Thursday, January 19, 2023

A Major Find - Cara At 78!

I have a real find for everyone today!

But before I get to that, a frequent correspondent, who I've mentioned before, Tyler, has made a real find of his own. Everyone first click on this link and read about an odd record on Halmark, which I shared nearly a decade ago. It features a song written by Halmark head dude Ted Rosen on one side, and a rendition of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", listed under the wrong title and no writer credit on the flip side. 

The songs were performed by Barry Craig, and I presented it as a real outlier, without any clear understanding of what its backstory might be - although it certainly isn't a song poem record by any definition. 

Well, Tyler has found this article. It is a profile of Barry Craig from MUCH later in his career, and runs down the high points of that career, including the fact that he recorded his first release for Halmark back in 1968 - the very record I posted. My guess is that makes Craig's rendition of Ted Rosen's composition either an attempt by Halmark at an honest-to-goodness hit song (unlikely), or a vanity release for Mr. Craig, who was given the song by its author (more likely). The presence of a hit song on the flip side indicates to me that perhaps there was only one original composition available at that moment. 

There could of course be another explanation, and I'd love to hear what people thing. Thank you SO much, Tyler. 


As readers of my other blog may have read, I have been divesting myself of the vast majority of the 100-150 acetates that I've collected over the years, only keeping those that I really treasure, including my relatively few song-poem acetates. Some sell, some don't. 

I thought I'd listened to, and listed, just about all of them, but over the weekend, I found a small stack of acetates stored quite a ways separate from where all the others had been. And that stack was full of several that I bought ages and ages ago, in a few different purchases, with considerable excitement, due to their apparent content. Somehow, upon receiving them, I put them away and forgot about them, which is really not like me. There must have been something else going on in my life at that moment. This literally may have been ten years ago!

Anyway, the most exciting of them, to me, upon finding them again a few days ago, were two 78 RPM acetates sung by Cara Stewart, on a previously unseen label - "A Lee Hudson Recording". Lee Hudson obviously produced hundreds of song-poems, and often his name is prominent on those records. But these are the first I've seen where the label name contains his name. Even his AS/PMA page doesn't have any indication of records released on an eponymous label.  

What's more, one of the two songs is as winning a performance from Cara Stewart as you're likely to hear. The record looks like this. 

It's "I Just Dropped In to Say 'Hello'", and it is, admittedly, a wisp of a song, making it to 95 seconds only because a piano solo and a repeat of the bridge and chorus are tagged on - without those, the song probably would barely break a minute. But I LOVE this. Was anyone in the song-poem world ever better than Cara is here? 

The credit to a team of writers (Dick Felt and Ross Hollowell, on both sides of the 78) indicated to me that perhaps this was a professional songwriting team, but an internet search has turned up nothing. 

Download: Cara Stewart - I Just Dropped In to Say "Hello"


These are obviously demos, what with just the piano and vocal, and also obviously acetates, as the  auditory damage apparent on the flip side, "The Biggest Fool in Town" will make clear. 

But this is the far less interesting of the two, to me, so at least the damaged side is the right one. 

Oh, and this record came to me with a lead sheet for "The Biggest Fool in Town" which is reproduced below, as well. 

Download: Cara Stewart - The Biggest Fool in Town



Stu Shea said...

Wow, side A is wonderful. She's a totally winning singer, and her little 'hello' at the end is incredibly charming.

Side B is an interesting song but at too draggy a tempo.

"Dick Felt." (Snort, snort)

Anonymous said...

I have just posted a later version Gene Marshall did of "Helen Goodnight", on my "Strange & Bizarre" blog.