Back in 1951, the husband and wife combo of Les Paul and Mary Ford released a slew of shellac 78s. Almost exclusively on the Capitol Records label, this 10″ features Les on his custom Gibson and Mary’s angelic melody on vocals. How High the Moon back with Walkin’ and Whistlin’ Blues as catalog no. 1451. The former is from the stage production of Two for the Show, while the latter is a lazy stroll of an instrumental with a country twang and a foot-stomp backbeat. Certainly a fun, yet restricted and short listen.
Among the pile of “to be entered into Discogs.com” is this 19?? 78rpm of Peter Cottontail from Capitol Records. Bozo approved, which I imagine was a purified sign of prestigious quality back in the day, Mr. Cottontail’s, well, tale, will be the first spun during tomorrow’s mid-mourning session. Let’s say I didn’t watch Bozo the Clown on WGN in the mornings before school for, oh, let’s say close to 10 years, and let’s say I’m not a strong advocate of Mr. The Clown’s Grand Prize Game on said show. If both of these weren’t painfully obvious, I’d still lean my attention to a Bozo approved 78. Mr. Cottontail certainly had some heavy endorsers in his bushy, stolen carrot-filled pocket, and, well, he just made another. Peter Cottontail by Jimmy Wakely on Capitol Records is Groove approved. Next…
First on tomorrow’s platter is this 2x 10″ of silly songs by the Mercury Miniature Playhouse, Two Ton Baker. Non-breakable records as it says, we’ll see if this vibrant cover bleeds through to the silly-song grooves within. Redheaded kids on yule logs thumping on piano-playing backgrounds with nearby red-eyed rabbits sell a damn-good tale of voluptuous entertainment, such that it is. We’ll see if ol’ Two Ton packs a worthy punch on ol’ Wednesday morn.
A recent acquisition from the local thrifty, this copy of Harl Smith’s rendition of Bring Back Those Rock-A-Bye Baby Days on murky, burgundy shellac plays perfectly at 78 revolutions per minute, and is yet another dime store reminder that I desperately need another (or two) handy-dandy 78 books. I had the opportunity about a year ago to snatch up a few more, but balked at the $10 price tag. I’m kicking myself as I type this. Happy Saturday, kids!
Nothing major tonight, except for a recent 78 find, at a reasonable $1, from the local brick and mortar down the street. Like everything that enters, at least one proper spin is required. This guy here is first in line for this weekend’s graduation-like introduction. Les Paul and Mary Ford. Please and thank you.
The magnificent beast of violent vulgarity sat crying on a damp, dusty slab. Under the weight of 78 tears, the Devil weighed his options, and settled on inevitable defeat. Not even Harry James and his Orchestra could coerce the Devil from his lamenting hysteria, and the Devil knew it. His number had been called, and he knew it was his turn.
He had been licked, this sultry workhorse, and the new champion was ushered in atop a crowd of hope, and a flock of aspiration. He knew he was no longer feared, and with that, he knew there was nothing left. The world stood by with gaping mouths, as The Devil Sat Down and Cried.
Adjusted for inflation, this 1916, 78rpm 10”, with the then retail value of $1, would yield a cool $21.09 today. It’s comforting to comprehend that this same 78rpm 10”, 1) still functions, 2) still sounds amazing, and 3) was acquired for the same retail price in 2014 that it sold for in 1916. Yes, I paid $1 for this record, and yes, I’m currently on a 78 kick. 98 year old records make me happy.
I’ve rarely, if ever, searched for 78s at record shops. Up until a few weeks ago, 78s had been the illusive blind spot in my collection’s rearview mirror. Finding the occasional (Lawrence Welk) 78 at the corner thrift shop, I got a hunch and stopped by the local b&m to see if this rickety ol’ obsolete format was still being bartered enough to possess a specific nook on the floor. After scouring the relatively small shop, I asked the cashier (read: fellow record nut) if they had a section for 78s. They did, and they were neatly tucked away in the back of the $1 bin area, a section they call “the attic.” 10 minutes later, I unearthed this 1957 copy of Chicago Blues great, Muddy Waters. Along with a few Glenn Millers, a few Les Browns, a few Woody Hermans, and a Frank Sinatra, I walked out of my local brick & mortar with 12 78s, equalling 12, happily spent dollars I’d kept tucked inside my wallet. Moral of the story… formats may be lost, but they’re never forgotten.
Back, wayyyyyyyyyy back in the day when records were housed in nothing more than paper sleeves (the high cost of colored board be damned!), companies, such as the 1929 founded Decca Records here, saw a blank paper sheath as an advertising opportunity to sell more of their product. Makes sense, right? I mean, why not utilize every square millimeter of space to keep the bellies full? No, it wasn’t the act of garnishing repeated consumers that struck me as aloof, but instead the terms in which Decca described their catalog.
Absent, and apparently a lavish afterthought, were the artist names for each of the 20 different recorded sound categories. Instead, the customer was given a series of genres (complete with color-coded label), with which to make their money-offering decision. Have a look at the wealth of universal genres offered by Decca Records, and tell me you aren’t breaking windows and stealing cars out of sheer excitement for Series 8500.
