Friday, December 26, 2014

A Song-Poem Christmas

Love, Christmas, political views...whatever it is, nothing sums it up like a song poem. But in this case, it's Christmas, and I have two songs written by just-plain average folk who saw an ad in the back of a magazine and decided it'd be cool to hear their sentiments in song.

There's a lot of mystique behind song poems. There's a website with loads of information and history, and like just about everything else these days, there was even a documentary about them. This otherwise unassuming "1977 Christmas Album" is chock full of holiday song poems, all sung by The Sisterhood, a female trio who, if you believe the note on the back cover, seemed to appear on just about every TV and variety show in existence.

The first song is not so much about the holidays as winter itself.


The second starts off "holiday" enough, but after the first couple of lines...wait, is this actually a song about Elvis Presley?

Boy, someone had a Blue Christmas that year.

LINKS FOR FURTHER LEARNING
The American Song-Poem Music Archive
Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story

'Twas the day after Christmas...

And all through the - nah, I can't. But I can share a couple more unusual, if not downright rare, Christmas 45s.

First, Dodie Stevens, who trades her tan shoes and pink shoelaces for a holiday gown as she croons Merry Merry Christmas Baby:


And a surprise from Brook Benton. I never knew he recorded any holiday songs, and I've never heard this one: This Time Of The Year, on Mercury.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas In The Country

A couple country 45s for you now.

First up, Jimmy Dean and the story of Little Sandy Sleighfoot. God has a place and purpose for everyone:




And here's Buck Owens. Li'l buckaroo's confused about Santa:

I think we're good

Some of you know I have a real thing for educational albums. And the holiday tracks you're about to hear are a couple of reasons why.

Here's Steve Clayton and Gail Contini, pair extraordinaire, with some good tidings not just for Christmas, but for Hanukkah too. These come from an album of holiday songs featuring holidays you never knew there were songs for.

Everybody's Good For Christmas


Hanukkah

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmastime Down Under


They do things a little different in Australia. Christmas is no exception. This may look like a regular Christmas album, but there are a couple of differences. For one, look at the way they spelled Faithful. For another, listen to the changes in The Holly Singers' 12 Days Of Christmas. There are a couple of things on the list that I've never heard in the song before. Maybe 1976 was a bad financial year and Aussies had to cut back a little. Or everyone was out buying colour TVs, which were relatively new there. Ah, priorities.


This year, I've managed to assemble a collection of holiday songs you might not have heard before, and this album has one. It's called Christmas Year. You might like this one, mate.



The 12 (or so) Songs Of Christmas

I'm not one for holidays anymore. But surprise, surprise, here I am posting Christmas music. And guess what: after a 3-month drought, I get to pick right back up from where I left off: with a radio album!

Radio station albums were generally compilations of current-day hits popular with the station's audience. But there were exceptions. This is a particularly nice one, and as it happens, it was put together under the auspices of some of the people who worked at PAMS, who I mentioned in September. In other words, there's a little extra "jingle" in these Jingle Bells.

The folks you'll hear on these tracks are called the Associate Singers, and if you're a jingle fan, you'll know the names: Dan Alexander, best-bass-in-the-business Jim Clancy, Brian Beck, Frank Bloebaum, Chris Kershaw, Bob Biegler, Clark Womack, Trella Hart, Judy Parma, Libba Weeks, Abby Hamilton and Linda Harmon.

All these great voices sing against vibrant musical backdrops provided by Bob Piper, who was responsible for the sound of many PAMS jingle packages in the late '60s and early '70s. The sound is bright and beautiful and deserves to be shared.

Here's Trella Hart out in front, calling for Jolly Old St. Nicholas.



A cheery rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas. I wish this song always sounded this good.


Let's go Up On The Housetop and hear what the singers are up to:



An a cappella original by Bob Piper: The Warm Sound Of Christmas


Although the singers are primarily known from PAMS, they did business with most of the other jingle producers in Dallas. Toby Arnold worked in sales for PAMS and eventually started his own company, which produced this album. His company still exists as TAA Music.

A note on the radio station: WGPA is alive and well in Bethlehem, PA and plays a pretty eclectic assortment of music and talk shows. It's currently owned by polka magnate Jolly Joe Timmer.


This post is dedicated to Judy Parma, one of the wonderful voices you hear on these tracks. She passed away recently, so sharing these songs has taken on extra meaning. Rest well, and thank you for making the world sound so nice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Restructuring

It happens a lot as businesses look for a way out from under the weight of crushing financial obligations. It also happens in people's personal lives. And when it does, priorities change.

My restructuring is a little different. See, I'm staring down the barrel of my 40th birthday, and as I alluded to at the first of the year, I want to make some changes to myself. Those changes go deeper than just losing a few pounds (and by that, about 50 so far), but that's been the main priority. Workouts + 12-hour nights = less time for a lot of things. And unfortunately for you, this blog has been one of those things there's been less time for. I already have a new year's resolution in place to try to balance it into my spare time a little better. I'm rethinking the workstyle I've been using to put the posts together...and I have another idea - one that'll get you more involved, too.

There's a facebook page that goes with this blog. Some of you know that, and I appreciate you liking it and making your visits. The page's intent was to let you know about new posts here and keep you entertained while you wait. I'm taking that to a new level. Any time I'm listening to something blogworthy, I'll let you know about it there. Then, if you like it and/or comment, I'll do a post on it. I might even tell you about the more mainstream stuff and post conversation starters about other things. What you do there will influence what I do here.

In short form, I want to "communitize" this blog. I want to be a more active member of that community, and your input will be a huge help in me becoming one. So in the spirit of the holidays, I thank you for hangin' in and enjoying what I offer. There's more to come...however sporadically. Help me keep it coming.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The (W)ABCs of HOA: the Morning Mayor Of NY

I'd like to think I saved the best - and most interesting - of Radio Records month for last.


If you're of a certain age, you probably listened to 77 WABC. Practically everyone of that age did. And if you listened in the mornings, chances are you heard Herb Oscar Anderson, aka The Morning Mayor Of New York. Herb was a one-of-a-kind DJ. The housewives loved him. The teenage girls exchanged socks because he told them to. And he sang. Every hour on the hour, he'd sing, "Here's my best to you/Are your skies gray? I hope they're blue."

HOA sang well enough to record an album in 1967, toward the end of his reign on WABC. You could tell it was going to be a great album just by the names behind it: produced by Creed Taylor. Most arrangements by Don Sebesky. A couple of the songs were recorded in Nashville (and they were arranged by Bill McElhiney), but most were done in New Jersey, most likely at Rudy Van Gelder's famed studio in Englewood Cliffs given the Creed Taylor connection.

Some people might also have been able to discern that there was a dichotomy in play: HOA was playing the latest and greatest on one of America's biggest stations...but he had little knowledge, or even appreciation of it. Rick Sklar, WABC's ace program director, had to coach him on the songs and artists. In fact, that's what led HOA to leave WABC in 1968: he just didn't like the music, instead preferring the type of music here on this album. It's an interesting mix of standards like Pearly Shells and Long Way To Tipperary and country-flavored songs, with maybe a little folk squirted in here and there. It's a comfortable mix.

HOA's rendition of I'm Movin' On. He's having a lot of fun here with the scatting:


The title track, What Would I Be. An interesting question for sure, in this context:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

There Was Only One...


Radio has always been in a state of flux. But some stations refused to change, and swam upstream like salmon, against the trends. For a time, WBBM, the CBS station in Chicago, was like that. This 1963 album gives you a taste of what WBBM was putting down: vibrant local talent doing live music shows well after most other stations had moved on.

WBBM sure was proud of what they had going on...so they produced this album in 1963. How they came up with the time to do it, nobody knows for sure: WBBM produced 35 hours of live "showmanship" each week. This album may have been a special gift to advertisers, who, as the liner notes claim, spent more advertising dollars on WBBM than any other Chicago station at the time.

On this record, we hear Chicago standouts like The Hal Kartun Orchestra, an 8-piece big band with a fiery sound that belies their size. There's The Skynoters, fronted by a harp. The King's Jesters (in the red jackets and bowties) is a trio with a multitude of styles in its repertoire. And solo artists like Bob Vegas, who sang every morning. That's him on the bottom right. Carole March is the redhead you see front and center on the album's cover. Between them is Gini Patton who according to the liner notes, "does more than interest the listener when she sings...she bewitches."

