Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Phantoms - Wheels... and Other Guitar Hits (circa 1962?)

Canada's Arc Records was a budget label similar to the Crown label in the U.S.

The label was one of the first to promote Canadian music, and several Canadian artists had their first recordings released on Arc, including Anne Murray.

But another of Arc's specialties was releasing 'sound-alike' albums of top pop hits covered by Canadian artists and session musicians, as part of the CRTC's Canadian Content rule.

(ADDENDUM, 8/12/08: Please check comments on this post for some helpful info and clarifications regarding the Arc label and the CanCon rules. Many thanks to folks in the know for sharing!)

Judging by the vintage of 'Wheels' and the other hit instrumental tunes covered on this album, an educated guess places its release somewhere around the end of 1962.

But judging by the back-cover roster of other albums available on the label, it looks like this pressing of the album is from a run issued roughly 6 years later, towards the end of the sixties.

- - Any info regarding this album or about the musicians playing on it as 'The Phantoms' is much appreciated!
Leave a comment, drop a line... Many thanks.

From The Phantoms'
'Wheels... and Other Guitar Hits' LP,
(Arc Records LP, circa 1962), Listen to:

Guitar Boogie Shuffle
Walk Don't Run
Ballad of Paladin
White Silver Sands
Peter Gunn
Walk On The Wild Side
Ghost Riders In The Sky

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 12 tracks in one 25.1 Mb zipfile.

See also:
- Arc Records listed at The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada

- An entry at WFMU's Beware of the Blog for some further background and discussion
about the Arc label.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"You're a Bad Mommy!" - - 1941 Fletcher's Castoria print ad

How many things can you find wrong with this old magazine ad? Where to begin...

For some history of Fletcher's Castoria, see also:

- 'Fletcher's Castoria and The Centaur Company'

- 'A Castoria Story' at Forgotten NY: Ads

- A couple more vintage Castoria ads are featured among others of a similar stripe in
'SPANK WHILE YOU SELL: Corporal punishment imagery in print advertising',
appearing at Corpun; The World Corporal Punishment Research website.

ADDENDUM, 8/16/08: It's been very gratifying to see that this post has struck a chord with people, and I'm really enjoying seeing how they run with it. Big thanks to the folks at Boing Boing for posting a link that has steered so many readers here.

Please take a look at the comments for this post!
It's enlightening to see the range of reactions people have had, from amusement ("Laxative Talk is always comedy gold.") to horror, and many recollections of childhood laxative experiences that seem to fall more towards the 'horror' end of that spectrum.

Likewise along those same lines, it's been interesting to see how this piece has been treated by those who have re-posted it on their own blogs and sites.

Of those that I've seen, the most interesting, sensitive and informative discussion has been 'This Photo is the Story of My Life', posted by sex-positive feminist author & lecturer Susie Bright at her blog. Please follow the link to read her comments and those of her readers. Fascinating stuff!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cover Gallery: 1950s and '60s Men's Magazines (flickr link)

- Please follow this link to my flickr set:
A 'Cover Gallery' of 1950s and '60s Men's Magazines
(50 images)

The images there may be considered Not Safe For Work, but they're so very tame as compared with today's standards.

What's not tame are the garish colors, the bold graphic design, the saucy & silly titles and lurid cover blurbs of another era.

- - The cover girls are of another era, too.

Dating from 1957 - 1969, with the bulk of them falling around 1967, the mags in this batch are seldom classy, sometimes seedy, but always an eyeful.
Check 'em out!

- Please follow this link to my flickr set: A 'Cover Gallery' of 1950s and '60s Men's Magazines!
(50 images)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Johnny Griffin (1928 - 2008)

Tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin passed away last Friday at his home in Mauprevoir, France, a few hours before a scheduled concert.

A pioneer of 'hard bop', the high-speed precision of his playing served him throughout his long career, performing with all the top names in jazz.

"I like to play fast. I get excited, and I have to sort of control myself, restrain myself. But when the rhythm section gets cooking, I want to explode."
--Johnny Griffin (quote via The Hard Bop Homepage)

I first became aware of Griffin several years back, after stumbling across his 'Little Giant' LP, from 1959. ('Little Giant' was his nickname)

I immediately fell in love with his sound, especially on the album's opening track, 'Olive Refractions'.

