Thrift Store Scores

by Mimi M.

Bob Rosengarden and Phil Kraus  Percussion Playful and Pretty (RCA CSP-113)

Commandish sound, as one would expect with two percussionists who were big planets in Enoch Light's solar system. Its "Chloe (Song of the Swamp)" is incredible--bongos, bari sax, organ on top of a brass and woodwind ensemble.  The more I listen, the more I like.  A liner note headline crows "Spruced Up Mood Music."  No fooling.  Lots of shifts between the speakers, too.  A goody record sold exclusively to RCA record club members with attractive budget pricing.  Wondered how common these bargain buys were and if they're viewed as collectable by people who care about this stuff--and apparently they are.  One reliable source from the Exotica list identified Percussion Playful and Pretty as an unreleased product in the celebrated RCA Stereo Action series.  Look for this if you love Stereo Action records, Command, or Messeurs Rosengarden and Kraus.

Valjean at the Piano  Mashin' the 'Classicks' (Carlton LP 146)

Frilly piano-dominated rockin' reworks of symphonic war-horses... Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," for instance, retitled here, "Two for the Mash." Chopin's "Minute Waltz" becomes "The Minute Mash," etc.  A hoot.  The promised "orchestra" accompanying Valjean is largely a stripped-down drum kit, a couple of saxes, bass, and a tinny trebly guitar.  This music could move PeeWee Herman to groove in a stiff dance.

Hugo Winterhalter  Hugo Winterhalter Goes Latin (RCA Victor LPM-1677)

Over-the-top, string-heavy arrangements of "Granada," "The Peanut Vendor," and such.  Very spotty but worth more than the 25 cents I paid for it at a Utah thrift.

Dick Schory Music to Break Any Mood  (RCA Victor LPM-2125)

A "Caravan" that belongs in a Hall of Fame really makes this a record to hunt for. Heavy on the xylophones naturally--after all, this is Dick Schory.  My version is hi-fi, and I think some one on the Exotica list reported this (58?) LP was re-released in stereo.  Amusing cover shot of Schory in black nerd glasses and a leopardskin caveman tunic about to whack a huge gong while a damsel in harem pantaloons sprawls at his feet, munching grapes.  The photo says something about the record's mood, yet there's more substance here than you'd guess from the silly packaging.

Gary McFarland Soft Samba (Verve VA-8603)

Beautiful disk of soft pop for sugar-frosted pop tarts.  Some ba-ba-ba vocals.  I usually detest Beatles covers but "She Loves You," "A Hard Day'sNight," "And I Love Her" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" smoothed out as sambas are quite tasty.  Especially like "From Russia with Love" and a surprising selection, "California Here I Come."

Enoch Light and His Orchestra Discotheque (Command Records RS 873SD)

A bizarre song list, ranging from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to "Hello, Dolly"  to "Watermelon Man." Produced to resemble the unbroken segues of a real French discotheque, ooh la la.  Hilarious liners with recommended dances for each cut from Killer Joe Piro, "the world famous dance instructor whose students include Eva Gabor, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Ray Bolger."  Evidently Killer Joe was very fond of the Watusi.

Sweet Sue and Her Society Syncopators Some Like It Hot Cha-Cha-Cha (United Artists)

A curiosity for fans of Billy Wilder's drag picture, Some Like It Hot--all tunes appear in the film.  Film buffs probably remember SS & HSS as the name of "all-girl" orchestra in the movie.  The music?  Watered down cha-chas that keep growing on me.  Nice "Runnin' Wild" and "I Want to Be Loved by You."  Am pretty crazy about "La Cumprasita."  On the fence about the success of "Charleston" in a Latin arrangement.  I get the feeling this LP might be rare since it is so clearly a promo for the film.  Anyone have this record with a jacket in their collection?  Or does anyone know of a website with a thumbnail of the cover?  Or maybe you know who really played these snappy numbers since Sweet Sue and Her Society Sycopators was a fictional band invented for the film.  Answers?  URL leads?  Please drop a line to

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