Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank יהוה It's Friday

My ethnic background is Italian and Czech, so I'm not sure why I have some innate appreciation for klezmer, but I do. Maybe it's that they are close stylistically to the Pennsylvania polkas of my birthplace.

There's no need to examine my attraction to
Borscht Belt comedy, though - it's the well-spring for most of what became popular comedy culture as I grew up. I mean - just look at this list of performers who got their start or regularly performed there:

Joey Adams, Woody Allen, Morey Amsterdam, Benny Bell, Milton Berle, Shelley Berman, Al Bernie, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Red Buttons, Sid Caesar, Jack Carter, Myron Cohen, Bill Dana, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields, Betty Garrett, Estelle Getty, George Gobel, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Katz, Danny Kaye, Alan King, Robert Klein, Jack E. Leonard, Pesach Burstein, Mal Z. Lawrence, Sam Levenson, Jerry Lewis, Jackie Mason, Lou Menchell, Jan Murray, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Freddie Roman, Allan Sherman, Jackie Vernon, Jackie Wakefield, Jonathan Winters, Henny Youngman

Today's album is from The Barton Brothers, pioneers in Jewish-American comedy with their hit record "Joe and Paul" (an excellent article about Yiddish-American culture here):

"Better than they could have imagined, the Barton Brothers captured a moment in Yiddish-American culture when that culture was more than ever a pastiche, when its popular expression was often a synthesis of Yiddish and English. With this post-war redesigned Yiddish, Jewish Americans helped develop a new language best expressed in comedy, a language that moved away from its insular Jewish origins to become American speech. As this Yiddish-English moved from street to stage, Jewish-American comedy was able to reach a wider audience and plant itself firmly on TV and in the movies."

Our selection today is the followup album to the big hit and is simply titled "Yiddish-American Comedy" (Rivoli Records' promotions and art departments apparently took the month off). In addition to the unispiring title and artwork, the track listing on the jacket is incorrect.
The actual track listing is:

Side One
Moe the Schmo: 1 Activity; 2 Takes in a Border; 3 Plays Golf; 4 Rhumba Lessons; 5 Gets Romantic
6 Gay, Vec, Cherie

Side Two
1 The Story of Little Red Riding Hood
2 Mambo Moish
3 The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Record company? No, company record.

Today we have somewhat of a companion piece to yesterday's post, at least in the sense of corporate disc origin.

The Raybestos-Manhattan Corporation of Passaic New Jersey ("Specialists in Asbestos, Rubber, Sintered Metal, Engineered Plastic") put out this part-promotional/part-history-of-technology record in 1962. Basically, it's sound effects with linking narration - I'm particularly partial to Spin test: abrasive wheels, and the Edge Grinder, Gasket Cutter, Reclaiming Cutter Montage (it's got a good beat and you can dance to it). Of course there's the classic Heartbeat of the dog, Laika, in Sputnik II, the dog left to die in space (grrrrr). All of it is designed to let you know how wonderful the Raybestos-Manhattan Corporation is making your life.

There's a brief history of Raybestos-Manhattan here: as you might imagine, a company with asbestos built right into the name had significant legal/economic troubles down the line, going Chapter 11 in 1989 and only emerging from bankruptcy in 2001.

