Posting The Final One Hundred!

With less than a hundred Crowns (& days) of the year left, I’m scraping the bottom of the closet. You’ll see a lot more LPs in genres like the Sing-A-Long Gang, Thousand Strings, Crazy Guy, polka, dixieland & Hawaiian music, as all these genes were released in multiple volumes plus often reissued using different covers.  Along the way, however, I hope to continue to uncover gems like you’ll hear below. Enjoy the final stretch in this year of Crown LPs – someone’s got to find out what’s inside these busted sleeves and, as my mother used to say, better me than you!


SingA LongCLP 5211/1961 – BSN needs photo

The vinyl was so trashed on this LP that it was barely playable. Did a needle drop on every cut but only found a sappy sounding Sing-A-Long Gang singing mostly (if not all) public domain campfire tunes. I’m not what the concept is behind this LP – did Crown think campers would pack in portable record players to spin disks around the campfire? Were there even portable players back in 1961? Best feature of the LP are the little line illustrations before every title on the cover–clip art before there was even clip art.

Mitch1

Mitch2

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: As Jeff M points out in the comments, these Crown Sing-A-Long LPs are knock offs of the very popular and profitable Mitch Miller and his Gang LPs of the era. Crown copied Mitch Miller’s style of listing song titles punctuated by clip art type drawings on the cover though stayed away from adding a Mitch Miller lookalike.

Before producing his popular Sing Along series, Mitch Miller was an important and successful A&R man for Mercury and then Columbia. Though he wasn’t shy about his negative opinion of rock and roll (“musical baby food”) he nevertheless discovered and nurtured many popular artists.  He even signed Aretha Franklin to Columbia (though she eventually left for Atlantic where the rest is history).



DSC00040

CST 268/1962

There was no vinyl in this sleeve; probably dropped out of the split LP cover along its life journey. Wrote about Gerald “The Wig” Wiggins in an earlier post. Basically, a flexible pianist schooled in swing & bop. His longtime trio included bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Paul Humphrey. For lots more info read this bio of Wiggins by Scott Yanow. Wiggins died in 2008 at age 86. These recordings were probably recorded by Crown.

Kay Starr started out as a solid jazz singer in the 1940s, embraced popular music & a bit of rock and roll in the 1950s. For more details read this bio of Kay Starr by John Bush.


OldGoodV1

CLP 5213/1961

This is the first volume of Crown’s reissue of mostly Sage & Sand singles. LP is packed with interesting and sometimes awesome roots county & rockabill. Standouts include cuts by Les York (prolific recording artist with & without his brother George–discography) , Lonnie Barron (covered in a previous blog entry), Georgia Brown (Dootone 346 as Sweet Georgia Brown & Whippoorills – I Want to Go Back to Mexico/I Still Love You), Okie Jones & Oscar Hart (more info on last two artists here).

I Want To Go Back To Mexico is a bizarre but fun combination of country, pop, Latin & bop. It could be the soundtrack for a Chuck Jones Looney Tunes cartoon and it’s doubtful that Dootone recording artist Georgia Brown is a white country roots artist. How this cut was selected for this country compilation of Sage reissue tracks is a mystery.


peterGunn

CLP 5101

Maxwell Davis arranging Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for the TV show Peter Gunn.  Conducted by Ted Nash & featuring trombone player Dick Nash who also played in the legit soundtrack of the TV series. West coast jazz pianist Russ Freeman is on keyboards.  Crown liner notes staff writer Frank Evans claims he was in several of the episodes but his parts most have been too small to register a mention on IMDB.

This is a quality recording with a great cover by Charles Winfield Meggs  it’s just another Crown Records/Bihari brothers’ mystery why it was necessary to pay royalties and/or license fees to release a clone of the Mancini soundtrack that was already released on RCA? How much profit could there have been in such a budget record release?  They didn’t even go the usual Crown/budget record route of putting one legit cut on the LP with the rest being public domain or in-house filler sound-alike tracks. The cuts on this LP are identical to the RCA Mancini LP, minus a few tracks in true Crown Records tradition.

Here’s what we know about the obscure California artist Meggs, taken from an obscure art site. He’s also credited with “Meggs Mirror Movieland,”  a gossip caricature/comic strip that appeared in several newspapers in Australia in the late 1930s.

“Charles Winfield MEGGS
1902 – 1980

Charles Winfield Meggs was born in Canada on May 18, 1902. He was a skilled commercial artist who painted fine art in his leisure. By 1930 he had established a studio in Los Angeles. He died there on July 3, 1980.”


RexTrailer

on wikipedia

A thin sounding, unremarkable but decent cowboy country singer who had quite a following on the east coast. Check out his bio on wikipedia and this family website kept in his memory which sells CDs and DVDs.


 texCarmen

CST 324/1963

Tex Carman was a Sage recording artist and in fact CST 324 is a reissue of Sage LP9 minus the opening track. You can read a bio of him here but basically Tex was an unusual country performer who played a Hawaiian steel guitar and sung in whining country style that defies description. It’s a great LP so go out and find a copy.

Must see footage of Tex Carmen playing at the Town Hall Party in Compton, CA.


