Thursday, February 12, 2009

HORRIBLE!


The Halmark label (or, as it the logo sometimes appeared, "Hallmark") is unique among the song-poem companies in a few different ways.

First was their tendancy, on most of their releases, to not name the performer of the songs they released, and instead, to print the names and addresses of the authors of the songs. While that's not the case with the record pictured above, and shared today, it was usually the case.

Second, they bought existing multi-track tapes, stripped off the vocals, and had the Halmark singers sing the lyrics to the song-poems over these tracks. And they often used the same tracks over and over and over again. Often, it appears that the singers are shoe-horning the lyrics into the existing track, with virtually no attempt to either make the words scan correctly or to have the tune sound remotely good.

The whole story of Halmark, for those unfamiliar with it, is explained here, far better than I could ever hope to describe it.

I was lucky enough to find a Halmark 45 which had been sent to radio station, one which came complete with a note from Ted Rosen, the head of Halmark Records. Whoever listened to this record had excellent taste, as he or she made a point of attaching a label (as you can see above) marked "Horrible!!" to each side of the 45. And yet someone kept it.

Here is the letter from Ted Rosen:


Another interesting thing about this record is that both sides are credited to Bob Storm, one of the three singers whose work makes up the bulk of the vocals on Halmark's 1970's 45's. A quick listen to "The Tall Grass and Wild Wild Weeds" will immediately throw doubt on the notion that Mr. Storm is the vocalist:



However, I've no doubt he is the vocalist on the flip side, which is called "Their Destiny", and which is easily my favorite of the two. I just wish I could be with each of you, in front of your respective computers, as you hear the first notes of Bob Storm's vocal, and as you hear his stirring tribute to "great men, of various hues":

4 comments:

Andrew Brown said...

To add to the bizarre aspects of this record, it was pressed in Houston, Texas. No idea why.

Sammy Reed said...

"Their Destiny" isn't working now.

Sammy Reed said...

"Their Destiny" has the most modern-sounding music I've heard in a Halmark tune so far.

Sammy Reed said...

I just noticed: The music used in "Their Destiny" used the tune to "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me"!
There's another track they used for numerous songs that used the tune to "By the Time I Get to Phoenix".
They were most-likely background music for "indie" versions of these songs by other people.