The Space Age Side One
The Space Age Side Two

From the back cover:
"America today expects innovation . . . Americans are so used to advancement that change itself has become the rule, and pause the exception. Consider how many once-fantastic things are now commonplace . . . reflect on the startling developments since World War II . . . since the 'fifties . . . since last year!
This is the Space Age . . . a new and different age in which to live. Children - growing up - are affected by it. Families - living faster, better - are molded by it. Men - bringing new techniques, unique technologies, to basic industry - work with it.
The world is different. Our lives are different. And, in the Space Age, manufacturing is very different. Machines, assemblies, components, are much more complex . . . very much more critical. Today, the products of industry must function dependably under almost unbelievable operating requirements. Reliability is the basic ingredient in space age manufacture.
In the Space Age, new standards, new methods of manufacturing have changed our lives. This documentary recording lends perspective to the transformation.
The Sounds That Are Heard: Sputnik I Heartbeat of the dog, Laika, in Sputnik II Alan Shepard during re-entry of space capsule, Freedom 7 • Montage: Test firing of various rockets and missiles, telephonic multi-frequency tones, blast furnace warning whistle, conveyor belt testing machine, continuous tape reader, jet passes—X-15 • Music produced and performed by an electronic digital computer Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, Irene Bordoni • Model "A" Ford Nieuport with Hispano engine Mrs. Robert Hutchings Goddard • Goddard Rocket (simulated) • Rudy Vallee, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, German troops and military band • King Edward VIII, Bing Crosby, "Hindenburg" disaster reported by Station WLS announcer World War II bombardment, Winston Churchill, British convoy attacked by German Messerschmitts—described by BBC announcer U. S. Army sergeant and GI's. Japanese Special Envoy Nomura John Charles Daly, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War II battle sounds • Air raid - London • Atom bomb ("Operation Crossroads"), General Douglas MacArthur • Sputnik I Heartbeat of Laika, Explorer I: blast-off Montage: Nike-Ajax, Minuteman, Snark, Corporal Tapping blast furnace, Stamping presses Heavy-duty sewing machine, L-Frame spinning machine, Tape-weaving loom Drilling and blowing oil well Edge grinder, Gasket cutter, Reclaiming cutter Montage: Passenger steam locomotive, Telegraph key, Radio code signal, B-52 Jet, Multi-frequency telephone tones Micro-grinder Bill Haley • Bowling ball X-15 Yankee Stadium baseball crowd • Montage: Explorer VII, Continuous tape reader, Continuous printer President Dwight D. Eisenhower - re-broadcast from space G. E. scientist bouncing voice off the moon Electronic digital computer programmed to play music • Atlas - countdown and lift-off • Conveyor belt test machine Dynamometer test: brake linings and clutch facings Hammer test: abrasive wheels Spin test: abrasive wheels • Alan Shepard - recorded in space capsule Freedom 7 during flight.

The Space Age The Age of Reliability is narrated by John Charles Daly. Written by Cloyd Aarseth. Produced & directed by Bruce Chapman. The announcer is Phil Tonken. Assistance from the following organizations made this record possible:

Aerojet-General Corp. • American Iron & Steel Institute • American Petroleum Institute • Association of American Railroads • Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. • Boeing Airplane Company • Decca Records, Inc. • Ford Motor Company • General Dynamics Corporation • General Electric Company • Hearst-Metrotone News • International Business Machine Corp. • Mackay Radio and Telegraph Company • Mutual Broadcasting System, Inc. • National Aeronautic & Space Administration • New York Telephone Company • North American Aviation, Inc. • Radio Corporation of America • United Aircraft Corporation • U. S. Department of Defense

John Charles Daly has received virtually every major award for distinguished radio and TV reporting in his 25 years as a professional newsman. While ABC Vice-President in charge of News, Special Events and Public Affairs, he left his distinctive mark on the Korean crisis, the 1952 and '56 conventions and campaigns, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the Hungarian rebellion, and other major stories.
John Daly's style is professional; his insights quick and revealing. As his 1954 Peabody Award citation reads, 'John Charles Daly is primarily a reporter—and a good one.' "

From the several-page insert booklet:
OCTOBER 4th, 1957 . . . the Day the Whole World Listened

Beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep
. Remember? A small sound - almost trivial - but the whole world listened . . . and nothing since has sounded quite the same. Sputnik made people everywhere grow up a little. From orbit it signaled the start of a new age . . . the Space Age . . . the Age of Reliability.

Today, basic American industry respond to its greatest challenge. In modern aerospace manufacturing, a single simple error can mean complete and costly failure. Today, the raw materials of production must take new forms . . . must be specially developed, newly compounded. Manufacturing methods have changed, too: precision craftsmanship now tempers the breakneck speed of mass production. A satellite in space? Every space vehicle requires countless individual parts and components . . . each perfect, each perfectly dependable. Lives depend on accuracy and men take greater pains - and more pride - in their work. Production in the space age has evolved an entirely new technology.