Here's the Hal Kartun Orchestra, off to an auspicious start with the first track of the album, "Something's Coming:"


And now, Carole March fronting the Skynoters with the torchy "Guess Who I Saw Today:"

The All-American Sound


What better way to extol the virtues of radio...than with radio? The National Association Of Broadcasters (NAB) uses a few different campaigns each year to do that. At least they used to. Some of the campaigns were downright catchy: singers, celebrities and even the brilliant Stan Freberg created great reminders to "take a portable radio along" or to enjoy "the sound of year-round pleasure."

Unfortunately, the specifics of this campaign are lost to history: no singer or production credits here. And frankly, this campaign's not as catchy as many others. Also, an all-American theme in the winter?

Radio commercial and PSA records get a little repetitive at times. For one thing, this one is the same on both sides so if a track on one side gets damaged, it could be dubbed to tape from the other side. For another, these records contain variations on a theme: a minute-long cut, a :30, a :10, a :60 with a "donut" (there's a hole in the middle that the station fills with its own copy). I'll pare this down to the essentials: the full :60 and the :30 with the girl soloist. And I hope you'll enjoy them.

The full :60


The :30 with the female singer:

The following is (about) a public service announcement

 A while ago, I showed you how a radio show looked on vinyl. But hot hits and countdown shows weren't the only things radio stations got on vinyl. They also got commercials and PSAs that way. And here's a package of PSAs you won't soon forget. It's a collection of Brite Spots: uplifting PSAs with various themes for various station formats. Believe it or not, this was produced in 1981. Jesus Christ, Superstar! There were still MOR stations in 1981? People still called soul "black music?" "What even was MOR?" a young visitor asks.

Let's take a left turn and answer that question. MOR stands (stood) for Middle Of The Road: "not too hard, not too soft...just right," to qoute a popular radio station slogan of the time. Think of it as a precursor to soft rock. You'd hear Jack Jones, Johnny Mathis (possibly with Deniece Williams), The Carpenters, Bread, maybe some Andy Williams...in short, most of what you'd find these days in a better thrift store's record bin.

Unlike most of my records, though, this one didn't come from a thrift store. It came from the college radio station I worked at...20 years ago.




I have to let that sobering thought sink in a little. Jesus, that long?




Being a college station, we relied on donations of not only money, but equipment and music. Someone donated a roomful of albums to us, and it sat there for years. I had the lack of sense to ask if I could go through it, and my professor allowed me to. Guess where most of it ended up. Anyway, this record (actually a 2-record set) was in that room with folks like Big Buddy Lucas & The Wigglers and King Richard's Fluegel Knights (don't laugh, that's become a favorite of mine). Warning: these PSAs are not for the lactose intolerant. Apols. for not featuring more...I'm subject to the sound quality of the records and sometimes they just don't measure up.
Brite Spots: Rock (I enjoy WHAT?!) [I suspect someone screwed up the Rock and MOR spots - the MOR tracks definitely sound more "rock" for some reason.]


Brite Spots: Black (I know, right?)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learn To Play Guitar...The Radio Jingle Way


Through the years, it seems there have been almost as many methods to learn guitar as there are people who want to learn it. There are Mel Bay books, private lessons, CDs, DVDs, even video games. But would you ever want to learn guitar from a company that made radio jingles? You could. But not many did.

In the mid '60s, all the action on radio was on the AM band. Giants like WLS in Chicago, KLIF in Dallas, and WABC in New York ruled the airwaves...and they all had one thing in common: their jingles were produced by the same company. That company was known as PAMS: Production Advertising Merchandising Services. Jingles were big business then: stations listened to each other to find out what package they were using and how they could one-up their competitors with the next package they bought. Some jingle packages were sold to as many as 400 stations in the US, Canada and England.

PAMS's founder and president, Bill Meeks, was never afraid to try new things. So in 1965, he gave arranger/guitarist Ray Hurst his blessing to produce a guitar lesson kit. This 2-record set was packaged with a book of color illustrations...and colored stickers for your fingers so you knew where to put them on the frets. That's the Colour-Way!


To judge a book by its cover, or more precisely, its contents, Colour-Way was a fairly standard method: play along to the public-domain songs as you hear them on the records and listen to Ray Hurst's instructions as you see them in the book.


