Amoeblog

Birth of the LP

Posted by Whitmore, June 22, 2008 10:04pm | Post a Comment

60 years ago this week on June 21, 1948, at a press conference in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel (former home to such 20th century luminaries as Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Nikola Tesla, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cole Porter, and former President Herbert Hoover), Columbia Records unveiled their latest concept; the “LP.” This choice in dates was by no means a random selection. Columbia picked the summer solstice because it’s the longest day of the year and “LP” stands for "long playing."

The new “LP’s” played at a speed of 33⅓ rpm, and came in two sizes: 10in (25cm) and 12in (30cm) in diameter and were pressed out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or what we now simply call vinyl. This new material was more durable and much less brittle then the shellac used in the previous 78rpm format. (By the way, ‘shellac’ is a substance obtained from the secretion of a Southeast Asian beetle). The LP’s audio quality was better and the playable length of time for each side increased dramatically. This new format was revolutionary.

Although they released approximately 50 records simultaneously to help push the fledgling LP market, the first popular music catalogue number for a ten-inch LP, CL 6001, was a reissue of the Frank Sinatra 78 rpm album set from 1946, The Voice of Frank Sinatra. (Initially the 12in format was reserved for higher-priced classical recordings and Broadway shows, though that would change just a few years down the road). Not only was The Voice Sinatra’s first studio album, but many music critics claim it holds the distinction of being the first concept album … no way dude!

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Frank Sinatra

Posted by Whitmore, May 14, 2008 07:34pm | Post a Comment

The Chairman of the Board, ol’ Blue Eyes, the Voice, King of the Rat Pack, King of the Bobby-Sockers, The Pope, The Leader, The Swooner-- there are a lot of nicknames for Frank Sinatra, perhaps the greatest pop star of the 20th century. And ten years ago today, Frankie went to the Big Casino in the sky.

Sinatra had quite a philosophy about life and a set of intricate rules that may seem a bit brash, but hey -- it's Sinatra baby! And like his style, he believed that a living big is in the details. Here are some of the great man’s creeds:

Top your martini with not one, but two olives, and give one to a friend. Yes, a very special friend-- even if you don’t know his/her name.

For flavors in your drink to blend sufficiently, let the ice sink to the bottom of your glass and never, ever drink a drink immediately after its poured-- relax, take your time, enjoy the moment.

Never yawn in front of a lady.
 
Make sure your trousers break just above your shoes.

Tip big and tip quietly-- fold the bills three times into small squares and pass them in a handshake. Nothing further is needed, no acknowledgment, no glance, no wink-- you’ve already said it all.

Cock your hat -- angles show attitude.

Don't wear a brown suit at night, dark gray is better, and better than gray, black. And if black tie is optional, you wear black tie. The only exception to this rule; never wear a tuxedo on Sunday.

“Have fun with everything” was one of his mottoes. Live every moment as it if were your last, and remember, too much thinking isn't necessarily a good thing. “You only live once,'' he liked to say, “and the way I live, once is enough.”

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Please Please Me

Posted by Whitmore, March 22, 2008 07:29pm | Post a Comment

45 years ago today,  March 22, 1963, the Beatles released their first album Please Please Me. This mono version was rush-released to the public in the UK to capitalize on the success of the hit single of the same name which had reached #2 on the charts. The album contained six cover songs, but more importantly it contained eight songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. A stereo version of this album was later released in 1963 on April 26th.

In the U.S., most of the songs from Please Please Me were first released in 1964 on the Vee-Jay Records label on the renamed album Introducing The Beatles. And in 1965 a similar collection was issued once again on Capitol Records as The Early Beatles. The unexpurgated Please Please Me was not released in the U.S. until the Beatles catalog was released on CD in 1987.

Other than the singles and the flip sides of "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" (the Beatles' first single which had charted and reached #17 in the UK), all the other tracks were recorded in a marathon session on Monday, February 11th, 1963, at Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles, with George Martin producing, essentially recorded their live act in 9 hours and 45 minutes. The entire day's session cost around £400. And besides John, Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr playing their respective instruments, George Martin also played a little piano. The earlier tracks recorded the previous September and November had session player Andy White on drums, who has also recorded with the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Herman's Hermits, and Tom Jones.

Mort Garson 1924 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, January 14, 2008 06:58pm | Post a Comment

Every once in while you realize certain names are always appearing in the credits of old albums, and it’s a constant surprise. I was always astounded by how often I’d find Mort Garson's name, and on some of the most unlikely records. From Doris Day to Mel Torme to Glen Campbell, and all those albums of nice soft-pop vocals from the likes of The Letterman or the Sandpipers or the Glenn Yarborough record of Rod McKuen covers. And you would usually find Mort Garson conducting or arranging those safe but somewhat innocuous collections of ‘pop hits of the day’ by the Hollyridge Strings or the Sunset Strings. And if you’re lucky enough to find it, you’d see Mort Garson provided background music to Laurence Harvey reading poetry on Atlantic. And why do I think it’s so odd? Because whenever I think of Mort Garson I think of the legendary pioneer in electronic music, and not the multi-faceted, in demand arranger and conductor.

Mort Garson, who also co-wrote the classic "Our Day Will Come," died this past January 4th of renal failure in San Francisco. He was 83. Born July 20, 1924, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Garson attended the Juilliard School of Music. He was a pianist and arranger with dance orchestras before serving in Special Services during World War II and before moving onto Los Angeles and the pop music world. But it was his work as a composer using the then novel Moog synthesizer on a series of albums in the late 1960s and '70s that is his lasting claim to fame, especially to record collectors and electronica enthusiasts. These albums, especially the 1967 exotica classic, and influential, The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds,  established his cult following. The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds is one of the first electronic and psychedelic albums put out by Elektra Records.

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christmas records, putting the "x" back in xmas

Posted by Whitmore, December 22, 2007 10:21am | Post a Comment

The legendary Mae West recorded “Put the Loot in the Boot Santa” in 1966, from her album of parodies, double entendres, and burlesque songs: Wild Christmas, (which also includes the classic "Santa, Come Up and See Me Sometime”).  The silver screens greatest vixen was still, even then, tantalizing in her steamy send-ups. Though in her 70’s, she was every bit the notorious raconteur and diva-risqué she was in her heyday of the 1930’s and 40’s, and here she is a quarter of a century later, putting the ‘x’ back in xmas. The flip side of this single is West’s cover of Lennon/McCartney’sWith Love from Me to You” filled with more sexual overtones than any Beatle song you will ever likely hear in this life. As Mae West, the original sex kitten once said, "My left leg is Christmas and my right leg is New Year's. Why don't you visit me between the holidays?"
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