One quarter, right. Only a simple adjustment to a basic component, but essential to the function of a critical assembly . . . and - ultimately - a significant factor in the performance of a defensive missile, or a satellite in orbit around the earth.

In the space age, the successful launching of a space vehicle depends on precision adjustment and predictable performance. The reliability of any product is similarly determined by the dependability of every component part. The space age - the Age of Reliability - has established ever-increasing demands for production efficiency and precision that basic industry must constantly strive to meet . . . and exceed. Today, man relies on the innovations of industry to multiply his abilities, and to extend his reach. He must be able to depend on them.


Re-entry temperatures can soar to a searing 5000° Fahrenheit - and above. Missiles and satellites must tame this inferno. How? Basic materials are skillfully adapted to extreme operating conditions . . . many unique, each critical.

The space age requires new products, near perfection . . . demands perfect reliability. And with any space age product, reliability begins with research: isolate the fundamental properties of materials . . . determine the limits of thermal conductivity and resistance . . . probe the extremes of fatigue and strain. Test and re-test . . . and test again. Reliability is the basic ingredient in modern manufacturing. We must know how a product will perform . . . and how often.

Click. Push a button: destruct. As simply as that, a missile veering off-range is destroyed. That quickly, the threat of catastrophe is past.

Reliability in space age manufacture takes on a new significance here: an intricate mechanism explodes a runway missile in mid-air with predetermined certainty. It is this emphasis on reliability - equally important in launching of a space vehicle, and to its effective destruction when in faulty flight - that makes it possible for American industry to venture new frontiers at calculated and controlled risk. Tomorrow's successful product developments depend on reliability today.

SEVEN . . . SIX . . . FIVE . . . FOUR . . . THREE . . .

Do children still learn to count from one to ten before they count from ten to one? Still fancy themselves at the controls of a giant locomotive roaring coast-to-coast . . . or must it now be a rocket to the stars? It's different . . . growing up in the sixties. Different for all of us.

This is the space age. A new and very different age in which to live - and age of challenge to man . . . and to the men in industry who must meet its new demands. Vehicles to probe the wonders of the universe . . . missiles that will guard the peace at home. Today, as never before, reliability is the basic equipment in manufacturing: reliability in the products we make . . . reliability in the methods and materials with which they are made. Margin for error? Not in the new world we live in . . . in the sixties.

WEST OF THE MOON . . . June 17th, 1967

Silence. A stillness broken only by the occasional voice of the intercom. Inside your capsule, darkness . . . outside, an eerie twilight on the moon. And beyond the moon, earth . . . Florida . . . the Bahamas. After four days, you're headed home.

Orbit the moon in 1967? That's the prediction. And in the space age it's significant that no one is amazed. Consider the changes that have taken place in the last ten years . . . the last five. Man's reach still exceeds his grasp, but men in industry are narrowing the gap. Precision manufacturing of completely dependable products is changing the world we live in . . . in the space age, the age of Reliability.

Raybestos-Manhattan specializes in adapting basic materials to meet the exacting demands of industry in the space age. Wherever you use asbestos, rubber, sintered metal or engineered plastics, rely on R/M technology . . . and R/M products . . . to promote the highest standards of performance reliability. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., Passaic, N.J.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer is winding down...

so it's a perfect time to catch those last rays of glorious UV while listening to... some Christmas music.Today's album was released in 1979 by the Alcoa Singers in conjunction with the rebroadcast of the 1978 Rankin-Bass animated TV special "The Stingiest Man In Town" - a musical (based on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol") written by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre.
The original "The Stingiest Man In Town" production was a live-action television show (in color!) on the Alcoa Hour in 1958, and starred Basil Rathbone as Scrooge. This album features selections from the 1987 animated TV special that were originally sung by Dennis Day, Tom Bosley, Robert Morse, and (in the title role of Scrooge) Walter Matthau.

