Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My curiosity about an unusual record, by the Jack Halloran Singers, prompted an internet search, which directed me to one of your December 2001 columns.

That week you got a letter from Jack's daughter, Dawn Halloran, confirming his 1957 original “Little Drummer Boy” first came titled “Carol of the Drum.” That was one year before Harry Simeone's famous version.

What I have is a seven-inch Columbia Transcription (ZPC-8684), which I cannot play because it runs at 78 rpm.

Apparently a disclaimer of sorts, the label also states: “Pressed in U.S.A. But Not Recorded By Columbia Records.”

The full title is “G/B for Me,” whatever that means. A white sticker above the hole may be covering some other print. The reverse side is all blank, with no grooves and a plain white label with no printing.

Lastly, the label credits “The Jack Halloren Singers. A typo perhaps?
—Kevin Blomgren, Springfield, Ill.

DEAR KEVIN: This recording is unusual in more ways than one.

You have a Columbia custom pressing, the client in this case being St. Louis-based Griesedieck Brothers Brewery. The identification number points to this being a 1948 or '49 production, which would only have been made at 78 rpm.

The “G/B” has a dual meaning; either Griesedieck Brothers or Great Beer.

At first glance, one might think this disc contains typical radio commercials, such as the :30 and :60 spots so commonly heard.

That is not the case at all.

“G/B for Me” is a complete, professionally produced 2:14 song. Apart from the message, it is similar to most any popular recording at the time.

As for the lyrics, they sing the praises of the brewery's aging process: “It's G/B for me, aging makes the difference. G/B is aged longer than other beers. It's aged longer, far longer by Griesedieck Brothers. For finest quality lager beer, sing out with all the others.”

The Griesedieck family began brewing beer over 100 years ago, and are still doing so. They are very well known in the Midwest.

Though none of the current staff were around in 1958, I managed to speak with Bob Griesedieck, who has a file copy of this record. Bob is uncertain of its purpose, but allows for the possibility that this disc might have been given away as part of some sports promotion, possibly tying in with St. Louis Cardinals baseball or St. Louis University basketball games. We do know the Griesediecks held the radio sponsorship rights for both teams at that time.

As for the “Halloren” spelling, that is an error. It should be Halloran.

DEAR JERRY: In the pop and rock vinyl era, there were many two-record albums, but sets of three or more were rare.

I remember only three: “All Things Must Pass” (George Harrison), the first “Woodstock” album, and Chicago's “Live at Carnegie Hall.” Are there any others?
—Warren Langlois, Racine, Wisc.

DEAR WARREN: Even if we eliminate classical, jazz, soundtracks, various artists compilations, mail-order special products (Reader's Digest, Longines, Candlelite, etc.), and foreign albums, there are still too many to list.

That said, here are just a few of the better known multi-disc sets, by some of the vinyl era's top artists:

Elvis Presley: “Elvis Aron Presley” (8 LPs); “A Golden Celebration” (6 LPs); “Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, Vol. 1” (4 LPs); “The Other Sides - Worldwide Gold Award Hits, Vol. 2” (4 LPs).
Rod Stewart: “Storyteller - The Complete Anthology (1964-1990)” (7 LPs)
Eric Clapton: “Crossroads” (6 LPs)
Bob Dylan: “Biograph” (5 LPs)
Jethro Tull: “20 Years of Jethro Tull” (5 LPs)
Rolling Stones: “The Singles Collection - The London Years” (4 LPs)
Frank Sinatra: “Trilogy: Past, Present, Future” (3 LPs)
Kiss: “The Originals” (3 LPs)
Supremes: “Anthology (1962-1969)” (3 LPs)
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “Anthology” (3 LPs)
Temptations: “Anthology” (3 LPs)
Four Tops: “Anthology” (3 LPs)
Marvin Gaye: “Anthology” (3 LPs)
Grateful Dead: “Europe '72” (3 LPs)
Neil Young: “Decade” (3 LPs)
Paul McCartney: “Wings Over America” (3 LPs)
Nat King Cole: “The Nat King Cole Story” (3 LPs)
The Band: “The Last Waltz” (3 LPs)
Stevie Wonder: “Looking Back” (3 LPs)

IZ ZAT SO? Though we did not include multi-disc jazz sets in the above research, we must acknowledge the outstanding series of Mosaic boxed sets.

From 1983 to 2005, Mosaic churned out over 100 vinyl collections, and about 250 on CDs.

Their individual vinyl edition boxes include as many as 23 LPs.

Then there is one triple box behemoth, “The Complete Commodore Jazz Recordings,” containing 66 LPs and probably with a price tag in the $800 to $1,200 range.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2011 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

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