Blues for Dracula - Philly Joe Jones Sextet

Album cover of the week: Blues for Dracula

A few weeks ago on the Halloween edition of my Sunday Jazz series I featured a track from Blues for Dracula (Riverside Records RLP 12-282), so today I’m sharing the rather campy but memorable album cover. Blah!

Blues for Dracula - Philly Joe Jones Sextet

That’s Mr. Jones himself in full vampire regalia. Despite the rather jokey album cover, the music is fairly serious, straightforward jazz. Well, except for the rather comical Dracula-esque dialogue in the title cut. But elsewhere it’s a solid set of straight bop.

I don’t have any information on who took the photo for Blues for Dracula, but the info from the recording session is well-known. All five songs from the album were recorded in New York City on September 17, 1958 with the following personnel:

  • Nat Adderley, cornet
  • Julian Priester, trombone
  • Johnny Griffin, tenor saxophone
  • Tommy Flanagan, piano
  • Jimmy Garrison, bass
  • Philly Joe Jones, drums & narration
Lucky Strike - L.S./M.F.T. square dancing cigarettes ad

Retrotisement: Lucky Strike’s square dancing cigarettes

Yeah yeah, smoking’s bad for you. But this stop-motion, square dancing classic from 1948 is very, very good for you.

Seriously, what’s not to love about this commercial? Well, other than the fact that it’s promoting a deadly product of course.

Oh yeah, speaking of Lucky Strike, they’ve got their own section on the main site. To see the rest of my Lucky Strike ads (including this one) and to find out how this commercial was inspired by a German abstract artist, check out the Tobacco Retrotisements home.

Frank Sinatra, Sinatra: Best of the Best

CD Giveaway: Frank Sinatra, Sinatra: Best of the Best

Frank Sinatra, Sinatra: Best of the BestRing-a-ding-ding, Sinatra fans! It’s time for yet another exciting CD giveaway, and this time it’s the latest greatest hits compilation from Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. I know what you’re thinking — do we really need another Frank Sinatra compilation? Well listen here pally, Sinatra: Best of the Best ain’t just any Frank CD. This is the deluxe 2-disc version featuring a rare Seattle concert from the Chairman of the Board.

So get ready to swing my friends, because I’m giving away one deluxe, 2-CD version of Sinatra: Best of the Best.

To win your very own copy, simply Over the next two weeks you can enter to win a copy by simply liking the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Facebook page and then posting your favorite Frank song. That’s it. So don’t be a Harvey, and enter today!

From the official press release:

For the first time, Frank Sinatra’s greatest recordings for Capitol Records and his own Reprise Records have been gathered for one stellar collection. Sinatra: Best of the Best will be released in single-disc and deluxe 2CD packages on November 15, with insightful track notes written by Frank Sinatra Jr. Both configurations will also be available for download from all major digital providers.

Best of the Best’s chronological tracklist leads with 1953’s “I’ve Got The World On A String,” followed by 12 other classic tracks Sinatra recorded for Capitol between 1953 and 1960, including “Young At Heart,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “All The Way,” and “Come Fly With Me,” as well as the Sinatra recording that is the theme of “Married With Children,” “Love And Marriage.” 10 of Sinatra’s best Reprise recordings, released between 1962 and 1980, are also featured, including “Night And Day,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words),” “Strangers In The Night,” “My Way,” and “Theme From New York, New York.” Best of the Best’s 2-CD version adds a previously out-of-print and sought-after Seattle concert recording, and is packaged in a lift-top box with an expanded booklet and 6 postcards.

At Capitol Records, Frank Sinatra pioneered his landmark ‘concept’ albums. Working with arrangers such as Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Gordon Jenkins and singing the songs of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hart, to name a few, set Sinatra’s recordings apart from those of all other vocalists of the 20th century and quite possibly all time.

In 1960, Frank Sinatra realized a dream when he founded Reprise Records. Sinatra was one of the first to recognize the value of artists owning their master recordings. The new label gave him the artistic and business freedom he longed for in his recording career. There Sinatra collaborated with new arrangers such as Johnny Mandel, Don Costa, and Quincy Jones, as well making albums with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

During his years of recording for Capitol and Reprise, Sinatra was also making concert appearances around the world and starring in hit movies, including From Here To Eternity, Pal Joey, High Society, and The Manchurian Candidate.

Sinatra loved and found comfort in recording music, once saying, “I adore making records. I’d rather do that than almost anything else. You can never do anything in life quite on your own – you don’t live on your own little island. Making a record is as near as you can get to it – although, of course, the arranger and the orchestra play an enormous part. But once you’re on that record singing, it’s you and you alone.”

Tina Sinatra recalls the ambience that was present in the studio while her father recorded saying, “I remember his command, it was palpable, you could feel the energy in the room. It was like this vacuum of power, all eyes were always on him. It was very similar to seeing him on stage.”

Frank Sinatra Jr. fondly remembers his father’s legendary sessions for Capitol and Reprise, saying, “There was a tremendous level of excitement-air of expectation-every time he recorded. Everyone knew they were making the best records around. How could they miss? They had the best singer, best arrangers, best musicians, best engineers, and the best studios in town.”

