Telemark Records & Richard Nixon

In 1973-74. a politically active record producer and a politically active song writer joined forces to produce an usual record. Henry Tobias, song writer from CA, and Richard Mason from VA teamed up with Frank Yankovic in Pittsburgh to record a Polka LP with two of Tobias’s songs. Mason had worked in John Connelly’s Democrats for Nixon headquarters. Tobias was a Nixon fan, and both men were apprehensive of Nixon”s imminent impeachment proceedings. Tobias composed the song “Hang in There Mr. President” and after the  polka  LP had been recorded, Frank Yankovic and his Band played the political polka. Telemark Records issued it on a 45 rpm single.  It was played on  several radio stations, and Mason delivered complimentary copies to all 48 senators on Capitol Hill and to the White House.  Shortly thereafter Nixon resigned and “Hang in There Mr. President” vanished from sight.
Song writer Henry Tobias, one of the Tobias songwriting brothers—Charles, Harry, and Henry—was not satisfied with just one 45″ single to promote support for the beleagured Nixon. He took another track, soon issuing a song folio of sheet music entitled LET’S SING FOR THE PRESIDENT. “Dedicated to President Nixon”. “Inspired by Richard Mason”.  It contained four songs:
Hang in There, Mr. President, We’re Fixin’ A Date With Nixon, I’m a Democrat for Nixon (melody based on George M. Cohen’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy”), and the traditional Hail to the Chief. He sent a bunch of them to Richard Mason, who late at night delivered one of the folios to the White House Mail Room.  Its additional distribution is unknown.
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Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 1:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Latinized!/Casa Musica

Latinized!All Latin, 22 tracks, mostly vocals (2007)
Overall: B+

Another in Casa Musica’s Original Hits for Dancing series, this CD is a collection billed as “Latin-Flavoured Hits selected by Dancesport-DJ Berry Bleij.”

About half of the cuts on this CD from Casa Musica are strong, with most having a contemporary Latin sound. Whereas so often, a Samba featuring drumming without much melody is just, well, drumming, both “Mi Bombon” and “Amambanda” are Sambas that combine good energy with melodic interest. The Cha Cha “Less Talk More Action” is catchy with good energy but the lyrics may be a bit racy for some.

If you like pop songs redone in Latin style, Hotel California (Samba) is actually quite a good rendition. “Like a Virgin” (Rumba) does not fare as well. And if you really need to add another version of “Lipstick, Powder, and Paint” to your collection, this one by Roomful of Blues is definitely the one. It would do as well on the Ballroom floor as in a Myrtle Beach Shag club and clocks in at a nice 2:41.

Another classic in its own right, “Matchbox” by Carl Perkins is a good, high-energy Jive as is “Girls All over the World” by the cover band Big Town Playboys. “Satisfy My Soul” (Rumba), performed by the great Paul Carrack, is stirring, with a perfect tempo despite not having a Latin flavor. It’s worth buying the CD for that track alone.

“Hey Boy (Get Your Ass Up)” could have/should have been left off, being neither Latin nor a good Jive. Ditto for “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.”

Published in: on April 2, 2008 at 9:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Bologna Open 3–Latin Classic/Prandi Sound

Bologna Open 3--Latin ClassicAll Latin, 18 tracks, mostly vocals (2007)
Overall rating: B+

A good collection of Latin pop hits remade in strict tempo by Prandi Sound. Often remakes of Latin music by Ballroom orchestras are flat—but not this time. Naturally, this music doesn’t have as much heat as the original Latin versions, but it does a pretty good job.

Standouts include the Sambas “Hips Don’t Lie” and a respectable remake of Azucar Moreno’s “Ven Devorame Otra Vez.” Surprise treats are updated versions of “Mas Que Nada” (Samba) and “Bang Bang” (Cha Cha). Well-worn standards by any measure, both tunes benefit from modern arrangements, and “Mas Que Nada” is freshened up with just the right amount of rapping! “Somos Novios” (Rumba), never a bad selection, offers a male and female duet that is just lovely, if sounding a bit old-fashioned. One of the prettiest melodies, “Para Amarte” (Rumba) appears twice, once as a nice female vocal and once as an instrumental, as does “Where Do I Begin” (Rumba).

As far as the two Jives, well, as usual on this type of CD, they are throwaways and hardly worth a listen. Only one Paso is included, and it’s a nice break from Espana Cani, but nothing to get excited about.

Most of the cuts are under three minutes—an advantage over the original Latin versions, which typically ramble on too long for competition practice or even for social dancing.

Published in: on March 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

History of Telemark Dance Records (continued)

In 1963, Sheila and I went to England and spent a lot of time advancing our new business. We attended an Imperial Society “At Home”. We met Alex Warren, who, I think was presiding, and he told us about his brother John Warren, the band leader of John Warren’s Strict Tempo Orchestra, whose recordings we subsequently purchased. We also met Phil Tate, leader of another dance band that was noted for its flute sound. We met the famous dance teacher Peggy Spencer and visited her studio in Penge. She told us about the Mexican pianist Pepe Jaramillo whose recordings were most suitable for Latin dancing.

“You haven’t lived if you haven’t heard Pepe Jaramillo,” she exclaimed.

We also visited EMI Records, whose singles we had been importing, and strengthened our relations with their sales people. EMI officials were the nicest people to deal with that you could imagine!

Published in: on April 20, 2007 at 6:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Beginnings of Telemark Dance Records

By Richard S. Mason
Copyright © 2007

It was in the 1960’s. Sheila Mason returned to our home in McLean, VA, from a trip to her native England. In London she had shopped at Army/Navy Stores and purchased some vinyl LP’s of dance music by Victor Silvester and his Orchestra and the Joe Loss Orchestra. She gave them to friends and took one to the Arthur Murray Studio in Arlington, VA, where we were taking lessons.

Up till that time, none of the dancers in the area had danced to the English dance orchestras. Everyone liked the recordings, particularly the dance teachers, and they wanted more. For a while, we kept ordering a few at a time, but then decided we should order them in wholesale quantities. We contacted EMI Records in London, and they agreed to supply us with some 45″s of the Victor Silvester Orchestra, at that time the most famous dance band in England.

With wholesale quantities arriving, we didn’t have that many dancing friends to give them to; so we took out a small ad in Dance Magazine, advertising some 5 of Silvester’s 45’s, including the famous “Singing Piano” waltz and “Paper Roses” foxtrot. The orders came in immediately starting in August 1962, and we were in business.

We called the firm “Dance Records”, but we soon found out that Danny Hoctor in New Jersey was producing records under the same firm name. We therefore decided to add the name of an International-Style turn in foxtrot and waltz called telemark. And it has been Telemark Dance Records ever since.

Published in: on March 15, 2007 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Checking In!

Just checked in to TelemarkMusic.biz. It’s an awesome and beautiful website designed some years ago by Donna Lucas, co-owner (with me) of Telemark Dance Records. If you wish to learn about Ballroom dance music, that’s the place to go. It lists most of the best dance music in the world on CDs and vinyl, and, on most of them, identifies the titles of each track. Instruction books on Ballroom dancing are also listed. Telemark Dance Records celebrates its 45th anniversary in August of 2007, and this website is a distillation of 45 years of supplying dancers with the music they need.

–Richard Mason

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 10:09 pm  Comments (2)