But Ray Hurst was not the only instructor. An electronic instrument called a Sono-Vox was also on board to help. PAMS used the Sono-Vox, a sort of forerunner to talkboxes and vocoders, on many of its most popular jingle packages to sing call letters, DJ names slogans. The Sono-Vox could basically run a person's voice through any instrument with a pair of speakers held against the throat. PAMS liked it so much they actually trademarked the name. So no surprise it would show up here. The Sono-Vox's main role on Colour-Way was to help you understand time signatures: a whole note was signified by a "beeeeat," a half-note by a monotone "Doub-ble," a quarter-note by "three-to-make-a." And for 3/4 time, there was "three-even." Pretty straightforward, if maybe a little creepy.

To sell Colour-Way, PAMS made barter deals with radio stations: can't afford our sparkly new Go-Go jingle package? No problem! Just run these commercials for our new guitar course! Jingle expert and former PAMS library owner Ken Deutsch tells me, "These were mostly instrumentals, with a little sing at the end that said “you can play guitar the correct way, it’s the easy way to play, get Colourway! (Sonovox: “Get Colourway.”).

"The idea was for radio stations to customize these spots to sell the course to listeners. One such jingle was even produced in Spanish."

So did the barter deal work out? Well, not quite. The station got the jingles...but PAMS got a load of inventory that took a while to get rid of. Deutsch says, "PAMS predicted they would sell out right away, but it took three or four years to get rid of all the inventory of the albums that were pressed. I know this because each year in December, PAMS wrote a diary entry in a book that summed up the year. In 1968, they were getting rid of the last of the albums, I think."

Hurst and the gang at PAMS were optimistic. Maybe too much so: on the back of the Colour-Way book is a note to watch for the upcoming Colour-Chourds (sorry, Chords) book. Some die-hards may still be watching.

LINKS FOR LEARNING AND LISTENING

jinglesamplers.com 
For TONS of great PAMS jingles, and even a couple of Colour-Way samples. Prepare to spend lots of time here.

Normanb.net
Scotland's own Norman Barrington, jingle collector extraordinaire, has a couple of the Colour-Way commercials as originally sent to stations. Click "Rarities" at the top of the home page, then scroll all the way down. Oh, and stick around to hear samples from every major PAMS jingle package!


You'll Find Out
A Youtube clip of the 1940 Kay Kyser movie that made the Sonovox famous. "You'll Find Out" how it works when you watch!

PAMS
P-A-M-S, PAMS of Dallas! Home to the world's best jingles. Now part of JAM Creative Productions, whose owner, Jon Wolfert, was a jingle collector who eventually worked for PAMS, left to start his own company (JAM), then bought the PAMS library.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

And The Countdown Spins On

It's really a shame what happened to Casey Kasem. there's not a lot more to be said about it than what already has been, so instead of dwelling on it, let's remember Casey for his most famous accomplishment.


It started on the 4th of July weekend of 1970 as more or less a modern-day hit parade of the top songs as played by radio stations. It grew into one of the most popular, most syndicated radio shows in existence. And over 40 years and a couple of hosts later, American Top 40 rolls on.

If you're hungry for the history of American Top 40, I suggest you track down a book by Rob Durkee: it's simply titled Amreican Top 40: The Countdown Of The Century. It chronicles every major, and almost evey minor, event of the show's history: from the recording of the first one, which took about 24 straight hours; to Casey's departure and the saga of his replacement, Shadoe Stevens; to Casey's eventual return. Of course, the book's not cheap these days since vultures have latched on to the misguided idea that just because someone died, every piece of their memorabilia is worth infinitely more than it really is. (If you're one of those people, please. Just stop. Enjoy it for what it is because the true value of anything is not monetary. With that said...)

So how did great radio stations like [insert call letters and location of your local AT40 station] get the show? The first shows were distributed on reel-to-reel tape. But tape wasn't always the most reliable format and a lot of things could go wrong between duplication and airplay at the station. Plus, tapes got to be expensive. After about a year, AT40 was delivered on vinyl records packaged just like this:

As you can see, there are three records. Each one has a half-hour of the show per side. As you can't see, but could probably deduce from the numbering scheme, side A of each disc played first, then each B side. Radio stations were generally equipped with at least two turntables, and sequencing the sides this way made it easier for the DJ/board operator to do his job. Rather than having to flip sides, set the level (there's a 400 Hz test tone at the start of each side) cue up and maybe brush off a record during that final 2-minute commercial break, he could just start one disc and have lots of time to prepare the next one.

