Mercury Portables

The merriment doesn’t need to stop when that “on the go” bug bites. Just ask (the money hungry profit minions at) Mercury records and their portable, late 60s turntables (featured here). Up first (on the left) is the AG 4100. This beauty plays both mono and stereo records, in addition to all records in varying size and speed. The indoor / outdoor function is a must for bedside rendezvous and park bench mischief, and the sleek AG 4100 is housed in a break resistant shell for those rugged, angry spins. The AG 4100 can be had (well, COULD have been had) for a cool $39.95 ($303.39 adjusted for inflation). But wait… there’s more!

If money is no object, and let’s face it, it most certainly always is, the new GF 340 may be more your speed for a bank-busting $99.95 ($759.03 w/ inflation). The latch-on speakers are a nice touch, but the hefty price tag may be a turnoff for the casual listener.

If portable is your bag, start saving and consider the Mercury Record Corporation. Contact your Mercury dealer for additional info.

Let’s Listen

If you’re in the mood for a legs-up causal evening, alone, with loved ones, or even those you’d like to begin loving, try a few halves of Harry Arnold and his Orchestra as they elegantly and seductively jam through 12-tracks of Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers favorites on Let’s Listen, released by Mercury Records. Though the year is unknown, I’d guess and say this is a 1956 release, give or take a few years. Check it out if you can find it.

What Would That Mercury Portable Turntable from 1966 Go for Today?

mercurysmashLet’s play the adjusted for inflation game! A quick bit of internet research nets this advert in the 1966 range, which would bring the “new” AG 4100 model (original price of $39.95) to only $296.98, while the monster, GF 340, with original price of $99.95, to a whopping $743 today. Portable phonographs certainly were a premium during the ol’ British Invasion days, am I right? And I can’t help but think how Smash Records, a company I’ve heard very little about, teamed up with Mercury for this frame-worthy advert. A few clicks back on the ol’ interwebs and as it turns out, Smash Records was a subsidiary of Mercury Records starting in 1961, so, that solves that useless mystery.

Two Ton

2-2onFirst 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.

Music to Live By

MusictoLiveByMusic to Live By… if you’re rich, Caucasian, and generally backwards-thinking. This Mercury Records “Demonstration” record offers a Werther’s Original to the mind’s creative sweet tooth. Mother curled up on the couch next to her older brother’s high school track & field buddy, now her husband of 19 years. Father, a successful plastics distributor fresh off a 3% annual salary increase for convincing his supervisors that Fred Hamlin’s work just wasn’t up to snuff. Fred was Mother’s suitor back in secondary school… poor Fred. Daughter, poised like a brazen hussy on the floor (apparently the kids weren’t allowed on the furniture), pretending to give a shit about the family photo album from their long-winded trip to Old Faithful. Son nervously watches a motionless fireplace, silently praying his overbearing parents don’t find out about his recent school expulsion.

Music to Live By, solving each and every family’s upper middle class problems one record spin at a time. Thank you, consumerism.

Excitement!

BrosFor some wholesome, gut-busting, brilliant hilarity, it really doesn’t get much better than the Smothers Brothers. If you don’t believe me, or are on the fence concerning legitimate blood-brother comedy duos, have a listen to Swiss Christmas. If I had prepared, I’d have had the mp3 ready… but I didn’t, so you’ll have to seek it out yourself. I’m sure I’m sorry. “Excitement!”

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.

Viva Cugat!

Viva CugatWhile finishing up yet another spin of 1961’s Viva Cugat! by Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, and immediately before launching a Taiwanese bootleg of The Best of Frankie Lane, I felt inclined to gander upon the heavily worded inner sleeve to the vivacious Viva Cugat! For reasons that are not entirely clear, Hal Mooney, Mercury Recording Director, made sure to include diagrams to the band arrangement for the three differing recording sessions (spanning three days) used to create this exciting Airport Lounge album. (I’m now using the term Airport Lounge when referring to late 50s, early 60s easy listening lounge of an international nature.)

Xavier CugatI’ve been heavily into the space age pop, easy listening, cool lounge vibe lately. I’m not entirely sure why this particular genre is monopolizing my ear, but Viva Cugat! is certainly a welcoming addition, which has yielded multiple spins within the past week. Stick with what’cha dig, I suppose. On a side note, I just learned that the plural for cello is celli, so, that’s something.Arrangement

Just in Case You Suffered A Swift Blow to the Head

Take Care of Your RecordsBack by unpopular demand, and just in case you suffered a swift blow to the head, presented here, with all its painstakingly careful glory, is yet another “How to Take Care of Your Records if You’ve Never Owned Anything That You’d Like to Keep for More Than a Day.” This round… Columbia Records.

