VA-This is Broadway’s Best

At a dollar for this double record, I might as just of have walked out without paying for it.  Besides all the really great Broadway songs from some of the greatest Broadway productions by some of the most talented people to grace the stage, this record also includes a detailed booklet of some of the more popular Broadway productions as well as a cover with illustrations from the famous New York cartoonist, Al Hirschfeld.

 

Hirschfeld’s Web Page

Hirschfeld, born in St Louis in 1903, moved to New York with his family and studied art.  He became a commissioned cartoonist for The New York Times and as a self described “Characterist”, he drew countless portrayals of artists, performers, politicians, and other celebrities for just about every publication there was at the time.  

His unique use of pure black lines against white backgrounds made his work iconic.  Hirschfeld passed on in New York in 2003, just months shy of his 100th birthday.

This record, as suggested above, is a collection of iconic Broadway tunes from top productions such as Gypsy, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Finian’s RainbowShow Boat, Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, Pal Joey, and The Sound Of Music among others.  Performers include Carol Channing, Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Ethel Merman, Carol Lawrence, Mary Martin, the list goes on and on.  What more can I saw?  Iconic performers giving performances from iconic productions.  The booklet is also real neat as it has a bunch of pictures. It was released by Columbia Records in 1961.

For a sample, I was pulled in show many directions.  I could have listed the whole album. However, I decided to go with three samples.  First off , from On The Town, here is the signature song, “New York New York”.  Written by Adolphus Green and Betty Comdon in 1944 with music by Leonard Berstein, the original version which ran 462 performances differed from the movie version, which cut all but three of Bernstein’s song. Comdon had a role in the Broadway play along with Green who is here on this track with John Reardon and Cris Alexander.  Also different from the movie is the exclamation that New York is a H-E- double hockey sticks of a town. I realize this is a side note, but I would love to have been a fly on the wall for the filming of the movie version of this musical, just to see a perfectionist Gene Kelly swear and berate Frank Sinatra for missing cues.

I also went with Bye-Bye Birdie’s “Kids”, mostly as a tribute to the Simpsons who both parodies the song as well as the actor who sung it, Paul Lynde. He is joined by Marijane Maricle on vocals.

Finally, just because I like the song, here is Carol Haney with “Hernando’s Hideaway” from The Pajama Game.

Great album.  Great cover.  Great packaging. Top Rated.

Django Reinhart- Vol IV

For a dollar, this is a major find.  There is no greater guitarist who has influenced generations of players than the Gypsy King, Belgian-born, French-bred Django Reinhardt (1910-1953).  He wrote the book on hot jazz guitar.  He was also the first significant jazz musician to come out of Europe.  Probably still the most significant, for that matter.

And the most amazing part is that he did it with two fingers.  Due to injury from a fire in his late teens I believe, Reinhardt lost the use of his fourth and fifth finger. As a result, he re-taught himself how to play guitar with his thumb and two good digits.

Influenced by the emerging jazz sound from America, Reinhardt met violinist Stephane Grapelli who shared similar musical interests.  The two formed a quintet that played at Paris’ Hot Club from 1934 until the outbreak of WWII in 1939.  Reinhardt’s brother Joseph was also a member of this group.

Towards the end of his life, Reinhardt experimented with electric guitar and bebop.  A brain hemorrhage claimed his life in 1953.  Maybe not so young for jazz musicians of the last century, but none the less, he was 43. If not for the hemorrhage, he probably would have died of lung cancer, given all the pictures I have seen of him smoking.

The tributes to Reinhardt have been many. Although initially, jazz aficionados in the US were slow to accept the guitar as a jazz instrument, he is widely regarded as influential to the genre as Duke Ellington or Louie Armstrong. Many guitarists, too numerous to name here, have counted him as an influence.  Furthermore, guitarists such as Jerry Garcia and Tommi Iommi, both of who lost digits on their fretting hand, were influenced by Reinhardt’s handicap.  Perhaps the most amusing tribute came from Woody Allen in his movie Sweet and Lowdown. In the film, Sean Penn plays a jazz guitarist who is idolizes Reinhardt.

This is a collection of songs recorded in Paris between 1934 and 1935 with Grapelli and the quintet.  Reinhardt recorded over 900 songs during his short career.  As the title would suggest, this is the forth volume of a posthumous series.  Pretty decent collection.  As with most of the recordings, Grapelli’s virtuoso violin playing is overshadowed by the guitar. But a good collection, none the less, and it served its purpose quite well, getting an opportunity to post Reinhardt to this blog.

DJango’s discography

For a sample, I went with “Tiger Rag” as I have posted it already on this site by different artists.

Great record.  Satisfactory.  Again, I wanted to do more with this post but was sadly limited by time.

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.

Les Baxter- Quiet Village

The weekend is here (or more aptly, I am done writing this week’s posts).  This was $4.  I have posted various Les Baxter albums on this site as I am a fan.

This seems to be a compilation of various Les Baxter tunes with the intent of capitalizing on the emerging exotica scene at the time.  Albums sampled include the seminal exotica piece, Ritual of the Savage, Tamboo! (which has been featured on this blog), Ports of Pleasure, and others.  Complete with an quasi-idiotic story on the back cover of three cases of people picking up and leaving for exotic destinations, the center piece of the album is the title track.  The album cover is sure to note that this is the original version of the song (although the song is highly derivative of Brazilian Ary Barroso’s “Na Baixa Do Sapateriro” ).

Anyway,  here is “Temple of Gold”.  

Top Rated Record

Barbara Mandrell- The Midnight Oil

This was one dollar.  Back to reasonable prices this week.  I got it for the country music. This and one more post and I am done for the week.  Trying to gun thru this but I am getting a lot of red marks for misspelling. Apparently from a story I read over the week, the current White House also struggles with spelling.

This was a young Barbara Mandrell’s third studio record and the most successful one she released for Columbia, coming out in 1973.  It would go to # 8 on the US Country charts.

The record is a bit strange for me as it is clearly before her breakout success in the late 70’s. Produced  by the legendary Billy Sherill, the record (and her time with Columbia) is more country-soul. a sound more in tune with the late 60′ country, and one that I do not associate with Mandrell. Columbia continued to press Sherill as to why he was sticking with an artist who wasn’t selling records.  This question became moot when Mandrell jumped labels in 1975 and developed a more pop-country sound, which would ultimately make her a great success. That being said, it is a good album and she was clearly a rising star in country at the time.  The record yielded five singles, the most successful being the title track.

For a sample, I went with one of those singles, “Tonight My Baby’s Coming Home”.

Despite not being representative of Mandrell’s sound, this is still a pretty good album and shows the beginning of her rise in Country.  Satisfactory.

Some Russian Album??? (Vladimir Vysotsky-In Concert)

Another international effort, again from Half Price Books in Sugar Land.  This was $4.  I do like Russian music as past blogs has shown but I bought this for no better reason than I thought the guy on the cover looked like me.  I have bought records for worse reasons. (Note-Not a real cigarette).

That being said, I know absolutely nothing about the singer or this record.  If there are any Russians reading this, if you could give me a little information or at least tell me the singers name, that would be appreciated. It is a live album as there is banter between songs. I believe this came out in 1987.  That and 1967 are the only dates I can make out on this.

I do really like this record.  It is simply a guy and a guitar and has a real Gogo Bordello vibe to it.  The guy has talent but I do not know what he is singing about.  Hopefully this is not a super, alt right, nationalistic record. again any information would be helpful.  As far as a sample, there were four songs I really liked so I am posting them all. For a record, I know absolutely nothing about,  I really like it.  I am going Top Rated with this one.

UPDATE: A few days after writing this post, I decided to stop being lazy and actually put some efforts into finding out who this was by.  Right now, my working theory is that this is a posthumous re-release of a 1967 piece by Russian musician and actor Vladimir Vysotsky.  Again, this is just a working theory but I am about 90% sure this is him.

Link to Wiki page

Vysotsky, born in Moscow in 1938, was a prolific artist who wrote over 600 songs and had an unique style which has been oft emulated by artists (Gogol Bordello for one).  Largely ignored by Soviet elites, his political and social commentary nonetheless made him a star in his lifetime and a Russian icon in the music world.

Alcohol, tobacco, and drug use led to an early death in 1980 at the age of 42.   He has been called one of the most singular influential musicians in 20th century Russia and this album is a great indication of that.  Anyway, this is who I think this is.  If any one can confirm or deny, that would help.  

UPDATE 2:  I am now 99.99% sure this is Vysotsky and this is  a live album of early performances. Incidentally, the Wikipedia link discusses in detail his guitar style which I have enjoyed playing with over the past few days. Anyway, I belive the song below is one of his well known ones. It was also featured in the movie White Nights.

Nirmala Devi & Lakshmi Shankar-Thumri

This was $4 and came from my favorite place for international records, the Half Price Books in Sugar Land.  I obviously got it for the international flare.  On that note, I was approached via the internet by two international folks last week.  One fellow, from the Netherlands, wanted some information on an exercise record as his wife collects 1980’s fitness memorabilia. Another person, a music journalist from Serbia asked me for some tracks from a bassoon album featuring a prominent Serbian musician on backup guitar.  Quite honestly, I was really hoping never to listen to either album.  But being the good host that I am, I complied with their requests.  On that note, I do love hearing from people, especially from different parts of the world than me and I do encourage folks to reach out.

