Sounds in Space

This 1958 demonstration record is something of stereophonic lore. Capitalizing on the space age pop theme of the time, RCA Victor took it upon themselves to showcase, complete with narration, the dramatic differences between the older, far-less superior monophonic, single-channel sound recording (this, of course, depends on who you ask), and the brand-spanking-new stereophonic technology. Sounds in Space is a wildly fun journey through these vastly-differing recording techniques, and if you’re a fan of classic, space age pop covers, this record is a no-brainer.

4 Lads

Chalk this one up to “when the hell did I buy this” album. 1958’s compilation of The Four Lads’ Greatest Hits is a Columbia Records release (CL 1235) and features this Canadian crew’s biggest, million-selling singles. From Moments to Remember, to Istanbul, The Four Lads’ Greatest Hits covers all the famous pop-tune bases, in one neatly packaged, 12-track record. The Four Lads were prominent mainly from the 50s through to the 70s, but are still active today, some 65 years after their initial inception (they played in Palm Springs back in late March). If you’re looking for the best of the best from this easy listening vocal troupe, look no further than The Four Lads’ Greatest Hits.

60-Year-Old Slogan

If your standard, run-of-the-mill record sleeve is referred to as a jacket, think of this simply designed, 60-year-old, thin sheath as an undershirt for your coveted records. RCA Victor Records manufactured this elegant slogan in the late 1950’s (this one found inside Perry Como’s When You Come to the End of Your Day, LSP-1885 from 1958), and although I wasn’t around then to verify the legitimacy of its claim, I dig the somewhat modest approach at presenting this familiar phrase. I tend to side with a company that developed and released the first 33 1/3 record and the first 45 rpm record, so it’s legit in my book.

Blast

Well, the time has come. We finally completing the “Ten Basic Space Age Pop Albums” according to Space Age Pop Music with Ferrante & Teicher’s 1958 offering, Blast Off! If pressed to say, Blast Off!, with its brilliantly campy cover aside, will likely get the least amount of spins when compared to the other classic albums on this custom checklist. I mean, it’s hard to compare Perez Prado’s Havana 3 A.M. or Les Baxter’s Ritual of the Savage with the experimental and ear-piercing Blast Off!, but that being said, the cover alone is worth the price of admission.

Buddy

It’s nice to see that in some corners of the world (the frozen Midwest), factory sealed full length LPs such as this Buddy Holly compilation, Buddy, can be had for a cheap $12. That’s a brand new record, with 23 tracks, for $12. Buddy, at 180 grams, takes full advantage of the 12″ format by combining Mr. Holly’s first two albums into one LP (1958’s Buddy Holly and That’ll Be the Day). Pressed and released in the UK, I strongly suggest finding a Buddy near you.

SLP 1235

Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous is a terrific starting point for any up-and-coming Cash fan. Though his second LP, it contains an all-star lineup of (early) greatest hits proportions. Remember, this isn’t a compilation album, just the man’s second full-length effort. Big River, I Walk the Line, Ballad of a Teen-age Queen, Next in Line, Home of the Blues, There You Go, and Guess Things Happen That Way… and that’s only about half of the album. If you own it, spin it. If you don’t have it, I recommend holding out for the original. Reissues have their time and place, but with J. R. Cash, it’s go original, or go the hell home.

Volume III

Agustín Castellón Campos, better known as world-renowned Romani Flamenco guitarist Sabicas, released a back-to-back-to-back onslaught of wicked Spanish-folk with his Sabicas Volume 1 – Volume 3 (1957 – 1958) for Elektra Records. While currently on the hunt for Volume 1 and 2, I can say without hesitation that Sabicas, in any volume, is a terrific way to start out the week. Be on the lookout the next time you wander into your local brick & mortar. You’re welcome.

Sonic Workshop

Motion in Percussion, people! Get into the super-sonic-spaced-out-stereophonic sound with The Hollywood ‘Pops’ Symphony and their 1958 (or 1959) release, Motion in Percussion and Orchestra. Sonic Workshop (the label) does an “astounding” job of selling the visual experience with their stereophonic albums (of which there are only a handful). For all its scientific advances and groundbreaking recording techniques, it simply comes down to one fact: how damn good is the music? Motion in Percussion and Orchestra in no way disappoints, and is perfect party-pop fodder for even the casual SAP (Space Age Pop) listener. Highly recommended.

I Get a Kick Out of Porter

bushkinI don’t know much of Bushkin outside of his 1958 album, I Get a Kick Out of Porter, and what little I know about him I learned from the back album jacket. Aside from being an acclaimed songwriter and composer, apparently he was an avid jet flyer as well. One could gather as much from the cover photo, but one can also chalk this late 50s album up to “heavy cheese” or, at least that’s was my thought when I picked it up at the local record shop a few days ago. Ok, now to the music. I Get a Kick Out of Porter is energetic, late 50s jazz piano. Sophisticated, but not violent. Like with many other late 50’s jazz-fused Space Age Pop, it’s perfect living room music for evenings with a loved one. I bought it for the cover, but I’ll keep it for the vigor.

Famous…

FamousThe newest member to the ever-growing family of “necessary must haves” is Johnny Cash’s 2nd album, Sings the Songs that Made Him Famous. You know, I have half a mind to stop shopping brick & mortars all together. That’s the fluid ease of finding specific releases at specific grades for specific amounts, online, talking, not the logic that surrounds any given search at said B&M. Sure, I’m a strong advocate for RSD, and local mom and pops in general, but there is no way in Mississippi Hell that I’d be able to head to my local shop, specifically looking for this 58 year old record, and walk out with this precise pressing for the price I paid for it online ($14 shipped). Well, I guess the element of surprise is the draw, and for that I’m willing to continue the exercise. Any way you cut the meat, happy Monday, kids.

Listening in Depth Part II aka Sound at its Noblest

DepthYou have to go way back to July 17, 2013 for the first Groove post on fine quality Columbia Phonograph ad-serts. As you’ll recall, “Listening in Depth” is a buzz term used by Columbia sound laboratories to promote their seemingly revolutionary Directed Electromotive Power (D.E.P.) phonograph console. Featured here is Model 535 which boasts and brags about all the same cabinet wood finish variations as Model 532, but ups the ante in overall power and sound quality (if only marginally). This beautiful piece of 1958 machinery would go perfectly in any (or every) room in my house, and I’ll personally shake the hand of the first person to send me one. Email me for shipping address.

‘S

AwfulFormer supporting member to significant heads of the 1940’s pop-jazz sound (Bob Crosby, Artie Shaw, and Harry James respectively), singer-composer Ray Conniff follows his first two “‘S” releases with 1958’s ‘S Awful Nice. ‘S Awful Nice is, in fact, awful nice. It’s tame, late 50s swell music for late evening lovers and their romantic cocktails. It’s, what I imagine to be, the last in a flood of easy listening releases that would be properly dammed by the rockabilly and rock n’ roll sound some few short years later. The word “innocence” comes to mind, often, when listening to Mr. Conniff and His Orchestra, and although on any given day of any given week of any given year I’d prefer both rockabilly and early rock to this easy listening bubble, it sure is a pleasant vacation every once in a while. Diversity, kids.