Yes, yes, yet another RCA Victor 78 record sleeve. (Does anyone see a pattern here? And, oh! That dog looks familiar…) My personal take on this inherited sleeve is that the northeastern corner was deliberately, let’s say, customized, buy the original owner (or the owner’s friend’s owner… I have no way of knowing). Regardless, simplicity in design shines brightest, yet again, and we’re left with some pretty badass, vintage art.
We’ve all seen this iconic logo by the Victor Talking Machine Company, but did you know, rumor has it, or lore, really, that the original painting that inspired this historic logo (a direct lift, really) by English painter Francis Barraud has a bit of a heartwarming backstory. Sure, a questionable yet awe-inspiring story will certainly help you sell records, so take it with a grain of sentimental salt. Apparently, Francis’ brother Mark had passed away, and Francis inherited his brother’s dog Nipper, a terrier, along with a a cylinder phonograph (Edison, anyone?) and some cylinders with poor, deceased Mark’s voice on them. When little Nipper, as the story goes, would listen to his departed master’s voice projecting through the vibrant horn, he / she would peer at it with inspirational interest, spawning Francis to paint the iconic piece in 1899… but this time (suck it, Edison!) with a disc machine instead of the original cylinder apparatus, and the rest, as they say, and is clearly known, is history. Check out the painting and rogue history on Wikipedia. The photo above was taken, by me, from a recently acquired 78 sleeve, printed some 80-90 years ago. The more you kinda know?
Apparently, there are no limits to the RCA Victor Stereo Action series (a collection of stereo demonstration releases by RCA Victor). The die cut cover suggests nothing short of ear-popping, Space Age Pop explosions of mid-century goodness, and the talent is second to none (Ray Martin, Marty Gold, The Guitars Unlimited Plus 7 to name only a few). Stereo Action Unlimited! is a high-quality easy listener with plenty of candy for your mind’s eyes, because after all, Stereo Action is “the sound your eyes can follow.”
Unbeknownst to me, this 1951 10″ by Mexico City’s own, Pérez Prado is considered his first “proper” album. Released the year before as a 3x 7″ box, Plays Mucho Mambo for Dancing houses both Mambo No. 5 AND Mambo No. 8, and although this particular copy skips more than an 8-year-old at a semi-finals hopscotch tournament, it was a no-brainer for a cool $1. Dollar bin hunter level up.
Chalk this one up to another of those “you should get this” records. I think I paid something like $4 for this, stupidly, I might add. The wife likes it, so that’s really all that matters. Actually, though there’s little-to-no Latin flair (ok, sure, the title is LIGHTLY Latin…), the Choral Director for this 1966 release was Ray Charles, and really, Perry Como didn’t put out a bad record, so in hindsight, the “you should get this” suggestion was a solid one (he said, reluctantly).
I own a total of one Floyd Cramer record, and this is it. 1966’s Only the Big Ones (RCA Victor), contains some pretty heavy-hitters: The Summer Wind, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, Yesterday, What’s New Pussycat?, and a personal favorite, Hang on Sloopy. Only the Big Ones is a bit more groovy to be considered elevator music, but like “yesterday’s” addition, is a very good representation of uplifting, happy-time instrumental piano-jazz music.
This 1958 demonstration record is something of stereophonic lore. Capitalizing on the space age pop theme of the time, RCA Victor took it upon themselves to showcase, complete with narration, the dramatic differences between the older, far-less superior monophonic, single-channel sound recording (this, of course, depends on who you ask), and the brand-spanking-new stereophonic technology. Sounds in Space is a wildly fun journey through these vastly-differing recording techniques, and if you’re a fan of classic, space age pop covers, this record is a no-brainer.
So, as it turns out, the lesser-known Hugo Winterhalter was an arranger for such household names as Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie back in the 1930s before branching out into his own easy listening jazz career. This 1959 album, Hugo Winterhalter Goes… Latin features 12 tracks of Latin fury, and owns classic, mid-century cover art. With RCA Victor’s Living Stereo, you’re sure to experience Isabel’s Dream and Ectasy Tango in high quality fidelity.
A nifty little find for $2.94 is this Stereo Action record from Marty Gold and His Orchestra titled, It’s Magic. Purchased for the die cut sleeve, as well as being a part of RCA Victor’s Stereo Action series, we took a plunge into the deep end as I’m not familiar with Mr. Gold and his orchestra’s work, but for under $3, why the hell not?!
1973 was a good year for a lot of people. I wouldn’t know, personally, but Mr. Harry Nilsson released an album of 20th-century standards for his 10th studio album, whimsically titled, A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, so 1973 couldn’t have been all that bad. Using Sinatra arranger Gordon Jenkins, A Little Touch clocks in at just over 36 mins over 12 songs, and though praised for Nilsson’s prominent vocals, it only received modest chart success. Regardless, A Little Touch is well worth the price of admission, and is a perfect spin for those foggy, Southern California days, or anywhere you can plug in a turntable.
Oh, what wondrous adventures await within the mysterious and elegant Fire & Spice by Los Chavales de Espana. I picked up this amazing piece of Hi-Fi Fiesta for a cool $1 over the weekend, and am eagerly anticipating the marvelous exploits that lay within this striking cover. If you’ve ever wondered what a visual interpretation of fire and spice could be, look no further.
… to these recent RCA Victor releases. This is a command, not a suggestion. Top tier entertainment advertising from 1960, right before your very eyes. Como Swings (LSP-2010, 1959), Chet Atkins’ Teensville (LSP-2161, 1960), and Elvis is Back!, presumably from that hip-swingin’ clam bake (LSP-2231, 1960). These titles and many more are “now available in NEW ORTHOPHONIC and LIVING STEREO versions.” Contact your dealer for more details.
1964 and RCA Victor proudly present, The Best of Jim Reeves. LSP-2890 for you catalog nuts out there, this country music classic from the country music legend, Mr. Jim Reeves, features a stellar 12-track lineup. Adios Amigo, Anna Marie, Four Walls, He’ll Have to Go, Danny Boy, and, what Best of ANYTHING would be complete without Billy Bayou. Though Mr. Reeves met his demise in a fatal plane crash the same year, his legend knows no limits. RIP Mr. Reeves.
We’re happy to (finally) bring home, into the collection, Harry Belafonte’s 1957 album of Caribbean lullabies, Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean. She was once the black hole among the early Belafonte releases, the only missing LP from Harry’s first five years, and is arguably one of his all-time greatest records, aside from 1956’s Calypso and 1961’s Jump Up Calypso. Anyway, I was happy to find it for a cool $4 this weekend. Cheers.
Like something straight out of the opening credits to North by Northwest, this, the original cover to Henry Mancini’s 1959 The Music From “Peter Gunn” aptly packages the swiftly-infused late 50’s power jazz within. Spy Hunter has nothing on Peter Gunn, clearly, and this original sleeve runs high-speed laps around its reissue, which was (im)perfectly showcased here. Word on the street (via Internet Ave) is that John Williams was part of Henry Mancini’s orchestra during this time, so hit your local brick and mortar first thing tomorrow and track this down this jazzy jamboree.