With less than a hundred Crowns (& days) of the year left, I’m scraping the bottom of the closet. You’ll see a lot more LPs in genres like the Sing-A-Long Gang, Thousand Strings, Crazy Guy, polka, dixieland & Hawaiian music, as all these genes were released in multiple volumes plus often reissued using different covers. Along the way, however, I hope to continue to uncover gems like you’ll hear below. Enjoy the final stretch in this year of Crown LPs – someone’s got to find out what’s inside these busted sleeves and, as my mother used to say, better me than you!
The vinyl was so trashed on this LP that it was barely playable. Did a needle drop on every cut but only found a sappy sounding Sing-A-Long Gang singing mostly (if not all) public domain campfire tunes. I’m not what the concept is behind this LP – did Crown think campers would pack in portable record players to spin disks around the campfire? Were there even portable players back in 1961? Best feature of the LP are the little line illustrations before every title on the cover–clip art before there was even clip art.
UPDATE: As Jeff M points out in the comments, these Crown Sing-A-Long LPs are knock offs of the very popular and profitable Mitch Miller and his Gang LPs of the era. Crown copied Mitch Miller’s style of listing song titles punctuated by clip art type drawings on the cover though stayed away from adding a Mitch Miller lookalike.
Before producing his popular Sing Along series, Mitch Miller was an important and successful A&R man for Mercury and then Columbia. Though he wasn’t shy about his negative opinion of rock and roll (“musical baby food”) he nevertheless discovered and nurtured many popular artists. He even signed Aretha Franklin to Columbia (though she eventually left for Atlantic where the rest is history).
There was no vinyl in this sleeve; probably dropped out of the split LP cover along its life journey. Wrote about Gerald “The Wig” Wiggins in an earlier post. Basically, a flexible pianist schooled in swing & bop. His longtime trio included bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Paul Humphrey. For lots more info read this bio of Wiggins by Scott Yanow. Wiggins died in 2008 at age 86. These recordings were probably recorded by Crown.
Kay Starr started out as a solid jazz singer in the 1940s, embraced popular music & a bit of rock and roll in the 1950s. For more details read this bio of Kay Starr by John Bush.
This is the first volume of Crown’s reissue of mostly Sage & Sand singles. LP is packed with interesting and sometimes awesome roots county & rockabill. Standouts include cuts by Les York (prolific recording artist with & without his brother George–discography) , Lonnie Barron (covered in a previous blog entry), Georgia Brown (Dootone 346 as Sweet Georgia Brown & Whippoorills – I Want to Go Back to Mexico/I Still Love You), Okie Jones & Oscar Hart (more info on last two artists here).
I Want To Go Back To Mexico is a bizarre but fun combination of country, pop, Latin & bop. It could be the soundtrack for a Chuck Jones Looney Tunes cartoon and it’s doubtful that Dootone recording artist Georgia Brown is a white country roots artist. How this cut was selected for this country compilation of Sage reissue tracks is a mystery.
Maxwell Davis arranging Henry Mancini’s soundtrack for the TV show Peter Gunn. Conducted by Ted Nash & featuring trombone player Dick Nash who also played in the legit soundtrack of the TV series. West coast jazz pianist Russ Freeman is on keyboards. Crown liner notes staff writer Frank Evans claims he was in several of the episodes but his parts most have been too small to register a mention on IMDB.
This is a quality recording with a great cover by Charles Winfield Meggs it’s just another Crown Records/Bihari brothers’ mystery why it was necessary to pay royalties and/or license fees to release a clone of the Mancini soundtrack that was already released on RCA? How much profit could there have been in such a budget record release? They didn’t even go the usual Crown/budget record route of putting one legit cut on the LP with the rest being public domain or in-house filler sound-alike tracks. The cuts on this LP are identical to the RCA Mancini LP, minus a few tracks in true Crown Records tradition.
