Friday, August 16, 2019

Roger That: Part 1 of a Tribute to Roger Roger

Roger Roger (that was his given name) lived from 1911-1995 and did most of his composing work for various stock music providers. 
These companies produced a variety of recordings designed for radio, TV and movie licensing. These "needle drop" compositions could be slotted in as background music for commercials, as themes for local programming, and aural wallpaper as announcers delivered local events of interest, etc.
Two films make powerful use of library music: 1960's The Brain that Wouldn't Die and 1968's Night of the Living Dead. As well, Edward D. Wood's infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space and the George Reeves Superman TV series are rife with library tracks.
That listeners would want to hear this music on its own, and know who the composers were, never dawned on anyone who toiled in this cottage industry. Beginning in 1955, Roger Roger created a series of needle-drop albums for Chappell Music. These albums make for schizophrenic listening in their native form. The discs strived to give licensers a wide swath of moods and feelings--from light 'n' airy shopping music to tongue-lolling "clowneries" to deep, dark melodrama. Faux-classical pieces, military marches, anonymous-yet-patriotic themes, children's ditties: all went into the musical Mixmaster.
You can read a short and illuminating account of RR's life HERE. He had a distinguished career, for someone so seldom in the spotlight on his own merits, and his music wound up in the dog-gonedest places.
For your listening and downloading pleasure, here is the first in an intended series of skimmings from RR's Chappell albums. As you might imagine, not every track is a winner. While I admire the arranging and conducting skill that went into every track, some of them are a dead loss musically. There is far too much forced frivolity for my liking. I've included "Clowneries," a superior example of this frothy goof. And several dull classical pieces likely served their purpose as theme tunes for serious programs--as they were intended. Elsewhere, faux-Oriental and Mediterranean tunes produce a mild millenial cringe. 
The idea that anyone would want to sit down and listen to this stuff on its own would have made the Chappell people laugh back in the day. Yet people remembered these haunting melodies from their random use on TV and radio, and when the source albums were discovered, they became sought-after collectibles.
Chappell employed a number of prominent figures in the library music genre. Roger Roger was arguably the best of the talent pool. His melodic sense, choice of instrumentation and sense of adventurous arrangement often knocks one's socks off. I've tried to select the finest pieces in this series. Volume one comprises highlights from Chappell Mood Music Volumes 1-3, 5, 6 and 9. (Missing volumes are multi-composer anthologies and don't contain any RR contributions.)
Some of these tunes may be familiar to those who own Grands Travaux, the Basta CD from 1995 that re-created Chappell selections. There are pieces that couldn't be avoided because they're so striking and affecting. There are some choice selections not on this tribute album (well worth acquiring if you like what you hear here), and there's something solid and pleasing about these monophonic originals.
This is some of my favorite music, and if it's new to you, I hope you cotton to it. There will be more of these anthologies soon.

This first collection can be had HERE.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Trying a New Filehost--and The Girl-Group Gr8ness of The Chiffons!

