Jo Stafford- Sings American Folk Songs

This was all of $1.  When I bought it, there was some tie in or something notable about the record, but whatever that was escapes me now.  It does have a bunch of good folk tunes on it.  Today, as I write this, the Great 2017 eclipse happened, which by now must seem like a distant memory to most.

Truly a historical day in Houston if one likes looking a clouds.

Well anyway, here is this by singer Jo Stafford (1917-2008).  Born in what is not a dirty word, Coalinga, California, Stafford was a singer who started in a group with her sisters before joining the Pied Pipers and then parlaying this into singing with Tommy Dorsey. She went solo in 1944 and her biggest hit was 1952’s “You Belong To Me”.  She retired in the mid-60’s with a few pop ups here and there until her death of heart failure at age 90.

During her solo career, many of Stafford’s works were backed by the Paul Weston Orchestra. Stafford and Weston would marry in 1952 and remain in union until Weston’s death in 1996.  The two did perform in a comedy routine, at first for friends and then for a bigger audience.  As two incompetent lounge performers Johnny and Darlene Edwards, the duo released five records.

This record was a 1962 re-release of an earlier record by Stafford.  The original released came out tin 1948, making it one of her earlier solo recordings.  Two years later a second version came out adding two songs.  Then in 1962, this came out with an additional 4, bringing the total to 12. With these songs conducted and arranged by her hubby, Weston, it should be noted that although these are conventional songs, none of these are conventional arrangements.  And I think that is what gives the album its charm.  Consequently, Judy Collins lists this album as highly influential in terms of her getting into folk music.

Lot of good choices on this album.  I really liked “Cripple Creek”, “Single Girl” ,and my perennial favorite, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”.  However, I decided to go with “Sourwood Mountain”.

Good record.  Satisfactory.

The Four Freshmen- Voices In Latin

This was $3.  I got it for my favorite song “Brazil” which undoubtedly will be posted here.  If you have been reading this blog and did not expect that, I worry for you.

The Four Freshmen were and still are a vocal group who had hits in the 1950s. Formed in 1948 from other vocal groups in Indiana, they were discovered by Monday’s post subject, Stan Kenton. The group put out around 30+ records.  The last original member retired in 1993, but an incarnation still exists and tours.

Current Incarnation Web Page

This album, released by Capitol Records in 1958, features original members Bob Flanigan, Ross and Don Barbour along with Ken Albers.  As the title would suggest, this is a collection of latin flavored songs.  Arranged and conducted by Kenton associate Pete Rugolo, this is a pretty decent collection of songs.  The vocals are good but the music is pretty swinging as well, at least for a vocal group.  This record also features the flute of Herbie Mann.

Lot of choices to chose from. I liked “Frenesi”,  “Tangerine”, “Granada”, and “Chelsea Bridge”.  But ultimately I went with “The Breeze and I”.  Of course as mentioned above, I am also posting “Brazil” which is one of the few vocal versions I have put up on this site.  It is interesting to note that both songs feature trombone solos from vocalist Flanigan. Flanigan would pass on in 2011.

Pretty decent album.  It kind of grew on me so satisfactory.

Julie London- Julie Is Her Name

This was $1.00 Probably the red hair against the green back drop drew me towards this purchase which was more than likely made at Sig’s Lagoon.  Ah, poor Sig’s.  I used to go there once a month but since I have to many records as it is and I usually walked away from Sig’s with 30 or so per trip, I have stopped going.  Some of the best cheap records were procured there (* they also have a great selection of regular priced records as well).  Someday I will return Sig’s, some day.

Anyway, here is this from Julie London.  London, born in Santa Rosa, CA in 1926, was a singer, turned film actress, turned tv star.  She is best known for the 32 pop/jazz records she put out mostly during the 50’s and 60’s but she did some film work of note as well as time on the small screen with a 6 year run as nurse Dixie McCall on the show Emergency!.

