solos.  The instrumentation is basic.  Both men are quite talented singers.  I really liked a lot of the songs including “Inverey”, “the title track, “Glasgow Street Medley”, “Mick McGuire” (which uses the same music as “Hot Asphalt”), The Wild Mountain Thyme”, and the two songs I am using for samples.DSCN5105 (1024x1017)

The first sample, is a popular Scottish folk song, “Johnny Lad”.  According to Ewan MacColl, the song started out as a slower more pastoral song.  In the late 1800’s, it changed in to more of a children’s street song. The lyrics became urbanized and the music became a bit more simple.  Over the years, verses have been changed or added to reflect on current social commentary.  The Clancy Brothers also covered this song as well.

The second song is an Irish tune called “The Recruiting Sargent”.  I thought it was written earlier but Seamus O’Farrell wrote it in 1915 and singing it could cost someone a six month stay in jail.  Anti-recruitment songs were the buzz in Ireland at the time.  The Pogues used this tune in the beginning of their “Medley”.  In this version, it is sung by Terry Woods.

Incidentally, this album contains another song done by the Pogues, Brendan Behan’s “Auld Triangle”.GL976363

Overall, pretty good record.  Top Rated for me.


Dean Christopher and his Orchestra- Images

R-3406524-1329169252.pngThis was $1.60.  The cover below is what  thought I was buying.  I was probably drawn to the corny title and the cover of “Venus”. But due to some one switching records, I will not know Ron Frangipane’s contribution to music. Incidentally, I wrote on the cover to correct it.DSCN5101 (1024x1017)

Since I have been doing this, I have probably bought mismatched records around 6 times.  Most of these happen with dollar or less albums.  I just can’t bring myself to check the lower priced records.  Anyway, I have been heart broken around 3 times because of this.  Two experiences could really go either way.  This one, however, was a pleasant surprise as Dean Christopher had a much better playlist.  It had modern songs from modern artists including Bob Dylan (“Lay, Lady, Lay”), The Beatles (“Lady Madonna”), Donovan (“Jennifer Juniper”), and CCR (“Proud Mary”).1620266-IMG_20140917_125757511_HDR

Mainstream Records was an independent record label founded by Bob Shad. It started with reissues of Commodore and Time Records before branching out into jazz, blues, and eventually, rock and roll.  On this label, he would released the first Big Brother and the Holding Company record featuring Janis Joplin as well as the first Amboy Dukes album, featuring Ted Nugent, both sides of your political spectrum. The label would fold in 1978.  Shad would die in 1985 at age 65.DSCN5103 (1024x985)

The Frangipane record was the first released in the MRL-300 series. Apparently, Frangipane played the Moog as  well as arranging and conducting.  Additionally, Dean Christopher plays piano on it.

Christoper’s record was MRL-302. Other than that, I know nothing about the guy. But the album is pretty good.  No Moog, but pretty good adaptations of popular songs of the day.  Guitars and other modern effects are used when necessary, in “Proud Mary”, in particular.DSCN5102 (1024x1017)

For a sample, I went with Christopher’s interpretation of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Scarsborough Fair” which itself was an interpretation of an old English ballad.  What I like about this is that it features a classical string line from some classical piece I should know but do not.  Anyway, it makes an excellent juxtaposition.

Satisfactory record although I would still like to hear the Frangipane album.  The song list is weaker but curious to hear his Moog sound.

Webb Pierce- Love Ain’t Never Gonna Be Better

DSCN5099 (1024x999)This was $3.00.  Webb Pierce is one of my favorite country stars so buying this was a no

While recently in Phoenix area, I went to the Musical Instrument Museum, which was totally awesome.  They had many instruments on display, from famous musicians, as well as from all parts of the world. They also had a room where you can play things and I got to bang on a gamelan for a bit.  It did kind of make the rest of the tour sting because I wanted to play a lot of the foreign instruments. If you get a chance to go, you should.  Anyway, while technically not an instrument, they had a few Nudie suits. The had one from Hank Thompson and one from Marty Robbins that I remember. I would have taken a picture but my camera died halfway through.

Nudie Cohn with Hank Snow
Nudie Cohn with Hank Snow

My father asked me what a Nudie suit was.  They were suits designed by Nudie Cohn, a Ukrainian born tailor from Hollywood.  They were flamboyant and worn by many a country star.  They kind of became a staple of the genre.  Porter Wagoner claimed to have about 52 suits, ranging from $11,000 to $18,000.  Yet, not alot of people talk about Wagoner today like the other stars of his era. Actors and other musicians bought them as well.  ZZ_Top_-_Fandango

ZZTop is pictured wearing them on the cover of Fandango.  Mike Mills of REM also wore the suits for a period of 15 years.  Nudie died in 1984 at age 1981.  His widow carried on for another 10 years before closing shop.  I do believe his granddaughter recently reopened it , however in 2015.

Link to Nudie’s Shop

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Webb PIERCE; Posed portrait of Webb Pierce, with car (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)

One the musicians to sport the Nudie was Webb Pierce, the subject of today’s post.  This record came out in 1970, I believe his third album that year.   Although it does not match his output of the 50’s and 60’s, it is a pretty decent album. No matter where country music was headed, you could get a dependable sound out of a Pierce album. It has a simple country sound with little of the overproduction and crossover that came with 70’s country. A lot of the songs have religious themes to them.  Some of the songs I liked include “Faded Love”, “Everyday Will Be Sunday After While”, “Maiden’s Prayer”, and “Living In The Shadow of His Memory”.DSCN5100 (1024x1010)

For a sample, I went with “The Other Side Of You” which I think is my favorite track.

