Here are several more outtakes and pre-interviews that were posted on Instagram. None of this material is included in the doc Music By The Pound. Enjoy…
I’ve been posting a series of short outtakes of Crown recording engineer Bill Lazerus talking about his experiences working for Jules Bihari. Bill left Crown for Sunset Sound and worked on many of the major hits of the 1960s & 1970s, eventually becoming a mentor to a new generation of recording engineers before opening up his own garage recording studio.
Here’s a clip from our pre-interview of Bill talking about Jules Bihari, hastily recorded in his back patio.
Quality gate-fold LP cover on this late issue Ike & Tina on Kent. Unfortunately the “live” audience sounds fake & is intrusive enough to ruin listening to this great band.
Up next is another live set by Ike & Tina on Kent but this time the live recording is authentic.
All the hits on Kent. Can’t beat this mono LP. Budget price.
What’s left in my closet of Crowns (& various other Bihari labeled LPs)?
Big Town, the label that was struck back in 1978 by Jules Bihari, his last blues harrah.
Jules Bihari’s last record label of newly recorded music was Big Town, all blues, mostly artists he recorded back in Modern’s R&B/Blues heyday including Big Joe Turner, Johnny Guitar Watson and Charles Brown. In Johnny Guitar Watson’s case, the new recordings are recreations of the originals and sound nearly as hot.
Jules recorded a few a younger bluesman like Smokey Wilson, a Los Angeles transplant by way of Texas who could rip up the guitar and do a decent imitation of Howling’ Wolf as part of his act down at Babe & Rick’s, the last blues club left on Central Avenue in Los Angeles.
The story I was told by Crown Recording engineer Bill Lazerus is that Jules built a second recording studio across the street from Normandie & Slauson and these LPs were the first recordings to be made there. Bill found the new studio inferior to the original studio in the main building at 5810 S Normandie.
A somewhat amateur sketch of Johnny “Guitar” Watson dominates the cover of Hot Little Mama while an unfocused & crude little snapshot of Big Joe Turner below is no reflection that artists’ talents.
Like Guitar Watson, Charles Brown made new recordings of his most popular original recordings. Cover photos for Charles Brown, Smokey Wilson & Joe Houston were all taken in the dining room of Jules Bihari’s house.
Ace Records has reissued this rockin’ Joe Houston LP which Joe himself declared to be his favorite Bihari release.
It seems like I’m always finding another stray Crown LP or two but now I’ve finally emptied the closet and these are definitely my final 4 Crowns.
A typical Mexicali Brass LP with many of the selections appearing on other Mex Brass LPs save for the title tune playable below. The Green Hornet/Flight of the Bumble Bee track lacks much life as the organ playing lead is mixed down and there’s no guitar. Even so, the track is a refreshing change from the series’ concentration on Tijuana Brass covers and public domain tunes.
Best feature of this LP is the cover’s graphic design with bold green style & dominating Green Hornet lettering. The provocative photo looks like the masked gunman is trying to take advantage of his hand placement near the model’s chest while her forced smile and hand barely touching his seems to be saying she’s ready to get out of this modeling arrangement ASAP.
This fifth Crown release is a reissue of Modern LP 1205 in which you can see MM 1205 still scratched in the blank vinyl around the label. As was normal operating procedure in the Bihari budget record business, they just reused the master stamper on reissues, reselling the same LP on a different label just to increase sales. Tough luck if you already bought the LP earlier in the year under a different title, on a different label & with a different cover. Luckily for the buyer here, these early Crowns share covers and backs with the Modern releases (but that was about to stop after the short-lived Modern LP catalogue was reissued).
No credit is given for the dreamy cover photo mix of black & white and color. Sister Florette B is given credit for art direction and production though no one at the company I spoke with said she actually held that position, it was just a way to keep salaries in the family.
Limited liner notes claim the don/dick/jimmy trio toured Canada & the US plus made multiple TV appearances. The musicians are identified as Jimmy Cook on lead vocals & Spanish guitar, Dick Rock on tenor & stand up bass, Don Sutton singing baritone & playing piano.
The music is tepid harmonizing backed by low key instrumentation, a real dull musical affair to be sure.What’s surprising then is to find this article in The Milwaukee Journal (dated April 27, 1955) that the trio was tossed out of a Milwaukee club after insulting patrons & the owner. Stranger still is that the club is named Fazio – one Z off from Crown’s legendary & mysterious thrift store cover artist Fazzio! Read the facts of the case below:
Familiar sounding waltzes. Nothing more, nothing less. Frank Evans liner notes. Cover design by Rosentsweig. Photo by Art Messick, a name that brought up nothing in a Google search.
CST 126/CLP 5095/March 1959
Ridiculous but fun martini couple on cover, against a plain blue backdrop with the gal wearing a tiara of sorts and the guy looking stiff & too old for her. Generic catalogue-listing back with no liner notes, no credits. We’ve heard Louis Martinelli & his Continentals in a previous blog entry where a few cuts actually sounded lounge-y & fun. Despite the fun cover, however, this is LP is strictly dull.
Just heard the sad news that Crown Recording artist Joe Houston passed away. We were lucky enough to sit down with Mr. Houston and talk about his career and love of recording for Jules Bihari & Crown at 5810 S. Normandie Ave & a new studio Jules built in a lumber yard across the street. Here are a few outtakes featuring Joe Houston from Music By The Pound, my as-yet unreleased documentary on Crown Records.