Here’s what we know about the obscure California artist Meggs, taken from an obscure art site. He’s also credited with “Meggs Mirror Movieland,” a gossip caricature/comic strip that appeared in several newspapers in Australia in the late 1930s.
“Charles Winfield MEGGS
1902 – 1980
Charles Winfield Meggs was born in Canada on May 18, 1902. He was a skilled commercial artist who painted fine art in his leisure. By 1930 he had established a studio in Los Angeles. He died there on July 3, 1980.”
A thin sounding, unremarkable but decent cowboy country singer who had quite a following on the east coast. Check out his bio on wikipedia and this family website kept in his memory which sells CDs and DVDs.
Tex Carman was a Sage recording artist and in fact CST 324 is a reissue of Sage LP9 minus the opening track. You can read a bio of him here but basically Tex was an unusual country performer who played a Hawaiian steel guitar and sung in whining country style that defies description. It’s a great LP so go out and find a copy.
Must see footage of Tex Carmen playing at the Town Hall Party in Compton, CA.
Not the best of the Crown LPs from Eddie “Hillbilly Heaven” Dean. Features a sad cover of Little Green Apples and four solid instrumental filler tracks that may or not be Eddie Dean’s band. Several feature piano & dobro plus the rocking’ Country Magpie included here with blistering lead electric guitar & impressive pedal steel – might be the Palomino Club house band featuring Red Rhodes.
CLP 5110/June 1958
An authentic exotica LP from Crown that is considered by some collectable. Back cover credits all the musicians and includes Raskin’s notes on the tunes plus some neat little drawings of birds, the sun & other items some might consider exotic.
Two years later Crown reissued the LP with generic Crown back and a different (though still cool) cover. The tunes appear in a different order and what was once the “exciting” sounds of Raskin became the “exotic” sounds.
The original issue of Fazzio cover CLP 5404/1964 reviewed in a previous blog entry.
Crown put out a series of Crazy Guy piano LPs meant to crib off a popular honky tonk piano act of the day, Crazy Otto, whose rinky-tink, honky tonk music grew out of the earlier ragtime piano style, also a popular budget LP genre. Here’s a website listing the most popular ragtime/honky tonk piano players of the days – note that Crown’s Crazy Guy makes no appearance on the list.
Cover photo by Ken Whitmore who has a slew of cover credits to his name, especially in this era. Whitmore is listed at this site as a celebrity photographer who got his big break shooting stills for Cecil B Mille during the filming of the “Ten Commandments.” Liner notes are uncredited and a few song titles listed on the LP back are missing on the vinyl.
This clawed up disk would play well in a past life Shakey’s Pizza joint or on silent movie night at the ole cinema. Otherwise, no sense in owning this vinyl or spinning it on your platter.
Crown’s usual oval logo is refashioned here to spell musicalrama though listening to this LP of bad elevator music is not a musicalrama treat. Giving you a break by not including any cuts from it.
CLP 5185/1960 – BSN needs photos
Nice blue themed cover is the best this Crown has to offer. A waste of bad vinyl. Surprised anyone bought this LP but it must be true if it ended up selling for a 33 cents in the recycle bin.
Volume 2 of Crown’s rip off of the first 101 Strings LP.
Crown issued at least three George Liberace LPs. George sounds full of himself without his brother’s talent and was involved in more than his share of scandal (see my previous post), the most interesting element of his character. Musically, he’s a subpar lounge act. Ripped the LPs last track which sounds like a brief number a lounge act makes before going on a break.
This is probably the last of Mexicali Brass LPs until Xmas. All released from 1966-67. Five cuts per side. Many tracks shared between LPs. Supposedly all quickie productions by Maxwell Davis. Nearly all the budget labels produced TJ Brass clones but Crown capitalized on the craze with the most passion and number of releases until a lawsuit from Herb Alpert stopped the flow.
Polka records were one of the old standbys in the budget record business and Crown released and reissued a seemingly endless stream of them. This one’s got a nice photo cover by the NY agency 3 Lions but otherwise has nothing musical to recommend.