Balanced For Broadcast

January 17, 2011

 

I picked up my second Capitol Records promotional sampler LP this past weekend: 

  

This recent one is “June 1965“ and is part of a “Balanced For Broadcast” series of sampler LPs that Capitol distributed to radio stations (later called The Capitol Disc Jockey Album); each sampler represents a selection from Capitol’s huge stable of musical talent at that particular time. These LPs are great audio history, even if you don’t like a particular artist.
 
The covers, in particular, have great vintage feeling and association, along with stylistic continuity.  Sure, they’re “sexist” and male-oriented, but they still have some design integrity.  Check out this impromtu gallery of some “Balanced For Broadcast” LPs that can be found on The Ebays.  August 1967 is my favorite. (click on the image for a larger version):

  

 
Here’s the playlist from the BFB LP I scored:
 
 
Balanced For Broadcast 1965 LP

Capitol Records, 1965 (#PRO-2879)

SONGS:

Nancy Wilson – Reach Out For Me

Nat King Cole – Blue Gardenia

Wanda De Sah – So Danco Samba

George Shearing – Quiet Nights

King Family – Little Grass Shack

Marlene Dietrich – A Little On The Lonely Side

Don Scaletta – Bitter Wine

Georgia Brown – Riding On The Moon

Nat King Cole – They Can’t Make Her Cry

Wanda De Sah – Once I Loved

Dean Martin – Carolina In The Morning

Don Scaletta – Chim Chim Cher-EE

Vicky Autier – A Quoi Ca Sert L’Amour

Seekers – Water Is Wide

Stan Kenton – Tampico

Liza Minnelli – For Every Man There’s A Woman

As you can see, some of the artists you know, and, I’ll bet, there are several you don’t. That’s one of the things to love about these sample LPs: you’ll usually find an artist that you somehow missed in all your years of LP thrifting, or you’ll find one you never thought would be on a big American label like Capitol. Such was the case on this post’s featured LP, when I noticed two songs from one of twelve different artists. Her name at that time was Wanda de Sah (later to become simply Wanda Sa), and I was impressed with how Capitol recorded her simple singing to some classic Bossa Nova tunes.

Wanda de Sah was taught by, and mixed with, some of the legends of Brasilian Bossa Nova.  Think of her as a thinking man’s Astrud Gilberto.  The Japanese are nuts for bossa nova, and they were the ones to re-release her first LP on CD.  Here’s a good example of some early Wanda de Sah (Wanda Sa): 
 
 
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Twas the day before Christmas, with nothing to do,

so I went to the Goodwill, to waste an hour or two.

The used crap was stocked on the shelves with care,

And, as per usual, I hoped that some good thrift store vinyl would also be there.

 

The records were stacked all snug in their place,

while a look of hope enveloped my face.

And while the little Hispanic kids around me played with used toys,

I perused the vinyl with determined poise.

 

When up on the top shelf, what did I see?

A friggin 3-record Terry Baxter box set, starin’ right at me!

I could not fathom my luck at this find,

For several weeks Baxter’s “The Best of 71“ had been on my mind.

 

And in the midst of the joy that good thrifting brings,

I espied a near mint LP of Ruben Rodriguez and his Guadalajara Kings!!

 

 

“How could this be? What miracles are these?”

But my good feelings departed, when I saw a record by Rick Dees.

 

 I continued to look. I was in no hurry,

“Why did so many people listen to Anne Murray?”

Country, Praise, and some bad Helen Reddy,

“Wait! Look at that! I think it’s Duane Eddy!”

 

 

And wouldn’t you know, on this Christmas Eve day,

More Christmas miracles were coming my way.

For within a few minutes, as I sifted through the pile,

I uncovered a 3-LP box that would make anyone smile.

 

The London Sound 70, Orchestra and Chorus,

The vinyl thrifters’ Christmas dream, one made just for us.

30 songs of yuletide bliss on the Decca label,

A welcome addition to any Christmas LP stable.

 

So if you don’t think miracles are true,

I’ve got something to say to you.

