Drooling on the Pillow

Thursday, November 03, 2005

She Was A Low-Down Hoo-Hoochie Coocher 

The guy on the right is Alex Steinweiss, and, according to an interesting article in the Daily News this morning by David Hinckley, he is The Man Who Invented Album Covers.

Apparently, even after the invention of the 'album' around 1935 (a bound series of sleeves for the 78 rpm records) record companies normally shipped their products with, at most, the name of the artist stamped on the front.

The 22-year-old Steinweiss was hired by Columbia Records in 1939 as their Art Department to develop ads and store displays and it was his bright idea to design the entire package with art and information. After he finished with an album of Beethoven's Ninth, sales rose 894% in six months. The bosses liked.

What caught my eye here were pictures of two of the albums he designed which accompanied the article. I used to have them.

My parents had stacks of wax from their teen years and the 'steros' from my teen years still had a setting for 78 rpm. I used to have both the Peer Gynt and the Porgy and Bess albums pictured in the article. Probably worth some dough as they were original Steinweisses but they went down the same hole as my baseball cards. My favorite album of that type, though, was a collection of Danny Kaye songs, including Minnie the Moocher, Anatole of Paris, The Babbit and the Bromide, and, my favorite, The Fairy Pipers. You can get an Amazon sample of all of these here. Listened to that a lot and, if you get me drunk enough, I'll do the Fairy Pipers for you and, if you're drunk enough, you'll laugh.

I also had a number of pre-Steinweiss albums including some Louie Armstrongs and, my other favorite, Dr. Henry "Hotlips" Levine and his Barefoot Dixieland Philharmonic doing Muskrat Ramble.

Sometimes I just can't believe how old I am.
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