Arthur Lyman just made my list of musically most wanted. His otherworldly album covers from the late 50s are something heavily deserving of frameable art, while his music carries a luscious, easy listening, space-age brilliance rarely found in today’s dollar bin. Hawaiian Sunset, released in 1959, was the followup to his 1958 debut Taboo, another captivating package necessary for any cocktail lounger on a budget. His album covers start to tame-out in the early 60s, but man, these late 50s covers are something of sheer, cheeky brilliance!
Stereo Exciting Sounds from Romantic Places… wait, or is it, Exciting from Romantic Stereo Sounds Places? Likely, it’s Exciting Stereo Sounds from Romantic Places with Leo Diamond’s Orchestra. Whichever way the mischievous title unfolds, Leo Diamond kills this 1959 easy listening LP. From cover to groove, this hi-fidelity ear-grabber sets both the mind, and body at ease. Listen with caution, if you dig.
The first compilation / greatest hits album Johnny Cash released (or rather, the label released for him) was 1959’s appropriately titled, Greatest! 12 cuts, all from the Sun Records library, Greatest! is a breath of fresh, country air even 56 years after its initial release. I have no idea what LPs sold for back in 1959, but this one set me back only $3 just last weekend. Inflation be damned, am I right? Anyway, Greatest! contains some classic, early Cash greats such as Get Rhythm, Luther’s Boogie, a few Hank Williams numbers (Hey, Good Lookin’, You Win Again), and some lesser known classics to round out a full, pertinent collection of tragic songs. Greatest! may not be Cash’s greatest, but it’s worth seeking out.
Bernard Herrmann (double N), and the Hitchcock extravaganza… get this masterful record, after all, it’s a Varese Sarabande release, and those in the know, know. Released in 1980, a solid year after my manifestation, Vol. 1 in the Soundtrack Series, this is certainly one to seek out. On a day of SEVERE disappointments, North By Northwest is a comforting chap.
From the big, barren beyond to the boisterous, bellowings of Burl Ives. Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck, nonetheless… (manufactured by underpaid and sleep deprived enthusiasts in Southern California… The Prudent Groove), to a room scattered with eager young minds with nothing more than the hopeful wonderment of an undeveloped mind, an acoustic guitar, and the classic Burl Ives goatee.
Burl Ives Sings Little White Duck raises more questions than the amount of entertainment it provides, but I doubt my kind is the target demographic. I’ve got a lot of respect for the man, and not just because my father sported the same goatee one year for Christmas. For me, Burl’s warming tone is reserved for the winter months, but now with this new addition, the listening radius may be expanded to those rare times when I feel compelled to relive the first grade.
I’ve found, that in my 34 years experience on this revolving rock, that the best (read: only) way to experience Texas is through song. Personal politics aside (for now), Marty Robbins’ tenderly told ballad of haunting devastation, albeit now 55 years old, still manages to jerk a hidden tear or two from this sappy, heavyhearted lover of Western ballads.
Little more screams unquestionable masculinity than a gunfighter, dressed in black, poised and ready to maim a potential opponent, while he stands endlessly noble over a flamboyant (and there’s nothing wrong with that) sea of hot pink. Displayed on my vinyl-papered bedroom wall for years, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs successfully manages to steer that sturdy steed along the fine line between sensitivity and unchallenged storytelling. I know that for a lot of people, Western really isn’t their ideal choice for a hog-killin’ time, and believe me, I used to lasso that sentiment myself, but given the song’s history, coupled with the beautifully told ballad of lost love, I’ve concluded that, at least for me, El Paso is a legitimate cry from an otherwise worthless state.
200 days ago I had a stupid, ridiculous, time-suck of an idea that (reluctantly) set itself free into this world… this illustrious (and regrettable) collection of short-tempered blurbs known as, The Prudent Groove.
Do I offer free downloads? No… (unless you email me). Do I solve even a smidge of the world’s problems with this 365 consecutive day project? Hello no, and I don’t even attempt to pretend that I do… except, yeah, I have unwarranted and unstable proof that my daily ramblings bring a bit of black (groove-intensive) sunshine to each and every reader, by way of my precise, personal (albeit strikingly intimate), subdued, and voyeuristic means.