I’ve proved that they’re real, and my word is final.

The proof is right here, at Thrift Store Vinyl.

 

Goodwill To All!!

A Lot of LeFevres Lately

December 3, 2010

I found another White Gospel Group Tour Bus (WGGTB) LP when I scrambled to catch the last half-our of business at one of the country’s more pitiable Goodwill stores in Middlesboro (Middlesborough), Kentucky. More on the store in a later post; lets get on to the prolific LeFevres and their WGGTB!

 

I would have appreciated a larger photo of The LeFevres and their tour bus on the cover (talk about bad cover design), but it meets the criteria for a WGGTB LP. It will take some Intar-Webs sleuthing to confirm the year, make, and model of the bus, so stay tuned.

 

The LeFevres may seem obscure to some, but they were a HUGE success in The South and commanded their own gospel music empire with a big recording studio in Atlanta. You can see the latter behind them and their bus on the cover above. Talk about your large, modern curtain wall!

 

The bus on this LP was just the most recent bus for The LeFevres; they had others in their long career:

The above bus was brand-spanking new in 1959. The bus on the featured LP is from 1964.

 

OK. Now it’s time to give The LeFevres a look and listen with two of dozens of YouTubes that feature the group. White Gospel Music is much more tolerable than, say, Christian Rock, and at times it’s even enjoyable.

 

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Wouldn’t you know it.  Right before I was gonna post the above piece about The LeFevres, I took a ten-minute stroll through my local ATL Goodwill and picked up this:

Raymond LeFevre provides a nice, more secular antidote to the overt Christianity of the gospel LeFevres.

 

Raymond LeFevre created one of my favorite easy listening “sounds,” a thoughtful fusion of orchestra with now sounds. Lush strings mixed with solid beats and gentle chorus. This sound tends to divide people, with many declaring it schlock while others, like myself, close their eyes and let the LeFevre music wash over them like a comforting and warm waterfall. He can also produce some dramatic, Morricione-inspired movie music. And it’s always well-recorded.  You probably have heard one of his most famous arrangements, but in case you missed it, here it is:

 

~

I’m sure most of you have some TV commercial jingle tunes in your head, you know the ones; they strike a nostalgic chord when you hear the tune and you say to yourself “I know I’ve heard that before…what was it? Some cereal? Some kinda new gasoline? Some cigarette?

Now, with the Intar-Webs, you can immediately sate that desire to know the associated product with a few clicks.

I heard one of those tunes today as I was continuing to catalog some of my LPs. I came upon one of my favorites in the form of Phil Bodner’s famous Dis-Advantages of You on the Dunhill label. Give it a listen before you go on to the commercial clips:

Phil Bodner is the little guy on the cover.  He was no schmuck, let me tell ya.  He could make fun of his short self because he was a real mover in the NY studio music scene; he was also an accomplished musician (mostly woodwinds/reeds).  The tune is from what were in the late 1960s the new Benson & Hedges 100s cigarette commercials.  These commercials reveal a simple playfulness that seems lost today.


There’s something very comforting about cigarette TV commercials; they’re so self-assured, so confident, so pre-WARNING message.

Call For Philip Morris

July 30, 2010

 
While it was the awesome Flxible Vistaliner tour bus that caught my attention, a listen to this LP was a pleasant surprise. Even though its called a “Country Music Show,” this is really a multi-genre LP; it serves up an amalgam of Jazz, Country, Folk, Blues, Western Swing, Rockabilly, R&B, and a bunch of nice steel guitar to boot.  There are a few clinkers, but overall a good listen.  Here is the list of artists on this LP, some of whom you may know, others may seem obscure:
 
 
CARL SMITH
 
LITTLE JIMMY DICKENS
 
GOLDIE HILL
 
RED SOVINE
 
GEORGE MORGAN
 
MIMI ROMAN
 
RONNIE SELF
 
BUN WILSON
 
SHIRLEY CADDELL
 
DALE POTTER
 
THE TUNESMITHS
 
THE COUNTRY BOYS
 
 
 
 
Their crossing of paths on the Philip Morris Country Music Show marked a period of change and cross-pollination in American Popular music. It was 1957. Think Elvis and Sun Records. Think Patsy Cline. Think Bill Monroe. Because each of the above artists had their own unique careers under way before they were hired by Philip Morris, I will, in no particular order, present an overview of each (with links) and hope you will take the time to listen to some of their music.
 
