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.


2 thoughts on “A Week Of Crown Strings

  1. “Karl Jurgens” was a name Crown used for many recordings they licensed from different sources. Though it’s often Walther in this case it’s not. These recordings were made by Livingston and released originally on reel tapes. Two different conductors: Vittorio Gui and Mr Czerny (his first name escapes me at the moment). Whenever you see a large orchestral recording chances are very good that it was simply licensed from a European source. It would be way beyond Crown’s budget to record anything like that on their own. The reason for the phony names is that many record companies licensed the same performances, so there could be a half-dozen different budget LPs of the same work, all attributed to a different conductor yet all the same recording.

    1. Thanks for your detailed research into these budget releases. As you noted, the Biharis did not have the budget nor desire to record orchestra music though Jules apparently recorded a lot of the big band tributes himself. Note I’m screening my doc Music By The Pound July 19 at FreakBeat Records in Sherman Oaks if you live near SoCal.

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