Rock & Roll & Riley King

rockNroll

CLP 5001/1957 –

Dance Party is the first Crown LP release, a reissue of the first RPM release (LP 3001) issued a year earlier.  There are also release numbers scribed on the vinyl for a Modern release that apparently wasn’t released.  The first 15 Crown releases mostly coincide with the first 15 Modern LP releases, then the next several Crown releases were reissues of RPM LP releases.  The first pure Crown release was CLP-5026 (String of Pearls: Music Made Famous By Glenn Miller) as deduced from the BSN’s Crown discography.

This first Crown LP has liner notes, song credits & a cover photo by Todd Walker (more info on Walker on this earlier blog entry).  The cover photo is blurred and sloppily cut out around the kids, creating quite a crappy appearance. The 12 tunes here are all popular singles from the Bihari catalogue, kind of a “best of Bihari” including hits by Etta James, the Cadets, Jacks and Joe Houston.


RockinNReelin

CLP 5015/1957

So here’s the 15th Modern LP reissued as Crown’s 15 issue with both LP numbers scribed in the vinyl. Backside probably duplicates the backside of the Modern release with liner notes, song credits and 6 tunes per side.  All these early Crown LPs credit Bihari sister Florette for “art direction and production.” As noted earlier, several Bihari employees I interviewed doubted that Florette actually did the work. The standing Cadet doesn’t look too happy in the cover photo.

The Cadets started out in the 1940s as gospel singers, calling themselves the Santa Monica Soul Seekers. They came to Modern through an audition and were also issued as The Jacks on RPM. They performed as the Cadets but played both groups’ tunes.  The Cadets had a big hit with Stranded in the Jungle and the group went thru several personnel changes over the years.


R&RTonyAllen

CST 240/1961

Tony Allen was born in New Orleans & raised in the Ninth Ward with Fats Domino as a neighbor.  There’s a great little biography of Tony Allen over at the Doo Wop Society web page.  Here’s a excerpt that defines this performer’s musical background: “I attended George Washington Carver High with Arthur Lee Maye and Eugene Church. Later I went to Jefferson High, where I knew Cornel Gunter and Bobby Freeman. Arthur introduced me to Jesse Belvin, who only lived a block away from me, on 41st Place and Long Beach Boulevard. We all became good friends.”  What an incredible musical adolescence.

Ace Records has the only legit CD of Tony Allen’s recordings, including the material here. This LP has syrupy ballads, upbeat doo woo and a few near rockers but mostly you’ll feel like you’re listening to an oldies LP.


BBKing2

CLP 5020/1957

One of several BB King greatest hits Crowns including his first hit record, the Memphis recorded 3 O’Clock Blues (1952) and other early classics like Woke Up This Morning (Houston/1952-3), the first version of Sweet Little Angel (alt. take/1956/Los Angeles) and Every Day I Have The Blues (1955/Los Angeles). Reissue of RPM LP 3005 with both Modern & RPM numbers in the vinyl trail off.  Bad Luck is from 1956/Los Angeles & features King’s raw, 1950’s guitar style. He’s backed by a horn section that’s not led by Maxwell Davis.

Singing The Blues CLP 5020 was later reissued as Custom LP 1071 & United LP 7726. All the BB King info on this posting taken from the invaluable discography Blues Records, 1943-1970 by Mike Leadbetter & Neil Slaven.


SteveAlaimo

CLP 5283/1963

Steve Alaimo had a crazy career, starting out in a cousin’s instro band, recording as a pop singer, being backed by an all black band, hosting Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is TV show for 2 years, signed at various times to ATCO/Atlantic, Chess/Checker, ABC Paramount & Crown. He was even a producer, working with Sam & Dave amongst other black acts. Like many of my Crown LPs in the closet, the vinyl long ago slipped out of the torn open covers & so far it’s lost.  I’ll post a Steve Alaimo cut when the vinyl resurfaces.


JumpinWJacks

CLP 5021/1957

As noted above. the Jacks were simply The Cadets wearing different suits and recording on RPM rather than Modern. Both had releases on Crown that were duplicates of their RPM/Modern discs. By this time the Biharis had started the practice that would eventually result in the multiple reissues of everything they owned and (except in a few cases) each release more budget than the last.