Much ado about musenick since my last post. My music-dedicated external hard drive of several years up and died. I've grieved its passing, and mourned the many rare tracks I'll likely not have again. So it goes. Trying a cloud-based backup called Backblaze; we'll see how that goes.
It's high time for something on here, so here's one of the first "lost" albums that I hunted down. The Chiffons' star had long since paled when this odds and sods album was issued in 1971. The group has one of the more substantial catalogs of the girl-group genre, with powerhouse classics like "My Block," "He's So Fine," "Oh My Lover," "One Fine Day" and "Nobody Knows What's Goin' On In My Mind But Me," to name five. Their lead singer, Judy Craig, has one of the most appealing voices of her musical era. 
Why this album was cobbled together is one of the mysteries of musical history. Perhaps it provided a much-needed tax-write off for a failing independent record label. Perhaps The Mob had something to do with it. Whatever the reason, My Secret Love is a first-rate valediction to one of the most solid girl groups of their day.
Its 10 tracks had never been issued during the group's chart heyday on Laurie Records. They span the group's hit-making career. The second track on the album is reason enough to download this. "You're The Love of a Lifetime," written by Ronnie Mack, who penned "He's So Fine," "Lucky Me" and "Oh My Lover" prior to his 1963 death, couldn't have returned from the grave (far as we know), so this recording must date from that year. With two chords, tribal percussion and a driving, repetitive melody, the song is hypnotizing, exotic and maddeningly catchy.
To spew a little music theory here, the song is built around the IV and V chords. There is no resolution. The I chord needs to be there to complete the circuit. The tension this effect creates is magical. The song is over in 1:42 but begs repeated listens. It might have been commercial suicide in 1963, but it sounds great in 2019.
Every song has something to recommend it here--including an otherwise-unheard song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, "My First and Last." Other writers of note here are Jimmy Radcliffe, Toni Wine, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. It's a who's who of New York pro pop songwriting circa 1963-66. 
Never available on CD, this album, which was pressed in teensy numbers and commands $300+ from savvy record dealers, has recently been reissued on vinyl, and may sound better than the 1971 original. I hope you can see, after a listening, why this was one of the first "oh, crap, I don't have ________________" moments I had after external HD failure.

This accidentally perfect album can be had HERE. I hope this filehost not cad-like. My Box links will stay put until they give me the complete boot. Not being able to upload new zipped files there makes them doomed to dullness.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Mysteries of

When you click on the download link for the files here, which are all hosted on, you will get a message stating that no longer supports .rar or .zip formats. 

Nonetheless, you'll still see a download button, and can still download the files. 

I hope that will remain the case for awhile. I don't want to go through the hassle of re-homing every dl file on this site, few as they are...

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Screechy, Eerie Space-Age Pop: Kai Winding's Magical Double-Header

Kenny Burrell is nowhere to be found here.
Joe Meek top-ped global pop charts with his song and pro-duction "Tel-star," a stately number recor-ded by The Tornados for UK Decca Records.
  The sound of "Telstar" had a wave of influ-ence that held on well into the 1960s, even after the British beat groups, with their ac-cent on docu-mentary-style recordings of raw rock 'n' roll, comandeered American ears from 1964.
   By 1963, when the first of today's two LPs hit the shelves, that almost disco-style percussion, coupled with piping, piercing electronic keyboard sounds, was being copied, and Meek's productions analyzed--how in the heck did he come up with those sounds?
  Others tried to emulate Meek's sound, often with comical effect. One remarkably good Meek imitation is on a record by singer Louise Cordet, "Lovin' Baby." The record was written and produced by Tony Meehan, ex-member of The Shadows who partnered with Jet Harris on a series of post-Shads instrumental hits in the UK.
  One of the best American manifestations of the "Telstar" sound was spread over two LPs by big band trombonist Kai Winding. He recorded an Italian song called "More," theme to a documentary film smash called Mondo Cane, using the Ondioline, a cousin of the electronic keyboard heard on Joe Meek's recordings. Playing the instrument was its acknowledged master, Jean-Jacques Perrey, who was in New York attempting to find success as a musician and composer. 
   Due to some contractual shenanigans, Perrey was not given credit anywhere on the single or its resultant album. And Kenny Burrell? Phfft! The jazz guitarist wasn't in the studio at all during these sessions. The guitar work was headed by Vincent Bell, a stalwart of the New York studio scene whose distinctive six-string sounds and effects pedals made him an American cousin of Joe Meek, kinda-sorta.
Just a trifle Beatley.
   Two grand albums resul-ted--both here for your listen-ing pleasure today. I'm not sure if Perrey and Bell were aboard for Mon-do Cane #2, the 1964 fol-ow-up. The On-dioline is all over this se-quel, and gui-tars are upfront a good deal of the time.
    The second album reflects the influence of The Beatles, who had thunderstruck the States by this time. "Till"'s intro riff is a theft of the Fab Four's "Please Please Me" (which, in turn, was pilfered from a Carl Perkins song, "Lend Me Your Comb," which was written by a trio of Tin Pan Alley cleffers for the 1957 rock-exploitation film Jamboree. So now you know...)
   Both albums have a tasty mix of originals and cover versions of familiar easy-listening or instrumental fare. Some of the originals are very obvious "Telstar" rewrites, which would not have pleased Joe Meek, if he ever heard them.
  The second album has a wider variety of Ondioline sounds. Check out the throaty tones of "Python," coupled with some choice twangy electric guitar. There's much to like across the board. This is some of my favorite "work music." Great to write to, great to draw to... I imagine it would make dish-washing enjoyable. Enjoy it as you wish.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

