Monday, September 29, 2008

This album is one of my favorites. Composed, arranged and conducted by William S. Walker, 1950's New York Times jazz critic, this oddity of an album is an rare gem of ultra lounge.

"Everyone who has ever worked around printing presses knows that each press sings its own song."

The concept of this album made for the Bergstrom Papers company was to set the rhythms of the presses to music. Some of the efforts are amazing and had for a while been a feature of many a performance art piece I did in the 1990s. I have a feeling that there must be printing press enthusiasts out there, and if there are this post will make them very happy. My favorite of the songs is "Blue Line".

Per the liner notes on the featured songs:

Blue Line - is based on a heavy 4/4 rhythm overlaid by a eighth note patter which suggest that rock n' roll may really have been derived from a Harris Offset LTV 17 X 22 press. There is a strong emphasis on "bottom" sound produced by ta combination of bass trombone, bass harmonica, string bass, and bass guitar. The blend almost seems to be a natural part of the heart beat of the Harris press. Harris Press LTV 17 X 22 at 8000 impressions per hour.

Press Party - is Bill's musical impression of a hazily cloudy day. Miehle Verticle at 4000 impressions per hour.

Harpanova - which is a pressman's bossa nova, proved to be fraught with problems. At the very start, in recording the sound of the press, Bill Walker had to experiment with numerous recordings angels before he found the one that produced the precise rhythm he wanted. Then he wrote a piece so complex that the featured harpist, Eddie Druzinksi of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra practiced his part at home for two weeks with a tape recording of the rhythm section before he felt prepared to make this record. Miller 38 4-color at 4000 impressions per hour.

Opus in Offset - is built around the bass harmonica work of Johnny Thompson. It is an exercise in counterpoint in which two dissimilar melodies complement each other both rhythmically and harmonically. Harris LUB 25 x 38 at 5300 impressions per hour.

Color Me Waltz - is not just a waltz. It a jazz waltz which means that it swings. Miehle 38 2-color at 4500 impressions per hour

Printers Devil - is an example of the varied rhythmic possibles that can be heard in a press. This Heidelberg Letterpress produces a definite 3/4 rhythm but, if you listen closely, you also hear a 4/4 beat. The combination of four on three led Bill Walker to a lively samba with four drummers contributing exotic sounds from a Tahitian wood block, timbales, a jawbone and a snare drum. Over this, the string bass, bass harmonica and bass guitar combine on one melodic pattern while the brass section with clarinet lead follows another pattern. A third line is built by the regular guitar with the bass trombone lending added strengh to the whole mixture. Heidelberg Letterpress at 1800 impressions per hour.

Impressions in Color Jukebox

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hey all...

A little catching up post...
Cleaning: The days are finally getting cooler, and I feel like I'm finally catching up on some household projects. I finally cleaned up the porch. I really don't take advantage of my enclosed porch. When I first moved in this apartment 13 years ago I had it set up as a tableau of a 50's living room with vintage TV playing old commercials, retro thin couch, paintings, etc...
As the years went streaming by the porch had become a place to throw stuff that I didn't want to deal with right now... Magazines, records, old clothes, etc. I've tried to turn it back into a place a comfortable place again and just purge the useless things. I wish I had a before photo you'd be more impressed with these photos...
Wasting Time: I've been swamped at work these last few weeks that when I come home the last thing I want to do is be creative; so my usual routine has been to sit and play Bubble Shooter. I have to be more conscience of my ability to focus my energies on things that are completely useless. I'm just addicted to this simple game where you try to get three of the same colors in a row. Try it... but be warned you'll not do your dishes for days.

Family Stuff: I visited my brother last week. And I'm pleased to say he's doing well. After two more incidents where he had to be rushed to the hospital because he was so dehydrated, but now he's stable and declared 'cancer free'. He's lost a lot of weight and is wobbly, but what a difference a year makes... I can't believe it has been a year since I was going through the whole stem cel transplant process.

I took my mother and father to his house. My mother continues to plug along, she's for the most part bed ridden, but she got up the strength to get into the car. My father on the other hand is at 86 becoming increasingly dotty. This time I learned a new thing he is obsessing about; Red lights where they have those new camera monitoring systems. He got a ticket going through a yellow light and he didn't get to the other side before it was red. I learned when driving him that his new plan is whenever he is driving and he comes upon an intersection with a green light, if he doesn't know how long it's been green, he pulls over and waits for it to turn red, then green again before he goes. This made for a very frustrating drive.

He also said something really strange to me. I dropped him off at the library to return a book. Getting back in the car he said, "Well, that's the last book I'll ever read..." Huh? He explained that there is so much to do around the house and he's been wasting time reading one or two books a day. I said that he should keep reading because it keeps his mind alert and he loves to read. But he said, "It's like I'm an addict with books, I can't stop, I'm not doing anything else..." I better not introduce him to Bubble Shooter.