That sheet of paper is not signed with Casey's autograph. It's the signature of the guy at the radio station who ran the show on the weekend of May 27, 1972: Vince Weller. I don't know his whos or wherefores, but by his signing that paper, he proved to Watermark, American Top 40's production company, that the show did indeed air that week on whatever station he worked at.

If you look closer at the cue sheet, you can see the first few songs of the countdown. If you have SiriusXM Radio, or listen to select terrestrial or online radio stations (like those on tunein), you might actually be able to hear this exact countdown. And if you're a hardcore fan, you might actually be able to get your own copy through the company that restores the records of the shows, Charis Music Group.

In Casey's honor, here's a Top 5 countdown of great links to satisfy your thirst for knolwedge of AT40.

5. Charis Music Group
If you listen to AT40 on SiriusXM, these are the people to thank for making it sound as good as it can. They're an audio restoration company with loads of countdown shows and tons of passion for doing what they do.

4. Rob Durkee
Wrote the book on AT40. Literally. A lot of the info in Rob's book was taken directly from his experience working on the show. Read the blog for lots of facts and check out Today In AT40 History.

3. Tunein Radio
If you're listening online, here's Tunein's list of stations that carry  American Top 40 shows from the '70s.

2. American Top 40 Fun & Games
American Top 40 and more! Learn and discuss with other fans of AT40 in all its incarnations.

1. AT40.com
The official site of American Top 40. What's up this week? What's down? Who's happening? Stay current with Ryan Seacrest and the modern-day edition of Casey's baby.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Is Radio & Records Month

It's a special month here at 33 Revelations. Not just because I'm planning on making more than one post, but because the posts I'm going to make have a little more personal meaning than normal. They're all about radio.

I started in radio 20 years ago this month. It's been a few years since I've done it, and I'd love to do it again if only I could afford to (there's more love than money in radio). But I lived the dream for 12 years. I'm glad I had the chance to do it.

This month, I'm celebrating my 20 years with radio records. These aren't DJ copies of albums you know and heard over and over. These are hit collections from DJs or radio stations. They're commercials and PSAs. Radio shows. And a couple of off-the-wall surprises...one of which has barely anything to do with radio at first glance. So stay tuned. I've got a lot to show you this month.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Most Original Blog Post Ever



I worked up a thirst today. Man, I got all ambitious and did an 8 1/2 mile run/walk at a park today...and boy is my Jazzy scooter tired!

I sure could use a drink right now. Maybe you could too. So if you can, you're really going to enjoy this post. In fact, if you've got a long memory, you might remember me telling you how the album I'm about to feature almost got away from me in a 4 for $1 sale.

Dr Pepper also knows a little bit about being ambitious. Its sales were on a rocket ride in the '70s. There was plenty of cause for celebration in Dallas because of it. And the celebration came in the form of a completely new ad campaign based on a jingle written by Randy Newman. Yep, he and the Dr Pepper guys went all out. They even gave away an album to a select cadre responsible for the sales boom. And what an album. It's basically a soundtrack of the entire campaign with the audio of TV commercials similar to this one:


Besides Newman, there were a few other heavy hitters behind the scenes that you, the sophisticated music lover, might recognize. Commercial singer/songwriter extraordinare Jake Holmes wrote and composed a few versions of the song. Dick Behrke, aka King Richard of King Richard's Fluegel Knights, composed others and did the arrangements.

So what about these other versions? Well, the first few after the Overture are, like I said, the audio for the TV commercials in the campaign. Then, some famous musicians take a crack (swig?) at putting their own touches on the song. And an uncredited Barry Manilow, who didn't wrote the songs, does the "standard" version to wrap up the extravaganza.


Here's the entire album in all its single-sided glory.

