DEAR JERRY: Great job on the history of Robert Crumb's record cover art. I had no idea he is responsible for so many including some soundtrack recordings.
I have always felt that albums of soundtracks usually have more attractive covers than ordinary pop music ones, which is just one good reason to collect them.
In that regard, do you have any idea which is the first soundtrack album ever made?
Also, which soundtrack album is the first to reach No. 1?
Doris Carp, York, Pa.
DEAR DORIS: You touched on what many collectors see as one of the two distinct advantages of vinyl records over compact discs.
Any art and text in the 12" x 12" format will be more appealing than if shrunk to 5" x 5" for CDs.
The other frequently mentioned point of comparison is the overall warmth of sound that vinyl usually offers, and CDs often do not.
We believe the first commercially-issued soundtrack album to be “Songs from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (with the Same Characters and Sound Effects as in the Film of That Title).”
If all 24 words are counted, it is also one of the longest soundtrack album titles ever.
Remember, record “albums” back then usually consisted of a few 78 rpm singles in a cardboard binder or sleeve, and the one for this legendary 1937 film is no exception.
Released in January 1938, it is a collection (Victor J-8) of the following three 78s:
“Dig-a-Dig Dig-Heigh Ho”/“With a Smile and a Song” (Victor 25735); “Whistle While You Work”/“I'm Wishing-One Song;” (Victor 25736) and “Someday My Prince Will Come”/“Dwarf's Yodel Song” (Victor 25737).
In a somewhat rare occurrence, each of the singles in this album became individual Top 10 hits all at the same time (February 1938)!
Album charting didn't begin until 1945, but based on the success of its contents had that chart existed in 1938 Disney's “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” would surely have been history's first charted soundtrack.
The current value of this album is around $500.
Curiously, Snow White, who always gets top billing in the title, is not pictured at all on the cover. The scene depicts the Seven Dwarfs crossing a fallen tree trunk, single file. Six are carrying their pickaxes, while Doc leads the way holding a lantern. They clearly are geared up to “Dig-a-Dig Dig.”
Besides Doc, the elder dwarf and group leader, the other six are: Dopey; Sleepy; Grumpy; Sneezy; Happy; and Bashful.
The first official No. 1 soundtrack album is “Going My Way” (Decca 405), by Bing Crosby.
Sales of this 1944-'45 hit were boosted by the inclusion of “Swinging on a Star,” a No. 1 smash for Crosby that wound up as the top-selling record of the entire year 1944.
When Columbia introduced the Long (33) Play album format in 1948, they chose “Finian's Rainbow” (ML-4062) to be the first Original Cast LP.
A few months later, in 1949, MGM released tunes from their Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical, “The Barkleys of Broadway” (E-503), making it the first Soundtrack LP.
DEAR JERRY: I recall a flash-in-the-pan '60s band that always dressed in black, including black turtle-neck shirts.
One odd touch is that they also wore black leather gloves on one just hand.
Their only song, at least that I ever heard, is “Talk Talk.”
I simply cannot remember their name, and sure hope you can jog my memory.
David Tillman, Evansville, Ind.
DEAR DAVID: This California quintet called themselves the Music Machine, though their machine could not crank out a significant follow-up to “Talk Talk” (Original Sound 61), a Top 15 hit in January 1967.
You remember their fashions well, and all five did wear a glove on their right hand. For their three guitarists, it meant having a glove on their pickin' hand, something you don't see every day.
To view a nice black-and-white video of the Music Machine, featuring Sean Bonniwell, visit You Tube.
Apparently this clip is from an American Bandstand show, which of course makes it a lip-sync performance.
Very rarely did a guest act sing live on Bandstand.
IZ ZAT SO? We have mentioned before how Bing Crosby dominated all vocalists for singles sales in the 1940s, but he did the same when it comes to albums.
In the 10 years after “Going My Way,” Bing rung up 29 more Top 10 albums, nine of which reached No. 1.