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.

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.

VA- Curtains Up! Music and Plunk, Tinkle, Ting-A-Ling

This was a dollar.  I like percussion-esque albums as well as orchestra pops.  This combined both. Internet service is still intermittent at best in my apartment.  This leads to brevity for today’s post.

This is a collection of various symphony orchestra’s conducting various numbers with a focus on various mood effects, mostly percussion.  The conductors on this album include Howard Hanson, Antal Dorati, and Frederick Fennell.  The composers on the record include Leroy Anderson, Percy Faith, Cole Porter, John Phllip Sousa, and Bela Bartok among others.  It was released by Mercury Records in a series of Curtain Up! Releases.  My guess is it was released sometime around 1958 to 1960.

I really liked this album.  A bunch of good interpretation of songs.  Musically, it covers a large span of sounds.  A lot of goods spots.  I had to pick two.  I went with Anderson’s “The Typewriter” and Porter’s “My Heart Belongs To Daddy”.  But I did like a whole lot of other songs on this album including “From The Diary Of A Fly”, “The One-Hoss-Shay”, and “Butantan”.  But I felt Porter’s song was the best on the album and “Typewriter” has that gimmicky appeal that I do love so.

Great little record.  Satisfactory. Probably deserves more writing on this post but not happening this week.

VA- Cotton Eyed Joe & Other Texas Dance Hall Favorites

This was $4.  I got it for good ol’ Cotton Eyed Joe, which is sort of a rite of passage in Texas.  I am reminded of the words of a friend of mine, Cullen, who told me if you are going to pay music in Texas, got to know “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Jole Blon”, which is also on this record.

This record was released in 1979 by producer/ engineer David Stalling’s Delta Records.  The label, based in Nacogdoches, I believe put out records by various country musicians as well as other genres.  This album was recorded at ACA Studios in Houston and features Ex-Texas Playboys Herb Remington on steel guitar and Bob White on fiddle.  Eddie Nation, from Houston, handles the lead guitar.  Apparently, he also played on some of Freddy Fender’s albums.

This record is what the title implies, a collection of Texas dance hall favorites.  No vocals on here. Instead, it is all instrumentals.  A lot of classics on here besides the two mentioned above, including ” Faded Love” Whiskey River”, “San Antonio Rose”, “Waltz Across Texas”, and “Maiden’s Prayer”.  Probably would have liked some vocals on this, but the songs are quite technically good country playing.  Decent album.

For a sample, as I always go with the same tunes, here is “Cotton Eyed Joe” along with “Faded Love”.

Good Record. Satisfactory.

Loretta Lynn- One’s On The Way

This was $4.00.  A bit later in years than I like my country, being from the seventies and all, but there were a couple songs I liked on this.  Kind of all over the place with these posts this month.  At first I complain about doing these too much in advance and not being able to keep posts fresh.  Then I complain about having to write these on the fly.

This was the first of three albums that Loretta Lynn put out in 1972.  That is what makes singers like Lynn an icon.  Country music changes but her sound remains constant.  This record went to #3 on the Billboard country chart, and the lead single, written by creepy child author, Shel Silverstein, spent two weeks at #1.  According to Bill Monroe, the song helped Lynn become “the spokeswoman for every woman who had gotten married too early, pregnant too often and felt trapped by the tedium and drudgery of her life”.

Pretty good album, again, considering the era in which it came out.  I really enjoyed it.  A lot of good songs including covers of “Blueberry Hill” and “He’s All I Got”.  This album could easily been weighed down with string sections.  Instead, steel guitars do reign supreme on this.

For a sample, I went with the title track and the dark “I’m Losing My Mind” which is pretty racy for Lynn.  Not that she did not already flirt with adult themes in her work.

Good album.  Again, I was surprised by it. Satisfactory.

Robert Shaw Chorale- Operatic Choruses

This was a dollar.  Lot of opportunities to have fun with this post.  Well, time is kind of limiting that this week.  time and bad internet connection at the house.

