(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Paramount

“American music starts here”*…

 

The story of Paramount Records is a fascinating one—the beginning is set about 100 years ago, in a Wisconsin furniture company that began pressing records in hopes that’d help them sell record players, which in their early years were indeed whoppin’ big ol’ pieces of furniture. The middle sees that furniture company curating and releasing a jaw-dropping and still legendary catalogue of classic early jazz and Delta blues 78s by the likes of Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The end of the story sees the closing of the company and disgruntled employees flinging those now priceless shellac records into the Milwaukee River and melting down the metal masters for scrap. The whole story can be found in greater detail online, or in the books Paramount’s Rise and Fall and Do Not Sell At Any Price.

What concerns us here are the label’s print ads, which ran in The Chicago Defender. I’ve tried mightily to find the names of the artists who drew these. People in a better position to know than I assure me their identities are lost to the years, though they may have been staff illustrators at a Madison ad agency. The loss of that knowledge is a damned shame, because without knowing it, those artists altered the history of underground comix, by serving as an acknowledged influence on that form’s grand pooh-bah, Robert Crumb. Even a superficial glance at some of these ads reveals a precursor to Crumb’s famous signature style (it’s strikingly evident in the slouching posture of some of these characters), and Crumb paid direct homage to these artists in a series of trading card sets that have been compiled into the book R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country—the comix artist’s abiding passion for the music of the early recording era has never been a secret…

Appropriately, this slideshow of Crumb’s blues-inspired works is set to a Paramount record, Charley Patton’s “Down the Dirt Road Blues”:

email readers click here for video

More of the Paramount story– and more examples of the extraordinary ads– at “The Amazing Old Paramount Records Ads that Inspired R. Crumb.”

[TotH to friend Ted Nelson]

* Michael Ventura, in the wonderful essay “Hear That Long Snake Moan

###

As we re-track our lives to twelve-bar blues, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that Richard Wayne Penniman– better known as Little Richard– entered the U.S. pop charts for the first time with “Tutti Frutti,” a song he’d recorded four months earlier.  As History.com reports,

Tutti frutti, good booty…” was the way the version went that Little Richard was accustomed to performing in his club act, and from there it got into lyrical territory that would demand censorship even by today’s standards. It was during a lunch break from his first-ever recording session that Little Richard went to the piano and banged that filthy tune out for producer Bumps Blackwell, who was extremely unhappy with the results of the session so far. As Blackwell would later tell it, “He hits that piano, dididididididididi…and starts to sing, ‘Awop-bop-a-Loo-Mop a-good Goddam…’ and I said ‘Wow! That’s what I want from you Richard. That’s a hit!'” But first, the song’s racy lyrics had to be reworked for there to be any chance of the song being deemed acceptable by the conservative American audience of the 1950s.

An aspiring local songwriter by the name of Dorothy La Bostrie was quickly summoned to the Dew Drop Inn [in New Orleans] to come up with new lyrics for the un-recordable original, and by the time they all returned from lunch, the “Tutti frutti, all rooty” with which we are now familiar was written down alongside lyrics about two gals named Sue and Daisy. In the last 15 minutes of that historic recording session on September 14, 1955, “Tutti Frutti” was recorded, and Little Richard’s claim to have been present at the birth of rock and roll was secured.

 source

Written by LW

January 14, 2015 at 1:01 am

Now you see ’em…

 

… Now you don’t.

source

Consider Wikipedia’s (incomplete* but fascinating) “List of People Who Disappeared Mysteriously“: from Spartacus and Edward V of England to Ambrose Bierce and D.B. Cooper, there’s still no trace… 

[TotH to Parijata D. Mackey]

* There are about 900,000 missing persons cases per year– almost 2,500 per day– in the U.S. alone; in countries where politically-motivated “disappearances” occur and/or where human trafficking is an even more regular practice, the rates can run proportionately higher…  And then, there are those who vanish while sailing or exploring or otherwise adventuring…

The rate of disappearance in the U.S. has risen six-fold since 1980; but as the Wikipedia list illustrates, vanishing certainly isn’t a recent phenomenon.

 

As we check the clasps on our ID bracelets, we might wish a hilarious Happy Birthday to writer-director Preston Sturges; he was born (Edmund Preston Biden) on this date in 1898.   After a brief career as a Broadway playwright, Sturges sold a screenplay (The Power and the Glory, produced by Fox, starring Spencer Tracy) in 1933; the film did relatively well at the box office, but had a huge impact in Hollywood (e.g., its use of flashbacks and flashforwards was an acknowledged source of inspiration to the screenwriters of Citizen Kane).  For the balance of that decade Sturges worked as a studio screenwriter, until, in 1939, he agreed to sell the script for The Great McGinty to Paramount for $1 in return for the chance to direct.  The screenplay earned him an Academy Award, the first “Original Screenplay” Oscar; the success of the film assured his chance to continue in the Director’s chair.

Sturges worked in Hollywood for almost 30 years; but his legacy was built in the five years from 1939 through 1943, when he wrote and directed The Great McGinty, Christmas in July, The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and Hail the Conquering Hero.  Four of those films– The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek— are on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest American Films.  Arguably they should all be– along with such later gems as The Sins of Harold Diddlebock and Unfaithfully Yours.

source

Almost the same as not being there…

Further to yesterday’s touristy theme, from the ever-interesting folks at Strange Maps, a guide developed in 1927 by Paramount Pictures, advising producers where to look for foreign locations…  without leaving California:

More at “Scene to be Believed: California as the World.”

As we reconsider our packing strategies, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that CNN debuted– demonstrating that the whole world could also be found in Georgia.

Happy Thirtieth!

%d bloggers like this: