So, Netflix has a new documentary out featuring the late, great Johnny Cash titled, Tricky Dick & the Man in Black (episode 2 of season 1 of the Remastered series, a Netflix original, or so they tell me). It’s well worth checking out, even for the casual JC fan. Featured in the doc is a very short mention of the commercially unsuccessful 1964 album, Bitter Tears – Ballads of the American Indian. If you watch the 59 minute episode, you can’t miss it. This copy found its way into the library by means of my grandfather, and like the doc, is well worth the time.
(Reads title.) You do? Good for you, but don’t you think you could have come up with something more, I don’t know, jazzy for the title of this 1955 comp? Titles rarely deter from the music within, and this is no exception. I just had to chuckle at how on-the-nose and unorthodox this title was, while at the same time, and rather quickly, adding it to my hefty pile of dollar bin treasures. One doesn’t go wrong with mid-century Columbia Records jazz artists.
I didn’t find this album to exactly portray its title, but I was nearly 25 years away from the release of Otto Cesana & His Orchestra’s 1955 Ecstasy, so really, what the hell do I know? Sounding immediately like a heavily orchestrated series of montage scenes for mid-century silver screens, this easy-listening-mood-setter is actually a comp comprised of two 10″ records titled Ecstasy, and Sugar and Spice. If you’re looking for a wistful, easily ignorable bed of hopeful mood music, consider a bit of Ecstasy.
It seems around the same time as my Creedence journey, or shortly there after (before?), I stumbled across a record store closing its doors. Everything in the store was half off, so after a solid hour (or four), I walked out with a treasure trove of goodies, including this Simon & Garfunkel 45, The Sounds of Silence b/w Homeward Bound. I remember ALMOST nabbing a Spinal Tap picture disc, that was proudly displayed on the wall (for another few weeks before the doors would be locked for good), but mostly, I remember being the only person in the store, rummaging through unexpected, and quite cheap (and potential) riches. I don’t recall the name of the store, but I’ll never forget the fate that timing allowed.
In addition to authoring classic children’s books (Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic were grade school favorites for me, as I assume they were for you), and many other vast and treasured avenues, Shel Silverstein was a prolific songwriter. He wrote hits for Loretta Lynn, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, and of course, for Johnny Cash on arguably one of his most famous tracks, A Boy Named Sue. Mr. Silverstein’s history, one I’m soon to further explore, dates back to the Elektra label with his 1959 album, Hairy Jazz. Good luck finding a copy on the cheap, and if you have an extra one, thank you in advance for sending it my way.
I was fortunate to nab the bulk of Elvis Costello / Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ early releases at rock-bottom, dirt-cheap prices (something like $4 each). One of them was this 1983 release from Columbia Records titled, Punch the Clock. Since I’ve been slammed at the money-maker lately, I figured this album’s title was pretty damn appropriate.
Jimmy Ray Dean held a prolific career as a television personality (The Jimmy Dean Show), a country music star (Big Bad John), and of course, creator and spokesman for the classic Jimmy Dean sausage brand. This album, 1964’s The Songs We All Love Best, was Jimmy’s 11th studio album, and was released on Columbia Records. A little Jimmy goes a long way, but how many other country musicians have their own food line to accompany their music? Not many, I’ll tell you that.
This copy of Jingle Bell Jazz was sought out by my better half, and contains jazz-tastic renditions of holiday favorites by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, Chico Hamilton, among others. Recorded between 1959 and 1969, Jingle Bell Jazz was originally released by Columbia Records in 1962 (Frosty the Snowman by the Dukes of Dixieland was replaced by Herbie Hancock’s Deck the Halls on this 1980 reissue). Solid holiday music from start to finish, and a great find by my wife.
This 1956 reissue of Duke Ellington’s 1951 classic, Masterpieces, was one of the first records to take full advantage of the (then) new long play (LP) format. Previously restricted to about three and a half minutes on 78rpm records, Mr. Ellington and his partners in crime liberated listeners with Mood Indigo, the 15-minute opener of jaw-dropping proportions. Though I much prefer the cover art to this reissue, the 1951 original is something of recorded music history, and therefore one I shall hunt down. But seriously, this album is amazing in any format, and as with any Ellington release, comes highly recommended by the feeble minds here at The Prudent Groove.
Moonlight Becomes You by Paul Weston and His Music From Hollywood isn’t just a kitchy cover featuring some no-name model and a hammock. By no means. Moonlight Becomes You is mid-century baby-making music with a kitchy cover featuring some no-name model and a hammock. I Remember You from Somewhere, Almost Like Being in Love, and I Should Care carry this wistful collection of moods through “360” hemispheric sound. It’s a perfect circle of moods for any and every occasion. Check it out.
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.
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!
A 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.
Mr. 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?
… 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!
This 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.