John Schneider- Quiet Man

This was $2.40 at a discount.  I used to like getting celebrity records on this site but that was when I was unemployed and had all day to write post.  Those days have past.

John Schneider, born in Mount Kisco, NY in 1960, is best known for his portrayal of Beauregard “Bo” Duke from the Dukes of Hazard.  As a child from the 80’s, this was my favorite TV show.  Like most kids my age, I had a crush on Daisy Duke as well as hated shows when Bo and Luke’s cousins took over during contract disputes (or going on the NASCAR circuit as the show stated). Along with playing Chips, me and my pal used to play Dukes of Hazard but for some reason, I always had to be Luke (since my friend argued that his name was Jon, I was always Paunch in Chips). Back to Schneider, it should be noted that he had a re-occurring role as Superman’s adoptive father in Smallvile.

Not sure of those were simpler times or if we just turned an eye to casual racism.  Well my bet is on the latter but I do not want to turn this into a big debate.  I will say this: Sorrell Booke and James Best, who played Boss Hogg and Roscoe P Coltrane, were good friends and were allowed to ad-lib on set.  Best also taught acting classes later in his career and one of his students was a young Quentin Tarantino.  It was at Best’s classes where Tarantino met collaborators who would work on his films.

Schneider was able to parlay his popularity on Dukes to a successful music career.  He recorded ten albums (including a Christmas album with Dukes’ co-star Tom Wopat) with four Country #1 singles to his credit.  This was Schneider’s third album, released on the Scotti Brothers label in 1983.  It did not chart.

Decent album but I would have probably liked it more if I was a girl in the 80’s.  There are some decent moments.  As a whole, I really do not like much 80’s country so I am a bit biased to start with this. 

For a sample, I went with the old Johnny Burnette classic “Dreamin” which was released as a single.  It charted at #32 on the country chart.

Meh.  As stated above, do not like 80’s country and I am pretty much over the Dukes.  Not 10 anymore. I mean it sounds just as good as anything else from that decade, it is just not my proverbial cup of tea.

Jacques Brel- Le Formidable Jacques Brel

This was $5. I like French records from the 60’s in general, plus I like a lot of Jacques Brel’s songs that have been translated into English (“Seasons in the Sun” for example).  That made this purchase pretty simple, even at the high price. This record was previously owned by one Janis Childs, whose 7 digit phone number on the back reminds me of a simpler time in this town.

Brel, born in Brussels in 1929, was a singer/songwriter/actor/director who cast a large influence not only over the French speaking world, but over Europe as well. He was a giant in the French world of Chanson music.

His songs, theatrical an introspective in nature, were also translated into English and covered by some of the biggest stars this side of the Atlantic including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, John Denver, and perhaps most famously, Rod McKuen.

If you Google pictures of Brel, you will find a whole lot of pictures him smoking.  It should come to no surprise that he developed a tumor in his lungs.  The majority of the 70’s were spent in ill health.  He also spent a vast majoirty of his time sailing.  Despite being quite sick for some time and being told his time was short,  Brel lived more years than planned, finally succumbing to complications due to lung cancer in 1978.  He was 49.

Offical Web Page

This record, released on Vanguard in 1967 was the US version of Brel’s ninth album, Jacques Brel 67, released on Barclay Label.  Backed by Francois Rauber conducting and arranging, this album contains 10 songs written or co written by Brel.  Pretty good numbers.  Interestingly enough, Brel retired from the stage the year this album was released. He would release 4 albums thereafter.

For a sample, I went with “Le Cheval” which translates into horse.

Good album,  Satisfactory.

The Fantastic Violinaires- A Message to My Friends

This was one dollar. It has been awhile since I posted a gospel record on this site and that is probably why I bought this.  

The Fantastic Violinaires were a gospel vocal group formed in Detroit in 1952. In the early sixties, they were joined by Robert Blair, who became their leader until his death of a heart attack in 2001 at age 70.  Before he turned to secular music, Wilson Pickett sung with this group.  I believe a version is still active today.’

Webpage for the Group

This album, released on Jewel Records from Shreveport, LA in 1976, could have been their 10th or so album. Pretty decent.  Good vocals.  Uplifting songs.  Gospel but not too overly gospel in some areas.

For a sample, I went with “Sunshine”.

Satisfactory record.  Did not feel much like writing today.

Jerry Reed- When You’re Hot, You’re Hot

This was a pretty massive record for Jerry Reed so buying t for $2.40 was a no brainer.  I originally planned on putting this album on the blog earlier but I think I was too country heavy the month I originally selected it so it fell into the unused pile.  This month, I found myself tired of listening to records so I picked this one from the pile to save me some time as I already had the songs downloaded.

The 70’s were a great time for Mr Reed, starring with Burt Reynolds in movies and releasing over twenty albums.  This was his biggest success, released in 1971 and reaching #2 on the Country charts, #45 overall.  The title track was the single from the album but was a massive hit, staying #1 on the Country chart for five weeks as well as cracking the overall Top 40 at #9.  Reed would win a Grammy for his efforts.  It was also referenced in his appearance on Scooby Doo which I am sure I posted on a prior Reed post.

