Friday, January 25, 2008

Early part of the winter here has been occupied with our store digesting an interesting record collection from an estate.
Among the bargain classicals about to be offered are a Turnabout disc of Carl Nielsen's Flute Concerto and Clarinet Concerto, Joseph Deak and Paul Pazmandi, with the Philharmonia Hungarica.
Swingle II, love songs for madrigals and madriguys, by the creative arranger from the 1960s, Ward Swingle,including electric piano, harpsichord, and ARP synthesizer.
Music minus one piano accompaniments for solo violin-- great for practicing to composers from Schumann to Schubert to Faure to Grieg. Music Minus One Violin, Joseph Seiger, piano.
Boston Pops and Arthur Fiedler Concert in the Park, a wonderfully parklike 1963 set.
Rare album by Zino Francescatti, consisting of encores on early Columbia Masterworks with Artur Balsam, piano.
Used Jazz LPs are best picked up for a tenner or so at garage sales, but if you're looking for the occasional rare item, or heavy hitters playing together, these are from our new under-$20 batch: Dark of Light by Norman Connors, Giants with Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hackett, from 1971; Loud Jazz by John Scofield, Portrait of Thelonious by Bud Powell, David Chesky Band and others. I highly recommend both Sergio Mendes on The Swinger from Rio, and The Songs of Percy Faith played by the Lansdowne Jazz Group.
In the same price range we have some freshly collected Sinatra Capitol medallions: Come Dance With Me!, Come Swing with Me!, Sings the Select Cole Porter, and the Reprise issues Strangers in the Night and That's Life. That gets you Sinatra backings by Billy May, Ernie Freeman, Nelson Riddle and the Ray Charles knock-off sound of Ol' Blue Eyes' "That's Life." Just type "Frank Sinatra" in the search at our store.
What a pleasure it is to offer a selection of American polka records from the 1960s and beyond. You'll recognize some artist names: Dick Rodgers, Walt Solek, Larry Chesky, Dick Pillar, Lil Wally, Eddie Blazoncyk, Joe Twarog, Jimmy Sturr (got lots of his!), Ray Henry and many others. Just type "polka" in the search at our store.
This record never lasts long in our store: One Stormy Night by the Mystic Moods Orchestra. The best sounding thunder and rainstorm ever on vinyl, brilliantly set to music.
Finally, a mostly NM batch of Disneyland Records and a few Buena Vistas: Best of Disney Volume 1 and 2; Merriest Songs, Merry Christmas Songs, Mickey, Goofy, It's a Small World, Larry Groce, and many more. All nice copies from the 1960s and 1970s and each under $20. For these and much more used copies of Disney records, articles and books about Disney, etc. , just type "Disney" in the search at our store.
It is with deep regret that we bid farewell to our white label Vee Jay Beatles 45 rpm promo, which is the biggest Beatles item we've sold since the holidays, when rare Beatles were being bought as gifts. Thank you forever John Paul George Ringo.
Also thank you Santa for the 1916 windup Columbia Graphophone. Any advice on needles?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twelve inch vinyl LP records, with their album lengths, their generous graphic packages, extensive credits, historic value, and great playability provide a wonderful window on the eras when they dominated music sales.

From the days when television was emerging on the scene and fighting for the hearts and minds of children, there were live animal dogs in Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, animated dogs in Huckleberry Hound. There were the amazingly hidden musical talents of Bonanza TV’s original cast. There was the famous bird Woody Woodpecker.

If that weren’t enough animals you could find more in the Stories of Uncle Remus. Music just came naturally to the Guest stars of the Hee-Haw Show. Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland holds a special place with many fans of the 1950s and 1960s, when it sold many color TVs.

You may wonder why vocalist Artie Wayne puts a picture of Anita Ekberg on his album cover. Wonder again at Ronnie Deauville Smoke Dreams and Reid King, Tommy Andre, New Wave.

Back to the 1960s, who remembers the 1967 Boston Red Sox Impossible Dream? And Songs that made Johnny Cash famous, on the original Sun label.

Moneyblows’ extensive jazz holdings are graced by the additions of Mezz Mezzrow, Frankie Newton, and Rebecca Parris.

