Here’s a wrap up of all Crown covers posted on our Facebook this week.
Monday, Day 5: Most Crown releases fall into a pattern. In the 60’s the pattern capitalized on a hit song, the reason being they only had to license one tune as on this LP, Midnight Cowboy. No other title here is recognizable. It’s another sealed LP that we haven’t played it yet though not sure why it matters. Who wants a sealed Crown LP anyway? You won’t find much on Norm Raleigh on Google besides references to this LP. Just another cover for J Cole most likely.
Tuesday, Day 6: The Crown LP that launched my interest in the label back in SF in 1973. Psych drag strip cuts by Jerry Cole, someone I never heard of at the time. Only later did I notice that these same cuts appear on other Bihari LPs. Jerry Cole discusses these LPs & more in the unreleased doc. Recording engineer Bill Lazerus talks about recording drag strip sounds at a race track to dub on these LPs.
Wednesday, Day 7, finds a Crown from the early Culver City era boasting “Telesonic Sound & Ultra High Fidelity,” words that sounded good but meant nothing. Note on the back the double Crown logo and Florette Bihari production credit though no one we interviewed believed Florette was ever anything more than the gate keeper at the top of the stairs at the later Normandie studio. The striking cover is the work of Sheldon Marks, an art director who worked for Verve & other jazz labels. How he ended up producing a Crown cover is unknown but these were the days before everything at Crown was produced in-house. All tunes by Foster are public domain. In an ironic twist, Foster died a pauper, his music rights ripped off by greedy publishers but in this case the Biharis are not guilty.
Friday, Day 9. Crown released a short series of jazz LPs with photo covers seemingly inspired by William Claxton‘s work for Pacific Records. Jules even uses a Claxton photo on a Crown Chet Baker release–did Jules rip off Claxton or was Claxton selling images for cheap? Unknown but here’s a Dave Brubeck Crown with a Claxton looking cover photo though the “cover design” credit is given is to Paul L. Thomas. Often Jules barely had enough material from the “name” artist to fill one side of the LP as here where he’s added a side of Cal Trader cuts. In true spirit of the budget label business, we’ve include a second Crown LP in this posting, a later Brubeck release that reissues one side of the original Crown matched this time with the George Nielsen Quartet. So here then is your bargain basement 2 for the price of 1 Brubeck budget LP offering:
CST 406 CST 470
Saturday, Day 10. Yet another variation of the Crown logo on this early Culver City release of the Crazy Guy, an anonymous piano player performing public domain semi-classics. According to Mike Callahan’s Crown discography, Crazy Guy was supposed to fool folks into thinking they were purchasing an LP by Crazy Otto, a popular Honk Tonk piano player of the day. http://www.bsnpubs.com/modern/crown/crown5000.html
Note Crown boasting stereo on the back. Another twist has the cover photo credit going to Frank Bez whose later credits include iconic covers & shots featuring Jim Morrison, Nico, the Byrds & others; Bez also worked for Playboy. Once Crown moved to Normandie, all covers would all be done in-house with most of the photography shot by engineer Bill Lazures.
Day 11, and what better Crown LP for a dreary Sunday here in Los Angeles than a bona fide gospel LP with cool abstract photo cover. No credit for the cover but one side has cuts from the authentic Jubilee Singers, an a cappella group formed during slavery era; despite the Biharis extensive African-American recordings this smacks of leased material especially since the other side is from the unknown Rev. Ulric George who croons spirituals with spare organ backing.