Listen To The Train Wreck

Originally posted April 14, 2009

There were some requests following Saturday’s post for more information about my database of LPs. It’s a topic I’ve thought about before, but I thought it would be of little interest to others. Since Saturday, though, I’ve given the matter some thought, and I will write about it. But not yet. There is – one assumes – the third annual Vinyl Music Day coming along this summer, and that would be a good time to dig into how my database came to be. (As well as being a grand excuse to pull unique records from the shelf to rip odd mp3s.)

So those who are interested in the history of the database and my methods (the name Rube Goldberg comes to mind; if that name is unfamiliar to you, Google it, and you’ll understand a bit more about my methodology), you’ll have to wait a few months.

But that does not mean that there are not tales to tell now. In fact, Saturday brought me face to face with another extraordinary cover version of a well-known song.

To be honest, it was the comments about my database that got things started. For nearly six years, a box of odd records has been waiting for its contents to be entered into the database. Oh, I tagged the records when I got them, so I knew when they had been purchased. The box of stuff came from a garage sale the Texas Gal and I found somewhere in St. Cloud in May 2003. The folks who were running the sale were about to shut things down, and a box of records was still sitting there.

The price was fifty cents a record or something like that, and the box had some nice stuff in it, some of it in pretty good shape: about half of it was rock and pop mostly from the Seventies and Eighties, but that was stuff I already had (and my copies at home were in just as good a shape or better). The other half of the box was, well, interesting. I mentioned the other week that I have a double album of performances by the Willmar Boys’ Chorus (Willmar being a city about sixty miles southwest of St. Cloud). I found it in this box. The same with Favorite Marches Featuring the Marches of John Philip Sousa by the Norwegian Military Band, and Russian Folk Musical Instruments Anthology (assuming I transliterated and translated correctly) on the Soviet-era Melodiya label.

So why did I buy the box of records if I already had the good half of what was in there, and the half I didn’t have was, well, different? A one-word answer: Commerce.

The folks running the garage sale were, as I said, about to close up, and they asked how much I’d pay for the whole box of records. I took one more quick look at the pop and rock stuff and said ten bucks. They were happy, and I took the box to the car. And the Texas Gal and I ended our Saturday excursion with a trip to the Electric Fetus downtown, where I got about $25 for the rock and pop albums in the box.

That was something I’d done many times during the years I lived in south Minneapolis: Buy a box of records at a garage sale and then make the rounds of the used record stores near my home. I’d generally take the remainder, the records I did not want, to the Salvation Army store about six blocks from my home. I had planned to do that with these St. Cloud garage sale records, but for some reason, I never did, and Saturday found me entering them into the database.

As I did, I had to play a few tracks here and there. I haven’t listened to anything by the Willmar Boys’ Chorus yet, but I have found some, well, interesting tracks. And that’s inspired me to start a new series here at Echoes In The Wind. Today’s mp3 will be the third in the series called Train Wreck Jukebox. (I’m granting ex-post-facto membership to both sides of the Swingers’ “Bay-Hay Bee Doll,” which I shared about a year ago and to Ray Conniff’s rendition of “Photograph,” which I shared two weeks ago.)

In 1968, Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians decided it was time to get with it and clue in the grandpas and grandmas and old fogey uncles who bought their music. The new Lombardo album was titled The New Songs! The New Sounds!

The liner notes by Lee Gillette read, in part:

“More and more of the younger generation are becoming familiar with the sound of the Guy Lombardo orchestra . . . they are attending his concerts across the nation . . . the college set was prominently represented recently during the Royal Canadians, twice-yearly appearances at the Tropicana in Las Vegas . . . and they not only listened, but joined together on the dance floor each evening during the newly-inaugurated dance sessions there.

“The same nostalgic sound of the band is there, but something new has been added. Bobby Christian, one of the nation’s finest percussionists, was flown to the recording session in Las Vegas from Chicago to perform on vibes, Latin-percussion, harpsichord, tambourine, cymbals, drums, to name a few. In Las Vegas, guitarist Bob Morgan was added to the rhythm section with electric guitar and Brazilian type guitars to up-date the over-all sounds of the Royal Canadians. Songs like “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “Gentle on My Mind” have a new Lombardo rhythmic beat that is now-a-days. Harmonica virtuoso Tommy Morgan was brought in to enhance “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Oh, there’s so much to chew on in that! But I guess I’ll just point to the use of “now-a-days,” which in any usage sounds so very much like 1930, at best. And we’ll ignore the odd diction and punctuation and get to the heart of this post, which is this week’s entry into the Train Wreck Jukebox:

“Folsom Prison Blues” by Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians
From The New Songs! The New Sounds! (1968)

Reposts
Cate Brothers by the Cate Brothers, 1975
Original post here.

In One Eye and Out The Other by the Cate Brothers, 1977
Original post here.

Steve Winwood by Steve Winwood, 1977
Original post here.

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