LittleGreenApples

CST 578/1968

Not the best of the Crown LPs from Eddie “Hillbilly Heaven” Dean.  Features a sad cover of Little Green Apples and four solid instrumental filler tracks that may or not be Eddie Dean’s band. Several feature piano & dobro plus the rocking’ Country Magpie included here with blistering lead electric guitar & impressive pedal steel – might be the Palomino Club house band featuring Red Rhodes.


kapu

CLP 5110/June 1958

An authentic exotica LP from Crown that is considered by some collectable. Back cover credits all the musicians and includes Raskin’s notes on the tunes plus some neat little drawings of birds, the sun & other items some might consider exotic.

KapuBack003 copy

Two years later Crown reissued the LP with generic Crown back and a different (though still cool) cover.  The tunes appear in a different order and what was once the “exciting” sounds of Raskin became the “exotic” sounds.

ExoticPercussion

CST 212/1960

Here’s a detailed review and information about this sought after Milt Raskin exotica LP here.  A good bio of Raskin can be found at this site for space age music fans.


 ErrollGarner

CST 275/1962

The original issue of Fazzio cover CLP 5404/1964 reviewed in a previous blog entry.


HonkyTonkPiano

CLP 5037/1957

Crown put out a series of Crazy Guy piano LPs meant to crib off a popular honky tonk piano act of the day, Crazy Otto, whose rinky-tink, honky tonk music grew out of the earlier ragtime piano style, also a popular budget LP genre. Here’s a website listing the most popular ragtime/honky tonk piano players of the days – note that Crown’s Crazy Guy makes no appearance on the list.

Cover photo by Ken Whitmore who has a slew of cover credits to his name, especially in this era. Whitmore is listed at this site as a celebrity photographer who got his big break shooting stills for Cecil B Mille during the filming of the “Ten Commandments.”  Liner notes are uncredited and a few song titles listed on the LP back are missing on the vinyl.

This clawed up disk would play well in a past life Shakey’s Pizza joint or on silent movie night at the ole cinema. Otherwise, no sense in owning this vinyl or spinning it on your platter.


BudBregGoldenWest

CST 117

Crown’s usual oval logo is refashioned here to spell musicalrama though listening to this LP of bad elevator music is not a musicalrama treat. Giving you a break by not including any cuts from it.


swanlake

CLP 5185/1960 – BSN needs photos

Nice blue themed cover is the best this Crown has to offer. A waste of bad vinyl. Surprised anyone bought this LP but it must be true if it ended up selling for a 33 cents in the recycle bin.


HeartOfSpain-2

CST 213

Volume 2 of Crown’s rip off of the first 101 Strings LP.


 OohLaLaLib

CST 5178

Crown issued at least three George Liberace LPs. George sounds full of himself without his brother’s talent and was involved in more than his share of scandal (see my previous post), the most interesting element of his character. Musically, he’s a subpar lounge act. Ripped the LPs last track which sounds like a brief number a lounge act makes before going on a break.


vivaMB

WorkSongMB

 zorbathegreek

MichelleMB

MBDowntown

MameHDMB

This is probably the last of Mexicali Brass LPs until Xmas. All released from 1966-67. Five cuts per side. Many tracks shared between LPs. Supposedly all quickie productions by Maxwell Davis.  Nearly all the budget labels produced TJ Brass clones but Crown capitalized on the craze with the most passion and number of releases until a lawsuit from Herb Alpert stopped the flow.


polkaparty

CLP 5155

Polka records were one of the old standbys in the budget record business and Crown released and reissued a seemingly endless stream of them. This one’s got a nice photo cover by the NY agency 3 Lions but otherwise has nothing musical to recommend.

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Crown Covers Posted Daily on Facebook

Just a reminder, I continue to post a different Crown LP cover daily on Facebook for the remainder of 2015.

Today’s post (to be researched later for this blog):

DSC00040

Posted in Ace Records, Crown LP, Gerald Wiggins, Independent Record Labels, Joe Bihari, Jules Bihari, Kay Starr, Los Angeles, Modern Records, Sixties Era | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BEYOND & BEFORE FAZZIO

HiWayneHal

CST 266/1962

Another western band from the Sage & Sand label featuring accomplished musicians. Tunes veer toward novelty at times as you can hear in the two tracks included here, All Alone, Broken Hearted and She Was Kissing Someone Else.  You can find several original Sage 78’s on Youtube. Here’s a screen shot of She Was Kissing Someone Else.

.KissingSomeoneElseLabel

My copy of Country Jamboree LP looks relatively unplayed and but Crown’s awful processed stereo pressing diminishes the playability of it.


PepTwist

CLP 5249/1962

A twist LP with one twist tune, a cover of Joey Dee & the Starliters’ double-sided single Peppermint Twist, a hit on Roulette.  Note that other twist LPs from Crown contain no twist tunes, just relabeled oldies from the Bihari catalog (like Twist With Me Henry). No information on the identity of the Twisters has surfaced thus far and they don’t sound enough like the original to think they are in fact the Starliters.  Feel free to weigh in if you have any info and I’ll update this post.

The rest of the LP are singles from the Biharis’ catalogue of blues, R&B and doo wop.  There’s nothing remotely twist about any of the tunes which include No More Doggin’ by Roscoe Gordon & the BB King standard Jump With You Baby.


