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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Week of Crown Country Classics

Country Gospel

CLP 5344/1964

(The matrix number on the trail out vinyl shows CLP 5339 scratched out & replaced  by 5344.)

This is an LP of authentic old country gospel tracks done in a variety of styles including simple flat picking, honk tonk, vocal harmonizing and solo singers backed by electic guitars & mandolins. Not even sure if all the tracks are from the same group. Most amazing is that there are SEVEN tracks per side, nearly twice as many tracks than on most other Crown records in existence.

These cuts were originally released in 1961 on the obscure Rural Rhythm label based in Arcadia, CA. The first two tunes on the LP were released on a RR 45 listing Jackie McGowan on guitar. Much more info can be found at this website including the following information about the label and its owner:

“Uncle Jim O’Neal sold his Rural Rhythm records by mail order, not in record shops etc. Many came as advance release with a generic white front sleeve with (or without) a stamped serial number in upper right corner and Rural Rhythm Records advertising on reverse side (in some cases on both sides). Albums released with a “normal” front sleeve design also had advertising on reverse side – no liner notes (with a few exceptions in later years). Uncle Jim’s mail order also included records from several budget labels – mainly from Crown Records.”

Even more amazing is that the label is still in existence and is continuing to release bluegrass music.  Here is info from their youtube channel:

“With over 50 years in business, Rural Rhythm Records has built a catalog that connects many dots from past to present. Since its 1955 creation, Rural Rhythm has released hundreds of classic performances by many legendary bluegrass and old-time musicians such as J.E. Mainer, Don Reno, Red Smiley, Mac Wiseman, Vassar Clements, Hylo Brown, Bill Harrell, Jim Eanes, and many others. The label owes its Arcadia, California start to Uncle Jim O’Neal whose vision was to release the music of many top bluegrass and old-time musicians in the 1950-70s, seeking success where Starday had failed by producing records of limited appeal by lesser known, albeit talented, musicians.”


C&WJamboree

CLP 5330/1963

C&W Jamboree features more cuts leased from the Sage & Sand label based in Hollywood. Cuts include two different Johnny Cash imitators, rockabilly, early rock & cornball country western. Here’s a discography plus more info here. Another decent Crown LP of obscure classic roots music.


johnnieLW

CLP 5565/1968

Leave it up to Crown to find the less famous brother of a star.  Here we have the younger brother of Bob Wills who stayed back home in Tulsa when Bob moved to Hollywood. These cuts were recorded in Dallas, TX in 1962.  You can find a list of personal & more info at this discography; most likely this Crown material was leased & not recorded by the Biharis. Johnnie’s band here has a more jazzy, R&B and rock sound than Bob’s triple fiddle approach.  Good LP worth playing loud.


SaluteHankW

CLP 5186/1960

BSN discography for CLP 5186 shows this LP with a Fazzio cover portrait of Hank Williams. Here’s a good site that explains budget record rip offs of Hank Williams including this Crown LP and two others which were all the work of Curley Williams (real first name was Dock), no relation to Hank.  However, Curley Williams actually wrote the Hank hit Half As Much. Though the song is credited to Curley, most people assumed Hank wrote it.

Curly may have written Half As Much but on this LP he’s just another crappy Hank imitator.  Not worth your time.


OBGV3

CLP 5241/1961

More great leased material from Hollywood based Sage & Sound label. There’s a hodgepodge of styles on this LP, from rockabilly, early rock, weepy C&W and two instros. As with the other Crown volumes in this series, it’s worth having plus a bargain with 6 cuts per side.  See Jamboree listing above for more info about the Sage & Sand label that Crown mined for many of their early budget C&W LPs.