Take The Groove for what it is… pure, unadulterated drivel.
The Groove is a self-deprecating dead-end that serves the purpose of one man, and one man alone… some wayward chap in Belfast, Ireland… I’m just kidding… I wanted to further my communal expressions, and I gave myself a daily task. Well, it’s been 200 days, and you may be asking, “Was it worth it?” The quick answer is, “Dear God, no!” But the truth… as far as I’m willing to admit is, “Yeah, I’ve had my moments.”
Like the Westward bound forefathers, and/or the curious, and moderately insane settlers of early Americana, The Prudent Groove marches on. Let’s just hope Typhoid doesn’t rear its ugly head while I’m attempting to forge across this self-imposed river of creative nonsense. If I’ve learned anything from The Oregon Trail, it’s that Malaria is a bitch, and hunting is better left to the experts. Choose your grooves cautiously, ladies and gentlemen, and always, I’m not joking here, ALWAYS feed your oxen.
Today, why not try a bit of big band swing from Charlie Barnet’s 1959 album, More Charlie Barnet? After all, it was made from 35mm Magnetic Film, and the cover sports an artist’s rendering of vintage headphones… and the “R” in Charlie is made up of a saxophone, so you know it’s a winner.
When Luke Skywalker said to Han Solo in the murky bottoms of a damp and dungeon-like trash compactor, “Did you see that?!” What the ol’ scoundrel SHOULD have answered was, “Why, yes I did, kid. That’s the sound of Art Mooney.”
Decades old intergalactic space references aside, I’m here to tell you that Art Mooney’s music on Cha-Cha-Cha with Art Mooney does, in fact, set sound in motion… it says so right on the cover, “Movement in Sound.” Like a 12-6 curveball, the bachelor-pad-ready-sound from this smokey-lounge-album moves, man! It moves in ways that force parents to shield the virgin ears of their children, you dig?
The next time my significant other and I decide it’s time for a change of scenery, I’m calling Art Mooney and His Orchestra to help us move. If he’s half as good at hauling my T-Z shelf as he is delivering the moving sound of the Cuban Cha-Cha-Cha, we’ll be hosting casual dinner parties at our new digs in no time.
“He enjoys golf, swimming and tennis and is a classical records’ collector.” – Back Sleeve
This is 1959, and size matters. Until the launch of “the remarkable Everest sound”, we’ve all been, collectively and obliviously, shortchanged when it comes to the quality of our audio recordings. You see, standard tape size for recording audio (that will later be transferred, then pressed into a platter spinning, groove disc) is ¼” or 6.35mm. Conventional stereo recording is ½” or 12.7mm (feel free to view the picture for tape scale). But Everest, with its 1) No distortion from print through, 2) No distortion from lack of channel width, 3) Absolute minimum of “wow or flutter”, 4) Highest possible signal to noise ratio, and 5) Greatest quality and dynamic range ever recorded, well tape stock used by Everest clocks in at a whopping 35mm! How you feeling now, standard and conventional stereo recording? Not so good, huh? Once you go thick, you’ll never get sick. Once you drop thin, you can’t help but grin. Or how about, once you go fat, you’ll never look back… I give up.
This is Everest… the peak of achievement in recorded sound!
My best guess is that this record was either offered to phonograph dealers when these new, Motorola 3 Amplifier Stereophonic High Fidelity phonographs were released, or it accompanied the unit upon its purchase. Either way, this was a 10-track compilation record containing handpicked material that best showcased these 3 amplifier units.
A quick Google search reveals a vintage advert from 1960, featuring two of these (extremely expensive) 3 amp units. The SK28 model goes for a whopping $329.95 ($2522.93 adjusted for inflation) where as the smaller model retailed for $299.95 ($2293.54 adjusted for inflation). Lucky for the folks of the late 50s, early 60s, this particular advert offers a payment plan, starting with $10 down ($76.46 adjusted for inflation). Something seems WAY out of whack here, but I don’t have time to give it any more thought.
I never owned the record that this sleeve swore to protect, but it’s nice to see Motorola’s logo hasn’t changed in the past 54 years.