Nancy Sinatra recalls the excitement of her father’s recording sessions at Capitol, saying, “I came to sessions whenever I could. We would go to dinner at the Villa Capri and then we would drive to Capitol. Attending record sessions at Capitol was like going to a concert today-it was the hottest ticket that you could get your hands on; it was fantastic. It was great for him to have a small audience in the room and everything was live. The orchestra was in the room and everybody as a result of that did their best. There was magic in those studios and that building.”

Frank Sinatra is one of the world’s most recognizable, admired and influential artists of all time, with a vast catalogue of music that is a soundtrack for our lives. Long acclaimed as the world’s greatest performer of popular music, he is the artist who set the standard for all others to follow. More than a singer, he was an actor, recording artist, nightclub and concert star, radio and television personality and, on occasion, producer, director and conductor. Besides recording nearly 1,500 songs, he starred in some 60 motion pictures.

A beloved entertainer for six decades, Sinatra earned three Oscars, three Golden Globes (including the Cecil B. DeMille Award), ten personal Grammys (and a total of 20 for his albums), an Emmy, a Peabody and the Kennedy Center Honors Award. A generous charitable contributor, he was honored with the prestigious Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In addition, Sinatra was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor and the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest civilian award.

Sinatra: Best of the Best 

1. I’ve Got The World On A String
2. My Funny Valentine
3. Young At Heart
4. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
5. Love And Marriage
6. You Make Me Feel So Young
7. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
8. The Lady Is A Tramp
9. Witchcraft
10. All The Way
11. Come Fly With Me
12. Angel Eyes
13. Nice ‘N’ Easy
14. Night And Day
15. The Way You Look Tonight
16. My Kind Of Town
17. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
18. It Was A Very Good Year
19. Strangers In The Night
20. Summer Wind
21. That’s Life
22. My Way
23. Theme From New York, New York

CD 2 – In Concert: Live In Seattle (out-of-print)
1. Introduction/You Make Me Feel So Young
2. It Happened In Monterey
3. At Long Last Love
4. I Get A Kick Out Of You
5. Just One Of Those Things
6. A Foggy Day
7. The Lady Is A Tramp
8. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
9. I Won’t Dance
10. Sinatra Dialogue
11. When Your Lover Has Gone
12. Violets For Your Furs
13. My Funny Valentine
14. Glad To Be Unhappy
15. One For My Baby
16. The Tender Trap
17. Hey Jealous Lover
18. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
19. Oh! Look At Me Now

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The cast of Fox's Glee, singing

Watching Glee has become reverse porn for me

The cast of Fox's Glee, singing

OK, that's enough singing. Seriously, stop.

Yeah I watch Glee, so what? YOU CAN’T JUDGE ME! I’ve been a fan since the pilot episode, although I want to make it clear that I am not a Gleek. When those plucky New Directions kids busted out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” at the end of that episode even a cynical bastard like me felt good about it. Those good feelings carried through for most of the first season and I enjoyed the show’s mix of humor, darkness, and unabashedly hammy musical performances.

But as the second season wore on, I found myself losing interest in the musical numbers. I’m not that big a Broadway fan to begin with, and my tolerance for movie musicals is only slightly higher. After awhile I just feel worn down by the over-the-top earnestness of Broadway music, and it all just feels so corny. So that’s a problem. And then on top of that, Glee started pulling out entire episodes dedicated to one artist. I could hang with the Madonna one, but I think I watched ten minutes of that first Lady Gaga shitstorm. Almost any time the show launches into a number from the last decade or so, I totally zone out.

So where does the reverse porn comparison come in? Simple — I’m watching the third season now, and I find myself routinely fast-forwarding through just about all the singing — especially Rachel’s numbers (seen one, seen ’em all). That means I am skipping the musical performances (sex scenes) in a show that is ostensibly built around musical performances, in order to just watch the dialogue. Reverse porn. Well, except for Blaine’s songs. That boy can sing good!

Once I get past the music and focus on the plot, believe it or not, the show itself is still quite good. And hey, by skipping the songs I can blow through an episode in about 25 or 30 minutes, which leaves more time for Storm Chasers!

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The Beach Boys, 1962

Cross-pollination: The Popdose Guide to the Beach Boys

The Beach Boys, 1962My latest article for Popdose — and one that I’m pretty proud of — went live yesterday. It’s the Popdose Guide to the Beach Boys, a piece I started putting together this past spring. It’s a lengthy read (make sure to check out both pages), although I would have been perfectly justified in making it twice as long as the finished product. And of course, as soon as it was published I thought of a dozen things I wanted to say or change. But that’s life as a writer I suppose. Still, the response has been overwhelmingly positive thus far and for that I’m grateful.

One of the aspects of writing the Beach Boys piece that I enjoyed was the chance to really dig into their later 1970s output. I’d avoided a lot of it since I became a fan about a dozen years ago, mostly because of the albums’ poor reputation. As it turns out that reputation was largely deserved, but I did come away with some cool nuggets. The M.I.U. Album from ’78 in particular was a lot better than I expected it to be.