Cracked grooves break my heart… especially Oscar nominated cuts from the 1940s. The 1940 film, Second Chorus, featured both this shellac track, Love of My Life, as well as a clarinet-yielding Artie Shaw, masterfully (I assume) portraying himself up on the big, flickering dream-screen. Never saw it, but with a score and on-screen performance provided by Mr. Shaw himself, this little entertainment blip just spun onto my radar.
Chalk this oversight up to adrenaline, heat, or simple fatigue, all of which were raging through my withered carcass at the initial moment of this record’s discovery. Unplayable, but never-the-less pretty to look at, I’m thumbing my creative button to figure out what the hell to do with this glaring example of deplorable sadness. She’ll rest, having had her last 78rpm go around until I can figure out a decent and respectable way to upcycle her.
Dead records are never easy to stomach.
Part of the joy found within any hunt is the conceived, emotional attachment attributed to the treasure before it was found. Dickie’s Songs, whose identities are buried deep within the hearts that Dickie hath stole, may very well continue to live, although hypothetical by today’s standards, in the thoughts and minds of those willing to keep fueling its emotional flame.
This discarded jacket reads:
No bloom has the roses since U Left me
I Love you
Who was Mr. Dickie, and what exactly were his songs? Housing my Come Back to Sorrento 78 for several years, this withered jacket speaks volumes, in ways Hartz Mountain Products may never have imagined. Were Dickie’s songs in fact Come Back to Sorrento and Moonlight Madonna by the Master Radio Canaries? Or was this jacket simply a goodwill offering for a cold and played-out 78 within arms reach? Part of me wants to break this record and scream to the heavens, questioning the mournful, and yes, hypothetical regret of some heart-sick lass, yet another part of me wants to identify with this 2-track 78, if only to better understand its local significance.
If Dickie was just some spoiled house bird, for whom its owner would acquire red, 78rpm records, then I’m going to be irate, but if Dickie was in fact a lovelorn heart bandit, then I sincerely hope he got his much-deserved comeuppance.
Happy birthday to my favorite person in the entire world! I have her to thank, from the bottom of my vinyl-obsessed heart, for her consistently thoughtful demeanor, her exceptional inner and outer beauty, for her patience, her understanding, her delicious cooking experiments, for her laughs, for her goofy tendencies, which bring out my goofy tendencies, for her welcoming family, and for putting up with me.
I love ya, kiddo! You own my heart. Happy birthday!
This record is a thermoplastic material. Do not expose to excessive temperature. So reads this vintage 45 sleeve from Capitol Records. I personally don’t own an O.C. 45, but that will undoubtedly change sometime in the near future. For those of you not in the know, don’t worry if you aren’t, because I just discovered this for myself some short moments ago, the O stands for optional and the C stands for center. I do, obviously, possess several generic adapters (many of them classic Spiders), but something tells me that the O.C. 45 is, quite simply put, the Rolls Royce of 45 adapters. Except that, it isn’t. Here’s why.
Thanks to Capitol6000.com for harboring the only information about this long defunct adapter anywhere online. I encourage you to read the article at Capitol6000.com, but here is the gist of it: To provide the listener/purchaser/record collecting nut with viable options for pure, listening satisfaction, Capitol Records invented a record that could easily play on either small spindles (78rpm and 33 1/3rpm), or by (aggressively) punching out the optional center, the record could be played on larger spindles (45rpm). This seems like a clever and convenient way to circumvent the clouded format war of the late 40s and early 50s (a war that still rages on to this day), but my question is this. Was the punched out adapter able to be punched back in?
Say your wife wanted to enjoy some Les Baxter with her bothersome friends at the bi-monthly block party cookout, but you’ve already punched out the optional center. After (reluctantly) searching the entire house looking for the damn thing, do you return to the Better Homes and Gardens party a hero, or will you go down in history as the only guy on the block who couldn’t give the ladies Les Baxter when they needed it? Thankfully, the Frank A. Jansen and Snap-It adapters were slowly moving their way into record collections across the gluttonous US of A by this time, so any possibility of further social awkwardness could easily be avoided.
The word “miracle” seldom permeates from my vocabulary. I need not describe it, as I assume you understand the monumental weight of its meaning. So when I stumbled upon a 78 that describes a record using the word “miracle,” I instantly expected 1) to be granted the ability to fly, 2) for my student loans to disappear, or 3) some other supernormal impossibility. What I reluctantly found, however, was a misguided marketing ploy by Tops for Tots Records.
Tops for Tots Records was a “kiddie record” series released by Tops Records (formed in 1947, bankrupt and sold to Pickwick Records in 1963). This short lived label promoted “unbreakable kiddie records” in the 7” format, but arrogantly threw around the word “miracle” as if it were handing out coupons for free belly dancing lessons. This “miracle” allows the contents of a 10” 78rpm record to exist as a 7” 78rpm record. That’s it. Much like this post, the expectation greatly exceeds the result.
This copy was owned by a woman named Linda, who was either very young, or never got around to learning the fundamentals of writing letters. I hope Linda enjoyed Around the World on a Bubble and Little Patriot Songs, and I fancy the notion that her little bubble wasn’t popped upon the harsh realization that this record in fact did not contain a miracle.