December 6, 1963

Here is a double page insert from Columbia Records by way of the December 6, 1963 issue of Life magazine. Though the issue focuses (and rightfully so) on the then recent assassination of Mr. Kennedy, this particular issue is chock-full of music-inspired holiday gift ideas, such as the layout above. I’m in the market for this particular magazine (happened upon it at a cabin by the lake), but was sure to take plenty of photos of its wonderful, 54-year-old contents.

Breakaway

A few things I didn’t notice about Art Garfunkel’s 1975 Columbia records release, Breakaway. 1) Richard Perry produced it (Mr. Perry is famous for his work with Harry Nilsson), and 2) the track My Little Town has Paul Simon on it, making it a legitimate Simon & Garfunkel song. Their last? Of that I’m not sure, but it’s a good day to find out. Thank you, 42 year old hype sticker!

Enjoy…

crlpA friendly reminder that Columbia Records (now owned by Sony Music Entertainment) would like for you to enjoy the world’s greatest catalog of high-fidelity records… superbly performed and recorded on Columbia 33 1/3 LP Records. Your favorite artists… your favorite music reproduced with matchless clarity and realism.

Enjoy Columbia Records, and have a great Friday doing it.

It’s Always Jerry

jerryMr. Jerry Vale answered a seemingly endless string of mundane, and inessential questions with the title of his 1965 album, Have You Looked into Your Heart. Odd that there’s not a question mark at the end of this title. Anyway, below is a brief series of questions, adequately answered by this Italian-American legend:

Q: Dammit! I’m late for work… again. Where the hell are my damn keys?
A: Have You Looked into Your Heart?

Q: Why is my toe bleeding?
A: Have You Looked into Your Heart?

Q: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A: Have You Looked into Your Heart?

The Summa Cum Laude…

cl909… of high fidelity, or so Columbia Records claims, circa: 1956. At a time when many lesser-than labels were pushing “high fidelity” as more of a general, blanket statement rather than something that could necessarily be guaranteed, Columbia felt the incessant urge to mark themselves above all others with their “360” SOUND symbol. Have a read below from the majestic wonders of “360” SOUND, in Columbia’s own words (as found on the back of Paul Weston and His Music from Hollywood’s Moonlight Becomes You):

The symbol “360” SOUND is the summa cum laude of high fidelity.

It is your GUARANTEE that each record so designated has been engineered and individually tested under the supervision of the Columbia Sound Laboratory.

Starting with the taping of the performance, through strategically placed wide-range microphones, every step in the manufacturing process is checked for peak efficiency — including an actual laboratory-calibrated playback of each disc before it is released.

Not only original masters, but stamper test-pressings are required to match, in A-B tests, the tapes from which they were derived.

Only such rigid control permits production of recordings covering the entire 30 to 15,000 cycle range within a plus or minus 2-decibel tolerance.

Like the 360 degrees of a perfect circle, “360” SOUND is the true spectrum of high fidelity.

For this reason Columbia Records, the oldest name in recording and creator of “Lp”, GUARANTEES without reservation the fidelity of this “360” SOUND record.

Editor’s note: Hot damn!

Sun LP 1270

BlueThe 14th studio album by J.R. Cash was released in November of 1962, and was titled All Aboard the Blue Train, for those of you inquiring. Featuring several heavy hitters (Wreck of Old 97, Folsom Prison Blues, Rock Island Line), All Aboard the Blue Train is a collection of previously released Sun Records tracks (save for Blue Train), and was a cash in by Sun after Cash moved to Columbia. It’s a damn good album, as is anything by Cash, and comes highly recommended.

Red Headed Seeker

RedHeadedStrangerThis illusive little slithering snake has managed to outrun me for the last, conceivable time. Found this essential gem over the weekend for a cool $6.42 at my local brick & mortar. I’ve checked the country section for this album at that store every week for the past several years, and I finally walked away red handed. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, originally a track written for Roy Acuff by Fred Rose, has been covered in the studio over 8 times, includes renditions by both Conway Twitty and Hank Williams. I can’t say I’ve heard each and every version, but I’m confident in stating that none could be better than Willie Nelson’s soft-spoken, heartfelt version, track five on Columbia Records’ 1975 masterpiece, Red Headed Stranger.

Music’s Leading Man

KostelanetzMeet Andre Kostelanetz is a fascinating compilation of easy listening classical jazz from 1955. Made up of a handpicked selection of Kostelanetz’s earlier Columbia Records recordings, Meet Andre Kostelanetz features, among others, cuts from Carmen, The Nutcracker Suite, and classic Gershwin, while beautifully offering hi-res (albeit small), full color images of his previous Columbia Records releases. A great companion for early evening ambient noise while prepping for dinner or cleaning out the fishtank, Meet Andre Kostelanetz is a perfect introduction to this brilliant and hard working Russian conductor.

‘S Marvelous

s'marvelousA precursor to 1958’s ‘S Awful Nice, 1957’s ‘S Marvelous features another pack of serenaded love woos, and another “girl tells hilarious joke while pack of horny lapdogs rigidly struggle to bury their bones” cover. It’s 1957 sweet as candy living room music by Ray Conniff and His Orchestra, and it’s spectacular.

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.

Gypsy Fire

GypsyIt’s a random Wednesday in December, so let’s celebrate the mundane doldrums of mid-week mediocrity with Boris Sarbek and His Orchestra’s 19?? Gypsy Fire. This enticing, bongo-hugging, ethnically-charged, gas-fireplace-raging, not-so-subtle-hint of sexual emotion is, by all intents and purposes, the perfect mid-week ear snack.