It should be noted that she started with her husband at the time, Bobby Troup while the show was produced by her ex-husband, Dragnet’s Jack Webb.  So much for keeping your family life away from your work life.  Anyway, London, who was a chain smoker since age 16, suffered a stroke in 1995 and passed on in 2000, at age 74.

This was London’s first record, released by Liberty records in 1955.  It went to #2 on the US charts, driven by the strength of what would become her signature song, “Cry Me A River”.  Pretty decent album of 50’s jazz type numbers.  

Barney Kessel lends his guitar to the album along with bass from Ray Leatherwood. The sparce instrumentation   makes for a good effect.  Most of the songs if not all are love ballads and are pretty slow.

For a sample, I went with the one up tempo song on the album, the b-side to “Cry”, “S’Wonderful”.

Not exactly my cup of tea, but not a bad record either.  Satisfactory.

The Ventures – Hawaii Five-0

This was a bit pricey at $4 but had a bunch of songs I liked on it.

Released in 1969, this album went Gold on the strength of the title track, which was also the theme song from the show of the same name.

Other than that song, the album is pretty decent but is typical of late Ventures’ material which mostly consists of instrumental versions of pop tunes.  Which can be hit or miss at times.  I would say this album mostly hits but only because I want to get out of here.

I really liked the medley of Traces VI songs, but ultimately went with The Box Tops’ ” The Letter” which I felt was the strongest on the album.

Satisfactory record and I am done for the month. Woo-Hoo.

Tom Jones- I (Who Have Nothing)

Here comes another month of Donkey Show despite it being the 3rd.  Off on holiday today and tomorrow for July 4th and trying to get as many of these posts done.  At first, I thought this was a lackluster month when I was looking at the records I pulled.  However, after listening to the songs for a week, I felt this was a pretty good selection.  Kind of all over the place as well as some real good songs.  When ever I find a song that I want to add to my repertoire, it is a good month.  This month there were four of them.  Anyway, here is this to start off from Tom Jones.  $2 was the cost with discount.  The Half Price at Veteran’s Memorial (the only Half Price I went to this Memorial Day Sale) no longer has the $1 records. Most of them are now $2.50.

Ah, Wales… The Land of Song.  Other than Charlotte Church, Duffy, John Cale, The Darkness, Manic Street Preachers, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, and Bonnie Tyler (who I just assumed was American), I am hard pressed to think of anyone else than Tom Jones.  Also, I am reminded of Kevin, the Welsh machinist who I knew in Corpus. The later in the day, the more alcohol he drank and the more he drank, the easier he was to understand.  Always ended up in the Safari Bar, which was known as the place old (65+) people went to hook up as well as where people went when they got kicked out of other bars at night.  Also had the longest last call in town. They had an immaculate waterfall inside but alas, it got new ownership and it is gone (or at least last time I was there 10 years ago, it was gone). But oh, woe to the man or woman who found themselves in the Safari at 2 am.

But back to Jones, this was his 15th or so album.  Released in 1970, it went Gold shooting up to #10 in the UK/ # 23 in the US.  Pretty decent album, it produced two singles, the title track and “Daughter of Darkness”.

While looking (or listening more accurately) for a sample, I was struck with the fact that there were a lot of songs that are staples of this site. Songs such as “Try A Little Tenderness”, “Lodi”, and  Rod McKuen’s “Love’s Been Good To Me” seem to always make their way to this blog.  However, I decided to buck convention and go with “See Saw”.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Connie Francis- Live At The Sahara In Las Vegas

This was one dollar.

Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, born in that beautiful part of the world that is known as Newark, New Jersey in 1938, became a pop star in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. I believe she was one strike away from giving music for medicine when she scored a hit with “Who’s Sorry Now”.  Despite not liking the end result, the song eventually became a hit and Francis became an international star. Her career has been marked by several tragedies as well as Francis’s ability to bounce back from them. She is still relatively active today with an autobiography coming out this year.  She also works with various US Veteran groups.