GoodOleMMusic

CST 549/1967

The only reference I could find about the Mountainairs is a review of this LP found on another music blog: “What we have here is some tunes based solidly in old-time music. Style wise, the music is sort of an in-between performance style. They are sort of a mix of old-time, folk, skiffle, hootenanny etc. style is about the best way I can describe them. Anyhow… give it a listen as it`s still a pretty good LP. Enjoy!”  Yeah, well, upon listening I’d say these are quickie recordings of thin-sounding folkie groups playing around Los Angeles in the 1960s, not authentic mountain music. Most are common folk tunes including Ol’ Blue and a fake version of John Henry titled John Hardy. My only positive comment is that it’s recorded in true two-track stereo.


riders PurpleSage

CST 306/1963

Noted in BSN discography, this LP was issued with two different covers.  The cover above is the first issue.

Foy Willing was an authentic western musician who founded the group The Riders of the Purple Sage. He and the band recorded many classics and appeared in old singing cowboy movies with & without Roy Rogers, Gene Autry & others.  Some critics accuse The Riders of ripping off The Sons of the Pioneers but others point out that release dates prove the opposite. Whatever the case, this LP is good listening if you enjoy the singing cowboy style of western music (which I don’t).

This LP offers insight into the Jules Bihari* budget record business approach.  Bihari was attacking the budget record business from all sides to create a large and varied catalog of music to sell at 99 cents: reisssuing in countless different ways the original Bihari catalog, recording new mostly copy-cat music with Maxwell Davis & Jerry Cole, licensing music from many different sources including small regional labels from across the country. In this last case, Jules is using his knowledge of the regional indie recording business to find defunct or surviving regional studios and labels from which to license a variety of music. He’s even licensing orchestra & ethnic music from around the world, slapping on the rainbow Crown label to stock Mom & Pop stores across the country. These are budget records that sold for 99 cents back then and continue to sell for 99 cents today in thrift stories and vinyl budget record bins. Crazy but true.

Let’s close out with the opening of one of those Riders of the Purple Sage movies.  If you enjoy there’s plenty where this one came from:

*I’m making the assumption that Jules was the brother behind the Crown Records budget LP business but it’s an assumption based on several important interviews with former employees.  By the time Bihari record business threw all their weight behind the Crown budget label,  Saul was dead, Lester was paid off & ostracized, Joe was losing interest & involved in other businesses, and the sisters had either moved on or were satisfied with their clerk & accounting jobs within the company. From what everyone has told me, Jules ran the business side, leaving much of the new recording at the Normandie studio to Cole, Davis & Lazerus.

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Crowns Around Town

When Crown Records hit hard times, the B Brothers tried their hand at other crown businesses with varying degrees of success. Remnants of those crowns remain fading on the signs and sides of failed business across Los Angeles.  A few, like Crown Disposal, caught on and continue in the spirit of the original budget record label. Here are what remain of those original Crowns around town:

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Spend a Week With The Mexicali Brass

If you didn’t much like the Tijuana Brass back in their day (1960’s to early 1970’s) then you won’t much care for Crown’s imitation of the real thing. Crown wasn’t the only budget record company churning out TJB soundalike/lookalike fodder but they might have been the most successful.

Several of these LPs are direct ripoffs of successful TJB LPs, using the same title tracks like Taste of Honey, Whipped Cream, Spanish Flea & What Now My Love.  So what kind of bargain are these fake TJ Brass LPs?  All the Crown MB LPs have 5 cuts per side and most share tracks;  Pico Pico, Tijuana Hot Sauce, El Choclo, El Relicario & others appear on many of the various MB records with no attempt to hide the fact (printing the shared titles right on the covers in most cases)–so for your 99 cents you get 10 tracks with up to three appearing on other MB LPs you may have purchased. So what’s the better deal here: one authentic TJ Brass LP or several 99 cent fakes which share cuts and fall apart in your hands? And none of the suggestively posed Mexicali Brass models can compete with TJ Brass’ famous whipped cream cover.

Besides sharing titles, Crown included many public domain tunes on these LPs, giving the Mexicali Brass treatment to inappropriate titles such as In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree, Song of the Volga Boatman & Bill Bailey to name a few.