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R.I.P. B B KING

Crown recording engineer Bill Lazerus & session guitarist Jerry Cole talk about recording with B.B. King at the Crown/Modern studios in this out take from the documentary The Crown Records Story.

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Hot Rods, Guitars & Psychos

TwangyGuitarsSurfStompin

                       CLP 5170/1960                                                           CLP 5314/1963

I’ve owned these Crowns for many years but never realized they were the same LPs until I just sampled the tracks. Released 3 years apart, sides 1 & 2 on both LPs are identical though the titles are different. To quote Jerry Cole, “Titles are tiles,” meaning it didn’t matter what the hell the Biharis titled the instros, especially if they were releasing the same tracks on different LPs. This happened countless times with Joe Houston and Jerry Cole instrumentals. However, rarely did the Biharis reissue the identical LP and give it a different title, artist & concept (twang vs surf) as they did here. At least they made a new stamper for CLP 5314 as there’s no scratched out 5170 on the blank vinyl around the label.

Billy Boyd vs Don Dailey vs Jerry Cole? Musician/writer Mike Vernon, who compiled several of the Ace Jerry Cole/Crown releases and wrote excellent notes accompanying the CDs, assumed Cole was Billy Boyd. Even Jerry himself claimed to be Billy Boyd. However, a close listen reveals that a different guitarist and band appear on the above LPs compared to the hot rod & psycho cycle LPs below.

Both sides of these LPs lead off with surf band instros which sound different (at least to me) than any of the other tracks on the LPs – I’m thinking these tracks were both sides of an actual surf band single Jules leased and stuck on Twangy/Surf Stompin’.  These surf tracks are included on the Ace release which you can purchase here.

Most of the other tracks are more upbeat instros featuring a Duane Eddy-esque sax player. The LPs also contain a decent version of Link Wray’s Rumble (titled Bolero Boogie vs. Way Out) plus a slow, long, atmospheric two guitar effort (minus back up band), neither on the Ace releases.

Either LP is worth owning though the sax player tends to dominate the guitar at times–since they’re the same LP you only need to find one.


CyclePsychos

CST 384/1963

UK’s Ace Records has released three CDs of the instrumentals off these biker, hot rod & Go Go LPs so head on over to their site to purchase legit copies. Below are four songs off the original LPs, written and performed by Jerry Cole, that are not included on the Ace releases.

Body By Fisher is an awesome Jerry Cole reworking a BB King standard with JC playing incredible BB King licks. The back up band sounds like a rhythm track taken from a BB King session rather than the honking sax band on the other tracks.

GuitarsAGoGoguitarsagogo2

                      CST476/1965                                                          CST 553/1968

DeuceCoupes

CST 393/1963

HotRodAlley

CST 385/1963


Disco

CST 449/1964

The Crown/Jerry Cole psych, hot rod & cycle LPs are much sought after but Discotheque! is a hidden gem. Monkey Shoes on Side 1 and Bread & Jam Jerk on Side 2 sound like Joe Houston cuts. Most if not all of the other selections sound like Jerry Cole playing undistorted rock guitar backed by the same honking Dwayne Eddy-esque sax player on all the other Cole hot rod LPs. Ironically, the following cut Texas Ska is more twangy sounding than any cut on Twangy Guitar.

Red River may be the most recorded public domain tune in the Bihari budget record catalogue. Here’s their disco version:

Another public domain classic is Shortnin’ Bread that has a colorful history. It’s one of the best tunes on Discotheque.


SurfRockin

CLP 5313/1963

Writer Jim Dawson did Herculean research on Joe Houston’s Crown LPs for Ace Records on their reissues, untangling many of the mislabeled and retitled tracks.  Here’s a couple tracks from Surf Rockin that aren’t true surf tunes but worthwhile nonetheless, dismissed by Ace Records on their reissues.

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More Crown Jazz LPs

Here’s where I look inside the split sleeves of a full week of Crown Jazz LPs to see what’s left of the grooves in these noisy pressings made on less than virgin vinyl.