 
RONNIE SELF
  
 
AMG has this to say regarding the fairly obscure Rockabilly performer Ronnie Self:
 
 
Why Ronnie Self never made it as a performer is one of the great mysteries and injustices of pop music history. He had the look and the sound – a mix of country, rockabilly and R&B that sometimes made him sound like a white Little Richard, but mostly like the young Elvis or Carl Perkins – and he wasn’t lacking for good songs, which he mostly wrote himself. He should have been there, thought of in the same breath as Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis; instead, he’s a footnote in rock & roll history outside of Europe, where he’s treated as a legend. (Bruce Eder)
 
 
I have no reason to question the judgment of Mr. Eder, and I have to say that Ronnie Self seems cut right out of the mold of Elvis; not that he TOTALLY imitates The King, but the influence is undeniable. Imitation is the…you guys know the saying. And when your only charted “hit” was “Bop-a-Lena,” a song that was released just after Gene Vincent hit it big with “Be-Bop-a-Lula”…Nonetheless, Self still sounds different enough to be given some respect; his energy level was off the charts.
 
 
Ronnie Self was notorious for constantly moving back and forth on stage while singing (screaming?), more of a frantic running and squating than Elvis-style gyrating in place. His manager, in fact, dubbed him “Mr. Frantic” to help explain his kinetics. You got to admit that photo above makes one want to go back in time and listen to a group that has fiddle, bass fiddle, drums and gui-tar!
 
 
Give a listen to some classic Ronnie Self and dig his vocal style. How a guy could sing a whole gig this way and not lose his voice is beyond me. Also keep in mind that he has some street cred too in that he actually was a juvenile delinquent in real life (vandalism arrest?). It’s guys like Self that made conservative parents fear for their daughters’ safety.
 
This was the age of the two-minute song, so it won’t take up too much of your time:
 
 
 
CLICK HERE AND LISTEN TO RONNIE SELF
 
 
 
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ABOUT THE BUS
 
The awesome tour bus on the cover of the Country Music Show LP is a custom Flxible Vistaliner (VL 100).
 
 
The Vistaliner was a competitor to GMC’s more famous Scenicruiser.
 
 
 
 
The Raymond Lowey-influenced Scenicrusier, a superior and more sexy 3-axle, dual-level bus, is the one that is still considered an American design “icon.” To me, it’s just a well-designed and attractive bus, more attractive than the VL100.  One could say that the Vistaliner is to the Scenicrusier as Ronnie Self is to Elvis. It’s kinda like that.
 

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This weekend’s TSV acquisitions range from the obscure to the mainstream, with some space grace in between.

First we have this creepy-sounding LP on the very obscure Scottie label out of Seattle:

Whatever reveries Elden Chapman experienced during the recording of this LP, they manifest themselves musically as a torturous mixture of Lowrey Organ noodling and occasional (thank goodness) chimes. This author has NEVER heard a Lowrey played in such a twisted manner. The liner notes mention how Chapman produces a “steel guitar sound” with his Lowrey Lincolnwood, but that is clearly a misnomer as it sounds more like a cat in heat than anything else. This is a classic “so bad it’s good” find, if you could ever find it. The Google did not produce much on Mr. Chapman or Scottie Records.

Next up is one of those “buy it for the cover” LPs. This cover illustration for Jack Holcomb’s gospel album expresses what one might call Big-Bang Theology, with “God” lighting the fuse:

My Father is omnipotent
And that you can’t deny;
A God of might and miracles;
‘Tis written in the sky.