Another great one gone.
When it comes to jazz, I'm an enthusiast, not anything close to an expert. - - So although I can't authoritatively tell you what made Johnny Griffin great, I can tell you that he's hot.

See also:
- An obituary at

- Johnny Griffin entry at AllMusic.Com

-You can check out his first four albums in a tribute at Zakkorama

- Below, ▼ a 1971 video clip from French TV, playing with Art Taylor (drums), René Urtreger (piano), and Alby Cullaz (bass).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Larry Storch Reads Philip Roth's 'Epstein'

'Epstein' is a short story that appeared in author Philip Roth's first published book,
'Goodbye, Columbus' in 1959.

Like the title novella and other short stories in the book, its theme relates to the concerns of urban American Jews - - specifically in this story, a middle-aged overbearing father and husband with demons of his own.

- Click here to read the album's back cover liner notes, written by Nat Hentoff.

A guess is that the late '60's reissue of this earlier-released recording was meant to coincide with the rise in popularity
Philip Roth had at the time with his bestseller 'Portnoy's Complaint' and the film version of 'Goodbye, Columbus'.

From the LP 'Larry Storch Reads Philip Roth's Epstein'
(original Prestige/Lively Arts release circa 1962, this Prestige LP reissue circa 1969),
Listen to:

Side 1 (timing: 24:04)

Side 2 (timing: 20:53)

(click for audio)

- - OR download both album sides in one 43.6 Mb zipfile.

Larry Storch began his showbiz career as a stand-up comedian and impressionist.

His talent for expertly capturing subtly nuanced voices is evident in this recording.

Storch may be best remembered for his '60's TV sitcom role of Corporal Agarn on 'F Troop', or perhaps by some for his re-teaming with Forrest Tucker a decade later on the Saturday morning kids show, 'The Ghost Busters'.

In addition to many other TV, film and stage appearances, Larry Storch also provided many voices for animated cartoon characters, such as Phineas J. Whoopee on the 'Tennessee Tuxedo' show (performing opposite his childhood pal, Don Adams), 'Cool Cat' at the very end of the Warner Bros. 'Looney Tunes' era, and as 'Drac' in the Archies spun-off 'Groovie Goolies' TV show.

See also:
- Larry Storch seen briefly in a YouTube clip as KAOS DJ 'The Groovy Guru' (again opposite his pal
Don Adams), from the 1968 'Sacred Cows' episode of TV's 'Get Smart'.

- Listen to a 1957 novelty 45 released on the Roulette label; a parody of Fats Domino's hit,
'I'm Walkin'', featuring Storch impersonating Prince Philip singing to Elizabeth II.

- For his current activities, click over to Larry Storch on MySpace

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

3 magazine illustrations by Abner Dean (1960)

Cartoonist Abner Dean's ►
illustrations below ▼ appeared in the
April 30th, 1960 issue of the
Saturday Evening Post accompanying a short story, 'Life Among the Pioneers', by author
H. Allen Smith.

"A famous humorist reports on the living habits of America's twentieth-century frontiersman - - the wily suburbanite."

Illustrations and cartoons by Abner Dean (1910-1982) began appearing in magazines like Esquire and the New Yorker in the 1930's.

A comic strip,
'Funny Side Up', ran as a filler page in comic books and briefly in newspapers in the 1940's.

Dean was adept at producing work in a different styles, depending upon the medium, but what you would typically see in his advertising art, magazine illustrations and 'gag' cartoons were all markedly different from the 'trademark' look he became known for in most of his books.

Beginning with 'It's a Long Way to Heaven' in 1945 and the books that followed, Dean's standard approach cast naked 'everyman' characters in odd, existentialist one-panel allegories usually set against starkly surreal backgrounds.

Steeped in the psychological and often a dark-tinged cynicism with regard to the battle of the sexes, Dean's panels tended to point out the foibles and absurdities of the human animal.

The Dean books all have a unique charm and need to be seen.
Unfortunately they're out of print as of this writing. As more folks continue to discover his work, perhaps some of it will be gathered for a new collection. Here's hoping.