Maybe two weeks of Crown jazz LPs have left me numb but I can’t recommend any of the following budget LPs for your jazz vinyl collection. First up is Gerry Mulligan with Fazzio cover looking more like a photograph than most Fazzios.

GerryMulligan

CST 411/1964

After much digging I discovered the source of these cuts listed below, with only one track recorded by Crown (Buddy Collette).  To title the LP Gerry Mulligan is stretching the truth as he’s only on one track (Knights of the Squaretable).  In fact, except for Mulligan’s Knights & Buddy Collette’s track Joggin’, the tracks on this LP feature only jazz pianist Wiggins and a bass player.

Criss Cross, Gray Skies, X-15, Gerald’s Train, Lights Out are by Gerald Wiggins (2/24/56) recorded for Ember.

Knights of the Squaretable is really Nights at the Turntable by Mulligan (10/15-16/52) recorded for Pacific Jazz.

Joggin’ is by Buddy Collette (c.1959-60) recorded for Crown.

The Mulligan track:


JazzSurprise

CLP 5008/1957

Reissue of Modern LP 1208 with only Modern label numbers (MMLP 1208) on the vinyl trailoff, no new Crown numbers, meaning they used the same stampers for both label issues.  Jazz Surprise (with identical covers) was the eighth LP issue in both the Crown & Modern (12 inch) series.

To take the surprise out of this Crown/Modern release, these cuts are mostly from Gene Norman’s Just Jazz concerts from 1947 & 1949.  Here are the details with permission from jazz disco.org:

Howard McGhee (trumpet) Sonny Criss (alto saxophone) Dexter Gordon, Wardell Gray (tenor saxophone) Dodo Marmarosa (piano) Red Callender (bass) Jackie Mills (drums) Anita O’Day vocals on Fall Out.

Hollywood, CA, circa April 27, 1947
Donna Lee (Scratch) Chuck Peterson (trumpet) Vic Dickenson (trombone) Benny Carter (alto saxophone) Charlie Barnet (tenor saxophone) Dodo Marmarosa (piano) Red Callender (bass) Jackie Mills (drums)

Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA, April 29, 1947
MM1000 Perdido, Part 1
MM1001 Perdido, Part 2
Teddy Edwards (tenor saxophone) Erroll Garner (piano) John Simmons (bass) Chuck Thompson (drums) Dave Lambert (vocals)

Civic Auditorium, Pasadena, CA, summer 1949
JJ-6X-92 Cherokee, Part 1
JJ-6X-93 Cherokee, Part 2

For even more details about this LP and its companion Modern/Crown release Jazz Masquerade, check out this well researched blog entry from the Jazz Research blog.

Note that Bihari brothers’ pseudonyms Taub/Ling (for Jules & Saul)  took most of the writing & publishing credit for the tunes on this LP–a total ripoff.

The provocative cover photo was by Todd Walker who was a Los Angeles-based commercial and fine art photographer who ran his own press for a while, Thumbprint Press. For more info on this great artist check out his estate’s website.


GroovinHigh

CLP 5002/1957

Reissue of Modern LP 1202 (1956) as Crown continues to mirror the releases on the Modern 12 inch series of a few years before. Vinyl trailoff contains matrix numbers from both Crown & Modern with the M1202 not scratched out. The vinyl on this LP is some the worst quality I’ve noticed, both sides covered with tiny bumps (probably sand particles). Here’s a sample from the track I Got Rhythm:

You don’t have to go far to learn about the origin of the music on this LP, just read the liner notes. Perhaps the only Crown LP that fully credits both writers & musicians.  William Claxton took the photos.

GroovBack


ModernJazzGreats

CLP 5212/1961

Here’s a great concept – pretend you’ve compiled hits by famous jazz musicians when in fact the tunes are being played by a house band with the ridiculous name The Continental Jazz Octette. One thought is Crown hoped to interest budget buyers seeking a cheaper version of the Modern Jazz Quartet (on Atlantic). Credits for the musicians on this LP have stumped even the most intrepid jazz researchers on the web. The music is uninspired and doesn’t come close to the originals.


