main About me Back to Posts Personal Projects Links Privacy Contact
I collect vinyl LPs still and I recently bought a copy of this one, with Nat “King” Cole and Lester Young. It’s from 1963 and it was released by Crown Records. I was curious about that label name so I did some research and found this company is fairly infamous in the industry, and with collectors, as a bit of a mess.
Doing some quick searching and you’ll find other blogs' posts about Crown records, almost all of it negative. From about 1953 through 1972, they were known for terrible jackets which quickly fall apart, poor manufacturing practices, including mising god knows what into the vinyl used to make the records and lots of shady marketing. Many of their records claimed to feature music from a famous source, but really were made by knock-offs, copy bands or no-name studio musicians. Lots of their records have a big name in large type, but also say, “A tribute to” or “Inspired by” in small type. They also frequently re-released older sides with various genre themes like Cuban, Hawaiian or Brazilian tunes, but again, those were always performed by American studio bands.
But they also released a number of jazz and R&B records from actual stars of the day - Stand Getz, B.B. King, Jimmy SMith and others. So, to me, it’s not a total loss and there are a few relative gems among the stinkers.
Here’s a collection of some of their covers to illustrate these claims. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time as much as I did.
Jazz Masquerade (various musicians)
Salute to Stan Kenton (a very popular band leader from the era - I own this one too and it’s terrible)
A Toast to Benny Goodman (with “members” of his orchestra)
Compositions of Lionel Hampton
Predominant Percussion (a blatant rip-off of Persuasive Percussion on Command records)
Nat “King” Cole and Lester Young (my new record, the cover is in great shape)
Cycle Psychos w/ the Scramblers (not a real band, at least not on any other records)
The Mexicali Brass (using the Whipped Cream song from the Tijuana Brass)
Hopefully this gives you a sense of what the label was all about. A lot of cheesy records, made by marginal artists, pretending to be something they were not, in many cases.
Discogs.com has the full listing if you want to dig deeper into their history.
Do you own any of these records (or any others from Crown), now or back in the day? Send me a note if this kind of thing interests you as much as it does me.