The story I heard from Bill Lazerus, the recording engineer on most of these LPs, is that the brilliant Maxwell Davis wrote the arrangements and churned out these tracks with hired horns in the old Normandie studios until a lawsuit from Herb Alpert put a stop to it. Most of tracks sound like the same band & arranger.  The tunes sound rushed through and unrehearsed, like much of Crown’s budget era LPs under the direction of Jerry Cole & Maxwell Davis. The same guitar sound is prominent on most tracks though I have no evidence that it’s Jerry Cole on the strings.

Poor Maxwell Davis…he passed away from exhaustion, worked to death at Crown’s budget record factory, before he could retire and enjoy the benefit of a long & successful music career.  Everyone speaks highly and with great affection of this talented musician, composer, arranger & band leader.


Crown created several Mexicali Brass LPs based on tracks on the TJ Brass LP Whipped Cream & Other Delights. Up first is the Mex Brass LP A Taste of Honey with a cover shot showing a model’s ample cleavage, somewhat suggestive of the cover on Alpert’s classic.

Crown’s treatment of the tune A Taste of Honey sounds (at least in my opinion) like a high school band, complete with sour horn notes & some offbeat drumming.

Better sounding is MB’s treatment of the blues classic Careless Love, featuring guitar work & sound found throughout these LPs.

tasteofhoney

CLP 5487 / 1966


Thunderbolt apparently was never covered by the Tijuana Brass but it’s natural tune for the MB treatment. A better than average track here:

Thunderball

CST 506 / 1966


South Of The Border is a direct ripoff of a successful TJB LP of the same name. Cover shot doesn’t match much though. The tune Tijuana Harlem is a crazy mix of Latin brass, blues & rock and roll. One of the better MB cuts on any of the LPs.

SouthBorder

CST 524 / 1966


What Now My Love is another direct ripoff of a TJB LP of the same name. Adding to the insult, Crown adds another TJB hit to the mix, Spanish Flea.

Way Down On The Swanee River is one of those absurd choices Crown picked to give the MB treatment.

WhatNowMyLove

CLP 5511 / 1966


Whipped Cream is Crown’s first Mexicali Brass LP. They didn’t attempt to imitate the classic whipped cream TJB cover but went for broke, putting two TJB hits on one record: Whipped Cream & The Lonely Bull.  Strange, this LP was immediately reissued, erasing any trace of Lonely Bull on either LP or cover. Perhaps A&M issued a warning from the start.

whipped cream2WhippedCream

CST 471 / 1965


The Shadow of Your Smile was a hit for the TJ Brass on the What Now My Love LP.

ShadowSmile

CST 544 / 1967


Here MB goes country though this tune sounds like its horn charts were stolen from a soul record.

CW

CLP 5543 / 1967

I still have a stack of Mex Brass LPs to go through and post but that’ll have to wait for another week this year.

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A Week Of Crown Strings

There are many examples in the Bihari record catalog where the company barely disguises its intention to rip off concepts from major record companies, as in Crown’s twist records detailed in an earlier post. In this case, Jules rips off an original concept from a sister budget line, Somerset’s successful easy listening line of 101 Strings series, an original concept dreamed up by Somerset’s owner D.L. Miller. Here Bihari goes full tilt, claiming to add 899 more strings to Somerset’s 101 to release a series of 1,000 string LPs before finally attempting a disguise, replacing his Thousand Strings with the Fascinating Strings for more decidedly not-so-fascinating easy listening LPs.  Later there were Lush Strings on the Bihari’s Riveria label – I guess someone was buying these strings.

After dropping the needle on every cut of these 7 LPs, I can report there is not a single tune here worth playing. The closest to music remotely interesting is on the Hawaii LP where occasionally tasteful steel guitar licks are heard when the strings hold back.

Crown’s first in the Thousand series is The Heart of Spain which is close to being an exact copy of Somerset’s first 101 release, The Soul of Spain.  Same design, nearly the same name. Perhaps Somerset didn’t have the resources to sue Jules, unlike the more successful and mainstream Herb Albert who managed to stop Crown’s copycat Mexicali Brass series though not before the company churned out a slew of MB LPs.

spainspainplayGplayCloud Nine  shubertHolidayMoodsSymphonySeaMagicHaw

I’ll do the research so you don’t have to waste  your time:

“Robert Krewson conducting” is noted on the label of The Magic of Hawaii (but not on the cover). It referenced one interesting item: a Crown reel to reel on Ebay of this LP, made by the “Crown Tape Recording Co.”