Oddly enough this today, I am going to see the last of the Ring Cycle, Gotterdammerung and yes, it has bothered me every year on some level that I am watching the work of a rabid anti-semite.  Well, the Houston Grand Opera has been doing a piece from the cycle every year and I have been all in up til this point.  After I went to the first part, Das Rheingold, I started getting season tickets.  The first year, I only went to two operas, but after that, I have been arguably attending most shows a season and have really enjoyed them.

As far as this production, it is OK.  Technically, it has been great.  Production-wise, I am not a fan of the modern set and custom although many people are raving about them.  I also felt the dragon in last year’s Seigfried was clown shoes. It looked like a rubik snake.

For this record, I was going to ask my pal Scott for his thoughts about operatic chorus as he served some time in the Houston Grand Opera’s chorus.  However, he has been busy , re-opening Dan Electro’s Bar in Houston.  And likewise, I have been to busy to drive to the Heights to see him.  Well,  if you are in Houston, check out the bar.  It is a Houston classic spot. I am sure if I got around to asking him, Scott would say something to the effect of the importance of the chorus to opera and its role in the production.  Here’s an idea, why not go to Dan Electro’s and ask him?

Well, there is this album from the conductor, Robert Shaw (1916-1999).  Released in 1956, I think by RCA Victor, it is a collection of popular choruses and is quite good.  Good song collection that culls famous work from the French, German, and Italians.  A lot of decent tunes including, Bizet’s Carmen, Gounod’s Faust (which I saw at the HGO within the last two years, Verdi’s Nabucco, and Wagner’s Lohengrin.  On that note, I did not realize that Wagner wrote “Here Comes The Bride” until I heard this album. That means most married folk now have an ethical dilemma as well. Turns out your drunk uncle was not the only anti-semetic thing at your wedding.

For a sample, I was stuck between a bunch of songs, but ultimately decided on Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore.  Yeah, I like the simple effects.  If you have watched any type of TV for the last 20 years, you know this song.

Good album.  Satisfactory.  I really wanted to do more with this post but , what can you do.

 

Lionel Hampton- Lionel Plays Drums, Vibes, Piano

This $3.  I like Lionel Hampton a lot as well as any album that has smooth vibes.  This record, BTW, is French.

Hampton, born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1908, started his life as a drummer playing around Chicago before moving out to the West Coast around 1928.  While playing drums for Les Hite in California, Hampton started picking up the vibraphone.  When Hite’s band was picked to back up Louis Armstrong, Armstrong turned to Hampton to provide the vibes on two numbers.  Thus, Hampton’s career on the instrument was born.  After work with Benny Goodman, Hampton led his own band.  His output would slow as he aged.  Hampton would die in 2002, buried adjacent to Duke Ellington and Miles Davis.

This record was released in 1958 and is around his 22nd record, give or take.  Pretty good little record here.  As the title would suggest, it features his work on drums and piano, but most importantly, the vibraphone.  Again, this album is swinging.  I wanted to use almost every song as a sample.

So far samples, I decided to go all out.  For a sample on Hampton’s vibe work, I submit Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things”.  His drum work is in full effect on “Tracking Problems”.  “Blues For Stephen” showcases the piano.  Finally, what I imagine is Hampton’s vocals can be heard on “And The Angels Sing”. I realize this is four songs and a bit lazy on my part but again, this is a real good album.

Top Rated.

The D’oyly Carte Opera Company- Gilbert & Sullivan/ Highlights from The Mikado and Patience

This was $3.  I have posted other versions of the Mikado on this blog.  It is probably Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous work.  At least it is my favorite. Anyway that is why I bought it and why I am posting it this month.  The color scheme of the cover probably influenced me on some level as well.

There is an excellent movie which I am sure I plugged on this site before called Topsy-Turvy, which tells the story of the creation of light opera, its first performance and the lives of the principles involved.  It is a great period piece and is pretty entertaining.

