Storytime

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hammond on holidayBillie Holiday’s classic Columbia recordings (1933-1941) are her very best. Producer John Hammond describes them as “unique in music” on this little bonus record. “I don’t believe we’ve ever gotten this kind of interplay in the years since Billie’s prime,” he continues. The record was included in promotional copies of God Bless the Child, a 1972 double-LP compilation produced by Columbia in response to the success of Lady Sings the Blues, a bio-pic starring Diana Ross. We rarely sell copies of the soundtrack, which hasn’t aged particularly well, but Billie Holiday records have a one or two day shelf-life around here.

“We ought to have a lot of fun, having this record listened to by people who only know Billie Holiday through the movie,” says Hammond at the end.

The movie was loosely based on Holiday’s autobiography. It was fairly successful and nominated for several Academy Awards, but panned by jazz musicians who performed with Holiday, and jazz fans in general. Ross’ meek performance re-casts Holiday as a mid-level pop singer — it’s remarkable, for instance, that neither Lester Young nor Teddy Wilson appear in the film, even though Holiday collaborated closely with each for years (bringing out, we think, some of their very best). Hammond, who produced her records for years, likewise is nowhere to be seen.

Then again, what can you expect from a Hollywood movie starring Diana Ross? At least the film revived interest in her original recordings. There are several collections from her Columbia discography besides the 1972 double LP. Their nine volume Quintessential Billie Holiday series is on the Columbia Jazz Masterpieces imprint (the ones with the blue borders) and the sound on the LPs is fantastic, as are the notes for each. There’s also an earlier three-album box set, sort of a ‘best of’ collection, called The Golden Years. All are worth the search.

the man i love“The Man I Love” recorded December 1939. The band features Buck Clayton and Harry Edison (trumpets), Earl Warren, Jack Washington and Lester Young (saxes), Joe Sullivan (piano) Freddie Greene (guitar), Walter Page (bass) and Jo Jones (drums).

time on my hands“Time on my Hands” recorded June 1940. The band features Roy Eldridge (trumpet), Billy Brown, Joe Eldridge, Kermit Scott and Lester Young (saxes), Teddy Wilson (piano), Freddie Greene (guitar), Walter Page (bass) and JC Heard (drums).

 

uncle scrooge

One of our favorite places over here on East Lake Street is Nostalgia Zone, the incredible comic book shop just a couple blocks west of our building.

We’ve never really been comic book fanatics, but we love reading them with the kids. They have lots of favorites: Batman, Spider-Man , the various Star Wars series, and Bone are all favorites in our house.

And Uncle Scrooge, of course. The author of the classic comics starring the world’s richest duck was Carl Barks, who loved National Geographic and often based the adventures which took Scrooge and his nephews to the far corners of the Earth on real places.

This short, goofy record is hardly as exciting a story as some of Bark’s best, like “Land Beneath the Earth” or “The Adventure in Trala La.” And fans of Duck Tales, the animated series based on Bark’s stories, will find this Uncle Scrooge to be even more gruff and Scottish.

From one of best albums of all time, Havin’ Fun with Bert and Ernie, here’s a hilarious story about Cookie Monster.  Cookie goes on a journey to find everlasting joy and happiness.  “Why not?  Got nothing else to do today.”

Two decades ago we discovered Man…Or Astroman? after seeing them perform at 7th Street Entry — for those of you unfamiliar with this mostly-instrumental band from Georgia, their catchy gimmick is embedding science fiction samples into surf rock jams. The songs are reliably good but sometimes its the timing of the samples that make them memorable.

Here’s one of my all-time favorites, from their first album Is It Man…Or Astroman? which came out in 1993. The song is called “Invasion of the Dragonmen.”

moam

actionMan…Or Astroman? was very prolific in those days, issuing more 7″ singles and oddities (10″ and even 5″ records, etc) than one could count, let alone collect. More recently, when our kids had their first Fisher Price record player, we unpacked a box of story albums, including a Spider-Man book-and-record adventure. Suddenly, we recognized the voice of DRACO, KING OF THE DRAGONMEN!

draco

(You can click on that image for a larger view of DRACO, if you dare!)

Minneapolis is known as a city of bicycling enthusiasts. We certainly love riding around this neighborhood ourselves — in fact, we have a sidecar bike on which our shop dog, Irene, often rides to work.

This 1961 B-side by Fats Domino is a pretty fun bicycle song. We like it better than the spooky version of “Bicycle Built for Two” from 2001: A Space Odyssey which we posted about last month.

No time to write this morning – I get to be the parent helper at my son’s pre-school!  Here’s a story for today…

The hype sticker on Dick Feller’s 1972 debut album may be guilty of a little hyperbole — “Biff the Purple Bear” was hardly a hit single, although it nearly hit Billboard’s ‘hot one hundred,’ peaking at #101. Ranking higher on the country charts hardly counts as a hit.

What is remarkable about “Biff the Purple Bear” is that Feller deserves some credit for creating the original idea for the Toy Story franchise.

We have featured another Dick Feller record on the Hymies blog back here.

What if you could be a star in Star Wars?!

We took the kids to see the Han Solo movie over the holiday weekend, and the whole family loved it! We’d go back again today, if only for the air conditioning, but there’s work to do in the record shop and there’s eight days left in the school year.

So instead we’ll revisit one of our favorite posts in the Hymie’s archives. Longtime readers have probably already noticed that we’re on ‘summer repeats’ here at the Hymies blog production company. Did you know there are over 2,00 posts below. You could keep scrolling for hours!  It reminds us of the moment near the end of “Alice’s Restaurant” when Arlo says, “I’ve been singing this song now for twenty-five minutes. I could sing it for another twenty five minutes. I’m not proud… or tired.”

Anyway, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was…

Amateur Star Wars

This is a Buena Vista Records production of Star Wars for which the music, sound effects and images were licensed but not the actors’ voices.  The result?  Star Wars performed by a cast of understudies!  To make it even, uh, more exciting they seem to be making up some of their lines.

We would love to see an entire film starring this Han Solo instead.

Here’s three minutes of “highlights”:

Enjoy Amateur Star Wars? There’s two more episodes here.

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