The cover boasts the inclusion of the hit single “Amos Moses” which was also on his earlier album Georgia Sunshine.  It was a decent hit for Reed but not as big as the title track. The back cover describes it as a slow starter but that the label has always had faith in Reed.  It was also used in Grand Theft Auto’s San Andrea soundtrack.

Overall, this is a good little album.  The two fore-mentioned tracks alone make it worth buying.  There is also a lot of good country tunes as well as decent covers of Dylans’ “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” and Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take You Love To Town”.

For a sample, I went with “Big Daddy” which showcases a little of Reed’s guitar prowess (at least I am guessing it is Reed. Why wouldn’t it be?).

Great little record.  Satisfactory.

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.

Jerry Butler- The Best of Jerry Butler

This was one dollar and a good chance to put some soul music on the site. After what proved to be almost a book of a post on Thursday coupled with the fact that this is Saturday should make this brief.

This is a greatest hits compilation from Mercury Records from the former lead singer of the Impressions/ the current Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler.  Born in 1939 in Sunflower, Mississippi, The Iceman moved to Chicago as a youth and used music and church as his escape from poverty (he sung in the local church choir with Impression’s band mate Curtis Mayfield).

He left the Impressions in 1960 to pursue a solo career which spawned a good amount of hits in the 60’s and 70’s which this record (released in 1978) compiles.  Butler is still singing and performing somewhat while serving his commissioner duties.  

This record is pretty good but what else would you expect from a greatest hits album?  The songs are good an probably warrant more explanation from me but I am posted out this week so all I am going to say is here is “Hey Western Union Man”, from 1968 which was #16 on the US chart as well as #1 R&B chart.

Great little collection of R&B/pop.  Satisfactory.

Ray Price- Sings Heart Songs

Woo hoo!! Friday.  Here is a subject I have completely exhausted on this blog.  That is because he is one of my favorites.  This was $4 and despite the cover being beat, was actually in decent shape.  I like the title.  Sounds like it was written by Thor.

This was Ray Price’s first album, released in 1957.  Pretty good little way to start one’s career.  I don’t think it made a whole lot of noise chart wise. but Price did have a slew of top singles including “Crazy Arms” under his belt when this was released.

A lot of good songs but of course, I am drawn to my favorites and Price’s version of “Faded Love” is no exception.  Therefore here it is as a sample.

Great album- Top Rated.

OST-The Pirates of the Penzance

When I first got this, Kevin Kline was on cable on a pretty solid basis, most notably the Cole Porter Biopic De-Lovely.  When I was picking out records for the month, this trend continued but with the movie based on the Broadway production this soundtrack is from.  So it kind of went full circle.  Plus bring a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan in general made this purchase inevitable, especially with the low price of $1.20 with discount for a double record.

The Pirates of the Penzance, was G&S’s fifth collaboration and actually the first of their productions to open in the US (it opened in New York in 1879).  This was done to combat the lack of international copyright laws in the US. With their previous works such as HMS Pinafore, over 150 production companies staged unauthorized performances in America with many liberties to the text and no money in the pockets of the creators.  After a three month run (that initially remedied the fore mentioned problem), the production was opened in London in 1880 and ran for 383 performances, garnishing praise from both critics and audiences. Filled with the patter and counterpoint vocals common in G&S’s work along with a playful parody of the works of Verdi, Gounard, Mozart, and Donizetti, Pirates remains one of the pairs most popular works today.

Though there have been many productions over the years, the most notable was staged in 1980 by Joe Papp and the New York Shakespeare in the Park organization.  After 10 previews and 35 performances, the production was moved to Broadway  were it ran 20 previews and 787, becoming a massive success. The performance featured more swashbuckling (which makes me cringe to think what prior versions were like), more musical comedy, enhanced instrumentation and arrangements, and a restoration of the original G&S ending. The production was nominated for seven Tony’s, winning three including one for Best Revival and a Best Director nod for Wilford Leach. It is this Broadway production for which this album is based. It has also served as the musical basis for most productions since.

Based on the success on Broadway, a movie version of this production was made with most of the principals in place.  This was released in 1983 but was not as successful as its stage counterpart.  Maybe perhaps as America was not ready to accept movie-musicals again but also in part because a good amount theater owners boycotted the release due to the fact that it was also released to a direct home market thru subscription tv at the same time.  What ever reason you want to believe, the movie was a box office bomb.  However, growing up in the mid-80’s, I do vividly recall HBO playing the crap out of this as well as making a big deal about it.  This and a half naked Brooke Shields were my early memories of HBO (reinforced because Rex Smith looked very similar to the actor in Blue Lagoon).  Anyway, back to this narrative, I tried watching it as a 10 year old on TV at the time but could not as ultimately I found it too silly. (I also found Blue Lagoon to be boring despite a half naked Brooke Shields).

