Los Ayer’s-Casas Viejas

Good day.  This week on the Show, we seem to have a collection of South / Latin American albums.  Let us start the week with this gem I got for $2.  It was previously owned by a Mr and Mrs Jose G. (can not make out the last name) off of Summer Mill Drive in Houston.  The title translates into Old House.

It also has a message and autograph made out to a Miguel.  Unfortunately, the message is in illegible Spanish and it is my bet that this is a personal message rather than an autograph by the band.  Who knows what mystery I could of unlocked if only these people wrote more clear?

Los Ayer’s  (translated The Yesterdays) was formed in Colombia in the 70’s and seem to be around today with at least one founding member still in the group.  They incorporated local folk rhythms into a style heavy on electric guitar. They have sold many records, released 17 LP’s and 5 CD’s, and toured around the Western  hemisphere as well as Europe.

Los Ayer’s webpage

This album seems to have been their fourth I am guessing and came out in 1975.  From CBS Records, it is a collection of straight forward Latin guitar. Pretty good stuff.  A lot of reverb.  Well , a good amount of reverb anyway.  Good drums as well along with good vocals.  This is what I consider typical Latin American soul.  Overall, I liked this album.

I really liked “El Lirico” and “Penas Amargas” but ultimately went with ” No Me Olvides” or ” Do Not Forget Me”.

Satisfactory record.

VA- The Great Songs of Christmas Album Two

Christmas keeps rolling along this week with this album which I got from one of my friend’s collections for free.  If you are looking for Christmas tunes with more pop or from different artists, please feel free to search Christmas music on this site.  Two years ago, I posted about three weeks full of decent tunes.

Well, here is this, a collection of great songs from some of the conducting/singing greats including Nelson Eddy, Andre Previn, Andre Kostelanetz, Gene Ormandy, Leo Bernstein, Percy Faith, Norman Lubov, Earl Wrightson, Eileen Farrell, and the Morman Tabernacle Choir.  In short, many of the usual suspects I see when shopping for records. I believe this came out in 1962 under Columbia’s Special Products label  for Goodyear Tires.  This would be the second tire Christmas record I posted in two days.

Pretty standard fare.  As the with the last tire record, this skips horribly as well.  Therefore, for a sample, I went with “Jingle Bells” by Nelson Eddy as it was one of the ones that skipped the least.

Satisfactory Record.

Sylvia- ST

dscn5557This was $3.20 and autographed.  Made out to a Sheri maybe?  Hard to tell.  bfd022_08614c7223f0482e949a220ca9dea6ac

From what I can tell about the artist (in the least amount of time as I am in vacation mode), Sylvia Johns (now Sylvia Ritchie) is a pianist originally from North Carolina .  She played in the Louisiana- Mississippi area for some time before moving back to NC.  With a wide repetrore, Sylvia plays weddings and other events today and probably is available for your special event.

Sylvia’s Webpage

If I was not in hurried preparation to traverse the globe right now, I might have been more inclined to dig up some more information on this album.  However, I am already gone while writing this so I will keep it brief.  This record, released in New Orleans by Elario Productions in what I am guessing was the 70’s, contains 6 piano pieces.  Despite singing on her webpage, there are no vocals here. The album features two stand alone pieces,(the oft covered “Brazil” and “Somewhere My Love”) as well four medleys from famous composers ( Henry Mancini, Jim Webb, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin).  These medley pieces are quite good.  I really liked them.  They cover a lot of ground.  Sylvia’s piano playing is also good as well.

dscn5558For a sample, I went with “Brazil” because I always choose that song.  I also went with the medley of tunes from Cole Porter, mainly due to the influence of the movie De-Lovely, of which I wrote about earlier.  Regardless, this medley is a fine effort.610_porter_intro

Satisfactory record.  I bit higher than I would have liked to pay but surprisingly interesting.

 

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

Mussorgsky
Mussorgsky
Hartmann
Hartmann

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

DSCN5096 (1024x627)

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.

 

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.

DSCN4464

New York Philharmonic/ Dave Brubeck Quartet- Bernstein Plays Brubeck Plays Bernstein

DSCN1145This was a dollar.   I bought it for the West Side Story songs. Probably not the smartest idea I have ever had, starting the week off with jazz but in its defense, it is a pretty good album.

This album, released in 1961, is an interesting concept.  The first side is the New York Philharmonic orchestra with the Dave Brubeck Quartet conducted by Leonard Bernstein.  They are playing a piece Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra written by Dave’s older brother, Howard Brubeck.  The other side is the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing songs composed by Bernstein, mostly from West Side Story with “A Quiet Girl” from Wonderful Town.

From L to R: Howard Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brbubeck
From L to R: Howard Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brbubeck

I bought this for the West Side Story songs but was taken aback by the songs on the first side.  It is a combination of orchestral composition and jazz improvisation.  Based from a series of performances of this piece in December 1959, these tracks combine a structured orchestra arrangement and a more free form jazz technique.  The quartet is really given room to move against the framework of the orchestra. The two come together beautifully and it is one of the successful jazz-orchestra combinations out there.

It should be noted that a day after the last concert performance of this piece, the Quartet would release the album Time Out with the song “Take Five”, which is what they are best known for today.

The second side, suggested by the Quartet’s saxophonist, Paul Desmond, was decided as  good compliment to the first side.  These songs are okay.  They kind of took a back seat to the first side.  Both “Maria” and “Tonight” are favorites from the musical.  Could have used “America” if you ask me, but they did not so what can you do.  In all, the songs on the second side are good jazz interpretations.   Overall, this album went to # 13 on the Billboard charts.DSCN1146

It is interesting when I buy an album with a plan to showcase a certain track, (“Maria”) and after listening, end up with a completely different song .  In this case, I chose the first movement from the first side, “Allegro”. I guess that is what still makes doing this blog fun. I just wish it could have happened on a more popular album.

This is a satisfactory record for me.

Pickwick Label- Misc Songs from the Late 60’s

DSCN1004This was in the $1 bin. The cover caught my eye and I am always curious about Beatles cover’s, especially “Hey Jude”.

Pickwick Records, founded by Cy Leslie in 1950, specialized in the budget record. Lou Reed started his musical career there as a staff songwriter, writing and occasionally recording novelty songs such at “The Ostrich” before writing 100 songs about heroin. I get it Lou; you know junkies. Regardless, it was during this time he met session musician John Cale and Velvet Underground was born. Back to Pickwick, besides novelties and re-issues, they were known for producing sound-alike records. These records used session musicians, and in house bands to produce songs that sound as close to the original as possible.

That is what this album is. And that IS WHY I HATE IT SO. You had an opportunity to do something and you chose to just shamelessly copy what has been done. If this album took anything even remotely close to a risk and failed, I would like it more. This must have came out in 1968 or 1969 based on the songs on it. And it has songs I really like (“Those Were the Days”, “Both Sides Now” and the Ohio Express’s follow up to “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”: “Chewy, Chewy, Chewy”). However, I would rather listen to the original. Granted, this greatly takes into account the ease in which music is available today. But still, this could have done anything, and akin to burying gold, it does nothing.DSCN1005

Of the copy songs, there are a few that are okay. But after much internal struggle, I can not reward these. Instead, I am going with “Kansas City” a #1 single in 1959 for Wilbert Harrison. It sticks out like a sore thumb on this record as it is not a copy nor from the swinging 60’s, the obvious theme of the record.

Boo. Low Rating. Most likely never buying another Pickwick album again. (Note: Accidently bought one last week).