1. Overture


2. Executive Lunch


3. Prom 1950


4. Meals On Wheels


5. Librarian


6. Texas 1930


7. Doc Watson


8. Muddy Waters


9. Eubie Blake


10.Anita O'Day


11. Grandpa Jones


12. Standard (Barry Manilow)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Man On The Moon: 45 Years Ago This Week

Man 

It was a much different world 45 years ago. We have Afghanistan now; we had Vietnam then. Now it's Google; back then it was anyone over 30. Hilarious mismatches of new songs and old artists ensued in lame attempts to bridge the Generation Gap. Today, kids ask their grandparents about Woodstock and listen reverently to their old Beatles albums. The Smothers Brothers pushed the envelope every week - well, every week they weren't busy arguing with CBS and withholding tapes of their show from them because of what (or who) was censored from their variety show. NBC wasn't owned by a big cable company that's currently trying to buy another big cable company. They were too busy with a little distraction called Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, which, while definitely risque by '60s standards, was nowhere near what you might see today. Yet half the jokes from that show would make a modern day standards & practices person blush, what with their political incorrectness. Political incorrectness wasn't even a thing then. Unless maybe you voted for McGovern and he lost. Yep. Totally different time.

One of America's finest moments came during that time. On Sunday, July 20th, 1969, John F. Kennedy's dream was realized: we sent a man to the moon. Really, we sent three: Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins. We take for granted what a monumental feat it was in light of what we can do today. But this was truly America at its postwar best. The Russians beat us to space, but we showed them by getting to the moon before they did. All the world was watching a true moment in history. And while they were, back here at home Walter Cronkite, the dean of TV newsmen, laid it all out for us on CBS.

You're about to hear a 7" 33 with Cronkite recalling the day Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the moon. From countdown to touchdown, there are a lot of interesting moments. Relive them...or if you weren't around back then, listen and learn.

Side 1

Side 2

This record is presented for historical purposes only and is not intended for purposes of public performance or profit.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Go Fourth!


Well, holy crap. It's the Fourth Of July. Flags and fireworks, patriotism and parades...and of course, what would any parade be without a marching band? I used to have a few marching band albums. It was always amazing to hear what songs they could adapt into band arrangements. Those albums are gone, but a select few songs from them remain. And an even more select fewer have come to grace the blog today.  See how many you recognize. And be safe this weekend!

You don't hear (or see) much of this TV show anymore...unless you've got the DVDs:


Here's another forgotten TV classic. Why they did a band rendition of this, I have NO clue:


Here's a late-'70s TV medley!


If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just the high school marching band playing Led Zep:


Lay your ears on this one:


What I like about this...it really gets me to dance!:


And who's leading the band? It's-a me, Mario!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Like Me On facebook!

Yeah, so this twitter experiment I was doing with this blog hasn't exactly been going much of anywhere. Was it me? Was it this blog? Or was it the fact that twitter seems to be going the way of Quadrophonic sound and almost half the people who use it have never made a tweet?

I know one thing: you kids love your facebook. I, however, see it as a necessary but oddly useful evil for keeping up with people I don't get to see enough of in person. If you feel the same way, at least about this blog, join the madness at facebook.com/33Revelations. What's in it for you? Well, since you're so attached to facebook already, you can find out when I post new things here while you're there. You can also find out what I'm spinning...when I remember to post that sort of thing. And you'll get special bonus material you won't get on the blog! In short, I'll probably be updating facebook more often than the blog, but don't let that scare you off. In fact, use the facebook page as a supplement to the blog itself to get the maximum experience! Think of it as a freemium app - the facebook part is the free teaser, but all the juicy stuff that makes it great is here on the blog.

Like and share! And be on the lookout for some WFMU Record Fair finds soon.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

All's Fair


Hey, did I see you at the fair? If it was the WFMU Record Fair, you probably did. I spent too much money, took not enough pictures, and drank no Chelada whatsoever (because they had the decency not to serve it this year)...but I had a great time and caught up with (and bought a few records from) a couple folks I haven't seen in a while.

I'll say one thing about the money, though: a lot of it was for a good cause. More than one, actually. First, of course, is WFMU. They're the coolest listener-supported freeform radio station in town, don'cha know, and they had loads of $1 LPs, several classes of CDs, and their own compilations (including one of guest appearances from a show a friend of mine hosts)...not to mention tons of swag and a prize wheel you could spin for a buck. All proceeds go right to the station.

The other good cause is this li'l ol' blog right here. I got plenty of blogger fodder for you to marvel at, and little by little you'll see some of it. You might even hear some. So even if you can't go today, you can get a taste for what's there.

The 69th Regiment Armory at 26th/Lexington is the new place for the fair. Right across from it on Lexington Ave. is what must be one of the smallest Popeyes in existence. They could've gotten away with calling it Olive Oyl's. It doesn't even have a bathroom, it's so small. Yet somehow despite that little oversight, it gets an A from the health department. Try the chicken & waffle tenders. But bring your own Purell.

You know what else I got?

Shirt love.

Two people asked to take a picture of my shirt. If you were there and  missed your chance, I'll save you the trouble of asking. Pardon the mug - I didn't feel like cropping my head off...and selfies are hard. Besides, I needed a new facebook profile pic, and this was a quick-n-dirty way to get one.


If you want the shirt...make your record store print its own. They could use the publicity. Or see if CafePress has one like it.

Next best thing, of course, is to pick from the variety of shirts WFMU offers. Like I said, there's still time. And there's still a lot of music to discover in the coolest way possible.

www.wfmu.org/recfair


Monday, May 26, 2014

Fair Warning

Attention, east-coast record hunters: your favorite freeform radio station, WFMU, is having its world-famous (what? Well, it SHOULD be, dammit!) record fair this weekend.

One big thing to note is that it's moved from the Metropolitan Pavilion to the 69th Regiment Armory at 26th/Lexington in Manhattan.

If you haven't been there before, change some plans around so you can make it. It's huge. I'm talking literally millions of records from literally every genre, tens of thousands of CDs, and a whole lot of fun. WFMU DJs will be doing their shows live there, and others will be DJing just for you lucky showgoers. There might even be other things going on, too.

$7 a day Friday, Saturday and Sunday; or if you're a die-hard, $25 for the entire weekend with early pre-fair admission on Friday afternoon and unlimited admission all weekend.

Get the full scoop direct from the source. Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

All The World's A Fair

I apologize. I was away this week and preparations for the trip kept me from being as timely as I'd have liked with this post. But as it turns out, being away had a benefit. You'll see why soon.

The World's Fair. A showcase of the best that the present and the future had to offer. The Eiffel Tower was unveiled at the 1889 fair in Paris. The 1898 fair in Chicago introduced us to the Ferris wheel. 1939's fair in New York gave us television. The Space Needle stands as a lasting reminder of the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.

And then there was the 1964/65 World's Fair. Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY played host, just as it did for the fair 25 years earlier. Only this time...it wasn't a real world's fair.

Robert Moses, New York's City's Master Builder, helmed the corporation in charge of the fair. He realized that the 1939 World's Fair lost serious money and he hoped to remedy that for 1964. In doing so, he charged the exhibitors rent - a huge no-no per the sanctioning body of the fair, the Bureau of International Expositions. Moses also made the decision to run the fair for two six-month seasons instead of just one, based on calculations that 70 million visitors would be required for the fair to be profitable. Strike two. Not to mention, the BIE had a rule that there could only be one universal exhibition in a 10-year period. With Montreal's Expo 67 already set to open, the New York World's Fair was not it. The BIE refused to recognize this fair and formally requested nations not to attend. The UK, Canada and Australia were among many who took the BIE's advice and sat out. Despite it all, Moses plowed ahead and opened the fair on April 21, 1964.

The visitors, all 51 million of them, got a tantalizing taste of tomorrow. AT&T (aka The Bell System) showed their Videophone. GE exhibited the Carousel Of Progress, a rotating display of America's technological progress imagineered by Disney. Speaking of Disney, they also did the work on Ford's Wonder Rotunda and Magic Skyway, which by all accounts was at least as good as GM's competing Futurama exhibit. And US Steel showed off the symbol of the fair, the Unishphere: the 120-foot, 700,000-pound marvel of engineering made entirely of stainless steel.

No doubt there were pleny of souvenirs. Among them: this album. The 1964/65 World's Fair may not have been official, but it did have an official album. Supposedly. For such a forward-looking fair, this album sure sounds old-timey. It really doesn't have a lot to do with the fair, either. The Little Old New Yorkers, with backing help from The Phil Romano Orchestra, look back to the past with staples like Give My Regards To Broadway, Lullaby Of Broadway and Chinatown My Chinatown. But there are these two originals, done "in the marching band style of the twenties combined with the modern."