Back to this album, it was released by the Gramophone Company of India Limited, a subsidiary of EMI.  It came out in 1968.  Nimrala Devi, born in Benares (now Varanasi) in 1927, was a Hindustani-classically trained vocalist.  She also acted in film before her death in 1996. Lakshmi Shankar, born in 1926, started life as a dancer before turning to the same vocal style.  She trained under Ravi Shankar, who was also her brother and law.  Lakshmi died in 2013 in California.

The dominate musical style on this album is the thumri.  It is a classical Indian form of music that highlights dance, dramatic gestures, romantic prose, and folk staples.  An important staple of North India music, it’s origins began in the 15th century with the genre as it is known evolving in the 19th.

So here is this album with four songs of the thumri style.  Musical direction, I believe, was provided by Khan Saheb Abdul Rehman Khan, the three Octave singing master who mentored Devi.  Nizamuddin Khan also accompanies the singers on Tabla. Two solo pieces and two duets. Overall, it is a good album.  Real interesting stuff that diverts from the normal stuff I post.

For a sample, I was torn as I thought all tracks were good.  But I must choose so here is this track, “Chain Kahan Se Paoon” which features both women singing.

Good album. Satisfactory.

The Avengers- The 1972 Bruins Season

This was one dollar.  I have been meaning to post this during hockey playoffs.  Chance are, if you are a hockey fan, that this years playoffs did not go as you had planned.  As an Oiler fan, you would figure I would be happy with this years performance given the last last, dismal ten years, but anything less than a Cup is a bit disappointing for me.  

If you are a Bruins’ fan, at least it was a quick exit for you.  I watched a bit of the Bruins/Sens series while switching between the Leafs/Caps.  In comparison, the speed and skill of the Caps/Leafs made the Bruins/Sens look super sluggish.  Almost like one of my men’s league games.

Anyway, back to this record, here is a season overview of the Boston Bruins’ glorious 1972 season, which saw them finish first in the league with 119 points as well as the overall Stanley Cup Winner. Phil Esposito won the Art Ross scoring title netting 66 goals along the way.  Bobby Orr finished second in scoring but had himself a busy year picking up the Norris, Hart, and Conn Smythe trophies. He also racked up 106 penalty minutes along the way.  The 70’s game was not today’s hockey and a superstar like Orr, as Don Cherry would say, was definitely not afraid to go.

Gerry Cheevers set a record which I believe still stands, going undeafeted for 33 games in a row. Other members such as Johnny Bucyk, Derek Sanderson, Wayne Cashman, and Ken Hodge also had solid seasons as well.  

This record highlights season and post season exploits of the Big Bad Bruins.  The moments of individual achievement as well as the payoff run are exciting.  It is also interesting to hear Derek Sanderson speak of his fear of flying as well as hear Garnet “Ace” Bailey speak of his game winning goal in Game One of the finals.  Bailey would pass away in one of the hijacked planes during 9/11.

As stated above, the Bruins path to the Cup lasted 5 games against the Maple Leafs, 4 against St Louis, and 6 games in the finals against the New York Rangers. Here, I believe is an excerpt from the Finals.

In general, I do not get too excited about spoken word albums and the fact that I am not a Bruins fan does not help much.  But this was a dollar and the 1972 Bruins were a great team.  This album is interesting enough for me.  Satisfactory enough.  For your Bruins fans and for most anybody else from a real hockey town, there is always next season.

The Charleston Trio- On Tour

Welcome to another week of the Show. This one was a pricey selection at $5.00.  It did have a lot of songs on it that a knew and liked.  

I know nothing about the Charleston Trio other than they were probably a marketing tool rather than a proper band.  They may or may not have provided backup vocals to the likes of Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, George Jones, Roy Orbison, and Patsy Cline.  I believe the group consisted of the Glaser Brothers from Nebraska (Tompall, Chuck, and Jim) who moved to Nashville in 1958.  They really shook the town getting involved in publishing, recording, and singing. Sometime in the mid 60’s the group worked under the moniker, Tompall Glaser and his Brothers.  I believe they disbanded as a vocal group in the early 70’s to focus on solo endeavors. Of the brothers, Tompall was probably the most successful in the genre of Outlaw Country.  This of course is really speculation but I think it is accurate.

This may have been the group’s third record, released some time in the mid-sixties, I am guessing.  On the International Award Series, this album does not sound even remotely live.  Yet it has the On Tour moniker.  Really good selection of songs although it has more of a folksy vibe as compared to the country style the half baked biographies seem to claim..  A lot of good songs including “Drill Ye Tarriers Drill”, “Casey Jones”, “The Wayfaring Stranger”, and “Greensleeves”.

For a sample, I went with “Billy Boy” for certain reasons that will not be disclosed here.  I also went with “Casey Jones” as well.  

Eh decent enough record but highly overpriced for me.  And the cover versions of the songs that I really like tend to lean a bit on the bland side. But the vocals are quite good. I imagine their country recordings are much better. I went back and forth on this and finally decided to go Satisfactory.

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.