Meanwhile, some links for more info and examples of Abner Dean's work around the web - -

- A very detailed and informative article; 'Abner Dean Made This: An Appreciation'
at The High Hat

- A Flickr gallery: 'Abner Dean Illustrates 1984' - - Images from a Life magazine look at Orwell's book in 1949. ►

- 'Abner Dean Fascinates Me' at
Sovereign Liege includes a few images and lots of recollections and comments.

- A nice little gallery posted in a subsection of Kevin Huizenga's supermonster

- 2 1930's Ry-Krisp ads at Blog Flume

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Vinyl Gallery: More vintage cover art

An alternate title for this batch of sincerely perused album covers: "Ring wear I have known"...

(click on any image to ENLARGE in a new window)

Trumpeter, musical arranger and composer Tutti Camarata had been one of the founders of the London record label in the 1940's, and in 1956 was hired by Walt Disney to form the Disneyland record label and be their musical director.

He produced over 300 records for the label during his 16-year tenure with the label, including his own series of
'Tutti's Trumpets' LPs and his 4 'seasonal' albums.

Click here to see a variation on the 'In' image above ▲ repeated on the back cover of this 1968 Ronnie Aldrich LP, with liner notes.

(click on any image to ENLARGE in a new window)

◀ From 1959, the cover of actress / singer Polly Bergen's 7th LP on the Columbia label. Though still very active on stage, screen and TV, she classifies herself first as a business executive, overseeing her
Polly Bergen line of cosmetics, jewelry, and shoes.

'The Creed Taylor Orchestra' ▼ was the name given to a series of compelling mood albums performed by bandleader
Kenyon Hopkins and his orchestra and produced by
A&R man Taylor, released under Taylor's name on the ABC/Paramount label while Hopkins was under contract to the Capitol label.

You can hear an excerpt from 1960's 'Lonelyville - Nervous Beat' LP ▲ in a 'tribute clip' at YouTube

◀ Always nice to find another example of artwork by
David Stone Martin (1913 - 1992).
Many albums are as sought-after by collectors for his cover designs as much as for the music on the record. (It's win-win with regards to the Edison album)

There are lots of other examples of DSM's work in the galleries at LP Cover Lover.

The graphics on the 1956 J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding Trombone Octet LP ▼ is by Arnold Roth.
The much-beloved illustrator has done plenty of cover art over the years, including several early efforts by his friend, Dave Brubeck.

(For more on Roth, please follow link to my previous post on his work and his 1960's children's book, 'Pick A Peck Of Puzzles'.)

Speaking of Brubeck, recordings of his 1948 Octet ▼ were not released until 1951, after his group (now a quartet) had become more popular.
Arnold Roth's art showed up on a later 12" Fantasy label collection of that material, but I couldn't tell you who the 'Johns' signature belongs to on the cover of this outré '51 Fantasy 10" cover.
(The pretty disc within is translucent red vinyl, as was the fashion of the day)

Canadian jazz vibraphonist Jimmy Namaro ▲ was a regular fixture at the Westbury Hotel's Polo Lounge on Yonge Street in Toronto at the time of this early-'60's recording.

Billy May's 'Pow!' album came out in 1960, the title being an accurate description of his band's big sound.

It would be another 6 years or so before the word 'pow' (and other onomatopoetica) would have a resurgence via the 'Batman' TV show...

▼ ...speaking of sound effects, from 1978, a flashy-looking LP from the American funk-disco group that would lead to a minor rock history footnote; So as to avoid confusion between two different 'wham!s', George Michael's Wham! was briefly known in the U.S. as 'Wham! UK'.

This 'Wham!' LP ▼ included a couple of minor hits - - 'Lovemaker' and 'Superslick'.

▲ Above, a 'greatest hits' package of tracks by 1950's and '60's American instrumental rock group Johnny and the Hurricanes, released in the 1970's on the Canadian Birchmount label.

I've seen other Birchmount covers that have a similar look to them, but nothing with a fashion statement as extreme as the aluminum foil outfit worn on this one...

Years before his Emmy
award-winning portrayal of
Ann Romano's super, Dwayne Schneider, nightclub comedian ◀Pat Harrington, Jr. could be seen on 1950's TV playing 'Guido Panzini' and other characters for Steve Allen and Jack Paar.

This stand-up LP was released in 1962 (the discount sticker likely followed soon after). By then Harrington was transitioning into one-off TV guest appearances and small film roles. By the mid-'60's he was doing regular voice work in cartoons, including playing
'The Inspector' on the
Pink Panther show.