Polly, No Pockets

PollyI know absolutely nothing about Polly Bergen (sorry, Polly), but this 1957 Columbia records release, at one point, and likely very briefly, graced her hands. I imagine a 1957 year old Jane was a lover of Polly’s early film career, or perhaps Jane was just a monster fan of The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse (Polly hosted from 1954 – 1955 before getting her own show, The Polly Bergen Show in 1957). I found this copy at a Goodwill in the valley and decided I had to have it. Maybe I should give it a spin sometime…

Crumb Thrills

  
Big Brother & the Holding Company’s 2nd studio album, 1968’s Cheap Thrills, featured not only the groundbreaking single, Piece of My Heart, but also a vibrantly illustrated cover by Robert Crumb. Rolling Stone created a list of the 100 greatest album covers of all time. Cheap Thrills ranks no. 9. Interesting fact is that this was originally intended to be the album’s BACK cover, but apparently Ms. Joplin preferred Crumb’s art to a picture of herself and Columbia Records swapped covers. Smart move if you ask me, and you didn’t.
Side note: All this time I thought Southern Comfort took Janis. Thanks for that one, Bruce! Heroin, eh. Moderation, kids! Oh, and happy Friday!

The Fab JC

FabulousFor J. R. Cash’s third studio album, 1958’s The Fabulous Johnny Cash, the legendary man in black, or The Undertaker, as he was jokingly nicknamed, took a staggering leap up the distribution ladder and landed a contract with acclaimed Columbia Records, a label he’d stay with until moving to Mercury Records in 1985. It should be noted that J. R.’s stint with Sun Records, his first label, is the favored batch of rural tunes by yours truly. Be it either the simplistic and underproduced approach, or the documentation of a storied artist making his first marks, I for one just can’t get enough of that radiant, Sun sound.

Mr. Cash released two singles from TFJC. Frankie’s Man, Johnny and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, the latter proving to be one of his biggest, early successes. It’s painfully obvious to mention that J. R. Cash was as unstoppable as Old 97 for Columbia, churning out hit after record breaking hit, a three decades long merger that proved, what I assume, immensely lucrative for both parties.

Pat_JohnsonThis copy was a thrift store find about a decade back, and was apparently pre-owned by a Pat Johnson from 655 Park Ave in Port Hueneme, CA. I venture to think, since 3/8/62 until the day it was offered to an Oxnard, CA second hand store, that Pat cherished The Fabulous Johnny Cash almost as much as I do.

Blood, Sweat and Tears

BS+TWhenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I tend to turn to the roughneck, blue-collar grit of Johnny Cash. While I’ll prefer Mr. Cash’s work with the Tennessee Two during their Sun Records days, there was something about Blood, Sweat and Tears that stuck out like a rusty spike awaiting its inevitable drive into the cold, hard Earth that grabbed my sleep-clouded eyes this morning. Since it’s Monday morning for all of you hard working pencil pushers, the inevitable start to yet another inevitable workweek, Blood, Sweat and Tears seemed desperately appropriate.

BS+T BackA collection of working man ballads, this, Mr. Cash’s 15th album, was released in 1963 on Columbia Records and features the soulful accompaniment of the Carter Family, the same legendary folk ensemble he’d become a part of some five years later, in March of ’68, when he married June Carter.

So, welcome to the working week, and if you find yourself daydreaming for an era without redundant meetings, corner-cutting executives, or inner-office politics, book some time with the musical spokesperson for the hardworking everyman, Mr. Johnny Cash.

What’chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?

Strokes FrontI’m not entirely sure how different these strokes of “19 contemporary artists performing music of our time” were in 1971, but that doesn’t stop Columbia Records’ “special low price limited time offer” marketing ploy from capturing a wonderful, meshy, medley of jazz rock, southern fried rock, psych rock, sci-fi jazz, open field soul, and piano-friendly folk rock (and that’s just side A) on one, easy to access record.

Strokes BackDifferent Strokes launches with a bit of a gaffe as Johnny Winter And’s Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo leads the pack of (somewhat) lesser known greats, but strategic placing of the needle can very easily, and wisely, turn this 19 track slab of delicately formed polyvinyl chloride into a 18 track time capsule representing the best Columbia Records had to offer in the burgeoning, wide-eyed, and fried-minded 1970s… but what the hell do I know? I wouldn’t have been born for another eight years.

Different Strokes is definitely worth seeking out if you don’t already own it, and can be had for exceptionally cheap if you’re so inclined. Coming highly recommended by the PG, Different Strokes is the perfect soundtrack to this, or any coffee-sipping, cloudless, southern California Saturday morning (my esteemed apologies to those residing in less than ideal climate conditions).

I Remember Buddy

BuddyYeah, I remember Buddy! That Birkenstock-wearing, Top 40 Radio-listening, part time tree-hugging philanthropist. It’s nearly impossible to forget him, given his gaudy, rhinestone eye patch he considers, “a necessary fashion accessory, regardless of my 20/20 vision.” Yeah, Buddy’s ideals are more based on the weekly grocery circulars than anything he learned in Philosophy V01 up at Ventura College.

Jerry BackI remember Buddy, and so does Jerry Vale. My memory of this tip-stealing, hot sauce drinking, re-gifter isn’t near as sentimental as they appear to be for Mr. Vale. Unlike Mr. Vale and his sugar-sweet, golden-throated praise in Buddy’s memory (why he would do such a malignant thing is far beyond the grasp of my comprehension), my memories of Buddy, the vagrant oil stains littering the driveway of my past, those memories need to take a permanent vacation and never get a striking urge to write home. I’ll never forget you Buddy, although I would do just about everything in my conceivable power if given the opportunity.