Chorus
It took a miracle to put the stars in place;
It took a miracle to hang the world in space.
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!

Hey, TSV is not gonna let religion get in the way of a great space illustration.

Now on to the mainstream:

Art Van Damme is one of the more underrated jazz musicians out there in TSVland. Like most of his dozens of LPs, Accordion A La Mode has that classic white-guy jazz quintet sound. It swings in a very safe way and is good background music for making Spam sandwiches. Below is an awesome YouTubes of Art’s Quintet. It’s both visually and musically interesting. ENJOY:

The “Talking Guitar,” in one form or another, has been around since the 1930s. Big Band pedal steel guitarist Alvino Rey was one of the first to electrically impart his voice into the output of his chosen instrument, creating a “gimmick” that others would take to great heights. And although most of America thinks of Peter Frampton when they hear a talking guitar, it was actually Georgia’s own Pete Drake that made a career out of the “talk box,” years before Frampton made teenage girls swoon with his plastic tube (whoa, that sounds kinda weird).

Yours truly picked up a clean stereo copy of the above Drake album on Smash Records at his local Goodwill. And he found a gem of a YouTube featuring the talk box master playing his big hit Forever. This is one of those videos that takes on a surreal quality that really can’t be beat; watch it before it disapears when the money grubbers claim it:

The links above will do a good job of putting the whole Rey/Drake/Frampton/Talk Box nexus together. It’s a decidedly American story that one should know. If you find a Pete Drake LP, you should consider yourself lucky as they don’t show up a lot.

The IP said he would find some more praise music group bus tour LPs, and this past weekend he was truly blessed.

First we have the above bus tour LP from Bob Wills & The Inspirationals.  The IP is gonna give this group a coordinated polyester outfit waiver; maybe that rule was a bit too optimistic.  But one would think that if you go to effort of having your own praise music tour bus you could at least go to Sears and get a good set of matching polyester outfits.  How hard could that be? 

The second praise music bus tour LP is also a bit problematic:

It looks like the GHBC are using leased busses; they don’t have the group’s name emblazoned on the side.  Oh well.  At least they have some coordinated polyester outfits.  The GHBC are straight outta Decatur, GA boi!!

Among the vein of PM LPs uncovered at this particular Goodwill were a couple of “guitar gem” covers.  The IP has no other way of describing these PM LPs that feature a way-cool guitar on the cover; these LPs tend to attract “indie” guitar player hipsters.  It is yet another sub-genre of vintage PM LP:

As The IP was going through his first selection of PM LPs, a shoulder-surfing, Atlanta-area hipster dude commented on the above guitar held by Richard Lee.  Hipster guy was sure that it was a Gibson and, after a little Intar-Webs research, it indeed proved to be a Gibson Hummingbird. The IP should note that the hipster verbally bemoaned the inside-the-perimeter thrifts because they were usually “picked over” by…you guessed it, “HIPSTERS.”  He even had the full-hipster, ironic mechanic’s jacket and pants along with some thick mutton chops.  He who lives in a hipster house should not throw disparaging stones at other hipsters.  Maybe his comment, like his outfit, was MEANT to be ironic?  Regardless, the guitar IS sweet, and that Swiss suspender dress on Miss Lee sure is purty. 

The other cool guitar PM LP also featured a cool-ass Gibson:

Meet Mr. Dwayne Friend and The Goodmans.  It looks like Dwayne is playing some sort of Gibson Citation, but if any of you pithecanthropes can help specify the exact model, well, that would be swell.

Turns out that Dwayne Friend and his friends the Goodmans made a big name for themselves on the PM circuit in the 1960s:  WATCH

Heck.  Dwayne Friend still gets out there and plays a good guitar: WATCH

No, Dwayne Friend ain’t no Jimmy Hendrix.  But he’s not supposed to be.  Friend was a fan of Chet Atkins which is clear if you listen to their playing. 

Learning about these folks is what makes collecting Vintage Praise Music LPs a worthy endeavor.