Karl Jergens Conducting the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra” was researched on an earlier post.

Holiday Moods by the Fascinating Strings has the Custom matrix number CS 1063 scratched out on the vinyl, replaced by CST 586. This cheap way of reissuing LPs on different company labels was common at the Bihari factory and here they didn’t even make new stampers.

Symphony of the Sea has the wonderful “Musicalrama” word replacing “Crown Records” in the Crown logo. Also the words Crown Records replaces the Crown image.

Besides the typical matrix number matching the LP number, Symphony of the Sea, Shuburt & Cloud Nine LPs all have a second 4 digit number scribed into the dead vinyl area preceded by a triangle (1153, 2243, 2399 respectively). This second numbering system is not listed on the Both Sides Now discography for any Bihari LP label. Unfortunately Bill Lazerus is no longer with us to explain its significance.

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Week of Crown Country Classics

Day 68 kicked off a week of Crown country LPs released between 1964-1972 during Crown’s Jerry Cole era. Cole was a guitarist Jules hired off the bandstand of the famed Palomino Club in North Hollywood. Cole would go on to produce up to 3 LPs a day with the help of recording engineer Bill Lazerus at the Normandie Ave production facility.

Jerry Cole went on to have an important career as a session guitarist and his work can be heard on countless hits of the 1960s. Though not featured in the recently released documentary about the session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew,  you’ll find his name listed at the end as part of the extended members of the band.

Several of these Crown LPs including Crazy Arms are clearly what Cole & recording engineer Bill Lazerus referred to when they talked about recording three albums a day.  Crazy Arms sounds like one-take recordings.  The band is winging it and Take Off, the cut featured here, is typical of the album.

CrazyArms

CLP 5518 / 1966

Day 69 & I Love You So Much It Hurts, an aptly titled country LP with a weepy sad-singer named Terry Lee. Can’t find any reference to country singer Terry Lee and he doesn’t sound like Jerry Cole; maybe a pick up band from the Palamino.  These are muddy sounding stereo recording and slow-paced Pages of Time is one of the better cuts.

ILoveYouSoMuch

CST 558 / 1968

For your midweek doldrums on day 70, I presented Fireball Mail with a tune titled “Windblown Bag” amongst other great titles. I was looking forward to hearing the lyrics to Windblown Bag but, unfortunately, this is an all instro LP that has a rushed, one-take, no rehearsal sound.  Jerry Cole is most likely leading this band and playing mostly acoustic guitar. The tune Self Destruction sounds like Cole & the band just ran out of ideas.  The titles are much better than the tunes. Probably one of several LPs Cole & company recorded that day.

FireballMail

CST 624  / 1971

On day 71 out of 356 I posted a Crown country LP that begs to be played any ol’ time. Includes the classic title: “How Could You Do A Thing Like This.” No artist is mentioned on the cover–was Crown embarrassed by the artist, afraid of a lawsuit or was it just a mistake to leave off the name?  Inside we learn the artist’s name is on Lon Harmon. We also learn that Crown didn’t do proof-reading as “Black” is spelled “Blak” on the LP itself. Found zilch on the ‘Net about Harmon.

This is an unremarkable country band, poorly recorded with distorted bass guitar.  Not terrible but not good, and not a country LP to listen to anytime.

anytime

CLP 5548 / 1967

Lazy hot Friday in SoCal on day 72 of Crown postings. The titles on this LP tell a story: “Drinks Are on the House” if you’re from the “School of Hard Knocks” & staying tonight at one of the many “Okie Motels.” So who’s Don Hughes?  Found one reference in a 1969 Billboard magazine that he was fronting a country band in Vegas.

