Friday, February 21, 2014

Practice Those Rim Shots!

Today's record comes from the earliest days of Tin Pan Alley as a record label. Given that they gave double numbers to their early releases, it looks like this - # 111/112 - was likely their sixth release, probably from 1954 or 1955.

Like many early TPA records, there's a sheen of professionalism lurking about the edges of "How Many Times?", by the team of Teddy Ronson and the Al Lombardy Orchestra (all of whom disappeared from the label by 1956). The song could just as well have been a stab at a legitimate hit (however unlikely that might have been, given the quality of the vocal, but then, a ton of horrid vocalists were having hits in 1954).

The highlight of the record for me, though, is the drummer's rim shots, which provide frequent exclamation points to the proceedings. It would be enough to say that they don't seem to fit the song well - particularly one which says "DON'T slam the door" in its lyrics, but the man on the snare also seems to have not mastered the ability to know when to hit a rim shot, as they recur at seemingly random, sometimes in the middle of a musical phrase. A minor pleasure to hear, to be sure, but it makes me laugh...

The two most remarkable things about the flip side, "For a While I'll Remember" are its surprisingly short length (just 88 seconds), and the fact that when they made the record, they allowed the tape to ramp up to speed on the first note, leading the dramatic opening piano note to lurch up into the correct key. I can just hear someone say, "Ah, they won't notice - leave it that way" - that is, if they even bothered to listen to the pressing.

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