Jay & Mike: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

My friend Jay takes the lead on the second song we recorded at B-Scene Studios (the first was Girl From Ipanema). We showed up at the studio with a box of assorted instruments and noise-making toys including a slide whistle, kazoos, bells, cymbals and a barking dog toy. I’m pretty sure we didn’t bother with a rehearsal. The original was a monster hit for Bobby McFerrin  in 1988.

Exciting and Wild!

June 3, 2011

A little vinyl collage I made in 2005 from these two records I found at the Goodwill on the same day:



Wild Honey: Good Hearted Woman, Yellow Rose of Texas

Good Hearted Woman was recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1972 (it was written by Jennings and Willie Nelson). The Yellow Rose of Texas is a traditional folk song that dates back to the 1830s. “Wild Honey” also sang Rockytop and On The Other Hand on this two-sided cassette.

Charles Boyer: Where Does Love Go

Charles sure looks glum, doesn’t he? Like he’s seriously thinking of throwing himself off that beautiful bridge into the Seine.

Boyer was a major star in movies for over 50  years – from the 20s to the 70s. Some of his more notable roles were as the rakish Pepe le Moko in Algiers (1938) and opposite Ingrid Bergman (trying to drive her mad) in Gaslight (1944).

Boyer speaks, rather than sings the lyrics of the songs in his heavily accented English (and occasionally in French). Songs include “What Now My Love”, “Autumn Leaves”, “La vie en rose”, “Hello Young Lovers”, and Elvis’ favourite “Softly, As I Leave You”. According to Bill Bixby who co-starred in Clambake (1967), Elvis was fascinated with this album and played “Softly” repeatedly on set.

Jennifer & Krista: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper recorded the original in 1983.

Fred: Home Sweet Home

Despite the name Fred on the label, this was recorded, once again, by a group of young girls. Recorded at Colleen’s birthday party in June 1992 by Colleen, Sheralee, Kendra, and Doralee. As suggested by the dedication, the song was originally sung by Mötley Crüe (1985).

Having finished listening to my 12″ LPs, I’ve moved on to the 10-inchers (make yer jokes).

The 10″ 33 1/3 rpm LP (Long Play) record was introduced in 1948 by Columbia Records. Most 10″ LPs of popular music have 3 or 4 songs per side (compared to 5 or 6 on a 12″ LP). Interestingly, Columbia also introduced the 12″ LP at the same time but reserved the larger format for more expensive classical music releases and Broadway original cast recordings. The 12″ size quickly proved to be more popular with all music consumers and by 1956 Columbia and other major labels had discontinued the 10″ LP (more history here and here).

I don’t have a lot of 10″ LPs – only about 3 dozen all told, most of them jazz. Because they were produced for such a short time they’re much rarer than 12″ LPs. I notice in my Goldmine record price guide that for many artists – if their discography extends back that far – their 10″ records will often be the most valuable items in their catalog (not that I’m intending to sell).

There are some very cool 10″ record covers in my collection – bold and simple mid 20th century graphic design (especially on the jazz titles). Here are a  few of my favourites:

click to enlarge

Too bad about the water damage.

Cool hand-lettering on the Storyville logo on the label.

This last one is a numbered, limited edition release from 1990 – two 10″ LPs in a fancy letterpress cover – demonstrating that obsolete formats never really go away, they just become art.

May 2008

May 2011

On May 16, 2008 I wrote:

I’ve decided to cull the herd. I’m going to go through all the records on the shelves and try to “edit” my collection a little – enough to get all those records off the floor, I hope. I’ve also decided to listen to all my records. I figure if I listen to 10 a day it shouldn’t take me more than a year and a half.

Well, mission accomplished. All the records are off the floor and on shelves, though my prediction about how long it would take was a little rosy (life got in the way a bunch).

I even filed all the records that were in my display stand. All that’s left there now is the three records I bought this year (and Stiches the Clown). It’s looking a tad bare. I guess I’ll keep filling it with my latest acquisitions – should take me quite a while as it can hold about 120+ records.

I’ve listened to all the 12″ LPs now. Here’s the final numbers:
Listened: 4008
Retained: 3298
Discarded: 710

I say “A” mission accomplished because I still have some culling to do – a small number of 45s, 78s and 10-inch LPs (some cool cover scans coming soon).

78 rpms without jackets – getting a little dusty.

78s and 10″ LPs


I still have a way to go to reach my goal of collecting every record put out by the Canadian Talent Library – some 268 LPs all told (according to The Canadian Encyclopedia) of which I have 47. It’s a challenging but achievable goal.

Generic CTL logo record cover

A brief history: The non-profit CTL began in 1962 as a subscription service for easy listening radio stations. The goal was to get more Canadian talent (composers and performers) on the radio at a time when there was little Canadian music on the airwaves (Canadian content wasn’t regulated by law until 1970).

Initially, recordings were issued only to subscribing stations, but in 1966 CTL began licensing its records to major labels such as RCA, Columbia and United Artists for commercial release. The CTL’s biggest seller was undoubtedly a 1975 album by composer/vibes player Hagood Hardy that featured his instrumental hit The Homecoming (a song originally written as background for a tea commercial). The album sold over 200,000 copies – I find it just about every time I visit a thrift store (and yet have somehow managed to avoid buying it).

Other CTL records are a little harder to find. I’d dearly love to have a copy of CTL 5049, a 1964 compilation that has Gordon Lightfoot’s first recorded songs (2 originals and 4 covers including Turn, Turn, Turn and The Auctioneer). Another album I absolutely need for my collection is CTL 5014 – “Canadian Football Songs” by The Dal Richards Orchestra and Chorus – one peppy “fight song” for each of the CFL’s (then) 9 teams (you can download the songs here, but I still want the album for the cover art).

Basic CTL cover from the early years. The felt pen markings and color-coding tape on the spine indicate that this record came from a radio station record library. The subscribing stations are listed on the right (click to enlarge). In Edmonton they were CHQT and CFRN - two stations I wouldn't have been caught dead listening to as a teenager.

I’m a little conflicted in my feelings about the CTL. Much of it is a little too easy and bland for my taste (like most of the Laurie Bower Singers’ prodigious output). Many CTL records featured the cream of Toronto’s jazz players – Terry Riley (organ), Moe Koffman (flute), Peter Appleyard (vibes), Rob McConnell (trombone), among others, but they were constricted by the needs of the middle-of-the-road radio format.

Nevertheless, there are some standout tracks to be found in CTL grooves. I’ve assembled a little “mix-tape” of some of my favourite cuts from my small sampling of the CTL catalogue.

1. Peter Appleyard: Soulful Strut
The British-born vibes player recorded 8 albums for the CTL.

2. Guido Basso: Give Her My Love
An original by the Toronto horn player.

3. Bob Lucier: Too High
“Canada’s king of the steel guitar.” The song is by Stevie Wonder.

4. Ben McPeek: Kapuskasing Kaper
McPeek’s orchestra plays on more than a dozen CTL records. The composer, conductor, arranger, and pianist also wrote more than 2,000 ad jingles.

5. Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass: Canadian Pie
McConnell created the Boss Brass for a CTL recording session in 1968.

6. Jackie Mittoo: Telstar
The Jamaican organ superstar lived in Toronto (off and on)  from the late 60s until his death in 1990. He made two records for the CTL.

Kathy & Marsie: The Rose

Do I really need to tell you that the original is by Bette Midler from the 1979 movie of the same name?