Decent country band that sounds like it’s rushing through tunes in one take; some like Drinks On The House seemingly written moments before recording. Don’t detect Jerry Cole on vocals or guitar here but figure the music was most likely recorded at the Normandie studio.

okiemuskogg

CST 603 / 1970

Day 73 and this Crown had two tunes by Dave Dudley, known for his hit Six Days On the Road.  The rest of the LP features the Cass Country Boys, a cowboy western band who worked with Gene Autry.  All licensed material and the only one of these country LPs you’d want to play through both sides.  Below is Lonely Corner by Dave Dudley & Nine Pound Hammer from Cass County Boys.

DaveDud

CLP 5508 / 1966

Day 74 & the last day of Crown country LPs for this series. Great photo that’s a cross between Midnight Cowboy & Glenn Campbell.  Nice stucco background–can’t get much more cheap looking.

TrueGritCSST 593 / 1969

Not all Crown artists of this era were fakes or pseudonyms for Jerry Cole. Digging into the internet I found a few obscure mentions of Don Lee as a country artist who played at the Palomino.  Makes sense.  Here are choice quotes:  “Don Lee….Good leadman/vocalist. He unfortunately didn’t have it together in the personality dept. Too bad he could have went a lot further if he hadn’t been such an A$$.”  “Don Lee, is that the guy who worked with the Buckaroos in the mid 1970s?” Found info on steel guitar forum.

This is another average country album with guitar work sounding like Jerry Cole.  Recording quality is a bit rough and gritty but fits the barely rehearsed sound of the tunes.  Point Of No Return is a good title and interesting arrangement that sounds to me like Jerry Cole on guitar.  Some true schmaltz on this LP as well.

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A Week of Blues

This past week was dedicated to Crown blues–blues is what the Biharis did best and it was the music that several people close to Jules said was his favorite.

Two months down, ten months to go in my year of Crown LP postings & on Monday, day 61, I posted a classic Elmore James LP for a rainy, cold day in Los Angeles when the report of another LAPD killing was all over the news. As Elmore James sings, it’s Dark & Dreary…

BluesAfterHours

CLP 5168 / 1960

This LP has liner notes by John Marlo but no other credits. The bottom half of the back cover lists the Crown catalogue. Soon in the life of Crown Records Jules would dispense of liner notes & credits completely and every Crown LP would have a generic back, listing part of the Crown catalogue by title & number.

Along with BB King, Elmore James was an authentic Bihari product, first recorded by Lester Bihari in Chicago.  Jules had squeezed Lester out of the Los Angeles operation and Lester found Elmore James in Chicago, immediately recording a hit with him. Though James recorded for other labels (Chess, Fire, etc.), most of his titles were first recorded by the Biharis, either in Chicago or Los Angeles.  These cuts are from the mid to early 1950s and include some of his earliest recordings (Dust My Broom, recorded by Lester) to later recordings done in Los Angeles with Maxwell Davis adding horns and arranging.

Aptly titled Blues After Hours with a great barroom photo cover, this is an LP to play loud with a stiff drink. For those not lucky enough to find this vintage copy of the LP, there are numerous reissues of this LP and other Elmore James material on the Biharis’ post-bankrupcy labels United & United-Superior with lesser cover art but the same great music.


Blues week continued on day 62 with a John Lee Hooker reissue of his early 1950’s Detroit singles, some recorded by Joe Bihari who took over Hooker’s career from his original producer Bernie Besman.

This LP is from the same era as the Elmore above and includes rhyming liner notes by John Marlo plus credits for design and photography by Hobco Arts & Joseph Tauber respectively.

JKHooker

CLP 5157 / 1969


Midweek, day 63,  and I posted one of Crown’s lurid blues covers, this one with credit to a NYC agency, Shostal. Unlikely Jules hired an ad agency in NYC to photograph one of his covers. My bet is he purchased or licensed a photo that fit his needs at the time–a fetching African-American model to attract buyers to repackaged Lightning Hopkins cuts. The cuts are classic Lightning Hopkins, all solo on the guitar. Impossible to track these cuts back to their source though they all seem from 1951 and not originally recorded by the Biharis. One cut in particular, Tell Me Pretty Mama, showcases Hopkins’ atypical fast picking style rather than his usual mournful solos.  Another great Crown blues LP to play loud & enjoy with a drink or two.