EttaJames

CLP 5234/1961

You can’t go wrong with any of the several Etta James compilations released on Crown. For legit versions of these Etta James cuts and others, head on over the Ace Records site where they have the complete Etta James on Modern & Kent for sale.


Goldfinger

CLP 5440/1964

A daring Bihari cheese cake cover with topless model displaying one naked breast.  Goldfinger is given undistinguished treatment though judge for yourself.  The rest of the LP consists of tracks from various Modern/Crown percussion albums, none pretending to be a movie theme–after all, the title never specifies that the “others” in Theme From Goldfinger and others would necessarily be movie themes. This LP is not a Crown you need to seek out and own.


whereAveragePeps

CST 602/1970–send to BSN

“Where Have All The Average People Gone” is an intriguing title and one not listed in the Both Sides Now discography.  Bob Currie’s other Crown LP (622) also goes unlisted in BSN though there’s a copy for sale on Ebay Poland (no joke–see screen shot).

Currie2

Cracking open this sealed LP reveals Currie to be an average singer-song writer who’s flirting with a protest song in the title track.

Other tracks are tepid country-style tunes with backing from a tinkly piano and undistinguished rhythm section.  The most spirited track on the LP is ripped below, Reap The Wild Wind with fast finger lead. Never heard Jerry Cole play in this style so perhaps the guitarist is another of the Palamino Club players.

Though true stereo, the recording quality isn’t up to the standards of earlier Modern/Crown material: the sound is thin and instruments are low, stuck in the background.


hymns

I’ve never bothered to spin the Johnny Cole and/or Robert Evans Chorus’ LPs on Crown.  They all look so generic and it’s nothing I’m interested in. But then the blog received a comment from a Johnny Cole fan and he’s apparently not the only one out there.  Chile is also known as Johnny Kay so check out this tribute Facebook page for more info.


MarRain

CST 307/1963

Marvin Rainwater is a well known country/rockabilly artist who just passed away two years ago.  This NY Times obit has a lot of biographical info about him.  More info about Rainwater can be read at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site.

These tracks are demo sessions recorded in Washington DC, 1954. For more details including band personal check out this thorough discography. 

Crown’s processed stereo is on full range display on this LP and sound quality suffers greatly.


JimmyDean-1

CST 291/1963

Side One features Jimmy Dean who had his first hit, Bumming Around, in 1953 on the 4-Star label out of Pasadena.  4-Star managed to sign the likes of Hank Locklin, Ferlin Husky, Webb Pierce, Jimmy Dean, and Patsy Cline whose early cuts ended up on countless budget label LPs like this one. Presumably, the other 4 tracks here were also recorded at 4-Star though so far I’ve found no proof. 4-Star’s story and discography is covered in more depth here at Both Sides Now.

Throughout the 1950’s, Dean was featured on his own syndicated country music TV show out of Washington DC, then he went on network television.  His recording career really took off with his #1 smash hit Big Bad John in 1963. His story is told on several website including here at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Side Two are all instrumental cuts from the Western Gentlemen.  Discogs identifies the W.G. as Buck Coghlan (bass), Johnny Dakota (guitar) & Slim Forbes (fiddle) who have one solo LP credit, a vanity LP recorded in a steak house.

Final note: pre-Fazzio cover portrait by Edward Fukute whose only other LP cover credit was Crown’s Velvet Brass & Percussion LP.  The second Jimmy Dean Crown LP featured below recycles the same portrait for its cover with a different crop and color scheme.


HillHeaven

CLP 5258/1962

I’ve written about Eddie Dean in previous blogs featuring other of his Crown LPs (more to come).  He’s best known for I Dreamed of Hillbilly Heaven.

Most if not all of the Crown material was first issued on Sage & Sand.  In fact, Crown 5258 is a 1963 reissue of Sage & Sand LP #16 (1961). All the recording details are listed at this great discography site.  Overall an awesome LP, especially strong is side one, and well worth seeking out in your local thrift store.

Here’s Eddie Dean’s 1999 obit in the LA Times.


JimmyDean2

CLP 5308/1963

More Jimmy Dean from the 4-Star days on side one. More Western Gentlemen and an artist by the name of Billy Cotton on side two. Jerry Cole claimed he was Billy Cotton but Cole’s distinctive voice and guitar playing is not evident on the Cotton tracks.  Listen to the instro Aw Shucks and standard weeper Blues Won’t Let Me Sleep as aural proof  that Cole most likely is not Cotton.


OrangeBlossomSpecial

CST 512/1966

Harold Hensley composed the score for a series of soft core cornball country features in the early 1970’s produced by the prolific Harry Novak including Country Cuzzins, Tobacco Roody, Midnight Ployboy, Southern Comforts, Sweet Georgia and Sassy Sue.  In his spare time he recorded a couple country hoe down fiddle LPs for Crown including Orange Blossom Special. The vinyl is missing from my copy so no tracks are included.

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Fazzio’s Last Stand Part 2

These may be the last of the Fazzios to be discovered in the depths of the closet where the Crown collection resides so let’s pull out what’s left of the vinyl and take a listen.

