Sunday, April 13, 2014

WCFL, Dick Biondi and "30 Double Gold"

This album cost me 50¢ from Half Price Books.  It was in great shape and had a huge selection of hits from the mid-to-late 60s (plus three 50s tunes thrown in as well).  The album was a promotional album from Chicago's WCFL, 1000 AM.  The station was known as the "Voice of Labor" and was originally owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor.  Broadcasting from Marina Towers, WCFL turned toward rock and roll music in 1966 and in just a matter of years it was the number one radio station in Chicago.  It was branded as "The Big 10."

The DJs of WCFL were known as the "Men From 10" and included some of Chicago's legendary on-air personalities:

After spending years at rival WLS and then hosting a syndicated show from Los Angeles, Dick Biondi returned to Chicago and joined WCFL in 1967.  He remained at the station until 1971 and then moved to Boston.

He returned in 1983 and has been on Chicago radio ever since.

Biondi is a radio legend, the first American DJ to play the Beatles in 1963.  At 81 years young, Biondi is still on the airwaves, now broadcasting again on WLS at the 11pm to 2 am time slot.

Earlier, I had highlighted another WCFL album that I had found in a thrift store.  This one is better.  Not only is it a double album, it is in better shape than the earlier album.  It has some great tunes as well, including the Turtles, the Righteous Brothers, Chuck Berry, the Association and James Brown.

I believe this album was distributed in either 1970 or 71.

WCFL continued broadcasting rock and roll until 1976 when it switched over to "Muzak" format, making WLS the only AM station to play rock and roll.  Today, AM1000 is a sports/talk station.

Thanks to the internet, WCFL is still alive and kicking.  You can listen to actual streams of the radio station from its glory days.  Click the player below to listen to a composite of WCFL from 1966-1971, featuring jingles, news and air checks:

Here is an hour of WCFL from 1970:

Here is another hour of WCFL from 1971:

Selections from WCFL's 30 Double Gold can be heard on Vinyl Voyage Radio.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

1977, the Year of the Robot and the year of "Music Machine"

In 1977, robots invaded pop culture with the release of Star Wars.  And K-Tel jumped on that bandwagon big-time.  Music Machine features one of the most famous robots in history on its cover: Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet.  How K-Tel was able to feature that robot on the cover AND in the commercial is beyond me:

The album features an eclectic mix (as usual) of music from the time:  the disco hits of Andy Gibb, ABBA and K.C. and the Sunshine Band, a Kiss ballad, Kenny Rogers, Alice Cooper and the theme from Rocky.  K-tel spared no expense with this album.  It even has bonus Andy Gibb and K.C. and the Sunshine Band posters!

Music Machine from 1977 is the featured K-Tel album this month on Adventures in Vinyl, the only radio show dedicated to the glory of the K-Tel record compilation.  We will listen to the album in its entirety and even flip the record for you. Adventures in Vinyl can be heard at the following times (central):

Sunday 4 pm
Tuesday 1:30 pm
Wednesday 2 am
Thursday 10 am
Saturday 12:30 pm

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Block Buster from 1976, this month on AiV

This month, we are traveling back to 1976 for K-Tel's Block Buster. This was one of my favorite albums when I was a kid.  Not only did it have K.C. and the Sunshine band, the Silver Convention and Jigsaw, the cover was adorned with flaming meteor-like blocks.  As if the designers at K-Tel decided, "We need flaming blocks for this one."

Like many of the K-Tel albums from this time, it was advertised on TV. And here is the delightful commercial:

Adventures in Vinyl is the only radio show dedicated to the glory of the K-Tel record compilation.

Catch Block Buster at the following times throughout the month of March (all times Central)

Saturday: 12:30 pm
Sunday: 4 pm
Tuesday: 1 pm
Wednesday: 2 am
Thursday: 10 am

Monday, February 17, 2014

This month on AiV: K-Tel's "Star Power" from '78

This month on Adventures in Vinyl we are taking a trip back to early 1978 for K-Tel's Star Power.

This is a good one. And it's mostly because the "Theme from Star Wars" by Meco starts off the album.  I was turning 10 in 1978 when this album came out and Star Wars was my life.  Of course, I had all of the figures, bought trading cards on a weekly basis, wrote George Lucas telling him I'd work for free in his next movie.  That didn't happen.

Meco was actually Domenico Monardo, a record producer and musician. Star Wars made him big, at least for a while, in the late 70s.  He put together a band and they played in disco clubs across the country. He recorded several albums, mostly of movie themes. Star Wars figured prominently in his repertoire.  He even produced a Star Wars-themed Christmas album in 1980.  I have never heard this album, but it features a song entitled, "What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)"

And here's the really weird thing.  That Christmas album features the first ever song recorded by Jon Bon Jovi, who went by his given name John Bongiovi on the album.  The song he sings is entitled, "R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Anyway, the "Theme from Star Wars" is the first song on this K-Tel album, featured this month on Adventures in Vinyl.  In addition to Meco, the album has hits by Foreigner, Kiss, the Little River Band, the Sylvers....and many, many more!