Jazz

CST 292/1963

More tracks from Gene Norman’s Just Jazz concerts on LPs above & below, late 1940s. CST 292 is comprised of four long tracks with Miss Beat (included here) in true stereo.

GroovHigh#2

CLP 5284/1962


CallSpekLow

CLP 5012/1957

Reissue of Modern LP 1012. Following the pattern of early Crown releases (some listed above), this LP contains matrix numbers for both Crown & Modern with Modern numbers not scratched out.  Callender Speaks Low was the twelfth issue on both Crown & Modern labels, featuring sessions from 1956 & ’58.  Callender was a much in demand session player (bass) and one of the first to break the color barrier to blacks playing in TV studio bands.

Another of the few Crown LPs with informative liner notes (by Cy Schneider) and full artist credits. More photography by Claxton.

RecCBack

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Week of Great Crown Jazz & Blues LPs

Here’s a round up of last week’s Crown LP cover postings starting with a collection of singles from jump blues artist Gene Phillips.

 GenePhillips

CLP 5375/1963

A 1963 LP of Gene Phillips singles mostly recorded 1947-1951. A great Fazzio cover with generic Crown catalogue listings on the back.

Phillips was a jump blues artist who didn’t transition well into R&B and rock.  If you like Joe Turner then GP may be your man thou nearly all the cuts here sound about the same. He was known for ribald lyrics including cuts on this LP such as Punkin Head (Fuckin Head), Big Legs & Fatso.

The cuts on this LP and many more by Gene Phillips on Modern/Crown have been reissued on Ace Records. Read more about Gene Phillips and order your own copy of the Ace reissue here.


BBKingGreat

CLP 5143/1960

Nicely done Hobco cover design on this early BB King compilation of singles, released when Crown & Modern were still emulating cover art from more prestigious jazz & blues labels like Blue Note. Back liner notes by John Marlo written in self-conscious, fake preacher style. Crown is already taking up half the back cover with current Crown catalogue listings.

This was BB’s greatest era when his solo guitar work was raw and loud, years before he perfected his more tasteful vibrato style featured on The Thrill Is Gone.

The LP has a great sound but if you can’t find a copy then buy any of the countless CDs that Ace & other companies have released from the master tapes.


BudShank

CST 331/1963

These tracks were recorded in about 1954, and feature Maynard Ferguson on valve trombone. Many of the tracks were originally issue on the Pacific Records 10″ LP entitled Bud Shank and Three Trombones.  Was ready to check out a few of the great titles on this LP (Blues In The Surf & Have Blues Will Travel) that held much promise only to find the wrong Crown jazz LP inside the split cover.


Chico+Horn2

CST 341/1963

West Coast Jazzz  drummer/band leader Chico Hamilon on drums with Paul Horn alto on sax. Cover photo credited to “Bill” Claxton. Great jazz LP that was later re-released on the Bihari ultra-budget label United Superior US 7802.

Chico+Horn

CLP 5310/1963

Another Crown LP by West Coast jazz band leader Chico Hamilton. This LP has been reissued by Ace in England, and you can read more about it here.  Cover photo credited to “Bill” Claxton, butcher job on the paste up by the Crown Records art department–looks like Hamilton’s death mask. Side men: Carson Smith on bass, Fred Katz on cello, Paul Horn on flute & clarinet, John Pisano on guitar.  Here’s a great track with Katz on cello and Pisano’s guitar featured in the final third of the piece.

The track “Lord Randell” on cover is spelled “Lord Randall” on the LP.  CLP 5306 scratched out on the vinyl and rewritten as 5310.  (CLP 5306 is the Roy Willing LP listed on a previous post.) Artful cello playing by Katz on the cut below.


InkSpots1

CLP 5142/1959

Formed in the early 1930’s, the Ink Spots were originally comprised of Hoppy Jones, Deek Watson, Jerry Daniels and Charlie Fuqua.  They had over 30 hits in the 1940s. The group splintered by the 1950s when several versions toured & recorded, with Fuqua and Deek Watson leading separate Ink Spot units. More groups claiming the name Ink Spots continued to pop up thru the 1970s, most with no credentials. Bottom line: no one knows where or when these cuts were recorded or what incarnation of Inks they are.  What is known is that this is a dull sounding LP with all but two cuts being slow, mild crooning.

