The Final Four Crown LPs

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.



CLP 5546/1967

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.


CLP 5005/1957

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:

Viennese Waltzes

CLP 5125/1959

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.

CockTails4Two copy

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.

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R.I.P. Joe Houston

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.

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Happy New Years From Music By The Pound


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Recording Engineer Bill Lazerus

In early 2002, we talked to Bill Lazerus at his home in Van Nuys, down what seemed a rural road, no sidewalks, just dirt and gullies to catch the water. His home was small, well lived in with a gun and sword collection on the wall, books and magazines on every surface.  He was a comfortable, friendly guy, eager to talk about his tenure at Crown records and willing to do anything to help in the making of the documentary. Not that he knew who we were or what we had produced, just that he thought it was an important story about the record business that no one had heard or cared about. Bill had left Crown to work on a slew of hit records with major artists on major labels, but he always had affection for his days at Crown and especially for Jules Bihari who he thought a price of man.

Bill agreed to dig through his archives for any photos from the Crown days at 5810 S Normandie Ave so we ended up asking him questions on his back porch. His archives, mostly photos & negatives from his long career, was a gold mine rotting away in cardboard boxes, stored on shelves and in a shed open to the elements.  This wasn’t our formal interview with Bill that we would conduct months later in his small recording studio, but I ran the camera anyway, just to record his stories for reference. The sound is terrible and the lighting disappears but here are a couple moments of our conversation.

It’s sad that I lost touch with Bill and he never saw the completed story on the Crown Record story that he (and others) played a big part in telling.

These clips do not appear in the completed documentary about Crown Records.

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Xmas With Crown Records

Merry Christmas from my collection of Crown Records starting with Brother Henderson’s Soul Christmas (on Kent but what the heck).


KST 573/around 1973

The black Santa on the cover is a fake–it’s a white Santa in black face. This same photo featuring the white Santa is on a 1963 Johnny Cole/Robert Evans Chorus Xmas Crown LP.

Everything known about this LP is at this blog site I’m Learning To Share including all the tracks. Enjoy!



CST 1/1958

This is start of the Crown Stereo CST series, the first releases of which were on Xmas LPs pressed on red vinyl (the first pressings only). The tacky cover on #1 features a cheap looking miniature set with ornaments purchased at the local Five & Dime. The dolls appear to be made from pipe cleaners.



CST 2/1962

CST 2 (1962) is a reissue of CST 3 below (1960).  Dates & numbering make no sense though maybe the listing at BSN’s discography is wrong. Cover features a bad photo of cheap looking Christmas decorations.



CST 3/1960 – Same as LP above.

The graphics of Christmas tree ornaments on #3 cover are inventive and the printing is of better quality than the other LPs in this series. This is the best cover of the series.


CST 4/1960

On par with the worst of the cheap looking Crown Christmas covers.


CST 164/1959

Like CST 3, this cover is of better quality printing than the others with a glossy, foil-like finish. Wonder if anyone actually filled out the cover card and gave it as a gift? Purchased at the old Rhino Records shop on Westward Blvd in Los Angeles.


CST 165/1959

The cheapest looking  Christmas cover of the series. A crafting experiment gone bad.

The following three Crown organ & chimes Xmas LPs feature a lot of the same tracks.  No surprise here.


CMX 80

Both Sides Now discography does not list the CMX series so dates are unknown.

The above snow capped cabin may be a Christmas landmark somewhere in the mountains near Los Angeles.


CLP 5086/Nov 1958

An attempt was made here to set design and light a decent Christmas scene of candy cane dolls with snowy background. Not great but not as scary and cheap looking as others in the CST series.


CMX 700/No Date Available

How better to spend Christmas Eve than listening to Xmas songs Mexicali Brass style:


CLP 5545/1967


CMX 1000/No Date Available

Would  it be possible for this model to expose more of her cleavage? Credit on front reads “Props by Mr. Christmas, Inc.,” a company that has been serving everyone’s Christmas holiday needs since 1933. Read more about the company via the link.


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Original Folk Blues

The Bihari’s Original Folk Blues series on United/Superior from the 1970s seems to be a direct ripoff of Chess Records’ series The Real Folk Blues that started in 1965 with a Muddy Waters release. Subsequent Chess LPs in the series featured all their blues stars including Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James plus less known names. Chess followed up several of the releases with the series More Real Folk Blues.

Bihari’s United/Superior budget LPs are mostly Crown, Custom & Kent reissues. The Original Folk Blues series below are all Kent LP reissues pressed from the same plates. All have the original Kent release numbers scratched in the blank vinyl around the label. Most are reissues of the Kent series Anthology of the Blues, the first few issues of which had gatefold covers of surprising quality plus liner notes, credits & photos inside. Later releases dropped the gatefold format but still had liners & credits. The United/Superior reissues are barebones LPs with crappy covers & generic backs.

My Original Folk Blues budget collection below stretches back to Joe Bihari’s original travels through the South with his Magnacord recorder to newer recordings of Elmore James in Chicago, some produced by Lester Bihari& released in Memphis on the Mete0r Label.

The US reissues were always easier to find than the original Kent issues of which I only have two (see The Legend of Elmore James & West Coast Blues). Each of the 99 cent US LPs are vinyl treasures containing authentic blues, from country acoustic cuts on the Memphis & Arkansas LPs to the raw, electrified sound of Elmore James recorded in Chicago & Los Angeles.

All of this material and a lot more has been reissued by Ace Records in the UK which you can find here.


US 7743 reissue of Kent 5022


US 7778 reissue of Kent 9001


Kent 9001

GatefoldInside copy

Inside Kent 9001


US 7779 reissue of 9002


US 7784 reissue of Kent 9007


US 7787 reissue of Kent 9010


US 7788 reissue of Kent 9011

Contains some of the earliest BB King put to wax.


Post gatefold back:


Kent 9012





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Fazzio Original For Sale!

I’ve just been notified that there’s an original Fazzio painting up for sale on Ebay.   (Note that I have nothing to do with this sale though the owner appears in Music By The Pound.)

Check it out here.

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