Collectors of gospel and r&b will appreciate the Dixie Hummingbirds on Peacock; , the extremely rare Clyde McPhatter Live at the Apollo. Also Maxine Brown’s Greatest Hits.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It will soon be 20 years since F. Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco, led Wall Street out of the October 1987 crash into what was then the largest leveraged buyout (LBO) in U.S. history. Black Monday 1987 had harmed many stock values, and highly publicized tobacco liability litigation was also hurting RJR Nabisco.
Johnson, nicknamed "The Pope," made a $75 million sweetheart deal with his directors, according to the then-bestseller, Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar.
Everyone on Wall Street looked for a way into the deal. First, investment bankers who saw the huge cash flow from the company's tobacco arm. They and many others would reap huge fees associated with the restructuring of the company. The prize, such as it was, would go to Kohlberg, Kravis,Roberts, and the money that blew around the eye of the storm amounted to about $20 billion.
It seems like a long time ago now, and some of the characters in the story (which was made into a Hollywood movie) are still around. The bestselling book is a reminder that business history can provide some swashbuckling reading, and our store has an interesting section specializing in business history.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ruth Wallis has just passed on at the age of 87, noted in one newspaper obituary as "singer-writer of risque songs."
Records by this great singer/songwriter/pianist have passed through my hands with great frequency, always getting a turntable play before being tossed into the curb pile.
Not because the music's not good, mind you.... how could there be a bad "Hopalong Chastity," or "Dinghy Song." If you like Nellie McKay you might like the less intellectual, more bawdy, and perhaps equally indefatigable Ms. Wallis.
The reason we've sold only a few is that most original Ruth Wallis vinyl is of the "well-loved" variety-- bumped and scratched around as if playing host to too many a happy party of adult humor aficionados in the 1950s.
Instead of dropping acid and listening to Jefferson Airplane, these young parents of future hippies were drinking manhattans and listening to "Johnny Has a Yo-Yo," and "Stay Out of My Pantry." Ruth Wallis was actually banned in Boston. She put out her own records. And, she sang and played as well as any jazz or cabaret artist; her music and voice are appealing even without the constant double entendre. If you find any records by her, give them a listen. As a start, here's one available right now!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Photos taken around 8 a.m., looking south with the Davis burial ground to the far right. Jan. 2, 2008. If you have GPS you can plot this location precisely from a satellite in the sky.

Last year I was in Texas on Christmas and New Year's, so this year in New Hampshire was different. I find how much more traveling one can do in New England than even in Texas. When there was a visit to be done in Texas, it might be from 3-6 hours driving, one way. Turning most day trips into 2 day trips. And gradually eliminating them from consideration, so one could stay home longer. Up here in New Hampshire, a state with the entire population of our metro area alone in Texas, a day trip has to receive more careful consideration. There are a lot of visits to make ranging from 1 1/2 hours driving one way, to 5 hours driving one way. There's even one very important visit (our son) who could be reached by driving 6 hours each way-- straight into Manhattan, where's there's no parking.
You get the picture. A different matrix for visits.
Two of those potential visits dropped out of consideration this holiday season. Predictably, it was the two longest ones, 5 hours to Roxbury, NY and 6 hours to Manhattan. There were other visits of the 1 1/2 to 3 hour variety.
On New Year's Eve day a spontaneous dinner date was arranged over in Dublin, NH about 20 miles from the Vermont border. We made some brownies to bring, packed some champagne and drove from the farm near Dover along Rt. 125 south and 101 west. Driving from the seacoast "microclimate" to the Monadnock area "microclimate" was a visual feast of clouds, mist and whiteness in varying shades, punctuated by intersecting the "Queen City" of Manchester, NH.
New Year's Eve found us perusing an eccentric curator's collection of books, weapons, musical instruments, playing Booker T.'s "Hip Hug-ger" on vintage keyboards, watching Dick Clark drop the ball, and then listening to The Band and the Best of the Animals on CD. Driving back east, early the next morning, the clear Monadnock sky, peppered with clouds full of boding, gradually transformed itself into an ocean mist gleaming with sunrise. Beyond, the ocean might be 20 miles further to the east, but the effect causes this decidedly inland part of New Hampshire to exaggeratedly be called the "Seacoast" region. I think it also is part of "Southern New Hampshire," which looks a lot more like northern Massachusetts, except refreshingly sparser, than the rest of New Hampshire.
On the next day, in the middle of a dangerous blizzard, I ventured north to return a guitar to someone who had left it at the house over the holidays. About 55 miles up the Spaulding Turnpike from Rochester, the storm hit with a vengeance and, for quite awhile after that, traffic moved at 5 mph, wending around other cars which had run off the road, hit each other, or hot dogging just to see if they could pull out of a skid. I welcomed a chance to vigorously roadtest the 1995 Celica beater I was driving. This has been among the most reliable cars we have ever had, and the mileage economy has just encouraged more driving. But, I had never put it through the paces that the Spaulding presented during this terrible snowstorm, which, as it approached the "Seacoast" area, added rain to the mix and caused brakes and windshields to ice over. Having made it through that, with roads barely treated in the respective jurisdictions along the road, I wouldn't hesitate to take out the low-slung, standard transmission, mostly fiberglas Celica again. It's a real trouper. The guitar is back to its home and so am I.
If you drive in New Hampshire during this type of weather, do not expect clear sailing on the roads. Each driver must work together with the other drivers so that everybody gets where they are going. I did have moments when I thought the miles-long line of cars might be spending the night on the Spaulding. Congratulations to the powers that be, for making sure things keep moving!
Top viewing over the holiday season included Ghost Dog, Jim Jarmusch, Forrest Whitaker, etc.; Coffee and Cigarettes, also Jim Jarmusch; the Werner Herzog film about Tim Treadwell; the "mockumentary" of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. And just yesterday, "Legally Blonde" with Reese Witherspoon. A good dose of samurai and stardust was the fitter counterpoint to this state full of retail campaigners this week. It is so comforting to be debating the fate of the free world. We never got to do that much in Texas. What did you do over that strange time when the calendar changes but Christendom stops dead in its tracks?