Blog Updates: I finally got the Nat Goldstein tribute album to his daughter Sara Jane. She said she listened to part of it and remembered that she still has the pin they presented to her that night. I'm still a little blown away by the fact that she never heard this before and that I somehow got it back to her.

X-Files: It took me almost a full year, but I power cycled through all of X-Files. 9 Seasons! I guess I could have learned Russian with that time, but instead I followed the non-sexual adventures of Scully and Mulder. My feelings about the whole show: There were several outstanding episodes. But over-all it left me cold. When I watched all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, even though they were fluff television, I was moved by the characters. By the end of the 9th season of X-Files I could care less what happened to anyone and their boring alien conspiracies. By the end of the series I was yelling at the screen for them to shut up. The constant whispering to denote drama was infuriating. And the music was just grating. The beginning of the show was well done, but I don't remember any of it because it became so tedious and boring by the end. But I guess I'll watch the movie when it comes on DVD. Lord help the completists!

Misc: I've been listening to self-hypnosis tapes to help me fall asleep. Not that they've ever worked, but they are relaxing and usually shut off the noise in my mind and help me relax. Usually the format for these is pretty simple. I'm told to imagine a beautiful meadow, the sun is setting, on on a warm blanket, etc... But I got one the other day, and it started out: Picture yourself on the Space Shuttle, you are hurling through blackness of space.
It was hardly relaxing...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Illustrated Men...
or Some Money Making Ideas for this Bad Economy
I've recently came across these Mechanix Illustrated magazines from the mid-1950s. Growing up my father always kept a stack of these in the basement bathroom. In the good old days everything was illustrated, I guess.
In revisiting this magazine genre I was struck less by the crazy inventions such as the air conditioned lawn mower, but by all the ads and filler.

The majority of the ads were about a myriad of ways to make money, get promotions, getting laid. Not much has change in that respect, but the options definitely have...

Yes, you too can quit your day job and investigate accidents, re-upholster furniture, sharpen saw blades or most interestingly start a plastic laminating company out of your own home.

Charles Atlas was (and still is) a legend in the world of physical fitness. Billed as the World's Most Perfectly Formed Man, he gave hope to every skinny guy who ever got sand kicked in his face. His method was based on physical resistance of pushing one muscle against another. This never worked for me, but it must work for some one because the company is still around and giving annual awards for the best body based on the system.

I'd have to check off slimmer waist for this ad...

Is there a moment in every boy/man's life when he wants to smoke a pipe. I recall that I went shopping for one just about the time I started college. I think I might have even gone with my mother. (Weird memory flashback). As years went by the only pipes I saw anyone with had pot in them.

More than 50 years ago the only way that men could look at anything slightly 'exciting' was through these offers in the back of mechanic magazines.

I'm sure this was probably one of the movies... the lovely Sandra Storm. slightly NSFW, unless you are working for yourself laminating or filing saws.

Finally, to prove that women were also represented in this world of possibilities, Joyce Myron, atomic energy expert shows that Uncle Sam also needs women scientists. Joyce looks like they surprised her as she was putting a price tag on a nuclear reactor.

Night All...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is proof positive that this Dame could sing anything...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Random Records: The Peanuts

As a new feature I am going to randomly go to my records shelves, pull an album, post it, and if I can say something interesting about it. This first week is a good choice, sort of. The Peanuts and their album Hit Parade. It was an album that I'd never listened to. I believe my friend Dave gave it to me. How he ever found an album I don't have I'll never know. At first you might think you've not heard The Peanuts, but I know you have if you ever watched any Saturday afternoon UHF Japanese monster movies. Even as a small child watching it I was fascinated by these small pixies who sang to the giant Mothra.

No one can do harmony like brothers and sisters. And The Peanuts were identical twins; their vocal harmony is perfection. Add on the cool 60's sounds and they have the Pow Factor. Per the NipPop music site: The Peanuts were one of Japan’s first pop sensations, and one of the few that has become well known internationally. The duo comprised identical twin sisters Emi and Yumi Ito, born Hideyo and Tsukiko Ito on April 1, 1941 in Aichi prefecture...The Peanuts also appeared on popular US variety TV shows, including Ed Sullivan’s and Danny Kaye’s. However, what made The Peanuts most famous internationally was singing in monster movies. They were featured in, and sang the theme songs, to three Mothra movies - Mothra (1961), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), and Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster (1965). They appeared as fairies or pixies, called “shobijin” (small beauties) who had telepathic communication with Mothra, giving The Peanuts a somewhat supernatural aura. The Peanuts retired from show business with a sayonara appearance on Nihon TV on May 25, 1975. They exited while still young and popular, and remain fondly remembered show business legends.

Some great 60's music films of them in their prime.