Connie’s Webpage

This album came out in 1966.  Recorded at the Sahara Casino,  this was oddly enough released by MGM.  The Casino was one of the last Rat Pack Casinos in Las Vegas and closed briefly in 2011 before reopening as the SLS Hotel & Casino. They had a real cheap steak and lobster combo there for a while.  I went one year with friends and we walked all the way down their from our hotel until we got there and found it was closed.  I had been talking about the combo for some time and my friends did not have the heart to tell me it was closed. I wish they did.  It would have saved me the walk.

But here is this record, which is a pretty decent collection of tunes.  Francis’s skill is pretty evident on this disc, both singing and ad-libbing between songs.

For a sample, I went with something that details both of these with “La Bamba”.

Decent album.  Satisfactory.

Caterina Valente- Cosmopolitan Lady

I liked the last Caterina Valente album I bought so I decided to pick this one up.  At $3, it seems a bit pricey considering the cover is falling apart in all directions and there was no record sleeve.

Caterina Valente, the Italian bred, French born singer, made a career out of her international style.  I wrote a bit about her on the last album I posed of hers.  Well, not much, but it is more than I will write today. As the clips show below, she knew how to work early television.

Link to Earlier link

This seems to be, according to discogs.com,. a South African release from 1958 from Polydor.  It is a collection of her early hits, including “Malaguera” and “The Breeze and I”.  In regards to the latter, I found this album’s version of “Breeze” to be quite tempid compared to the last version I posted.  Anyway, she sings in five languages on this album (Spanish, Italian, French, English, and German).

For a sample, I went with “Malaguera”.  I also went with “Bravo Caterina” as I think it takes a pair of brass ones to name check yourself in a song.

Great little album that is falling apart on me.  Satisfactory.

Judy Collins- In My Life

With April coming to a close, we are still keeping a spotlight on thise artists who frequently pop up on this site.  Judy Collins fits this bill perfectly.  I got this not only for the artist, but for the high number of songs on this album which are among my favorites; “Pirate Jenny”, “Liverpool Lullaby” and “In My Life”.  This was only 80 cents with discount.

This was Collins’ sixth album (her fifth studio effort) and marked a transition from folk to more of a pop vein.  Released in 1966, the album also featured more orchestration compared to the more simpler folk style of previous releases.  There are a lot of great song writers on this album including Dylan, Farina, Brecht-Weill, Newman, Cohen, Donovan, and Lennon- McCartney.  As stated above, the song selection as well as the interpretation of these tunes makes this album something special, although quite truthfully, I prefer to folk sound of the earlier efforts. But back to this, it is a completely diverse selection of works which I feel does quite well for itself.

For a sample, I had many choices to chose from but for some reason, decided to go with a song I had not heard until I bought this record.  From the 1963 play/ musical The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, of Marat/Sade for short, here is a collection of 4 songs from the effort. The play, which features music in a Brecht manner, takes place in the days after the French Revolution and is a play with in a play with the Marquis de Sade directing inmates from an insane asylum as the title would suggest. Apparently, Sade used to really do this.

It premiered in 1964 in West Germany and soon found its way to London and Broadway.  It would win a Tony for best play in 1966. A film version was released in 1967 staring Patrick Magee in the lead role of Sade, a role he performed in the London production. Anyway, it is an ambitious work for Collins to tack on this album and I think she does it quote well.

Excellent album. Top Rating.

The Beach Boys- Beach Boys’69

My folks had this album when I was a kid.  I remember listening to it in the car quite a bit.  It was only a dollar so I bought it.  At the very least, I felt it would be an easy listen as I am pretty much familiar with it.

This album is from a live performance in  1969 in London.  By this point (as evidenced by the postcards on the cover), Brian Wilson had had his breakdown and no longer toured with the band.  I believe the line up at the time for this performance was Al Jardine, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson. Dennis, at the time, had ended his casual relationship with Charles Manson.

