A Canadian Defends America

I own 50 or more K-Tel (and Ronco) hits LPs that were issued from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.   I almost passed on Music Power recently, since the cover looked so similar to K-Tel’s other offerings from the early 70s, but upon closer examination, I had to admit there were a few tracks i did not recognize — most conspicuously, “The Americans (A Canadian’s Opinion)” by Gordon Sinclair:

“The Americans (A Canadian’s Opinion)”     Gordon Sinclair    1973

Sinclair, who describes Americans as “the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people in all the world,” points out that the U.S. has used its resources and expertise to implement flood control measures on the Yellow, Yangtze, Nile, Amazon, Ganges, and the Niger Rivers — yet “no foreign land has sent a dollar to help” the U.S. during the Mississippi Flood of 1973.   Sinclair, unsurprisingly, nurses other grievances, and he’s not afraid to voice them.

Gordon Sinclair:  unlikely pop star

Gordon SinclairWikipedia picks up the story from here:

“On June 5, 1973, following news that the American Red Cross had run out of money as a result of aid efforts for recent natural disasters, Sinclair recorded what would become his most famous radio editorial, “The Americans.”   While paying tribute to American success, ingenuity, and generosity to people in need abroad, Sinclair decried that when America faced crisis itself, it often seemed to face that crisis alone.

At the time, Sinclair considered the piece to be nothing more than one of his usual items.  But when U.S. News & World Report published a full transcript, the magazine was flooded with requests for copies.[18]  Radio station WWDC-AM in Washington, D.C. started playing a recording of Sinclair’s commentary with “Bridge Over Troubled Water” playing in the background.  Sinclair told the Star in November 1973 that he had received 8,000 letters about his commentary.

With the strong response generated by the editorial, a recording of Sinclair’s commentary was sold as a single with all profits going to the American Red Cross.   ‘The Americans (A Canadian’s Opinion)’ went to #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, making the 73-year-old Sinclair the 2nd-oldest living person ever to have a Billboard U.S. Top 40 hit (75-year-old Moms Mabley had a Top 40 hit in 1969 with ‘Abraham, Martin & John’).”

Does K-Tel’s Music Power include all four minutes and fifty-five seconds of “The Americans”?   Just by looking at the length of each track on the record itself, I can see that K-Tel has edited this long-winded diatribe easily by half.  Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine many other instances where K-Tel would include spoken-word narration with incidental musical backing.  Are there other such examples Zero to 180 is legally obligated to ponder.

Original K-Tel ad for ‘Music Power’ LP — Why No excerpt from the Gordon Sinclair Hit?

Philadelphia’s Rebirth Begins Here

WCAU, one of Philadelphia’s earliest radio stations (first broadcast:  May 22, 1922), couldn’t sit idly by and allow Philadelphia’s less-than-stellar reputation go unchallenged — so it went on the offensive.  The result:  Just a Philadelphia Minute.

Philadelphia LP-x

WCAU, “a CBS-owned station – represented nationally by CBS Radio Spot Sales,” produced this collection of 60-second spots that were created by a number of top Philadelphia advertising agencies.  Incredibly enough, no information whatsoever can be found on the Internet about this historic effort to rebrand the City of Philadephia — I can only guess that this album was issued sometime in the 1970s.  The text on the back cover is priceless:

Just a Philadelphia Minute is in itself an end, and a beginning.

An end to Philadelphia’s dark ages and Chinese wall ugliness.  An end to a city thinking with an inferiority complex.

And a beginning that says Philadelphia doesn’t have to take a back seat to any place.  A beginning that means a new spirit of positive action for Philadelphia.

The committed Philadephia advertising agencies who produced these 60-second spots constitute the beginning.”

My favorite piece on this album is this jaunty musical number — needless to say, it’s the old-timey theater organ that steals the show:

[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “Philadelphia Is the Greatest Little City in the USA”]

Considerably less effective is this spoken-word radio spot in which the tough-guy announcer appears to berate the listener into appreciating Philadelphia’s charms – or else:

[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “How Long Has It Been Since You Visited Philadelphia?”]

‘Sounds in Space’: Ken Nordine Revels in Stereo’s Wonder

This early stereo demonstration record by the fine folks at RCA Victor features spoken word parts by Ken Nordine (the maestro of “word jazz” – check out this ‘kinetic type’ animation clip for “Green” from Nordine’s Colors album) as between-song stereo banter.  The recordings, which feature mainly orchestral works (pop, swing & classical) are all from RCA’s catalog, naturally.

Sounds in Space LP

 

 

 

 

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“A stereophonic sound demonstration record for use on stereo orthophonic     high fidelity ‘victrolas'”

 

One fun track shows Nordine reveling in stereo’s wonder before showing the listener the pop science behind “Rag Mop” – the new stereo version by Ralph Flanagan’s Orchestra:

Rag Mop – Ralph Flanagan Orchestra

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play “Rag Mop” by Ralph Flanagan’s Orchestra.]

This 1958 album was produced in cooperation with Robert Oakes Jordan Associates, who also released that same year, Concert-Disc Stereo Demo with Exclusive “Bouncing Ball” Balance Control Signal Plus Excerpts from The Outstanding Concert-Disc Stereo Library.

Ken Nordine - Word JazzKen Nordine - Colors

Lily Tomlin’s Got the 20th Century Blues

This 45 came into our household as a result of my mom, who worked in the 1970s at a mild-mannered classical music radio station by day that switched over to a hard rock format at the stroke of midnight when it ceased programming for the broadcast day.

Lily Tomlin's 20th Century Blues

This late-night rock station being on the same frequency as its “parent” classical station no doubt resulted in some colorful phone calls when loyal listeners switched on their radios after midnight, only to hear The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”  – the original everlasting album version at that.

Tomlin’s 1973 Polydor release is one of those white-label “for DJ use only” promos but with a twist:  rather than the same track on both sides (one in stereo, the other in mono), this record features different selections on the A & B sides.  The A-side is a musical number, while the B-side is a comedy piece where Tomlin does all the voices (including a brief cameo from precocious preschooler, Edith Ann) through the miracle of modern recording technology.

I originally intended to post a recording of the A-side, a pastiche of a 1920’s blues number recorded to sound as if it were a 78 playing on an old Victrola, but I have to admit that the comedy piece on the B-side is more engaging and, surprisingly, seems not to have dated a bit 40 years later:

20th Century Blues – Lily Tomlin

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to play Lily Tomlin’s solo ensemble piece,  “20th Century Blues.”]