.JimmyGIlmer

CLP 5387/1963

The material on “Jimmy Gilmore and the Fireballs” predates the Fireball’s two monster hits, Sugar Shack & Bottle of Wine. Here the band plays one vocal (Wishing) and three instros relealsed before the surf music craze but are definitely in the same world, especially Foot Platter which shows up on countless surf collections. Here’s the instrumental Kissing from side 2:

The rest of the LP features tracks by Jerry Cole in his classic hot rod & psychedelic distortion Crown period.  Several of these cuts I’ve never heard before and may not be on the Ace Records Cole/Crown reissues. The Spur is Cole’s valiant attempt to affect the Fireballs’ staccato sound while Let It All Hang Out verges into Tequila territory several times.  This LP is well worth owning and playing, especially if you like surf, rock & hot rod inserts.


Tery&Tyler

CST 321/1963

Another fine country roots LP from Crown’s Fazzio collection. Al Terry’s tunes on side one make him out to be a bit of a sad sack, whining about being a loser in love in mostly ballad form as in Without You:

Johnny Tyler on side two is the real find here, especially his last two numbers presented below, County Fair with carnival organ & God Turns Us To Dust, a title that cannot be ignored.

Pragugefrank’s County Music Discography has lots of info about these recordings that Jules most likely leased from small local labels like Rural Rhythm and there’s even more about Tyler here.  Basically, Tyler was from Arkansas, made a lot of recordings for RCA, then moved on to small labels like Rural Rhythm before passing away in his early 40s. These two numbers include sound effects and a rocking country band.


Rusty&Doug

CLP 5331/1963

The vinyl is missing from this LP which is too bad as I was hoping to discover that Jerry & Glenn were Jerry Cole and Glen Campbell.


BrookBenton

CST 350/1963

Same title as CST 402 but different cuts.  Results are the same. Brook Benton takes the lead here with the upbeat Want Cha Gone while Jessie Belvin sings his sweeter and more doo wop tunes throughout this okay collection which includes Belvin’s hit Goodnight My Love. 


ErrollGraner

CLP 5404/1964

Nice Fazzio cover art but that’s about it.  Dull piano background music includes various public domain standards like Swanee River.  Garner’s piano is accompanied by bass & drums.  No evidence of Maxwell Davis’ horn on any cut despite his billing on the LP cover.


JimmyNewman

CST 329/1963

Louisiana-born cajun singer Jimmy Newman made his first recordings on Modern before moving on the J.D. Miller’s Feature label & a host of others. Newman became a regular at the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years, passing away just last year. What Will I Do & I’ll Have To Burn The Letters are typical of side one with Newman singing in a lonesome hillbilly whine in the style of Hank Williams that will rip out your heart. Great crying steel & percussive rhythm guitars dominate band. Crown’s processed stereo makes for a bit of distortion but music makes up for it.

Side Two is the ficticious Billy Carson, a country singer with a passable voice. Unlike side one, these tunes are recorded in true stereo with voice & rhythm on one track & a decent pedal steel on the other track. Check out this weird stereo separation on Window That I Look From.

The identity of Billy Carson is revealed in the following quote from a comment left by Counry Boy Lance on Lonesone Lefty’s informative Scratchy Attic blog:

The idenity of “BIlly Carson” (and “Eddie Wills” on the Sonny James album on Crown of his NRC recordings), is a guy named Glen Cass. He was a session picker here in Los Angeles and for a few years he and his brother Norm were part of the Palomino Riders who were the house band at the legendary (and sadly defunct)Palomino club on Lankersham Blvd in North Hollywood, CA. I’m not sure if he was at the Palomino at the time of this recording.


 

SonnyJames

CST 5325/1963

Sonny James became a major country artist with chart topping singles and record breaking stats on Billboard. He lays claim to several “firsts” in country music including being the first country artist with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Side one is all James from unknown sources including the cut below, Passing Through.  Side two is the fictitious Eddie Wills who’s identified as Palomino Club picker Glen Cass above.

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Fazzio’s Last Stand, Part 1

Did you ever wonder if there was any good music on all those cheap thrift store Fazzios in your record collection?  Maybe it’s about time to look inside those split sleeves and see if you can find any gems.

 Eddie Fisher

CLP5396/1963

Can’t write much about this Eddie Fisher Crown LP as the vinyl turns out to be a Spanish language Disneyland LP.


NeilSedaka

CLP5366/1963

Both sides of this Fazzio LP open with well produced early Neil Sedaka tracks, most likely licensed by Jules, perhaps to make up for dumping Paul Anka over the objections of brother Joe (as reported by John Broven).  Following Anka on both sides are several tracks by a singer/guitar player who sounds suspiciously like Jerry Cole with none of the echo & fullness of the Sedaka productions. Lay Some Kisses On Me is a rocker wannabe with Jerry Cole’s typical chopping rhythm guitar and a stinging lead break (about 50 seconds into the short track). Mary G is more of a Cole ballad, mercifully short, but with a nice guitar–I’d eat my Fazzios if these tracks are Cole.


HAdda

CST374/1963

Hadda Brooks was the first artist signed to Modern Records and this collection contains her first boogie 78 RPM single (Swinging The Boogie) plus several of her later torch ballads. Excellent collection. Great cover. First cut ripped below is the classic Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere with some gritty blues guitar backing.  Second track displays Hadda’s heavy left hand and deft right hand boogie work.  She’s no Pete Johnson but a pretty good facsimile.  Want more of Hadda Brooks then check out the Ace release of her Modern material.