John Marlo writes the liner notes, claiming that these Ink Spots are recreating their 1940’s sound with Hoppy Jones on bass. Cover design credited to Charlie Meggs who has credit on several other Crowns (Peter Gunn) & at least one shlocky Capital release.


ColemanHawkins

CLP 5181/1960

This Coleman Hawkins LP has been reissued on heavy vinyl by Pure Pleasure and you can read more about it here. Also, Ace Records has issued other Crown Hawkins cuts here with more info about the recordings.  Another company has also released the Hawkins cuts from this Crown LP & others on CD here, noting the music was record in NYC, 1960.  Obviously, different companies in different areas of the world own different rights to the Crown catalogue.  Here’s a hip track from this quality Crown Jazz release, Moodsville:

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Week Two of Mostly Crown Crapola

There’s a lot of great LPs in the Crown catalogue of releases, from motorcycle instros, seminal blues & jazz, gospel, psychedelia & loads of country.

But there’s also loads of crap plus perfect examples of fads-gone-by such as polka, barrel house piano and easy listening.  Hence another week of mostly crap in which I try to find a gem or two.


WoodchoppersBall

CLP5533/1967

Mostly a reissue of Modern M7004 with identical side 1 and several substituted cuts on Side 2.


AroundWrld80

CLP5030/1958

An early Crown release where an effort is made to create a professional LP product using thick cardboard covers and detailed notes on the back. However, there was no fold-over of the cardboard on the seams so they easily split (hence the tape) plus no credit was given to the the orchestra, arranger or orchestra leader. Liner notes also went uncredited.


Gerogelatin

CLP5151/1960

George Liberace was Liberace’s older brother who was featured in Liberace’s 1950’s TV show as his silent sidekick who played violin.  He ended up managing the Vegas Liberace Museum and lived in Palm Springs in a house owned by his brother.  On Wikipedia: “In the 1960’s and 70’s, he was involved in George Liberace Songsmiths, Inc., a mail-order music publishing operation of somewhat dubious integrity.”  Cover photo by Joseph Tauber & cover by Hobco Arts, as noted on the back.


barrelHousePiano

CLP5160/1960

The Crazy Guy was discussed in this previous posting. No photo credit for the racy cover but it again looks like the work of Playboy photographer Frank Bez. Another great tape job on the cover seams using old style shipping tape.


SwinginDancing

CLP5027/1957

A swinging, suggestive cover photo by Gene Lesser-Hollywood with art direction & production credited to Bihari sister Florette. Phil Martin Orchestra performed the music.

Gene Lesser has gathered a variety of small credits in Hollywood over the years, as stage play writer, TV writer & still photographer on a low budget film.  Crown may be his only LP cover work. You can find more about him on IMDB and here.


PolkaParade

CLP5055 (2058 scratched out)/1958

There’s a great little history behind this polka record under its listing at the outstanding Both Sides Now Crown discography.  Look up the LP by its number CLP5055. It’s a real lesson in the low budget record business.


MyFairLady

CLP 5042/1957

Photo by Ron Vogel (discussed last week), cover photo by Tri Arts & conducting credit given to Thomas Maxwell Davis & Hans Hagen. Musical numbers by Lloyd Hanna & Irene Cummings.

Tri-Arts Studio was apparently a west coast ad agency or photo agency representing artists such as William Claxton and perhaps Vogel.  Not much online about the performance artists here beyond their work with Crown.  This music may have been recorded by the Biharis.