Well,  I watched again for the first time last month and again, I found it was still rather silly.  But then again, wast G&S production isn’t?  I was impressed this go around by both the music and the actors and found it to be an enjoyable movie.

The star of both the Broadway production and the movie, was undoubtedly Kevin Kline who played the Pirate King.  This was one of his early roles but the Tony he won for Best Actor in a Musical was his second.  As he would later win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in A Fish Called Wanda, he is only short an Emmy and a Grammy to complete the EGOT.  Also, Kline did what Judge Reinhold could not, land Pheobe Cates.  The pair has been married since 1989.  But back to something relevant, Kline’s performance shows a strong comedic timing and great vocal performance.

When the movie played on HBO, the station made a big deal over the performance of Linda Ronstadt, who at the time was a major singing star.  Given her penchant for collaborating with many different styles of artists.  Ronstadt, who played the female lead of Mabel, was nominated for a Tony for her role and generally gave a great performance in the production from at least what I have heard.

The only role that really changed radically thru the Papp productions was that of Little Ruth.  Ruth was played by Patricia Routledge in the Shakespeare in the Park version.  She was later played by Sweeney Todd murderess/ Murder She Wrote sleuth Angela Lansbury in the movie version.  However, for the Broadway run, the role went to Estelle Parsons.

After seeing performances from all of the above (well more like hearing), my favorite tends to lean towards Parsons, although both Lansbury and Routledge gave fine performances. It does prove however, the G&S were able to do something that Hollywood can not do today: provide great roles for older actresses.

The most popular song in the production as well as perhaps the most popular song in all of G&S’s catalog is the “Modern Major General”song.  It has been widely covered, parodied, lampooned, and praised as it showcases the rapid fire patter execution that is the work of the duo.  For the Papp production, the role of the Major General was played by George Rose.

Of course the main plot device centers around the main protagonist, Young Frederick who finds that he is still a slave to duty to the pirates as he was born on the last day of February in a leap year and thus, going by birthdays as per his agreement, is 5 years old and not 21 as he believed.  There was a teacher at my middle school who had the same affliction (although not contractually bound to pirates or such).  She used to tell students that she was 8 years old.  Honestly even at my age back then, I found it annoying. It should also be noted that the role of Frederick, who is the central character was played by Rex Smith, who did an excellent job. He was also the first actor to portray Marvel Comic book hero, Daredevil and I am speculating he was neither the best or the worst at it.

Also of note, the music to the song “With Cat Like Tread” was used for the American song, “Hail, Hail The Gangs All Here” in 1917.  It was subsequently borrowed by Glasgow Celtic fans for their cheers.  The original melody by Sullivan was meant to parody Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus”.

The Papp production also added two songs from other G&S works; “Sorry Her Lot” from Pinafore, and “My Eyes Are Fully Open” from Ruddigore.  It is the latter that has become one of my favorites as it again highlights the rapid fire delivery as well as the vocal interplay that G&S made famous.  The lyrics have been slightly modified to fit the subject of Pirates, but in general, the verse that was suited for Mad Margaret seems a bit strange for Ruth.  However, you fans of  meta-reference should note that Ruth mentions that this is from Ruddigore. And yes, that is Vincent Price in the video below.

In general, I find plot and story wise, that the endings of G&S work are quite silly and Pirates does not detour much from this route.  To find that suddenly, the pirates are all actually noblemen and thus resolved seems kind of weak. Plus I am not sure how stopping pirates by reverence to the Queen would play for a US audience. Music-wise, however, I have the opposite opinion as I feel G&S finales really wrap up the production.  This finale references the big numbers including “General” and “Poor Wandering One”.  It should be noted that for Papp’s version, he restored the original G&S ending as well as returned the “General’s Song” to the finale.

Man, that is a lot of writing.  Well for samples. I decided to go with the “Matter Patter” as well as the Finale.

Top rated album for sure.  Really good job by all involved.  Man, this post turned into more of a book. Expect short posts the rest of this week.

 

Nick Noble-Music For Lovers

This was from the collection of records I received from Big Al Pallister’s estate. So it is at zero cost. Why I picked this one, I do not know. Maybe to get it out of the way.

Nick Noble (born in 1926) was a Chicago born and bred singer who had some Billboard hits between 1957 and 1959.  Although he always remained popular in his hometown, he regained some national fame both in the early sixties as well as 1978.  Besides serving in the Navy towards the end of WWII, Noble was the nephew of Lou Mitchell, who opened the namesake Chicago Restaurant, in which Noble would later become an owner. He would die in 2012 at the age of 85.

Lou Mitchell’s Web Page

This record was released by Mercury’s Wing subsidiary and distributed in Canada by Quality Records.  Wing had some success in the late 50’s so that is when I am guessing this came out.  Alright album.  Kind of that old school 50’s crooner style that died with the advent of rock and roll.

For a sample, I went with “Right or Wrong”.

This album really is not my cup of tea but I do wonder if my pal Al Jr (whose father owned this record) was perhaps conceived because of it.  For that reason,  satisfactory enough.