Posts tagged ‘music’

Ray Conniff Singers – Rhinestone Cowboy / Wildfire [1975]

Before there were mix DJs and technological mashups, there were mixes like this nugget of elevator goodness. I use the word goodness with a smirk. Yes it’s smooth. Yes the music and vocals are tight and well-crafted. But come on…it’s elevator music. So hard to jump out of my seat and say, “Sweet mother I LOVE this version!”

That said, Ray Conniff filled a niche that has become part of American musical legend. His soft versions of other people’s songs provided businesses and cocktail parties with inoffensive renditions of great music. Look in any thrift store and you are likely to find a treasure trove of albums emblazened with Ray Conniff Singers.

Today I share this 70s mashup of Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” and Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire.” Before I ever heard this compilation, I would have never imagined the two in one song. In some odd way, they now belong together. Smooooth…

Keith Mansfield – Exclusive Blend [1969]

If this groovy instrumental doesn’t make your foot move involuntarily, then check your shoe for cement.

Keith Mansfield is a British composer/arranger who had knack for summing up a mood in the short time required by the broadcasting projects he scored. His songs are a time capsule of the 1960s and 70s and, in my opinion, full of quality and nuance that is sometimes overshadowed by goofiness of the era. His song Funky Fanfare has even been used as recently as 2010 for the theme song for Pit Boss.

This is the good stuff!

Hank Thompson – North of The Rio Grande [1955]

Authentic 50s country swing, direct from Hank Thompson and his Brazos Valley Boys!

Since I have more heavy metal running through my music repertoire, old country music is like a guilty pleasure. To me the twang is addictive and melodic. I love the song-stories, the simplicity, the traditionalism, and most of all those shiny suits worn by the performers on stage. I found this at Goodwill the other day, and it was easily the best 99 cents I spent.

I digitized the entire album yesterday, and posted it as a video on Youtube (above).  That way, WallOfRetrons can play it in background of their favorite Retro-Activites!  Enjoy 🙂

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Rejoice – Establishment Blues [1968]

From the dusty, vinyl-scratched archives comes this folk rock groove that single-handedly epitomizes the anti-establishment movement of the late 1960s.

I’ll be honest; I had never heard of Rejoice. Ever. It was only after we received the golden pickins from our neighbor’s LP collection that I came across this album in one of the boxes. The first track – “Sausalito Sunrise” – is almost unplayable due to a dip in the record. But the rest of the disk, in all its clicky-poppy awesomeness, simply oozes the musical equivalent to a tirade against The Establishment, punctuated by chants of “I hate The Man.” What a slow groovy trip.

Listen for references to transistor radios, secretaries, discos, and typewriters.

Rejoice LP 1968 003

Rejoice LP 1968 004

Rejoice LP 1968 002

Let’s Tango with Harry Horlick and His Orchestra! [1959]

Translated literally as “The Touch,” Tango is a dance that is performed exactly as it is described.

With its roots in Europe and Africa, Argentina today stands as the popular source of Tango. The music and the dance are distinctive, flowing and beautiful.

Harry Horlick wasn’t from Argentina.

Harry Horlick

That didn’t stop this Russian immigrant from putting out at least two Tango albums. The one seen here is a thrift-store find, worn to the point of being grey in the grooves. But the beauty of Tango makes its way through anyway. I digitized a couple of the tracks into a video for your home dancing pleasure 🙂

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Ray Coniff His Orchestra and Chorus – Mack The Knife [1963]

He had the chops to be considered the King Of Easy Listening.

When I think of instrumental versions of popular songs, I always think of Ray Coniff and His Orchestra. As a band leader, he was great. And to get what could easily be called “The Ray Coniff Sound,” he added choral parts over the instruments. Still without words, the vocals added an element to the songs that seemed to smooth everything out.

Listen to his version of Mack The Knife from 1963, digitized from glorious vinyls, and you’ll see what I mean!

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Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” From 1983 Gets Its Due Attention In 2013

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Lately I’ve been digitizing some songs from my record collection, pulling sources from albums I’ve had for decades – or ones that I’ve found at thrift stores over the years. It’s pretty hard to pass up a 99-cent copy of Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, Sarah Vaughan, or Henry Mancini, when you still have a working record player. I mean, seriously…single MP3 tracks off Amazon or Apple cost that, and only if that vintage track is available at all. I can get the whole album for the same price?

Here’s my dollar, Ms. Cashier.

Plus of course, there is the argument over the “warmth” of listening to analog recordings from vinyl. Frankly my ear isn’t well tuned enough to hear anything shrill in digital remasters. I will say this: there is a familiarity to hearing the “clicks and pops” of a record, something tangible and tactile on a turntable playing a song for me through a vinyl track of glory.

Life isn’t perfect, and therefore the soundtrack to life shouldn’t necessarily demand perfection.

Last night I was putting away canned goods in the pantry when I spied a box of records that hadn’t been touched in a while. Taking a quick look inside exposed a few items I had owned since the 1980s, along with some other items given to me by friends when they gave away their record player in the early 1990s. One of those albums is the one you see here: Metal Health by Quiet Riot.

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Of course there’s nothing quiet about it; Metal Health was standard-issue early-80s rock, courtesy of the blaring-yet-powerful high-pitched vocals of Kevin DuBrow, mixed with the hook-heavy guitar solos of Carlos Cavazo and solid backing by Frankie Banali and Rudy Sarzo. Since its release in 1983, the album has sold over 6 million copies. Quiet Riot was a seasoned crew of performers by this time, having been together for a decade. They played many of the same venues as Van Halen during the 1970s. While not achieving the same notoriety as other L.A. rock bands of the era, they continued to play until 2007, when singer DuBrow was found dead of a cocaine overdose at his home. They reformed in 2010; none of the original early-70s line up remains.

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On my copy of the album the first track is titled “Metal Health,” which according to resources makes it part of the first release. On subsequent releases of the album, the track was retitled as “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – which is what most people called it anyway. Much like The Who’s Baba O’Riley being called “Teenage Wasteland” by most of the listening public.

Metal Health is considered widely to be Quiet Riot’s largest hit and, thanks to the 2013 Superbowl, has seen a worthy tribute 30 years later as part of a really funny Hyundai commercial – the two versions of which are posted below:

And if you’re itching to hear the original song in its epic entirety, here’s the track I digitized from my LP version. All Hail Vinyl!

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