In my attempted efforts to find something ornery and contemptuous about Audiotex’s Stereo and Monophonic Audiotester, I discovered that this rather expensive audio testing tool ($38.69 today, or the ridiculous price of the new Daft Punk album) is a visual work of late 1950s design/graphic art.
Inception was big in the late 50s, early 60s. Hard at work in his audio laboratory, the technician on the cover is skillfully testing his own copy of Audiotex’s Stereo and Monophonic Audiotester. Do tests need testing? Anyway, I absolutely adore the layout of this album. The white/red/saturated blue cover (that was obviously pieced together like a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle on the cover of Life magazine), and the tuning fork and sound wave influenced Audiotex logo are just a few marvels found within this front sleeve.
The back to this riveting test record is just as visually absorbing. Breaking down the necessary tests for both stereophonic and monaural phonographs with overly simplified, 1959 phonographics (I just made that up), the bullet-pointed basics offered from this record are presented in an easy to understand, and visually engaging layout. From the turntable rumble test (stereo) to the tone arm resonance test (mono), this audiophile worthy test record is essential for even the novice record collector.
As you can see, I’m a sucker for nostalgia that I had absolutely no part of. For me, the red/black/white color palette is always a favorite, and it’s always a treat to discover phonographic-heavy, and time-capsule-like records.
The curious reader asks, “Hey P. Groove, why wasn’t this fine looking insert from ’59 YESTERDAY’S post topic?” I’ll tell you, inquisitive peruser of yesteryear gems… and it may, or may not involve Don Draper.
Thank Artie Shaw and his 1958 album, A Man and His Dream, for this Madison Avenue beauty. A modern approach to selling a catalog of varied taste, this insert, with its subdued album-stacking design, pushes the consumer’s focus to its center, where we find the two, overlapping numbers of illuminating nobility: 59. This eye-grabbing approach renders an immediate connection between that number’s meaning (the year), and the everyday existence of this album’s original buyer. To look at this insert in 1959, is to self-reflect on the years that preceded it, and to project future hope into the years that follow. In other words, this insert stops time for a split second to offer deep cogitation.
Needing to reach the hip cats of Latin Airs, as well as the squares of Strauss Waltzes (I own Strauss Waltzes, so my insults only cut so deep), RCA Victor’s approach to reaching the spectrum of 1959’s musical audience needed to be forceful, yet memorable. I believe stopping time for meditation achieved this goal. Nicely done, Mr. Draper… nicely done.
You’ll see, neatly tucked into the corner of Latin Airs and George Beverly Shea’s Through the Years, the thesis to this modern advert:
Recordings so real and exciting they are a year ahead of any others you have heard.
Exactly one year… 59+1=60. And thus, Post #60: The Insert That Stopped Time (If Only Briefly) finds its inevitable message.
(Please note, this is not an album review, but simply a conscious observation of visual similarities. Proceed with caution…)
There will be several posts on copy-kitty album covers emerging from The Prudent Groove, and the order in which they appear need not indicate any type of importance or personal preference on my part. As a matter of fact, pretty much ANYTHING bleeding from The Prudent Groove can be attributed to the above statement.
“Perry Como, meet Me First and the Gimme Gimmes,” is a phrase I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall for. Your grandfather’s sweet, succulent swoon music meets your older brother’s high school preppy-pop-punk cover act. While similar in appearance, the music, as Perry and his golf buddies would say, is as contradistinctive as a slice and a hook. The correlation stops with the cover art.
While choosing to lift both the front and the back covers of Perry Como’s 1959 classic, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (or just Me First) chose a different artist when it came to the music. The artist would be, of course Elton John. (Painfully obvious, don’t you think?) Being solely a preppy-pop-punk cover band, Me First tackle Mr. John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Rocket Man, the later of which got constant airplay on the radio station of my youthful mind. Boy was I a tool. WAS you ask?
It’s somewhat interesting how the likes and dislikes of an individual can go from a dogleg right to a dogleg left in seemingly no time at all. Back in my adolescent days I would have greatly preferred Me First to the swinging Perry Como. Now, Mr. Como has swung his way right into the par 3 hole in my heart.
At the end of the day, or at anytime really, I’d recommend both of these albums, even if exclusively based on the cover art.