The Alcoa Singers got their start in 1961 as a volunteer group performing holiday concerts for fellow employees. On this disc (and since 1975) they are directed by Eleanor Glockner and accompanied by Merle Sharff

The Alcoa Singers-An Old-Fashioned Christmas Side One
The Alcoa Singers-An Old-Fashioned Christmas Side Two

(click on the back cover for the track and cast lists)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Get your mono

Nelson Riddle is most-well-known for his work as staff arranger for Capitol Records in the 1950's (working with Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney and Keely Smith can be good for your reputation) but he later had some success on his own, primarily writing for television and film ( the theme song for Route 66; arranging for Batman and other television series, and the scores of several motion pictures including Robin and the 7 Hoods and the original Ocean's Eleven) and then arranging three albums of pop standards for Linda Ronstadt in the 80's (for which he won two Grammy Awards).

This album features Riddle's Route 66 theme, as well as his themes for The Untouchables and Sam Benedict (no, I don't remember that show, either - it ran for one season in 1962). Also included is My Three Sons, which was cool to hear again.

This album is recorded in glorious mono - maybe the best sounding mono album I've ever heard (sorry for you mp3 listeners!) and I can just close my eyes and picture sitting in the big live room at Capitol listening as these musicians ran down these tracks live.

Side One
Route 66 Theme
The Alvin Show Theme
The Andy Griffith Theme
Theme From "Ben Casey"
My Three Sons
The Untouchables

Side Two
Naked City Theme
Sing Along (Sing Along With Mitch Theme)
The Defenders Theme
Theme From "Sam Benedict"
Theme From "Dr. Kildare"
This Could Be The Start of Something (Steve Allen Show Theme)

Monday, August 24, 2009

If it ain't Baroque...

Let's start the week off with a dose of Elizabethan bawdy songs, courtesy of Ed McCurdy, Erik Darling, and Alan Arkin and entitled "When Dalliance Was in Flower (and Maidens Lost Their Heads)". This 1956 disc is volume one of what became a three-disc series. This, and the succeeding volumes, were based on 'Songs of Wit and Mirth' or 'Pills to Purge Melancholy' edited by Thomas D'Urfey and printed in London in 1719, and set to music by McCurdy.

When Dalliance Was in Flower (and Maidens Lost Their Heads)-Side One
1. Go Bring Me A Lass
2. The Trooper
3. A Young Man and a Maid
4. A Wanton Trick
5. There Was a Knight
6. Two Maidens Went Milking One Day
7. A Lusty Young Smith
8. Tom and Doll

When Dalliance Was in Flower (and Maidens Lost Their Heads)-Side Two
1. A Riddle
2. A Maiden Did A-Bathing Go
3. The Jolly Tinker
4. Old Fumbler
5. The Three Travelers
6. Kitt Hath Lost Her Key
7. To A Lady
8. The Four Able Physicians
9. Sylvia The Fair

This is the cover for the disc that I have - it is the second version of the album:

This is the original cover:

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Man Who Knows How To Use His Organ

Let's kick the weekend off with some groovin' music for your bachelor pad or retro lounge.
My love for combo organ music goes back to my childhood and vacation time spent at my Grandparent's house, first in MD and then in WV (See this post about Dick Hyman for
the actual album that started it all). Lenny Dee is a discovery of the last few years (he shows up elsewhere in this blog) and doesn't rock quite as hard as The Man From O.R.G.A.N. - he's a lot closer to the lounge than the dance club. The show tunes in this release particularly lend themselves to a lighter interpretation, and Lenny lightens right up. Still, there are some interesting sections that go beyond light listening - for example, Blues in the Night has a strange voicing that shows up throughout that I assume is meant to be imitative of a brass instrument, and the Colonel Bogey March is always good, no matter the interpretor. Still, it is an "Organ Solos with Orchestra" album, so it's going to be more syrupy than smokin'.

Side One
Around The World/Love Is Here To Stay/Anna (El Negro Zumban)/Moonglow and "Theme From Picnic"/Fascination/Brasil (Aquarela Do Brasil)

Side Two
Blues In The Night/Lover, Come Back To Me/Never On Sunday/Baubles, Bangles, and Beads/Over The Rainbow/Colonel Bogey March