Praiseworthy LPs

February 20, 2010

Once he got over the whole notion of “praise” music, a notion that still can make him kinda squirm, The IP started realizing that many of the praise music LPs he sifts through every weekend have some of the best covers EVER! The matching polyester outfits of the singing groups alone make many praise LPs praiseworthy for a unique, albeit at-times tacky, aesthetic sensibility. Over time, The IP started noticing sub-genres of praise LPs and he chose to start collecting two of them:

     Stone Mountain Praise Music LPs

     Bus Tour Praise Music LPs

First, let’s look at two examples of the Stone Mountain Praise Music LP category.

It’s hard not to appreciate how much folks around here have idolized their local geologic wonder, Stone Mountain. Regardless of your attitude toward overt, Polyester Christianity, one has to admit that Stone Mountain IS a pretty amazing thing in and of itself. That it was the birthplace for the second-generation KKK revival and remains a tribute to White Southern Solidarity adds a creepy cultural layer on top of the great quartz monzonite (one should never take Stone Moutain for granite) monadnock. And that creepiness really comes through as you can see above.

Wanna take a guess when the last cross burning took place at Stone Mountain? Maybe some time in the 1920s? 1930s? Try 1962. Yep. That’s right. That’s why the very notion of posing in front of such a monument to Confederate Christian values is (to some) a somewhat dubious act; it’s obviously not to the people above.

The most tainted form of Stone Mountain-style Christianity is represented in the history and rhetoric of once-Georgia governor, Lester Maddox. Much like the giant relief sculpture of Confederate heroes on Stone Mountain, Lester was a piece of work, to say the least.  Ironically, The City of Stone Mountain, where the inselberg of the same name protrudes, has slowly become more black over the years

OK. On to the Bus Tour Praise LP type.

The required criteria for achieving Bus Tour Praise Music LP status is simple: The LP MUST feature the actual tour bus of the group with the latter posed in front of the same, and the group must have coordinated outfits. Most important, the music contained on the LP must be Christian Praise or Gospel music. If members of the group pose with their awesome, slate-blue American Tourister suitcases, well, that’s just icing on the cake; or the bus. And check out that modernistic, concrete “carillon” tower behind the Calvary Choir. WTF? It probably houses a Schulmerich.

The IP kicks himself in the ass for having passed up several Bus Tour LPs like the above in the past; he might have had a collection of ten or twelve by now. Thankfully, there are still plenty of LPs out there, and hopefully the Bus Tour Praise LP collecting niche will remain small enough to collect some more.

Check out those Blackwood Brothers on the YouTubes; they totally rock:

White Music

January 30, 2010

Hello from “Thrift Store Vinyl,” The IP’s specifically LP-related blog. The IP went out this cold rainy morning and uncovered some hot thrift store LPs, one of which he features here:

It was an obvious choice to snag this LP by Barry White. 1974 was a formative year for the author, and he sure remembers hearing Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra in his adolescent musical background. He wasn’t “makin’ love” as implied in the music, but it got him thinking WTF Barry was talkin’ about.

And one has to give it up to Barry for creating his own “sound” and persona. Comin’ straight outta South Central LA, Barry was a lover, not a gangsta; not that his raps weren’t unique:

Certain things turn me on
Like the way you might say a word or
The way you wear your hair
You have a certain smile on your face

By just the way you’re standing there right now
Now you really, really, really, look good to me, baby
In your baby blue panties, yes love, you look good to me right now
In your baby blues, them baby blues and you

That’s from “Baby Blues,” a song from Rhapsody In White, the LP that also includes the Barry White and Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “Love’s Theme,” Barry’s first #1 hit. Lots of “chicki-wick chicki-wick chew-wah” guitar and funky drumbeats. And those strings! Those smoove strings!! Some say “Love’s Theme” was the very first disco song. Irregardless, it captures 1974 better than any other song.

Barry’s fare is definitely background music, a musical background more than ostensibly engineered for various acts of “love” or modeling of panties. Barry’s got [had] unlimited amounts of love.

Listen to LUO and Barry White below: