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We don't usually review records here, but I found this one while digging through my dad's 45s. It's an odd piece that will cost you FOUR DOLLARS TO SHIP. I got mine for free.
The artwork is by Alex Schomberg, so there's that.
Maybe you've got a dieselpunk game going and want some mood music. Seeing as this came out in 1953, it would be completely within the right time range.
One thing I really dig here is how the tracks are laid out. One disk is sides 1 and 4, the other is 2 and 3. What this means is you would put them both on the phonograph, let one fall and play, let the second fall and play, and then flip them both over to repeat the process.
If this had been a set released for radio, the disks would have been 1 and 3 (outside to in) and 2 and 4 (inside to out). There's a loss of fidelity as the record spins faster (the inside) and you can hear a sound change. So, at a radio station, what you would have done is played side 1 outside-in, then switched to the second deck playing side 2 inside-out, then back to side 3 outside-in, and closed with side 4 inside-out. Yes, it's complicated, but that's how it was done.
No, the best part of this release is the liner notes, written by Samuel Mines, editor and author of The Book of Startling Stories. Let's examine those more closely.
1. Beyond Gravity
Blast off! Acceleration crushes you into your springlined seat; earth dwindles behind you like a flung ball; space opens up and enwraps you; black, black, with only the blazing sun, bigger hotter, and casting no shadows. Then you're past Earth's clutch and you come up out of the springs to float free, and there is turmoil in your stomach and upheaval all around you. The ship lands in a frightening immensity. In the steel plates underfoot is all the world there is and all the strength and speed and power.
Pat, I'd like to buy a comma.
I like how Earth is only capitalized when it's in the possessive. I'm not sure about the “frightening immensity”, but we've landed on it.
2. Lunar Sleep
You're adjusted now and you watch as the moon swings its lighted face past the view screens, and the dark side comes up. For millions of years men have stared at only one side of the moon, wondering what its hidden face concealed. Now you see a world asleep in unchanging twilight; drugged, lethargic. And this lethargy steals upon you; heads nod, the voices in your mind quiet and the sombre darkness steals upon you. But dreams flash among the shadows.
It's about time something quietened the voices in my mind. Apparently, they just need a little dark and a slide trombone. This track actually ends with the trombone. Beats the triangle we've heard up to this point.
3. Asteroid Ballet
The ship's automatic alarm brings you wide awake in time to witness a shower of tiny asteroids. Flashing, dancing like celestial sugar-plums to the rhythm of another-word “Nutcracker Suite”, they dart past the port side of the ship, wink in the sunlight, and are gone.
“Port” is on the left; the right is “star-board”. I'm kinda wondering where this ship is heading. Weren't we going right at Mr. Sun a few moments ago?
These asteroids sound like they're in a street-gang. “When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way....” These are comical asteroids that can take your ship out. This needs to be animated.
4. Airless Moon
One of Neptune's moon is close, a pock-marked, dead, frozen world, dreaming of life eons gone. It swings slowly on the view screens, its ice shining dully against the clack of outer space. Brooding, forgotten little world, a place of fantastic ice spires and valleys, even its atmosphere frozen into eternal ice.
Somewhere around here, I really wanted a jazz cover of Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring”. The sax is just slutty in this track.
5. Primordial Matter
The ship flashes thorough a cosmic dust cloud – the junkyard of space – gases, dust, and tiny material of life – waiting only for the proper chemical combination to compress it, fuse it, and touch its atoms in flowing energy. Then it might be born a star.
This is very romantic and not very true.
6. Gravitational Whirlpool
The ship is suddenly caught in the vortex of a strange whirlpool in space. It spins in fiercely narrowing circles. Hold on here, for the music will pull you in giddy circles until the engineer manages to drag himself to the engines and slam on that needed surge of power to hurl the ship free.
Hold on here, things are about to get wacky! The horns invoke more “rush hour traffic” then a gravitational anomaly. I blame the piano.
7. Space Intoxication
The whirlpool has reduced the ship's oxygen pressure and the crew is dizzy, limp, and losing coordination. The music spirals down—there are overtones of pure jazz with tiny trace of delirium and a suggestion of melody.
All right! Pure jazz! Not that cut-down crap you usually find on the street.
Note: a “suggestion” of melody. Sadly, that suggestion was rejected.
8. Purple Planet
The goal at last! Far out in space, beyond Neptune. The furthest planet, swims the world of mystery. Now you can actually heart its phosphorescent purple glow. The Purple Planet is populated by timid little creatures more like small violet owls with green eyes, living in purple grottoes. They live here on purple chlorophyll and rhythm, and if you listen closely here you'll understand quite clearly how they do it. Their parting gift was two huge bales of purple chlorophyll with which this package is colored, we are told. Naturally, Brusnwick wouldn't touch anything not authentic.
Ever wonder where purple prose comes from? The Purple Planet, obviously.
Now, the best part on the liner notes explains what this thing is all about.
Larry Elgart, one of the foremost alto saxophone virtuosi of our day, organized his unique ensemble early in 1953 with several objectives. One was to provide his immediate circle of musician friends a stimulating diversion from the work-a-night fare of commercial Jazzdom. Next was to bring to light the “legitimate” talent and originality of three highly respected dance arrangers, Charles Albertine, Lee Pockriss, and Kermit Levinsky. And at the same time there persisted the urge to revitalize the sodden, sagging, literature for the saxophone. Elgart's gorgeous tone and his eloquent expression on the instrument establish him here as the bright new star in the saxophone galaxy.
Several things about this:
--It's "virtuoso", not "virtuosi".
--There are several objectives, which is why none of them were met.
--What the hell is "the work-a-night fare of commercial Jazzdom", besides the name of my first album?
--Why is "legitimate" in quotes?
Anyway, it's a fun little collection of tunes. I actually like it (it's grown on me), but I don't see it being a classic any time soon.