52 Rays of Sun-Light: A Tribute to a Bygone Music Blog and to the Legacy of Sam Phillips

   Yesterday I learned that one of the classic music blogs, Uncle Gil's Rockin' Archives, came to end. This was due to a creepy threatening message from a hacker. Assholes of all strips are threatening music blogs these days. I fear the golden age of music sharing may be over. I'm certain that these threats are engineered by the megacorporations who own (and could care less about) this      music.
    This post is a tribute to Uncle Gil--and to all the music bloggers who have come and gone, made a contribution to the preservation and love of this music. and either hung up their spurs or were scared off by cyber-monsters.

     As well, it's a tribute to one of my heroes, Sam Phillips, and his visionary work in bringing to the world some of the South's finest music of the 20th century. From Howlin' Wolf to Johnny Cash to Charlie Rich to Elvis to... well, I could make this sentence a block long with names. The point is that he had the courage to experiment with unknown musicians and give them a chance to be heard. Without his risk-taking, the course of American music would have taken a different, probably duller path in the last half of the 20th century. These recordings, now over 50 years old, retain the vitality, drive and human spirit that was Phillips' gift as a record producer.

  By the time the 26 singles offered here today came out, Sam Phillips had sold his interest in Sun Records to Shelby Singleton, a Nashville producer who had done a good bit of work for the labels owned by Mercury Records. Peter Guralnick's riveting biography The Man who Invented Rock 'n' Roll (a must-read) gives the full story of the sale of Sun to this seasoned Nashville cat.
   Singleton allowed European rockabilly researchers access to the mass of tape masters he'd bought, and these 26 singles, released in France in the late 1970s, were authorized by him. These singles consist of material that, at the time, was unissued, except on bootlegs. European record labels such as Charly and Bear Family Records have made sure these performances are available on compact disc, and chances are your town's library system has at least one Bear Family collection of Sun
Records material, ready for you to check out and enjoy.
     In 1976, these singles, which were curated by brothers Patrice and Herve Barbat, in partnership with Henri Ferrero, were a godsend. They remain a heapin' helpin' of the incredible talent and electricity that made Memphis rock 'n' roll such a defining musical force.
     Included in this download are all 52 sides of these now sought-after vinyl singles plus label scans of the discs. Many of these tracks may be second-nature to hardcore rockabilly or Sun fans, but I find them a great "mix tape" of the sound that Sam Phillips, Jack Clement and other producers captured on tape as southern rock and rollers expressed their heart and soul in the crowded studio at 706 Union Avenue. I hope you enjoy this batch of Memphis magic, and that you'll join me in a top of the Hatlo hat to Uncle Gil and all the other music bloggers who have helped make these wonderful sounds available to those of us who cared (and still care).

THIS LINK will net you the whole shebang. Peace be with you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Otis Blackwell Volume Three: 28 Songs You've Probably Never Heard

Many years ago, I put together the first two volumes of Otis Blackwell compositions (both which are still available elsewhere on this blog).

I knew that, eventually, I'd get around to putting together another volume. Eight years passed, and with it much personal drama, illness and huge life changes. But I never forget my back-of-the-mind goal to get this set together.

