Home / Vinyl Isn’t Always Final – Les Brown

Vinyl Isn’t Always Final – Les Brown

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The other day I stumbled across a website featuring old vinyl records, and it made me feel a little wistful about my departed collection – sort of how you'd feel about a long-gone but scruffy old hound dog, ticks and all. I got rid of my mutt – er, records – years ago and replaced most of them with CDs, which I guess might seem a little hypocritical for someone who writes about retro stuff. But then I don't drive a horse and buggy or use a wall phone with a crank, so I guess there is a limit to my nostalgic sensibility.

I began seriously collecting records when I was a teenager and eventually accumulated quite a few, but unfortunately I didn't heed my friend Louie's example, so over time my records became pretty worn and ugly. (Louie, my mentor in all things musical, only handled his records by the edges, and after playing each would wipe it with a special cloth before carefully placing it back into the inner liner of the record cover. He probably still has all his records, wherever he is, and they're probably still perfect.)

As my records deteriorated and CDs came down in price, I resisted for a while but finally bought a CD player and began to gradually replace the old vinyl platters. I eventually sold them all in a garage sale and they could be anywhere by now, including a landfill. I sometimes wish I had them back, but I guess in a broader sense that urge in all of us is exactly what forms the basis for the booming market in "collectibles". (And has also made a lot of money for eBay.)

During the process of replacement, I was usually able to get exactly the same album, but not always. One that I couldn't find featured the orchestra of Les Brown. (You know, Les Brown, the guy with the "band of renown"? Bet you haven't heard that for a while.) Brown was probably the man most responsible for getting Doris Day off to a good start in her career, but wasn't considered one of the mega-star bandleaders. He was always a solid success though, and his longevity was enviable. Starting in 1935, he was active for over sixty years. In his later career he was probably best known as Bob Hope's favorite bandleader, performing with many of his shows and accompanying him on USO tours.

I couldn't seem to find that specific Les Brown album anywhere, but eventually ran across a different one containing most of his best songs. For samples, I'm posting two songs from the album – The Les Brown Storythat weren't necessarily big hits for the band, but both are very well done. The first should sound familiar to you, but you might not know its name. It's called "Midnight Sun".

I'm including the second tune because I enjoy the way it illustrates something the big bands often did, which is to record updated swing versions of very old music. In this case, we'll be listening to a boppin' version of the traditional song, "Mexican Hat Dance", and, at the same time, saying adios to vinyl records.

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About Big Geez

  • Clavos

    Keep ’em coming, Big Geez. Fun article.

    Do you have Sirius satellite radio? One of their channels, called Standards/Swing (#75) plays a lot of Les Brown.

    Can’t remember Les Brown in the Bob Hope show I saw in Vietnam in 1966, but Hope had a slimmed-down troupe for that show.

    Thanks for another enjoyable look at my kind of music!

  • Mark Saleski

    part of my vinyl collection comes from big geez-ish people who bailed and unloaded their own.

    good for me.

    of course, i’m still acquiring the stuff.

  • Vern Halen

    Hmmm….I’ve still got about 1000 slabs of black 12″ 33 1/3’s I’d unload (90% mostly pristine & bought new – only a few garage sale acquisitions) if I thought someone would give me a decent price for them.

  • CDs came down in price?

  • Mark Saleski

    ah, prices shmices!

    the reason i’ll never give up on vinyl is that there’s just so much music out there that’ll never find its way over to CD (or any other media).

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  • zingzing

    sometimes, don’t you get the idea that when analog sound was the norm, people recorded for analog sound? engineers were and are good at what they did/do. so maybe, albums recorded for analog sound are meant to be listened to in analog? and they sound better that way? (see vu-white light/white heat, new order-movement, etc. curiously, the who sounds like a bunch of crap on their later vinyl releases.)

  • Mark Saleski

    probably true. though lots of music today is so cranked up with compression that what you play it on doesn’t matter.

    analog is why that guy started the Mapleshade label…an attempt to recreate the sound of jazz records recorded in the 50’s.

  • research

    What is the value fo Les Brown and His Band of Renown play The Gershwin Bandbook produced by Irving Townsend and has Demonstration Not For Sale. Columbia Fidelity Recordings

  • Big Geez