This is the third installment in mind-numbingly obvious, and exhaustively basic record care. First we heard from Mercury Records (Mercury Records Think You’re An Unmitigated Muttonhead), followed by RCA Victor (RCA Victor’s Simple Suggestions for Proper Record Care…). What sets Columbia Records a notch or two above the previously mentioned labels, when it comes to overtly apparent proper record usage, is the “live action” snapshots used to demonstrate each of the four (apparently) easy to forget steps to ensure proper record care. Mercury Records went with the casual, artist sketch look, while RCA Victor went with a more fiesta meets basic minimalist approach. It’s amusing to see how different labels tackle the same tedious (and did I mention obvious?) steps of proper record care. By the looks of these amazing stock footage shots, Columbia Records was doing well for themselves in 196?

By now you (should) know the dos and don’ts of proper record care, so I won’t waste your time by breaking it down for you. I will, however, waste your time by returning tomorrow with the third and final panel from this Columbia Records ad-sert. Here’s a little hint: It’s called Listening in Depth.

Let’s All Join In

ChildcraftThere is so much going on with this Mercury Records/Childcraft album about social acceptance and crowd-following jubilance, so I’m going to jump right in. Childcraft was the result of a White House-held national conference discussing the need for new materials for parents to help “direct” their children toward “well-adjusted, happy adulthood.” Where the hell was this record when I was growing up?! Anyway, here we go…

Sally Walker & Jimmy JazzHere, we have Jimmy Jazz and Sally Walker, two kids completely oblivious to the sheep-like connotations of social line dancing. Jimmy finds himself in deep concentration in keeping in step with the song, The Hinkey Dinkey Square Dance. The sheer terror of missing the beat with his finely tuned Chicken Dance has forced Jimmy into a Jedi-mind-like Zen state. Jimmy is clearly the room’s best dancer, and unbeknownst to him, is a ladies favorite. Sally is hopelessly in love with Jimmy, and has been since the song, The Irish Washer Woman. She often flaunts her backside in the hopes that one day she will catch his eye. Sally has self-esteem issues for beyond that of a normal five-year-old.

HarrietThis is Harriet. Say hello, Harriet. Harriet is smart, but freakishly unpopular. It’s not her fault, really. Her father is one of those conspiracy theorist, and as a result has shielded Harriet from many of the simple (read government controlled) pleasures of a budding childhood. Harriet is an only child, which has caused her to grow up too quickly, something that she will regret later in life. Harriet follows along to the song, Patty Cake Polka, and scans the room in the hopes that someone will befriend her. Harriet feels bad for Sally’s need to parade her tukis in front of the boys for attention, but doesn’t say anything for fear of falling further down the social ladder. Harriet is often sad, and could use a hug.

EverettThis is Everett. He too is in love with Jimmy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Everett’s confidence in his green socks gives him superhero-like abilities (or at least he thinks so). He learned to tie a bow tie when he was three, and is rarely seen without one. Everett has many bow ties with varying patterns and colors, but his orange bow tie with yellow trim is his favorite. Apart from being “the bow tie kid,” Everett is sometimes knows as the “cut-off shorts kid.” Everett took scissors to all his jeans, mainly to show off and self-promote his legs, as seen here as he dances to Charlie is My Darling. His mother was none too happy about this and has since been saving up for a new pair of Buster Browns for her ornate, and joyful son.

MeAnd here I am… back, and in the corner, away from the crowd, looking at records. I’m cool with it though. Line dancing to Oh That Strawberry Roan just isn’t my thing. Please notice the boyhood wonder painted on my face. It goes well with my green striped sweater, don’t ya think?

Let’s All Join In (except for me) is a swift, roundhouse kick to your funny bone, and should be celebrated by children of all ages until either the Sun burns out, or we all run out of trees.

Mercury Records Thinks You’re An Unmitigated Muttonhead

Do you own records? Do you use them for flatware when all your dishes are dirty, then wonder why your favorite Yes song constantly skips? Are you lazy and order your kids to flip to the B-side of Moe Bandy’s Greatest Hits just after they’ve housed an entire box of Klondike Bars? Are you just not too fond of common sense? If you answer “yes” to any of these, you’re EXACTLY like me and are in desperate need of an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to help you best manage the quality of your record collection.

Thankfully, Mercury Records is there for us nitwits in our record neglecting times of need.

Your Records are Worth Caring for…

Mercury Records Logo

(Courtesy of Mercury Records)

You buy a record because you like it. Each time you add a record to your collection, you’re building up your personal library of musical favorites. Here’s how to make sure each record you own gives you maximum pleasure each time you play it.

Step 1

 

1. Avoid getting fingerprints or smudges on the playing surface. Handle the record by its edges, or by one edge and the center label.

Step 2

 

2. Hold the record jacket against you and buckle it when removing or replacing records.

 

Step 3

 

3. Remove surface dust before playing records. Do this by gently wiping the record with a slightly damp soft cloth or a specially treated record cloth available at your record dealer.

Step 4

 

4. Store record albums upright as you would books. Single records should be kept in a rack but may be staked or stored vertically with your albums.