Catch Adventures in Vinyl at the following times (all times Central)

Tuesday:  1 pm
Wednesday: 2 am
Thursday: 10 am
Saturday: 12:30 pm
Sunday: 4 pm

Friday, January 3, 2014

Miss Rose Marie Palmes' K-Tel Album Next on AiV

On the January 2014 edition of Adventures in Vinyl, we have a special K-Tel album from 1973. It is the Bright Side of Music.  I picked up this album recently at a Goodwill store and when I brought it home, the first thing I noticed was its condition.  It was remarkably free of dust, scuffs and scratches.  And that's unusual for an album over 40 years old.

Then I noticed the address label on the face of side one.  This album was owned by "Miss Rose Marie Palmes," who lived at 4920 W. Augusta in Chicago back in 1973.

I have several used albums on which people either wrote their names or placed address labels. And these albums generally are in better condition that the other albums.  I guess someone who marks their albums takes their music very seriously.

A couple of years ago, I found an album with a name and was able to make contact with the previous owner.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to to find Miss Rose Marie Palmes.  But I thank her anyway for taking such good care of this album.

The Bright Side of Music is the featured album this month on Adventures in Vinyl.

This is a good album, not only in condition but also in song quality.  Although on first glance you may not recognize many of the artists, this album contains some pretty solid pop music from the period.  James Brown, Austin Roberts, the Raspberries and Eric Clapton contribute some great tunes.  Join us this month as we play the entire album on Adventures in Vinyl.

Adventures in Vinyl can be heard at the following times, exclusively on Vinyl Voyage radio:

Saturday 12:30 pm (Central)
Sunday 4:00 pm
Tuesday 1:00 pm
Wednesday 2:00 am
Thursday 10:00 am

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Vinyl Brunch is Back!

New for 2014---the Vinyl Brunch is back!  Every weekend morning from 8 am to 12 pm Central time, we will play the best eclectic music, perfect for easing into your weekend routine.  The Vinyl Brunch will feature music not normally in rotation on Vinyl Voyage.  On the Vinyl Brunch you will hear some classical, some jazz, and some showtunes.  In addition, we will feature some of the best classic vocals by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis and many, many more.

Join us every weekend for the Vinyl Brunch. Only on Vinyl Voyage Radio.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Music for Lovers Only: Sherriff Bufford T. Justice Does Music

Jackie Gleason was a very versatile entertainer.  I first became acquainted with Jackie Gleason not through Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners, but through Sherriff Buford T. Justice from the Cannonball Run movies.  It wasn't until I was a teenager when I first watched The Honeymooners and was blown away by the comic timing of the entire cast.  I remember thinking, "They sure don't make shows like this anymore."

Now, in my forties, I have become acquainted with another side of Jackie Gleason:  musical conductor and composer.

In the early 1950s, Jackie Gleason put together a popular series of instrumental albums that catered to mood.  The first was Music for Lovers Only, which was originally released in 1952.  A longer, stereo version came out in 1954.  I just happened to pick up a decent copy of that album at Half Price Books for fifty cents.

The cover features a close up of a table, two empty wine glasses in the background.  A purse, a pair of gloves and a key sit on the table as two cigarettes burn in an ashtray; one cigarette marked by pink lipstick.   The description of the album on the back is hysterical:
"A wisp of cigarette smoke in the soft lamplight, the tinkle of a glass, a hushed whisper…and music for lovers only. This is love’s entrancing setting. For music, in a thousand ways, describes each glowing facet of romance.  In this album Jackie Gleason has chosen a group of love's most appealing melodies...tender ballads that have special significance for all of us.  Here is tuneful, sentimental music for your most relaxed listening moments."
This album was very popular.  In fact, it remains one of the most popular albums of all time. Yes, you heard me right.  Music for Lovers Only still holds the record for number of weeks in the top ten on the Billboard Charts: 153 weeks.   Michael Jackson's Thriller was there for only 78 weeks.

Jackie Gleason followed up the success of Music for Lovers Only with a series of emotion-categorized music: Music to Make You Misty, Music to Remember Her, and Music to Change Her Mind, to name just a few.  In total, Jackie Gleason produced close to 60 albums throughout his career.

Jackie Gleason was not a musician, however.  In fact, he couldn't read a note of music.  How much music did he create himself?  That depends on who you talk to.  Some claim that Jackie Gleason hummed melodies to assistants and those assistants then put it to music.  Indeed, he is given writing and conducting credits for music on The Honeymooners. Others claim that the only thing Gleason did was cash checks.

He didn't use traditional music terms when explaining the music that he wanted played. Sometimes, he used descriptions such as "pissing off a high bridge into a teacup" in  order to get the sound he wanted from the musicians.

Nevertheless, Music for Lovers Only is a good album.  Nostalgic, really.  Not anything that you would hear today, but probably very common in the Fifties as the bins at Goodwill and other thrift shops are filled with such remnants.

Soon, you'll be able to hear tracks from Music for Lovers Only as we bring back the Vinyl Brunch on weekends here at Vinyl Voyage Radio.  The Vinyl Brunch will feature music not in regular rotation at the station: classical, instrumental, jazz and much, much more.

Stay tuned for more information.