Thanks to Jeff Missinne for pointing out a Bihari label that I missed: ARA, American Recording Artists. These were boxed sets of Mexicali Brass and other Crown series. As Jeff writes, “Because ARA albums were sold as boxed sets, they required inner sleeves, which I don’t think Crown ever bothered with otherwise. The (flimsy) inner sleeves are made of what appears to be waxed paper! The ones I have were also packed with a white corrugated filler somewhat like an egg carton.”
The address above is the Bihari factory at Slauson & Normandie familiar to anyone who owns a Crown. The cheap label is vintage Bihari factory printing. ARA…another bit of useless info from the Bihari archives.
Have you ever wondered where all the average folks went? Turns out Crown Records wondered the same thing back in 1970 with the release of this Nashville Scene LP. Or is the LP by Bob Currie, since the cover credits both artists. Well, artists may be too strong of a word.
This Crown was just handed over to me by my pal Duke who found it and a few others in the attic of a hoarder. The record is sealed so I haven’t cracked it open yet. Am I dumb enough to think a sealed Crown LP is worth any change? Maybe, though the LP (CST 602) is missing from the online Modern/Crown discography bible at bsnpubs.com which leads me to believe it might be rare. They list the LP’s number (CST 602) as Crown’s first in their late series of all stereo releases but have no other info about it.
Several years ago I stopped actively collecting Bihari Brothers LPs – Crowns, Moderns, Customs, etc. With over 340 of these LPs shelved away in a closet, I figured I had enough to fill out the images for the Crown Records Story film…and so far I think I’m right. A solid 40+ minute version of the story is complete. It’s been screened several times here in Los Angeles and is currently being submitted to festivals. It’s taken 10 years to get this far and sadly most of the people directly associated with the Biharis whom I interviewed have passed away. Incredibly, though, I keep getting contacts to call, including a guy who worked on the Discos Corona label with engineer Bill Lazerus. I’m calling him later this week and we’ll see what he has to add to the story.
Ever hear of William Claxton? Famous for his lovely, atmospheric black & white portraits of jazz musicians at work & play. With instruments and women. High contrast smoke rings.
The 1950s-’60s. It was the era of fine photograpy LP covers. Artists like Lee Freidlander, Robert Frank & Claxton had work showing up on LP covers of prestigious labels like Atlantic. Blue Note had their house photographer and cool, bold graphic art. Covers worthy of hanging in art galleries.
Not to be outdone, Modern also put out photo LP covers on some jazz releases. And they all used William Claxton photographs. How the hell did that happen? By the ’90s Claxton’s photos were making him good $$ but maybe he was just another starving artist when Jules Bihari bought some images. And we doubt Jules stole Claxton’s photos since Claxton is given credit several times, something the Biharis usually reserved for themselves. As you can see, sister Florette gets credit as the art director but according to general manager James Takeda & Jules’ son Peter, Florette was no more a graphic artist than her brothers were song writers (Ling, Taub, etc.).
So how this came about is pure conjecture. The folks we interviewed had no idea, and this includes Takeda and engineer Bill Lazerus, who both did Crown cover art of their own. Bill did a lot of the later Crown cover photos including all the Lowell Fulsoms.
Two new screenings of our Crown Records Story documentary are planned: this Sunday in Lomita, CA (near Long Beach, time not yet set) and Thursday, July 18, 6pm near downtown Los Angeles. Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Perhaps only once did Crown give credit to one of the sexy models posing for their flimsy cheese-cake LP covers. That was the LP Latin Twist upon which 1950′s TV star & pin-up model Irish McCulla prances in front of a south seas back drop. Ms. McCulla was TV’s Sheena, Queen of the Jungle as well as a model for pinup artist Alberto Vargas. There are several website devote to Irish and even a wikipedia page. Note sure anyone notes she stands alongside of Fazzio as one of Crown’s cover art mysteries. The other credits on the back of the LP – Hobco Arts & Photography by Joseph Tauber are most likely pseudonyms for Bihari family members or other employees. Jules B already used the name Taub as a fake song writing name to steal royalties from artists such as BB King. Other Crown LP cover trivia: recording engineer Bill Lazerus photographed many of the covers (such as the Lowell Fulsom covers) under his own pseudonym Ron Joy. Operations Manager James Takeda did his share of the cover art as well though often you can find his name intact.
Sign up to see our Crown Records documentary on June 27 and you’ll learn a lot more trivia about the Bihari owned record company.
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Tagged bihari, Bihari Brothers, blues, budget LPs, budget records, Crown Records, Fazzio, irish-mucculla, LP cover art, Modern Records, music documentaries
I’m staring at a cheapie Golden Tone Artie Shaw LP and an address pops out at me on the back:
Same address of the infamous Bihari record factory known as Cadet Records where Jerry Cole recorded under hundreds of pseudonyms. Was Golden Tone just another Bihari label? Maybe, as the GT LPs cover the Crown gamut including Hawaiian, swing bands, Ink Spots & Twist LPs. Never heard anyone mention Golden Tone when I was interviewing Crown employees though Contessa was never mentioned and it was a two fold quality product apparently put out by Bihari in the psych era when Crown/Cadet was on its last legs.
Rare screening of our Crown Records doc on June 27th – email us for details.
Music By The Pound: The Crown Records Story (40 min), is an independent documentary about an independent Los Angeles record label. It made a rare appearance at the City of Angels Guitar Show, May 25, in Pasadena where it played with 18 minutes of Jerry Cole extras.
We are having a screening of Music By The Pound Thursday June 27 at 7PM near downtown Los Angeles. If interested in attending please contact us at email@example.com for further details.
Music By The Pound tells the entire story of the Bihari Brothers’ Modern & Crown Records label, from recording classic blues and R&B in the late 1940s & ’50s to shlock budget LPs in the ’60s to its demise in 1982. Featuring Wrecking Crew session guitarist Jerry Cole, boogie-woogie queen Hadda Brooks, sax pioneer Joe Houston, blues legend Jimmy McCracklin, Peter Bihari, Lester Bihari, legendary recording engineer Bill Lazerus and others. Includes the latest info on the mysterious Fazzio covers.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Bihari Brothers, blues, budget records, Crown Records, Fazzio, Hadda Brooks, Jerry Cole, Joe Houston, Jules Bihari, Mexicali Brass, Modern Records