BillieH

CLP5380/1963

The Biharis and Crown/Modern never recorded Billie Holiday,  and no amount of digging so far has turned up any information on singer Vivian Fears who shares billing with Billie. The Holiday recordings are apparently broadcast recordings made from Carnegie Hall in 1952 or the Steve Allen show in 1956. Check out the informative Billie Holiday discography for more details about these recordings.


EttaJames

CLP5360/1963

One of several LP collections of Etta James’ singles in the budget Bihari catalog. This LP was issued with two different Fazzio covers. This is the second reissue with green background and Etta James appearing as a white woman. You can find an image of the earlier dark-skinned Etta James with vivid pink background over at the Both Sides Now site. 


VicD

CLP5343/1963

Want to hear Vic Damone singing Italian songs suitable for an old world Italian restaurant like Michili’s in Hollywood? Then pick up a copy of this Fazzio LP which also features a couple of sappy instrumentals courtesy of schlock-meister Johnny Cole.  Listen to the track below if you want to get a taste of what this LP sounds like as I skip about with the needle without passing the recorder.


DanceWChuck

CST365/1963 – no pix or info on BSN

Born in Mexico and educated at USC, Chuck Cabot was a fascinating minor big band leader in the 1940’s who went on to produce an early inter-racial rock band and promote name acts in the sixties including the first west coast tour of the Rolling Stones. Both Sides Now discography notes that these Crown recordings were done in Hollywood in 1960.  In the 1940s Cabot recorded for Atomic Records with his first 78 rpm single titled Psychopathic Sally From the San Fernando Valley. Unfortunately that track is not here.

This Fazzio Crown is a lot less interesting than Cabot’s bio. It’s an unrelated mix of little big band, torch singing, latin jazz in stereo and a bit of boogie woogie. Not worth the effort of putting the LP on the platter.  But check out Fazzio’s broad yellow brush strokes on Chuck’s jacket!


VinceGuaraldi

CLP5417/1964 no pix on bsn

Recorded in Hollywood on Feb 3, 1960. Solid, cool, west coast jazz that makes for a fine play on a typical southern California afternoon. Vince G gets top Fazzio billing here but the cuts are really the product of Conte Candoli’s little big band. Get the Ace release here.


PearlBaily

CLP5339/1963

You just can’t tell all Crown LPs by their cover, especially on this piece of vinyl. Cover features a Fazzio Pearl Bailey plus the name of Sylvia Lynn. The record label, however, adds the names Martha Tilton and Ann Southern. Meanwhile, the record’s oddest track, Haiti Blues, is attributed to Marion Anderson on other budget label Pearl Baily recordings. Note the typo on Pearl Baily’s name on side two: BAJLY – close enough in the Bihari world of music.

PearlBajly


BllueCrown

CLP5358/1963

BBB

I have two copies of this “Blue/Guitar” Fazzio. One original Crown (top) and one Japanese Victor repo. Note that the repo deletes the name Jimmy Soul from the cover and his one track on the LP, an echoey rocker titled Bandstand I’ve ripped below. So who was Jimmy Soul?  He was a N. Carolina-born musical named James McCleese who ditched this planet at age 45 back in 1988. Reader Jeff adds the following information about Jimmy  Soul: “Jimmy Soul’s biggest hit (a Billboard #1) was a goofy novelty song titled “If You Want To Be Happy.” (“If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife; so from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you.”) The song was a rearrangement of a 1933 calypso song “Ugly Woman” by Trinidad calypsonian Roaring Lion (Rafael De Leon.)” Should also had a minor hit Twistin’ Matilda. So why the Biharis would include Soul’s spacey & anglo sounding Bandstand on an otherwise raw blues LP is a mystery? Did the Biharis record this track? So far, no answers.  The track itself is ripped below for your listening pleasure. There are several strange instrumental breaks near the end that are perhaps tributes to American Bandstand classics; the second break includes a surf sounding vibrato chord and the end of the track also goes off in an odd direction.

Victor Japan opted to remove Soul’s name from the repro cover and replace Bandstand with more blues, classic tracks from Johnny Guitar and early down-home singles from Blue Bland.  The Johnny Guitar Watson tracks are true classics you can find on several CDs including this Ace Records release.  

Here’s another, more soulful version of Bandstand I found on youtube. It’s all a mystery so far.


WhiteyPullen

CLP5332/1963

This Fazzio Crown is fine collection of Whitey Pullen’s country and rockabilly recordings for Sage. In a rare instance of coherency in a Crown release, side two is country roots and side one is rockabilly & rock. Pullen has been written about earlier in this blog and you can check out this fine bio of the musician here. One track features Pullen backed by a fine little country band while the other track is a Jerry Lee Lewis inspired rocker with thumping piano and fuzzed-out distorted guitar.


MelTorme3

CLP5347/1963

How many different artists does it take to fill up the 9 tracks on a Crown LP? In the case of jazz singer Mel Torme’s Crown, it takes three: Torme, Robert Alda & Cesar Romero. There’s no reason you’d ever want to own or spin this LP unless you’re a Fazzio completist. Though I promised myself I’d listen to at least one track on every one of my Crown LPs, in this case and several others I had to break that promise.