Anyway, this was released by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company,  The company was formed in 1875 when Richard D’Oyly Carte brought Gilbert and Sullivan together to write a short piece.  From there, a partnership was born and more works followed. most notably 1878’s HMS Pinafore.  With the success of the work, the Savoy Theater was built and the Opera Company was formed.  Richard’s offspring carried on the tradition until the copyright on Gilbert’s words expired in 1961.  No longer having a monopoly of the duo’s work, the company withered away slowly, closing in 1982.  However, the Company re-established itself in 1988 and has been performing sporadically over the years, struggling with funding as so many fine artists find themselves doing nowadays.

Current Web Page

This album was recorded under the personal supervision of Richard’s grand daughter, Miss Bridget D’Oyly Carte, who served as the company’s head from 1948 to 1982. Released by London Records, it is a pretty good album with some of the more popular songs from the two pieces of works. From 1961, it features the New Promenade Orchestra, conducted by Isidore Godfrey.  I believe a series of G& S records were made from these.

 

From the Mikado, we have such classics as ” A Wandering Minstrel I”, “Three Little Maids”, Here’s a How De Do”, “The Mikado Song” and “Tit Willow” which I first heard here.

I was a bit disappointed with exclusion of the “Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” although I am not surprised as it is not as popular as some of the other tunes.  The piece was used at the end of Topsy Turvy and really highlighted the struggles of the actress Leonora Braham and her loneliness of  being a single mother (widowed) in Victorian England.

I was less familiar with Patience, but it has some good numbers in it as well.  Seen as a satirical look at the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870’s and 1880’s, the work features some decent songs such as “Twenty Love Sick Maidens” and “Am I Alone”.

For samples, I went with “Who Is This ” from Patience as well as the finale, “So He’s Gone and Married Yum Yum” from the Mikado.

Satisfactory record.

Jackie Gleason Presents- Music For Lover’s Only

This was only $1.  I found it quite ironic that someone would trivialized domestic violence would put out an album for lover’s only. About 20 years ago, before I had any idea of the concept of a blog, I purchased one of Gleason’s other records.  At the time, I described it as something I would play to children if I wanted to discourage them from making music.

Always a fan but not able to read or write, Comedian Jackie Gleason enjoyed a second career in the music business in the 50’s and 60’s when he lent his name to a series of 20 or so Jazz flavored albums with romantic themes. most notably for Capitol.  He wanted to make music that would serve as wallpaper or mood music.  The instrumentation is in the back ground and the overall music is very laid back with smooth edges. Cornetist and trumpeter Bobby Hackett played on some of these as well as serving as leader on seven. He originally spoke very highly of Gleason’s musical skill as well as some of the lessons learned during these sessions.  However, later in life, when asked what Gleason contributed in the studio, Hackett replied ” he brought the checks”.

Gleason with the Ginger Man himself

Spaceage page for Gleason with some interesting background.

This was Gleason’s first record of his series.  Released in 1952, it became a best seller staying in the Billboard Top Ten for 153 weeks. I believe it was his best selling disc. It sounds as described above, a series or romantic songs played in a slow laid back fashion.  In true form the solos are in the background as the setting moods take the foreground.  What do I think? Well, the record to me comes off like a pair of safety scissors.  I find the songs on here quite boring. So after 20 years from buying my first Gleason record, my opinion is unchanged.

For a sample, I had a hard time finding something I liked on this but finally decided on ” I Only Have Eyes For You”.

I still hate these albums.  I find them too bland and given some of the other albums I have posted, that is saying something.  But what do I know?  These albums were quite successful.  People actually bought them en masse.  Well, I still don’t like them.  So meh.

VA- This is Soul

This was $3 at a record show. Look at the names on this and tell me if you are going pass this up.  Anyway, this is that brief day between St Patrick’s Day and my birthday so I am going to make this one of my shortest posts. 

This piece came out on Atlantic Records in 1968 and features various hits from such luminaries of soul as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, and Ray Charles among others.  All of this is previously recorder material.  For a sample, I wanted to use a song which I felt was a fitting tribute to soul and actually discussed in last months blog, Arthur Conley with “Sweet Soul Music”.  As discussed, Conley used Sam Cooke’s “Yeah, Man” (used as a sample for that blog post) as the basis for a tribute to the big names of soul.

A lot of great songs on here.  Top Rated.  See, this is short, like I said.