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The Week I posted my 100th Crown Cover

Last week I hit 100 Crown postings, throwing up a classic collection of some of the worst that Crown Records had to offer back in the day of budget records.  This week I promise more of the same as I pull from the broad midsection of my closet collection of Crowns. But first let’s review last week:

TeenAge

CLP 5029/1957

Vido Musso was a legit tenor sax jazz player who worked in many of the well known big bands of the 1930s-1940s, then ended up at Modern in the early 1950s with a small combo of his own including Willard McDaniel on piano & Maynard Ferguson on trumpet, both artists who had their own LPs on Crown. Here Musso’s combo digs into a more R&B groove to attract the hip teen age crowd though he also covers two of the hits he had with Artie Shaw’s band.  Cover photo is credited to Mel Buxbaum whose name doesn’t link to any other photography. The photo shows odd, older “teenagers” who look more like they are bowling in tandem than dancing.  This is the best listening LP of the week, struck on thick vinyl and recorded in solid mono–Crown did it right in the beginning but soon degenerated into shlock all around.


HappyPolkaTime

CST 259/1962

Budget labels loved polka and Crown was no exception–I can’t fathom a reason. The name Polka Dots sounds like a silly figment of the Bihari family marketing department. Photographer Ron Joy is given credit on this cover and many other Crown LPs. He may be the same photographer who passed away in 2013  and is mentioned on Nancy Sinatra’s blog as being her friend and main photographer. Here’s his obit. These Polka Dots are one of many Crown polka groups we’ll feature before the year is out.  Soundwise, the cuts are generic polka instro waltzes.


MusicToWatch

CLP 5573/1968

Despite all the George Mann Orchestra LPs on Crown and other Bihari labels, there’s virtually no evidence that Mann and his “golden trumpet” were real.  A Google search reveals links to many of the LPs, especially to this catchy title, but no other info about the artist.  Sounds like another quickie Maxwell Davis production a la Mexicali Brass with George Mann playing the part of a second rate Herb Alpert.  In fact, many cuts on this LP are the same cuts found on MB LPs.  The lead tune is perhaps the most original and catchy piece found on the LP.


CollegeSongs

CST 124/11-1958

College Songs is an early Crown stereo LP featuring liner notes, credits & red vinyl.  This is the second Crown LP I’ve found that credits former Playboy & rock photographer Frank Bez.  “Cover Assembly” credit goes to Louis Song Advertising Design which yields nothing on a Google search.  I tried to listen to the cut “Little Brown Jug” but couldn’t last thru the entire harmonizing rendition.


BobSavage

CLP 5051/12-1957

Here’s another early Crown LP which features back cover liner notes & credits.  The liner notes are by Robert Stillman, a movie & television producer with decent credits such as Rawhide & Bonanza.  Stillman brags about Savage’s talent but there’s no further info about him on the net.  Stillman claims Savage designed & opened several Hollywood night clubs but their names – Keyboard Supper Club & Musical Club La Vee – do not appear on any historic listing of Hollywood clubs.  Of course, Billy May & Nelson Riddle are recognizable talents who worked with Sinatra & others but it’s Savage’s savage crooning on this LP that stands out as simply G-d awful. Another conductor on the LP who’s listed on the back is Chu-Cho Sarazosa who may or may not be well known Latin artist Chu-Cho Zarazosa.


LatinAgoAgo

CLP 5568/1968

(Scratched out in the blank vinyl trail out of CLP 5568 is CLP 5573.)  Besides all of the copy-cat pseudo Latin brass music Bihari recorded, the company also had a policy of recording and releasing authentic Latin music of all varieties on the Discos Coronos label under the leadership of Bill Lazerus.  Latin Ago-go contains authentic Latin percussive music though the cuts don’t sound like they’re all from the same band or artist. Perhaps creative splicing produced this fun looking LP, putting together somewhat similar sounding bands under one generic Latin-American Orchestra led by a Manuel Gomez, a name that makes no appearance as a band leader under a Google search. Check out the ending of the cut posted here, it goes on forever. Recording quality varies with each cut, more evidence that this is a compilation from Discos Coronos.


Tchaikowsky

CST 149/6-1959

Early red vinyl stereo Crown LP with black impurities clearly visible all through the vinyl. Liner notes by Frank Evans, cover by Hobco Arts with gold & black two toned theme bleaching out the Crown Records Full Color High Fidelity cover.  No needle drops on this dud.

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