I don’t know how true this story is but who cares about truth these days?  This is what I heard and I find it entertaining enough so that makes it true to me.  Take that, journalism.  Anyway, according to what I heard, while Manson and a few of his girls were living at Dennis’s house, Dennis was having a party with several big wigs and influential people from the business of show.  During this party, Manson approached Dennis and gave him a bullet.  When asked what it was for, Manson replied that Dennis could keep it in his pocket and think about how lucky he was it was in his pocket and not in his children.  Well apparently, Dennis did not take to threats well and proceeded to beat the living tar out of Manson.  According to sources, he brought Manson to tears, all in front of some of the hippest people in the music industry. I mean to make a grown adult cry in front of other adults.  Apparently, Dennis did not play.

Back to this, I remember being disappointed by it as a kid.  I still feel the same now.  By this point in their career, that initial shine was missing from this effort from what I had enjoyed from their studio releases.  Maybe that missing Brian Wilson vocal made all the difference. At the time when my parents had this, I was a pretty big Beach Boy fan but probably did not understand the who Brian Wilson saga. Released in 1970, the album was actually recorded in 1968.  I believe the by the packaging I got that this is a re-release, from somewhere in the mid seventies.  I guess I should also add that the record was in pretty poor shape.

When I was listening to this, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was playing on the Simpsons.  However, the version on this record skips too much.  I can tolerate a skip or two but not more than three.  So I went with what was my favorite song on the album when I was a kid, “Barbara Ann”.  Again, when I was a kid, I felt the studio version was way superior to this.  I still stand by that statement.

This is the first time I used an album I felt was meh on a Saturday but after two years, why not.  Meh.

The Osmonds- Crazy Horses

This post is all about to factions of my life coming together in the last month or so.  When I got a bin of records from my pal Micahl, he noted the high content of Osmond albums in the mix.  This was also duly noted by myself at the time of receivership.  Flash forward to a couple weeks ago on Thursday in the locker room during my Over 40 hockey league.  A fellow I play with who I am sure has a proper name but I only seem to know affectionately as Booger, and who normally brings a diverse mix of songs into the locker room (from Sinatra to the Dead Kennedy’s and things even weirder than that) played a song from this album.  At the time, he asked, neigh, he dared anyone to name the artist.  When no one could answer, he said it was the Osmonds which promoted me to go home and dig thru the newly received collection of their catalog to find this gem.

So then there is this, the 10th studio album, released in 1972.  Most definately the hardest rocking of the Osmond’s output, the record spawned to hit singles, the title track and “Hold Her Tight”.  Also, the record marked a reduced role on vocals for Donny as he was starting to go thru puberty at the time.  As a result, brothers Alan, Wayne, and Jay took over more of the singing on the album along with Merrill.

According to Merrill, at the time, the Osmonds were much still a successful boy band, recording material that the label brought to them.  The group wanted to experiment with its own music.  The result was this record.  I would also be remiss not to mention that the Osmonds were the model Joe Jackson used for the Jackson 5.  This was pointed out to me by the same Booger mentioned in the first paragraph.

And it is quite an interesting album.  All the songs musically are quite edgier than the rest of their output.  Lyrically, still pretty tame however.  One of the highlights is what I believe is the only rock and roll song about “Utah” and perhaps the only song I can think of that describes the state as a rocking place to be.

For a sample, I went with the song that got me here, the title track, “Crazy Horses” which was one of the first environmentally conscious song as the crazy horses “smoking up the sky “refer to the big gas guzzling cars of the last century. I also decided to go with “Julie” which I think was my favorite song of the album.

When I first saw the pile of Osmond records Micahl gave me, I did not think I would post one so soon to the blog.  I also did not think I would ever give one something more than meh, but it is a pretty decent album and I got a lot out of it.  Satisfactory.