Mercury Record - Caring

Jerry Lee Lewis vs. The Pirates

Anti-Piracy InsertI found this sleeve insert hiding inside a 1976 Mercury Records release of a Statler Brothers album. The story strives to inform the record owner of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost to 8-Track pirates. Bruce Meyer, who was apparently a UPI feature columnist, writes the story that still seems relevant some nearly four decades later. Jerry Lee Lewis makes a cameo.

Here is the story for your reading pleasure:

Buyers Bulletin

Tape Piracy… Everyone’s Problem

            Next time you’re out shopping for records or tape—watch for pirates. Not the kind with skull and crossbones and rusty cutlasses—watch for music pirates. There are plenty of them around and, like their 18th Century colleagues, they’re breaking the law, to the tune of $200 million a year.

The modern pirates’ racket is duplicating and selling sound recordings that don’t belong to them, usually as a tape cassette or an eight-track cartridge. Their income goes right into their own pockets.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Lewis One-Man Pirate Smasher

While many recording artists have actively engaged in promoting the fight against antipiracy by appearing before state legislatures and acting as witnesses in court cases, Jerry Lee Lewis has taken the bull by the horns.

John Polk, RIAA investigator based in Nashville, told a NARM antipiracy seminar, that Lewis recently pulled up to a gas station in the south and noticed a rack of pirate tapes in the station. He asked who owned the rack and when told that an unidentified man serviced it weekly from the truck of his car, Lewis took the rack outside the station and smashed it. When the station operator asked him what he should do when the route man came and asked what happened to his rack, Lewis replied: “Tell him ‘Killer’ was here.”

_______________________________________________________________________________________

A music pirate simply buys a record or tape and—without authorization from the company that released the original—makes copies of it. The copies are sold to wholesalers or retailers—or sometimes directly to the consumer.

The price of a pirate tape is usually lower than the original simply because the pirate can make huge profits at a lower retail price. He has none of the expenses of a legitimate recording company. The pirate picks only hit recordings, which means he supports none of the thousands of unknown artists legitimate companies carry at a loss in their search for the music the public wants to hear. The pirate pays no royalties to the performers whose work he steals and usually makes only token payments to music publishers to maintain a semblance of legitimacy.

Piracy flourished despite both federal and state laws against it. Recordings released before February 15, 1972, are protected under the laws of 26 states. Recordings made and releases since that date are covered by the Federal Copyright Law (as amended by Public Law 92-140).

Piracy hurts the record companies, of course. The $200 million that pirates pick up represents some 10 per cent of the total for the music industry and more than one-third of the legitimate industry’s tape sales. But it also hurts the artists, the unions, music publishers and honest retailers and wholesalers who refuse to handle pirated recordings. And in the long run, it’s bound to hurt you—the record buyer—because your money is going not to support the performers you enjoy, but to line the pockets of a criminal.

Watch for pirate recordings. The easiest way to spot them is the label.

IS THERE A PHOTOGRAPH?

Legitimate companies spend a great deal of money to make their products look attractive. Besides quality, multi-color printing, nearly all legitimate tapes and records have professional cover art. But pirate recordings usually have plain labels, often nothing more than a listing of title, artist and the names of the songs.

IS THERE MORE THAN ONE ARTIST ON THE SAME TAPE?

At times legitimate record companies put more than one artist on a record or tape, but it is rare. However, pirates frequently put together tapes composed of the current top hits, therefore many artists are represented. These tapes are often called “The Big Hits” or “Top 20” etc. Make sure you check these multi-artist tapes before purchasing.

WHAT IS THE PACKAGING LIKE?

Also record companies use distinctive cover art for each album and tape, generally depicting the artists in some way. Pirates seldom use photos or drawings of the artists and multicolor printing and art work is rare. Often just a list of tunes and artists appear on the cover and the same design can be used over and over with the titles changed to fit the piece of product. Even the shrink-wrap around an album or tape can tell the story. Legitimate product is professionally wrapped and fits tightly. Pirate tapes and albums usually fit loosely.

IS THERE A STATEMENT ON THE LABEL, something like “Copyright Law complied with” or “Fees and royalties paid”? If there is, it’s probably a pirate; legitimate companies have no need to put such statements on their labels.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SPOT A PIRATE?

Contact your local police and describe to them exactly what you observed. (In most cities, music piracy is handles by the Bunko-Forgery Division). They will know which local, state, or federal laws may apply.

Alternatively, contact your local Phonogram distributor, the distributor for any legitimate recording company, or the local representative of the Recordings Industry Association of America (RIAA).

It’s up to those who are being injured by the pirates to stop them. That includes those in the records and tapes industry…. and you…

Story by Bruce Meyer UPI feature columnist.

8-tracks

So, Jerry Lee Lewis smashed a rack of 8-Track tapes. Ok, but who had to clean it up?