Above, ▲ just another celebrity caricature bonanza on just another LP cover by brilliant MAD magazine regular Mort Drucker.

Producers Bob Booker and George Foster master-minded a string of 'topical' comedy LP's throughout the '60's that played like theatrical revues, beginning with their original 'First Family' albums produced during the Kennedy administration.

This one featured impressions and characterizations by John Byner, Bob McFadden and David Frye - - whose rise to fame as a Nixon impersonator was well under way.

(click on any image to ENLARGE in a new window)

◀ 'Little Mr. Banjo' - - from an era when all good children aspired to perform in minstrel shows...

...perhaps more entertaining are the graphics and 'Moppet' label logo on the back cover. ▼

◀ The Chucho Ferrer Orchestra and the Mario Ruiz Armeol Orchestra were featured bands on this striking 1962 LP.

Below are some more albums in 'the Latin manner', the 'Cha-Cha' craze of the '50's and '60's being just another in a never-ending string of Latin-beat fueled dance mania.

Hey, what the- - ?

Looks like these cover models' fancy dance steps couldn't be contained on one album, or one label.

Above, ▲ 'Let's Cha Cha Cha in Hi-Fi' by Puerto Rican band leader Tito Morano was first released on the Somerset Records label in 1959.

◀ To the left; A quick costume change for the señorita but otherwise hardly a missed beat, and the dance partners were ready for this Jan August album, released roughly around the same time.

▲ Memo Salamanca in hi-fi on Audio Fidelity in 1957, the same year the label released the very first commercially available stereo records.

◀ A cheeky 1958 cover from Edmundo Ros, the 'King of Latin American Music'.

Clicking on the image of the 1950's Pepe Luis LP below ▼ will afford you the necessary opportunity to take an even closer look at the group of tough customers out for kicks on this memorable cover...

Crossing the finish line on this posting, it's clear that many thanks are due to the Space Age Pop website for being such a font of information. So glad it's out there!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Selections from André Popp's Why Say Goodbye (1968)

French composer / musical arranger André Popp had a huge international hit in 1954 with his song
'Portuguese Washerwomen', which was subsequently covered by many artists and became an 'easy listening' standard.

Such was also the case later in 1968, when his composition
'Love Is Blue' was recorded again and again by different performers.

The lighter 'pop' recordings of Popp stand in contrast to the eccentric and adventurous sounds present in his 1957 album 'Delirium In Hi-Fi'.
That recording and the few that followed are the ones for which Popp has been most celebrated.

The bulk of this '68 album is fairly standard light pop, though often with a 'cinematic' feel, vaguely reminiscent of Ennio Morricone or other European film composers, complete with 'shadow' chorus vocals.

From André Popp's
'Why Say Goodbye' LP,
(MGM Records LP, 1968), Listen to:

A Comme Amour (Why Say Goodbye)
Le Lit de Lola
Mon Amour, Mon Ami
L'Amour Est Bleu (Love Is Blue)
Manchester Et Liverpool
Les Papillons
On Oublie Jamais
Bim Bom
Le Coeur Trop Tendre

(click for audio)

- - OR download all 10 tracks in one 23.2 Mb zipfile.

See also:
- André Popp listings at All Music.Com and at Space Age Pop

- A couple of other Popp tracks can be heard at the André Popp tribute page at MySpace.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Adventures in language instruction with Professor Berlitz (1965 textbook illustrations)

This 1965 edition of the Berlitz beginning Spanish textbook bears illustrations featuring the cartoon 'mascot' of Professor Berlitz, apparently intended as a caricature of Maximilian Berlitz (1852-1921),
the originator of the Berlitz language method.

No credit is given in this edition for the illustrator.
Can anyone shed light on the artist's identity?

At its essence, the 'Berlitz Method' involves instruction conducted in the target language only, using examples and reinforcement without translation to build towards fluency.

Even without direct translation, Professor Berlitz establishes himself as a very definite character throughout the course of the text.

It makes you wonder what else he could get up to, doesn't it?

From the looks of him, you have to wonder if perhaps he couldn't have had a side career making appearances as Mr. Peanut.

Hmmm - - Were the two 'spokesmen' ever seen in the same place at the same time?

Freshly-stirred links