Satisfactory record.  If you want to learn more about Pierce, search this site for earlier posts I did on him.  I believe this my third post on the subject. BTW, that is Webb’s daughter, Debbie, singing with him in the clip above. She made her debut record with Decca the same year as this one according to the back cover.

Mickie Finn’s- The Now Sound Of Mickie Finn’s

DSCN5097 (1008x1024)Hey, it’s Monday again.  The circle of life.  This was $3.00.  I probably got it for the Beatles tune, along with some other songs I liked.  Looking at the cover, I had a pretty good idea of what this record sounded like.  It reminded me of a resturant in Houston I went to as a kid that had peanuts.  I believe it was called Ruby Red’s. You used to be able toss your empty shells on the ground.  Then one day, they reversed policy and we stopped going.  They were kind of dicks about it. Then they closed.TVGuide-Actors-1966-Mickie Finn_1_page1

Mickie Finn’s was the brainchild of one Fred Finn, who began the Finn Empire with a night club in San Diego when he was 22 years old.  Due to the high cost of moving his musical equipment, San Diego was chosen as his location.  The theme of his club was Gay 90’s, Roaring 20’s, and Swinging 30’s.  This was in 1960.  The club was a success and led to regular performances in Las Vegas, records, and a television show in 1966. Additionally, they opened a second night club in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row.

Fred was joined by his wife, Mickie, who sang and played banjo (additional banjo duties were also handled by Red Watson and on this album, Don Van Paulta).   The couple divorced in 1973 but Fred’s second wife, Cathy, took over the reigns.  The band continued in Vegas after the closure of the night club in 1974 .  This lasted until 1988 with several encore performances.  I am not sure what happened after this.  Some sources point to retirement after some work out of Florida after 1990 (my money would be on Branson). I also believe that both Mickie and Fred are still alive (they were both born in 1938).

Website for the Mickie Finn Show

This album I imagine was riding the brief success of their TV show.  It sounds just as it looks, full of barrelhouse piano with a mix of dixieland, ragtime, and swing. It’s what the Simpsons would call “pianie”.

DSCN5098 (1024x992)This was released in 1967.  What else can I say on a Monday? I liked “Lady Godiva”, “Cabaret”, “Sail Along Silvry Moon”, and “Red River Valley”.  Other than that, if you do not like or can not stomach old timey music, this is not for you. At the very least, the songs are short. Also, Fred can play the keys off the piano.

For a sample, I went with a track from on of my favorite musical movies, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”.  I wanted to go with the Beatles “With A Little Help Form My Friends” but it skipped and I was too lazy to clean it.mickiefinns04

Satisfactory enough.  I mean, if you can’t figure this out before you buy it, you must struggle then with the obvious.

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer- Pictures at an Exhibition

DSCN5094 (1024x1012)This was one dollar.  In posting this album, I was thinking that I had the classical source this came from but I did not.  However, I noticed that the Houston Symphony will be presenting Pictures At An Exhibition on February 23, 25, and 26 next year.  I got my tickets along with two other shows next season.

Info on the Houston Symphony’s upcoming performance


Modest Mussorgsky(1839-1881) wrote these ten pieces in tribute to his friend, architect and artist Viktor Hartmann, who had died suddenly of an aneurysm in 1873.  A show was arranged to pay tribute to Hartmann’s work and Mussorgsky lent some of his art collection for this purpose.  He also wrote ten accompanying pieces for piano along with linking “Promenade” pieces based on 11 pieces of Hartmann’s work. Today, only six picturess have been confirmed as inspiration of this work.  Also, given Mussorgsky ‘s complicated history, this work was published five years after his death.

Remaining pictures from the Suite

The first orchestral arrangement of this work was done by Russian conductor Mikhail Tushmalov in 1891. The second of note was by British conductor Henry Wood in 1915.  However, the definite arrangement was done by Maurice Ravel in 1922.  At this point Wood withdrew and banned his arrangement.  Most critics praise Ravel’s version but there are those who claim Wood’s is superior.

Cut to more recent times, when prog rockers Emerson, Lake, and Palmer recorded this live version at Newcastle City Hall in 1971.  Performed as one complete piece, their effort uses 4 of the suite’s original pieces as well as the “Promenade”.  Original pieces as well as lyrics were also added.

DSCN5095 (1002x1024)The band’s label was not really happy to release an album of classical music so it was shelved in favor of their second album, Tarkus.  After that album’s success, the execs allowed this to be released on a budget label. The band would release another live album with Pictures At An Exhibition.  I posted it when Keith Emerson died last year.emrson_lake_and_palmer_lp_cove_0_1457707958

Earlier post on Keith Emerson

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The album is pretty good progressive rock and roll.  One of my main criticisms, since it is one continuous piece, is that it is hard to recognize where pieces start and end.  This being said, it is a good album.  A studio recording of the Nutcracker Suite is also included.KeithEmerson

For a sample, I went with what I am assuming is part of “The Great Gates Of Kiev”.  Hartmann designed the gate for Tsar Alexander II to commemorate his escape from assassination.  Hartmann felt that it was his best work. It is the last number of the suite and I believe it is the most famous.   Here is an excerpt from this piece which runs a bit on the long side.

Hartmann's design and inspiration for the piece
Hartmann’s design and inspiration for the piece

Satisfactory Record.