Here's the title track, Take Me To New York, Take Me To The Fair:

And the closer, Queen Of The New York World's Fair:

Wild Bill Davison plays cornet...and record label owner. The album's on his Davison Records label. Al Davis, Jr. narrates...and as you'll hear on the first track, not all that well.


A better known (and probably much more official) World's Fair album is this one, which I discovered a sealed copy of while I was away:

Ferde Grofe was commissioned by Robert Moses to compose an official symphony. As Grofe said in the liner notes, It was a challenge: "Here was steel and concrete, nation after nation, a whole constellation of industries, entertainment as well as education - patterns upon patterns. Where to start?...the challenge appeared to be a big one!"

As with the fair itself, the World's Fair Suite is divided into five parts: Unisphere; International, with the Western nations represented by major chords and Eastern nations by minor chords; Fun At The Fair, a lighthearted musical frolic; Pavilions Of Industry, an ode to "both the productivity and promise of a better man-made world;" and National, which reprises the fanfare of Unisphere and its echo of the Fair's message of Peace Through Understanding.

The Suite made its debut at the opening of the Fair with Paul Lavalle as conductor. He's conductor on this album as well. Here's the first movement, Unishpere:



LINKS FOR FURTHER LEARNING:
The 1964/65 New York World's Fair Site

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Record Store Day: The Flip Side

Easter was not the only holiday to celebrate this weekend. For may of us, there was another: Record Store Day. Depennding on what type of record collector you are, you probably saw this holiday one of two ways:

1. A glorious festival, where new music abounded in the form of limited-edition pressings of great bands. You and your friends got together and perhaps even made new friends, and y'allz had a fabulous time helping keep your mom 'n' pop music shop in business just a little longer. You might have even camped out in front of that store for a place in line when they opened, like this guy and his brother did.

2. Main Street's equivalent of Black Friday. Maddening throngs lining up just after midnight oustide of stores that could probably fit inside your apartment, fighting over music you'd either only own for its collector's value or its value on eBay. IF the store didn't out of what you wanted 10 minuted after they opened. You could do without it. You're not the only one who feels that way.

As for me, I see the whole thing with a detached indifference. I applaud the record stores for joining together and having one special day a year to remind us they're still around and have great things to offer. As I said in my last post, a record store done right is a beautiful thing. Problem is, ever since my record store closed down, I haven't been able to recapture that beauty at other stores.

Also, I'm not all that into new music. Sure, I listen to it, and I enjoy it, but I confess: those few times I buy current music, it's on CD. Vinyl is for the older stuff.

And speaking of older stuff, there's no shortage of it at thrift stores. As an inveterate thrifter, you better know I've seen my share of Your Grandparents' Grooves. A&M might as well stand for Andy Williams & Mantovani. But if you dig past all that, you'll find untold treasure. I've found (and bought) rare soul 45s that sell for over $200. Test pressings from record companies. Albums "sung" by celebrities. Radio shows and commercials. Muzak albums (from when Muzak was synonymous with elevator music). TV and movie soundtracks galore. All for a dollar or less. And just about all of them in very good condition or better. I bet if I got them all at record stores, I couldn't pay less than $10 for any one of those types of records. And if I happened to be looking for them, I'd likely have to wait a good long time before my record store was able to find them.

Don't get me wrong: record stores provide a great service to those who need them. My collecting style dictates that while a record store is nice for me to have, I don't exactly need one.

So if you were out yesterday, enjoy that copy of whatever RSD special I saved for you.

INPUT:
Did you celebrate RSD14? Did you sit it out? Which side of the fence are you on?

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Fools Of April #2: Short Cuts

I know those last couple of songs were a little rough. So I'm gonna go easy on you this time. Three mercifully quick ones..."edited to fit this screen and run in the time allotted," as they say on TV.

"There's a girl right next to you, and she's just waiting for something to do." But she won't be waiting long...because there's at least a verse and a half missing from this song!


Hey...what is this? No, really. What IS this? It might be half a song by Free. Just long enough to feature a moment of self-discovery not in the original version of the song.


I beg your pardon...I never promised you this Lynn Anderson song. So you'll have to hear some other lady sing it instead.