Also, I made my second appearance on Jon Grayson’s Overnight America radio program — this time to discuss the Beach Boys piece, as well as Popdose reviews of the new Coldplay, the new Ben Folds compilation, and a new Justin Bieber book. You already know my thoughts about Mylo Xyloto of course. If you want to check out my appearance on Overnight America (and you know you do), listen here or click here to go to the show page.

Photo gallery: Cool 45 & 33 RPM Record Labels

One of the unsung casualties of the death of vinyl as a large-scale music delivery medium was not just the loss of liner notes and cool album art, but record label art. As you know by now, I appreciate a cool logo as much as the next person, and in the salad days of the record business there were some really cool ones.

Here is but a sampling.



Johnny Cash Sings the Songs That Made Him Famous - Sun Records

Sun Records

This Is Sue! - Island Records

Island Records

"Come On, Let's Go," Ritchie Valens - Del-Fi Records

Del-Fi Records

The Beatles, Abbey Road (Apple Records)

Apple Records

Kiss, Dressed to Kill (Casablanca Records)

Casablanca Records

Heart, "Crazy On You" (Mushroom Records)

Mushroom Records

"The Bump", Alvin Cash & The Crawlers - Mar-V-Lus Records

Mar-V-Lus Records

"Piano Shuffle", Dave "Baby' Cortez - Clock Records

Clock Records

"Quiet Village", George Wright - Orbit Records

Orbit Records

"Don't Waste Your Time", The Five Stairsteps - Windy C Records

Windy C Records

Read More

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Retrotisements – McDonald’s McRib

If you aren’t one of the many McRib believers out there, now is your chance to find enlightenment.  Now through November 14, McDonald’s is unleashing one of their menu’s white whales* on the American public.  So if you’ve been missing a certain something in your life — that something being soft, molded pork-like product slathered in BBQ sauce, onions, and pickles and served on a soft roll — you can now fill that void.  Just remember to stock up on antacid and toilet paper.

But before you head out the door, join me for a quick look back at some McRib ads of yesterday.  First up are a fun pair of spots from 1989:

Hey I don’t know about you, but McRibs always taste best in an Oldsmobile Firenza. And did you check out that Coke? Does McDonald’s even sell soda in cups that small anymore? I must say that I am a little perplexed by the odd juxtaposition of the urban-sounding announcer (where is MacDonald’s anyway?) and the painfully white customers.  But hey — CHAWMP!

Fast forward two years, and the basic formula for the McRib ad is the same — dorky white folks and decidedly non-dorky white music.  It’s all just clearly been run through the ’90s-O-Matic processor, as evidenced by the clothes and typeface.

But don’t worry, McDonald’s hasn’t forgotten about our African-American brothers and sisters. Although you’ll wish they had. DEF!

Here’s a spot from 2008 — clearly McDonald’s has upped the diversity factor, but at the expense of good music.

And finally, something that has nothing to do with ads but is awesome anyway.  It’s a handy little flowchart on “How to Make a McRib.”  I don’t know who created this but it wasn’t me, so please don’t accuse me of stealing.

How to Make a McRib

*McRib does not contain whale meat.  I think.

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Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)

Sunday Jazz: My favorite Satchmo songs

Satchmo (Louis Armstrong)

Because it’s never a bad time to play Louis Armstrong, here’s a handful of my favorite Satchmo tunes.

(Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)

“You Rascal You” (with Louis Jordan)

“Rhythm Saved the World”

“I’m in the Mood for Love”

“Struttin’ With Some Barbecue”

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The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame (1924): Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden, Don Miller, and Harry Stuhldreher

Football Friday — Olde Tyme Football Photos

If you’ve read this site for long enough, you already know I love posting old photographs. So I thought, why not combine that love with my love of football? And that’s just what I’m going to do here. Game on!

Colorado School of Mines football team, 1902

Colorado School of Mines football team, 1902

Thirteen young men in football uniforms, Paterson, N.J., ca. 1909.

Thirteen young men in football uniforms, Paterson, N.J., ca. 1909.

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame (1924): Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden, Don Miller, and Harry Stuhldreher

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame (1924): Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden, Don Miller, and Harry Stuhldreher

Tennessee Volunteers game in the Robert Neyland era, late 1920s

Tennessee Volunteers game in the Robert Neyland era, late 1920s

Red "The Galloping Ghost" Grange of the Chicago Bears (c. early 1930s)

Red “The Galloping Ghost” Grange of the Chicago Bears (c. early 1930s)

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Cardinals at City Stadium - September 13, 1936

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Cardinals at City Stadium – September 13, 1936

Slingin' Sammy Baugh (33) of the Washington Redskins in a 1942 game against the Chicago Bears

Slingin’ Sammy Baugh (33) of the Washington Redskins in a 1942 game against the Chicago Bears

Steve Van Buren of the Philadelphia Eagles scores the only touchdown in the 1948 NFL Championship

Steve Van Buren of the Philadelphia Eagles scores the only touchdown in the 1948 NFL Championship

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