LightinH

CLP 5224 / 1961


Day 64 & a Jimmy Witherspoon posting. I’ll admit that ‘Spoon never inspired me. I’m not a fan. His music & singing seem lost somewhere between jazz & blues, and the cuts on this LP illustrate my point. One of grittiest cuts is River Blues and it sounds like BB King is adding some raw guitar licks to offset Witherspoon’s withering attempt to sing blues.

As the Crown discography at Both Sides Now states, the titles on the LP’s cover aren’t exactly what’s on the vinyl, not that anyone would notice or care.  Meanwhile, I couldn’t help noting that this 5192 series came out in 1960, an era when Crown LPs had the Culver City address yet this LP has the late ’60’s back cover and the Normandie studio address. Is there anyone alive who can explain this? Is there anyone alive who cares?

JimmyWitherspoon

CLP 5192 / 1960


On day 65, I posted the perfect LP & cover art to enjoy a Friday afternoon cocktail courtesy of Howling’ Wolf & Crown Records. Dig that lipstick & nail polish on the model with photography credit to Three Lions Inc.  Three Lions Inc. did cover photography for everyone from the bottom (Tops, Crown) to the top (Atlantic, RCA).  My guess is Jules was trying to buy credibility by hiring an agency used by the bigger, more established labels. Regardless, it’s a great cover and LP to enjoy with companion covers from Lightnin’ & Hooker.

HowlinWolfCLP5240 / 1962


On day 66, Saturday night, I posted the King of the Crown Records blues, BB King. Recorded in true stereo, with punchy horn section and clearly defined piano track. This BB King LP has excellent sound though it’s marred by several bone-headed attempts to have BB sound like a pop singer.

BBKing1

CST 195 / 1960

Up until the early 1960s, when King & Jules parted ways, BB King was a solid seller and a major star for the Bihari host of labels. But when the 1960s hit, Jules decided to throw all his weight behind the Crown budget label business so he dumped King and most of the other black artists of the 1950s who had created the early identity of Modern & the other Bihari family labels. By now King wanted (and deserved) more $$ while important Bihari artists like Ike & Tina were demanding better promotion and experimenting with ways to hit the mainstream.

Bihari didn’t have the resources to compete head to head with the major labels on promotion nor did he want to. Jules was from the old school, the son of a door-to-door salesman, so he did what he knew best, pushing catchy titles, reissuing his back catalogue countless times (reaping publishing & writing royalties assigned to himself & his brothers) and making new low budget LPs. These new LPs were based on the copy-cat theory that if enough people would spend 99 cents for a reasonable facsimile rather than $5 for the real thing then he could make a good living for his extended family. And for a long while Jules proved right.


Day 67, the last Crown blues uploaded in this weeklong series. Awesome psychedelic cover art with odd negative effect cutout lettering; no credit to the artist. This is not a true stereo, two track LP despite its claim.  The selections include Hooker’s version of HooDoo Man (Baby You Ain’t No Good) with Biblical/caveman-type references to men and women plus Hooker’s 1954 version of Joe Turner’s Shake Rattle & Roll (Shake Holler & Run–listen below). Outstanding updates of Hooker’s classic boogie guitar (Gonna Boogie) and another of his classic riff driven pieces, Bad Boy.  More detailed info on all these cuts download and read The John Lee Hooker Discography by Claus Röhnisch

JLHook2

CST CST 295 / 1963

 

Next week: the major low budget era of 1960s Crown when Jules relied on two artists to help create new music, one black & one white: his longtime arranger/producer Maxwell Davis and new-comer guitarist/bandleader Jerry Cole who Jules found playing in a country band at the famed Palomino Club. Add to that formula young and hungry recording engineer Bill Lazerus and Jules’ purchase of the former Tops Records factory on Normandie & Slauson and now Jules had the means to produce an entire LP, from start to finish, in one day. Suddenly Crown was flooding the mom & pop shops with cheap product that sold and there was no stopping them.

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