on January 6, 2002
This compilation, companion piece to "Orchestral Instrumentals", done by the little label doing great "oldies" CDs, ie., Eric Records, brings together instrumentals representing many of the sans vocal musical styles that appeared on the pop charts in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Starting with the "Third Man Theme" of Anton Karas from 1950, the disc winds through diverse styles - rag time, Dixieland, honky-tonk, jazz, Latin and more - finishing (though not chronologically) with the 1979 "Music Box Dancer", the Frank Mills tune that wound up being popular in music boxes. While loaded with top-10 songs from those decades, making this compilation outstanding is the selection of so many seldom-found tunes. "National City", the march tune from the fictitious Joiner, Arkansas Jr. High School Band (actually Ernie Freeman and friends), from the U.K. Reg Owens' exciting "Manhattan Spiritual", the Little Dippers' "Forever" and "The Crazy Otto" from Johnny Maddox are just some of the first-timers or rarities on CD. The outstanding sound quality on most tracks and preponderance of stereo versions (all tracks save 1,2,4,9,10,13,17) contribute to making this outstanding repertoire even more enjoyable to listen to. If there had to be a criticism leveled here, it would be the substitution of a newly-recorded stereo version of the 1955 "Alabama Jubilee". Credit does got to Eric however, for labeling it as such on the outside of the package and offering an explanation in the liner notes, which by the way, offer interesting backround on the included tracks. This is a superbly constructed piece offering one of the very best collections of post big-band pop instrumentals available in the market.
on October 18, 2001
I bought this album to replace lost or worn out records. I still have the original 78RPM (remember them?) of "The Third Man Theme" (Anton Karas) that my parents bought in 1950, which is now so worn out it is barely audible. It's a shame that the flip side of the record, "The Cafe Mozart Waltz", was not included in this compilation. "Kemo-Sabe", "The Music Box Dancer", and "Midnight In Moscow" also replace lost 45's.
When you listen to "Kem-O-Sabe" you will recognize the similarity to the music in old western movies, and more recently the sing-song chant at Florida State football games and Atlanta Braves baseball games. And if you listen carefully you will also hear a similarity to the opening bars of the gallop in Rossini's "William Tell Overture" which everyone recognizes as the theme song to the old Lone Ranger tv show.
"Percolator Twist" and "Wahsington Square" are also old favorites.
"Percolator" was based on a Maxwell House coffee commercial that ran in the 60's.
The best part, though, is that the entire cd is a pleasure to listen to. It is worth the price, ...
on June 2, 2001
This disc is a little uneven in its range (Anton Karas' "Third Man Theme" to Meco's "Star Wars" disco cover) but it's a great disc to get to fill in the holes of your collection of all time great pop singles. A lot of these songs are pretty hard to find (hence the title!) and some I've never seen on compact disc before. I really bought it because I wanted a copy of "Music Box Dancer" from the original master tapes (and it sounds great!) but there's a lot more here. The Brass Ring's "Dis-Advantages of You" is among the 1960s finest moments and Piero Umiliani's "Mah Na Mah Na" (from the 1969 "Sweden Heaven and Hell" film) is finally on CD as well. The version of The Ferko String Band's "Alabama Jubilee" is a 1999 re-recording. The liner notes state that the new version is used because the original master of the 1955 version is poor quality. Be that as it may, I would rather have had the original. Sometimes you gotta sacrifice quality for originality, but hey, it wasn't my decision. Nice liner notes, too!
on December 7, 1999
Move over, lounge music, here's a new Eric "Hard To Find..." compilation chock full of rare and unusual tracks that mirrors the hit charts from the 1950s through the 1970s. How 'bout a blockbuster #1 hit featuring a zither? The Anton Karas monster 1950 hit, "The Third Man Theme," begins the CD and from here, there's an exploration of American ragtime with "The Crazy Otto Medley"/Johnny Maddox and "The Entertainer"/Marvin Hamlisch. As nice piano-based counterpoints, "Soft Summer Breeze"/Eddie Heywood's sedate hit and a charming challenger to 1979s discomania, "Music Box Dancer"/Frank Mills, help balance the package.
The "March" instrumentals of pop music have been virtually ignored in CD form until now with the inclusion of many important tracks here, leading off with the #1 "March From The River Kwai (Colonel Bogey)"/Mitch Miller, which appears in first-time stereo! Other strong entries are "Washington Square"/Village Stompers, "National City"/Joiner, Arkansas Jr. High School Band (actually a Liberty Records studio group), and the ultra-rare Top 40 single "The Graduation Song...Pomp And Circumstance"/Adrian Kimberly, a clever disguise for Don Everly. This "lost" hit is a hard-core collector's find as it doesn't even appear in Rhino's extensive Everly Brothers box set!
The wide variety of genres covered is amazing as British pop-jazz hits work equally well on this disc as many "standards" crossed the Atlantic to land on the American charts. "Midnight In Moscow"/Kenny Ball and "Petite Fleur"/Chris Barber have been favorites for decades, and add the rollicking "Manhattan Spiritual"/Reg Owen, which has been gone from sight for a long time, but not forgotten. In contrast to the jazzy sounds, add a few dance numbers like "Tea For Two Cha Cha"/Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, "Star Wars Theme-Cantina Band"/Meco, and a clever number combining a dance craze with a popular Maxwell House commercial jingle, the always pleasing "Percolator Twist"/Billy Joe & The Checkmates.
Besides The Checkmates, two other TV-inspired jingle tune gems are here with the gentle Latin lilt of "The Dis-Advantages Of You"/Brass Ring, and the Sesame Street hit, the insanely infectious "Mah Na Mah Na"/Piero Umaliari.
Rounding out this disc in the Collector's Corner, the newly recorded stereo version of "Alabama Jubilee"/Ferko String Band is a faithful rerecording of what had previously been a poorly recorded mono 45 from the mid-fifties. The crowning achievements of the 13 stereo tracks on this disc are the hard to find pre-Tomahawk Chop favorite "Keem-O-Sabe"/Electric Indian, plus the extremely rare "Forever"/Little Dippers. Until this CD, this Anita Kerr Quartet classic has been impossible to find in stereo, and you've never really "heard" this record until now!
on December 10, 1999
The songs on this CD will get you singing, whistling, humming, and marching! As a 35 year old fan of orchestral pop music (the likes of Percy Faith and company), I wasn't around for the heyday of this music.Actually that is OK, since this CD sounds better than any original release on LP or 45 would have sounded back then! The infectious sound of Alabama Jubilee, Crazy Otto, River Kwai March, and Manhattan Spiritual (you probably KNOW this song, but never knew its name!) are such a PLEASURE to listen to! My personal favorite is Forever by the Anita Kerr Quartet...simply put: A Masterpiece of Music. Actually the whole CD is a masterpiece with some fun thrown in (remember the song Mah-na-ma-na?). The companion to this CD, Hard to Find Orchestral Instrumentals, is on the same par, but I can't help hoping for MORE MORE MORE!
on July 3, 2003
This CD Series (Hard-to-Find Pop Instrumentals I, and II) is THE MOST POPULAR at water aerobics classes (whose typical member is over age 50), and has been for a several weeks. It is even more popular than both "Abba Gold" and the "Hooked on Classics" series.
I've lent this CD Series to so many water aerobic instructors (four different ones), for so many days, that I've actually purchased second copies, something I've done with no other CD.
So, why this popularity? Possibly because: (1) The music is positive/upbeat, (2) the variety, and (3) the excellent sound quality. If you know why the popularity, please tell me.
on November 24, 2003
A great selection of many hard to find instrumentals. All done by the "orginal" artists in most cases. Great music from the 50's, 60's etc.