Despite the host of big names you see at the left, I'll bet you a dollar to a doughnut you've never heard one single song on this compilation. Almost none of these songs were hits in their day. Many were stuck on the B-sides of singles, or were flops on the music marketplace when new.

50 or 60 years later, what didn't pass muster back in the day sounds pretty damned wonderful now. As I mention in the extensive liner notes I've drafted for this set, not every song here is a masterpiece, but all have their charm, and certain ones are guaranteed to knock your footwear off and become your new favorites.

I'm in recovery from my second go-round with non-Hodgkins' lymphoma. In April, I had a stem cell transplant and spent 20 days in the hospital. During this recovery time, I can't work and have a LOT of time on my hands. Thus, I decided to create an honest-to-gosh booklet for this compilation, as if it were a real CD.

This is my version of fantasy football--putting songs together for the sake of the music. If I attempted to do this disc for real, I'd be looking at dealing with massive corporations like Universal Media, and having to shell out thousands in licensing fees for old obscure songs the current holders could care less about. So much music from this period is trapped in this snare. 

This put a bit of a damper on the one legit CD project I've created, Ace Records' P. F. Sloan/Steve Barri compilation, which came out back in 2010. Many tracks I wanted were too expensive to license, and we had to make do with some sub-par recordings to take the place of those unattainables. I'm happy with that CD, overall, but wish that two or three blah tracks weren't on there. Oh well.

HERE are the 28 songs; HERE is the booklet and CD tray. If you're so inspired, print out the booklet and tray and mock up an old-school CD for your music shelf. But do listen to the music. "Stick Close" by Estelle Brown will brighten your day immensely, and I dare you not to tap your foot to Johnny Thunder's "Am I Right or Am I Wrong."

Since I wrote about each song in the liner notes, I'll cap this post and let it go. Hope you enjoy this compilation. And who knows--I may do another post here soon!

Alternate download link for this set HERE.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Impressions of Outer Space: Ahead-of-the-Lunar-Curve Astro-Jazz

Whaaaat? A new post here? It's getting to be an annual event. This mega-rare 10" album from 1953 merits the shock-to-the-system of a Musenick posting.

Composed by Charles Albertine, Lee Pockriss and Kermit Levinsky, these eight tracks are sometimes-atonal, often bracing and brimming with the early-1950s sense of breaking new ground in recorded music.

Larry Elgart was, with his brother Les, a big band-leader with aspirations to do something more highbrow. Impressions of Outer Space pre-dates the spate of space-age astro-pop, such as Russ Garcia's Fantastica, Les Baxter's Space Escapade, Ron Goodwin's Music in Orbit and Joe Meek's I Hear a New World. More astringent and arty than those later records, IoOS takes the way-out course in most of its tracks, getting almost into Thelonious Monk territory with its shrill, mangled harmonies and instrumentation.

Charles Albertine is beloved by fans of Space Age Pop for the series of albums he arranged and masterminded for The Three Suns, RCA Victor's purveyors of the businessman's bounce school of chipper, flyweight instrumental music. He composed five of the eight tracks here, and they align with his subsequent Elgart collaboration, Music for Barefoot Ballerinas, which Decca issued as a 12" LP a few years later. This is the most out-there stuff Albertine ever composed, and it might come as a shock to those who love his psycho-perky Three Suns stuff.

It's surprising to find Lee Pockriss as composer of two pieces here. A pop songwriter to the max, he co-penned "Catch a Falling Star," "Johnny Angel" and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini"--a galaxy apart from his two tracks on this album. They partially atone for the crime against humanity that is "Itsy Bitsy..."

Kermit Levinsky? He was affiliated with the Elgart big band, and wrote many film scores, including Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run. His brother Walt went further in the music firmament.

Enjoy this astral rarity HERE. And look for another post sometime in 2019...