JohhnyDesmond

CST345/1963

Johnny Desmond, a big band vocalist in the 1940s, kicked around early TV in the 1950s. Here’s a sincere but tacky website in his memory created by one of his biggest fans in the UK.  Norman Brooks was a Canadian with several hit singles in the early 1950s but he’s best known for impersonating Al Jolson and playing him in the Hollywood biopic The Best Things In Life Are Free. He also appeared as himself in the original Ocean’s Eleven.

The first two tracks on each side of this Crown is Desmond, the rest of the tracks are Brooks’ Al Jolson imitation–it’s quite painful to hear. I wasn’t motivated enough to upload anything from this LP.


CowboyCopa  

CST338/1963

Another Crown Joe Reagan tribute to Cowboy Copa, identical to CLP 5430 I wrote about in an earlier blog except for two tracks: Rainbow at Midnight & Kentucky Waltz replace Singing On Sunday and Him or Me.


SenInkSpots  

CLP5197/1961

Great photo LP cover of the Ink Spots though it’s doubtful anyone in the world cares about this early harmonizing group. Of slight interest is that the Biharis included song writer credits on the front cover, most likely because they were forced to.

Posted in Bobby Blue Bland, country roots, fazzio, Jimmy Soul, Johnny Guitar Watson | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bongo Madness & Beyond

Why so many Latin themed LPs on Crown during the early years of the budget label?  Was Jules following the trend set up by other budget lines, such as 101 Strings debut LP Spain? Was he influenced by the large and growing Latin buying population in Los Angeles? With no one left to interview and Joe Biharis mostly questioned about Modern’s early period, it’s pure conjecture.  But besides a few lurid and bold cover designs, these LPs are mostly well recorded old style cha cha, mambo & Latin folk music with little turntable interest today.


NighInMadrid

CLP 5128/CST161/1959

Night In Madrid is an early stereo red vinyl Crown with liner notes by Frank Evans, cover design credited to Rosentswieg and photography by Joe Tauber.  Most likely Rosentsweig is an author named Gerry Rosentswieg who wrote several books on graphic design that can still be pick up used.  I wrote about Tauber & Evans in earlier blog posts.  The name Jose Barroso Troupe is associated only with several  Crown LPs whereas Laurindo Almeida is a well know Brazilian guitar virtuoso and composer with many recordings.

Pleasant, nicely recorded, unmemorable background music that’s not worth a rip or a listen. The front & back of my copy is held together only by the bottom seam which is enough to show that the back is glued on upside down.

NMEnds


TrioAcaapulco

CLP 5280/1962

Trio Acapulco is a common name for any 3 person mariachi band. This LP could easily have been issued on Crown’s budget Latino label Discos Coronos which released dozens of similar looking LPs covering Latin folk music groups under the direction of recording engineer Bill Lazerus, a true fan of the music who most likely found this group and recorded them.

Not typical of any Crown in my closet collection, all three seams on this Crown LP are intact and the LP’s cardboard is substantial, like a major label product.  A quick look inside the sleeve reveals that the cardboard cover is folded over at the top & bottom seams making for a strong edge which is never the case on budget Crown (which are held together only by the fold-over of the thin paper cover).  It was then I noticed the generic Crown back sheet peeling off to reveal the front of a Sutton LP, Erotic Percussion, uncovering a new trick in the budget record business bag: buying excess LP covers and slapping on new paper.

Sutton1

Sutton was Brooklyn-based father & son budget label which shipped using UPS and other carriers.  That Sutton was using better cardboard and sleeve fabrication than Crown is a testament to Jules Bihari’s money making budget record machine over on Normandie Ave.


BongoMadnessa

CLP 5019/1957

Bongo Madness is a reissue of RPM 3004 with MLPR-3004 scratched out in the vinyl.

It’s an early Crown LP by prolific composer/musician Don Ralke with uncredited liner notes, cover photo by Gene Lesser (discussed in earlier post) & two credits for sister Florette: art direction & production. Don Ralke was USC educated with many LP & TV credits, including work on 77 Sunset Strip and Hawaii Five-O.  Also Ralke is well-known for producing the “Golden Throats” series, convincing non-singing celebrities like William Shatner to record.

Bongo Madness contains no madness but instead compositions by Ralke, flute by Buddy Collette & drums/bongos by Jack Burger.  The ripped cut Afro-Bop could easily be the theme song for one of Ralke’s 1960’s cool TV show themes.


PradoMania  MamboJambo

CLP 5106/June 1958

Prado Mania features “members of” the Perez Prado Orchestra, conducted by Bobby Gil, an organist whose name links to several other bongo LPs.  I have two copies of this LP, one titled Prado Mania and one titled Mambo Jambo–same front/back cover, LP number, song titles.  Back features liner notes by Frank Evans touting the talent of “Señor Perez Prado” with no mention of Bobby Gil.  Rare credit for all the musicians and the recording studio:  Sound Enterprise in Hollywood; perhaps an attempt to gain favor with serious jazz fans. Photo by Ron Vogel & cover by Charles Meggs, both discussed in earlier Crown posts.  Here’s a familiar tune often recorded and perfect for skating on a hardwood arena.