Hit Parade Album Jukebox.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Nat Goldstein's Fabulous Fortieth
or An Album Finds Its Way Home
This is one of those stories that makes me glad I'm an obsessive collector of useless stuff no one else wants. First a little back story. If you read this blog enough, you've heard me rave on and on about my huge record collection and how I'm spending the next two decades transferring everything to mp3; purging the crap, keeping the cream. Some fifteen odd years ago my collection exploded when I started to go to the ALS Mammoth Music Mart that was held every October. There were thousands of albums for sale there; reel-to-reels, 78s, 45's. There was even a box of wire recordings that I'm still kicking myself I didn't buy. Each year I would buy probably two to three hundred albums. Most of these albums I've still not played. Thankfully, this sale ended three years ago. People weren't donating as many records, and it wasn't worth it to the charity to hold the event. I was heartbroken, but I'm sure I'd be sleeping on records right now if it hadn't stopped.
So my journey continues into listening to everything I bought and moving the sound to the modern age of digital. Last Friday was no different. I didn't have anything to do, so I thought I'd catch up on my album cover photo taking. (Oh, on top of the sound, I'm photographing the album art. I will be doing this until I'm 82.) Usually when I know I'm going to get into the groove of working on the photo files I put on a double album set to transfer. I went to a shelf and saw a thick, white cardboard album poking out among the comedy albums. It was called "Nat Goldstein's Fabulous Fortieth; What Happened at the Americana the night of May 12, 1964". I remembered this album because I had paid $2.95 for it. Sometimes these ephemera home recordings can be a real find, but this was a very dry recording of an anniversary, testimonial dinner for Mr. Goldstein the head of circulation for the New York Times. I recalled playing it once before and never got through the rabbi's blessing at the beginning.

But this Friday I had work to do so I just let it play, and play, and play... Two full hours! I did some photos, cleaned dishes, mopped the floor and listened. It really was a sweet album. Nat's Goldstein's co-workers, city officials, friends one by one got up and toasted this guy who was obviously well loved by everyone. Someone even read a letter from the then governor Nelson Rockefeller. Of course, my interest was peeked and I went to The Google and looked him up. There wasn't a whole lot about him.  His daughter let me know that he started at the NY Times in 1926, worked his way up through the ranks and in 1948 was promoted to Circulation Director. Then at the end of his career before he retired he was promoted to Assistant to the Publisher who at that time was Punch Sulzberger.  He died in 1986 at the age of 78.

During the recording there was a letter that was read from his absent daughter Sara Jane. She was off at school and couldn't attend. The gist of the letter was: Sorry I can't be there, but you'll understand because you loved your work so much that I honor you by staying at school and taking exams rather than coming to your dinner. Her name stuck in my head because I had just watched "Imitation of Life" the night before. The white passing daughter of Lana Turner's black maid was named Sara Jane and I think that name was said a hundred times in that movie. So I Googled Sara Jane Goldstein. And her wedding announcement came up. I then looked up her married name. Sara Jane Drescher. And I got this sentence..."Sarah Jane and Ira Drescher, were inconsolable when they heard about the murder..." Murder?!!! I was brought to the CBS news 48 Hours Mysteries page. 13 years ago Sara Jane's daughter was murdered by her husband. Rather than recount the crime go to this link for this heartbreaking story. THE STORY
I saw that Sara Jane and her husband started Women in Distress an organization that helps victims of domestic violence. I had no idea that playing this crazy testimonial album would lead down this emotional road. I wondered if Sara Jane had a copy of this album or if she even knew that this recording of the night she missed existed. So I wrote the executive director of the organization and asked her to forward my message about this recording.
A couple days later I got this message:
Hi John,...I have so many questions to ask you. Mainly, how did you get the album? Did you know my Dad? Have we met? How did you know he was my Father and how to reach me through Women in Distress?
Thank you for offering the album to me. I would very much like to have it. Sincerely, Sara Jane

I told her this story about my record collection, looking up her father, remembering her name... She then wrote me this:
John, This is more surreal than you can imagine. Your e-mail came over the 13th anniversary of my daughter's death. She was my mother and father's first grandchild and the light of their eyes. August 29th and the days before and after are always difficult for me. Even though 13 years have passed my heart and soul have never truly healed and never will completely.

Thank being said your note brought a smile to my face. I would LOVE a copy of the album.

Women in Distress has helped me to heal. Keeping Donnah's spirit alive is so important to me. Her fund provides money to women who have completed the 3 months in the safe house (where they received therapy and all the help they need mentally, physically and emotionally) but do not have the funds to start on their own. Many times they go back to their abuser because they have no other option. In saving lives, we feel we save generations. And we do it all in Donnah's name! Yes, you may use our story on your blog.
Thank you for anything you can send. It will be wonderful for our children and grandchildren to hear.
Can you believe this? How strange is this that I pull this album to record, and actually listened to it; Then get it to it's rightful owner, the family of the man whose life was being honored! Not to mention finding her at this stressful time of the year when she needed to be reminded of happier times. I've asked Sara Jane to keep in touch and to let me know her thoughts when listening to the recording. I hope she does.
Here is the first 20 minutes of the night... because of it's length I found it was impossible to post the full record.

Amendment: I heard from Sara Jane and she said it was her sister who was away at college and who wrote the letter. I was cleaning at the time I listened, so I'm not surprised I heard that wrong.