CalypsoTrid

CLP 5031/1957

This early effort by bongo virtuoso Preston Epps is another Crown LP with dual credits for sister Florette.  Epps went on to have a hit single, Bongo Rock, on Original Sound.  Singer Louis Poliemon’s sole credit seems to be this LP which is a spare production featuring singing and bongo, a combo that quickly proves tiresome.


LaTinoCCC

CST 166/1959

A later Crown LP with generic back cover.  Found these credits on the Internet for the musicians:

  • Bass – Tomas Rosas
  • Congas – Angel Parez
  • Flute – Tino La Tino
  • Flute-alto-baritone – Ralph Cacho
  • Piano – Louis Norelli
  • Solo Conga – Tito Rivera
  • Timbales – Chicky Yslas
  • Trumpet – Marcus Cabuto, Margo Mendoza, Mike Akopoff
  • Vocals – Willie Vargas

pachanga

CLP 5237 CST 244/1961 (?)

Unable to find anything about this LP or artist.  This LP’s mono & stereo numbers are misidentified in Both Sides Now discography as Roosevelt Sykes Sings the Blues.  Solid recording with full sound if you like the mambo, cha cha type Latin percussive jazz.


arriba

CST 192/1960

This LP has 2397 scratched on the vinyl as well as CST 192.  Great cover but no credits on the generic back and nothing about Tito Guerrera on the Internet.  Recording’s a bit echoey, as if the band was playing in a huge bathroom, but otherwise Arriba is a fine companion to several of the other mambo, cha cha’s on this list.


JazzHeatBB

CST 187/1960

Another awesome bongo cover from Crown and the first real hip record in this collection; it’s well worth having in your collection.  No back cover credits but the following musicians are listed on the front: Tony Reyes, Tommy Tedesco, Darias, Carlos Mejia, Eddie Cano, Larry Bunker & Buddy Collette.

I present Bongosville, perfect title for a perfect tune.  Finally, a Latin Crown with cool music to match a cool cover.


ChaChaCha

CST 171/1959

One of Crown’s red vinyl “StereoDiscs” complete with “This Is Stereo” explanation on the back plus John Marlo expounding on the cha cha cha in his liner notes, J Tauber photography & Charles Meggs cover design. If you like cha cha cha then you’ll love this well recorded LP with a full, warm stereo sound.  Side one has 5 generic Latin cha cha’s while side two has cha cha versions of several Modern hits, like BB King’s Woke Up This Morning, Cherry Pie & Eddie My Love.  Crazy cha chas here with the Biharis going full tilt to make $$ off their publishing. Great Latin band though. Take a listen to Woke Up This Morning & Eddie My Love:


LatinTouch

CLP 5146/1960

An early Crown with John Marlo’s somewhat informative liner notes, revealing that Dave Bacal was staff organist on “Stump the Authors,” worked on the Jack Benny Program and “currently” improvises on Jack LaLanne’s exercise show–turns out that Marlo’s liner notes weren’t all bullshit as Bacal’s meager IMDB credits reveal.  LP cover photograph by Tom Kelley who was a glamor photographer of female stars from Hollywood’s classic era.  You can find out more about his work here where his son, Tom Jr., continues the tradition.


flamenco

CLP 5109 CST 141/June 1958

Another Crown red vinyl StereoDiscos featuring part of same crew as Night In Madrid, the first LP on this post. This LP is a rare surprise: beautifully played flamenco guitar played by Jose Barroso who, according to the liner notes, didn’t pick up the guitar until age 39.


CaribbeanRendezvos

CLP 5043/1957

From the first year of Crown’s budget releases with uncredited liner notes, Todd Walker photography (unfocused!), Florette’s double credits of art direction and production.

There’s a wickedly entertaining and harsh review of this LP and Crown itself here. The fact is that his LP isn’t any worse or better than any of the LPs on this page.

There are definitely some ghastly over dramatized mambo-esque tunes on this LP but this last cut on the LP features some blistering guitar if you can make it through the first half.  Good luck!


Mariachis

CLP 5274/1962

And finally, another Crown cheapie better suited for the Bihari Latin label Discos Coronos.  Mariachi music, from start to finish. You like, you play.  You don’t like, you toss.

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Two Weeks of Crown Country

Except for a few of Lester Bihari’s Memphis recordings, the Biharis did not record seminal country-western originals to compare with the Southern roadhouse blues, R&B & west coast jazz they put on tape & acetate from the late 1940’s thru the mid-fifties.  It’s not that they didn’t try.  According to research by John Broven in Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers, Joe Bihari set up Flair Records in 1952 as a dedicated hillbilly subsidiary before quickly reverting to R&B. Bihari admitted to Broven that Modern’s distributers weren’t set up to handle hillbilly music and the label never had the right songs or the right artists.  At the same time, the majors had signed the big names like Hank Williams and Ernst Tubb. So, despite a Southern tour by Joe B to find artists, Flair’s hillbilly promised failed to materialize.

However, years later, the Crown budget label started releasing a lot of straight-ahead country roots & rockabilly by licensing tracks from small labels and reissuing the material on LPs such as the ones featured below.

RingOfFire

CST 467/1965

BMI Songwriter Sterling Blythe claimed authorship of the Freddy Fender hit “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”  He recalled having sold the rights to a portfolio of songs, among them “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” for $4,500 to settle debts when he left Nashville for the West Coast prior to Fender’s recording.

Buy an overpriced 8 Track version of this LP  here. There’s a short bio and extensive Blythe discography here.  More info & discography here.

Maybe I’m crazy but this Ring of Fire sounds like Jerry Cole. The back up band doesn’t resemble the band on other Blythe tracks plus the rhythm section has Cole’s signature Crown rock beat used in several of his cycle/biker/hot rod instrumentals.

Here Blythe does a family in-law version of Hot Rod Lincoln. Great band, demented lyrics:


IWalkTheLine

CLP 5496/1966

The LP inside this sleeve is titled Guitars Go Country on the ARA label (MO 11-2A) though all the tunes listed on the cover are on the LP.  The vinyl trail off has CLP 5496 scratched off and MO 11-2A scratch in.  Bihari’s ARA label is not mentioned in the extensive Both Sides Now discography but ARA is noted as the name of an early Bihari record plant by John Broven in  Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers. So how did the ARA label vinyl end up in this Crown label sleeve? And was an ARA LP cover version of this LP ever issued? And if so then what did it look like?

The music on this LP is average acoustic country instrumental music  featuring dobro.


CountryGentlemen

CLP 5276/1962

From comments left on this youtube posting of this LP

“Larry Caldwell  played led guitar for the snake river outlaws, my dads band in the 50’s in Missoula MT.  Then he went  CA and NV to play in vegas. He was very good. He came back to MT to play with the  S R outlaws again in 1967. He gave me lessons when I was about 13.  Larry gained a lot of weight and became unhealthy. Last  I heard  he had died  in las vegas ….pity, he was a great guy and  a great guitarist. My Dad thought the world of him …………. T.Scot Wilburn

More: “This was cut when the guys were known as Speedy Price and the Sons Of The Beach when they performed in and around the Oxnard, CA area. Personnel: Don Hughes – Vocal/Bass Larry Caldwell – Lead Guitar Vernon “Speedy” Price – Steel Guitar Johnny Roberts – Drums

Crawdad renamed Gran Dad by the boys:


Buckaroo

CLP 5521/1966

According to this 2000 post at the Steel Guitar Forum, this LP attributed to Norm Kass is actually Red Rhodes and various members of the house band at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood which makes sense since this all instrumental LP has some choice tracks including these:


Gunfight

CST 241/1961

Knockoff of Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins (look up this disk on Both Sides Now & you’ll see an image of the original Robbin’s LP). Later reissued as Billy The Kid. There is no such artist as Rex Wells and the songs on this album are done by Tompall & The Glaser Brothers on Side 1 and The Willis Brothers on Side 2.

Ridiculous fake titles to avoid copyright conflicts such has Mr. Staggerly for Staggerlee & John Hardy for John Henry.  How about Barney & Clyde instead of Bonnie & Clyde?  8-Track version for sale here.


GoldenGoodies

CST 480/1965

More tracks from Sage & Sand. How can you not wanna hear a track titled Another Brew Bartender?

Or Honky Tonk Queen:


EddieDean

CLP 5320/1963

There is extensive info on Eddie Dean on this fan page here including biography, photographs, discography, memories, etc.  Unclear if Crown actually recorded these tracks or if they were put to vinyl at the Sage & Sand studio.

Awesome ED track, Smoke Signals:


HankW

CST 154/1959

Loads of interesting information about all the budget labels that produced fake Hank Williams LPs can be found at Budget Labels and Tribute Albums to Hank Williams.  Most of the LPs are based on 30 Curley Williams recordings originally produced by the Biharis.

The LP in this sleeve is a tribute to Hank on another budget label, Pickwick Intern’l’s Grand Prix Series.  Some of the same songs are on both this LP & the Crown (that’s supposed to be in the sleeve), including this nasal, honky tonkin’ version of Red River Valley:

Here’s a better than average Hank imitator doing’ Hey Good Lookin’ – probably better than anyone today could put together.


MemCowboyCopas

CLP 5430/1964

Can’t find any info on Joe Reagan or whomever is playing on this “memory” of the great Cowboy Copas, who was just a hair less great than Hank.  Here’s one of the better tracks, Him or Me:


OldiesGoodiesV2

CLP 5222/1961

Another collection of singles from the great little Hollywood country roots/rockabilly label Sage & Sand. You can find lots of info about this label at Praguefrank’s site  and at Bigvjamboree.com. See images of Sage & Sand labels from different eras here.

Orange Juice by the Rovers, an instrumental featuring astonishing guitar. Haven’t found any info on this band.

Walk My Way Back Home,  a great rocking’ track by an authentic rockabilly artist with one of the best names in the business: Whitey Pullen..


ShenandoahStrings

CST 474/1965

Two fads being mined by Crown here, easy listening strings plus country. In a strange ironic twist,  turns out that the old folk tune Shenandoah has African-American roots. Check out this site for some scholarship on the subject but the LP is not worth a listen.

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