This recording epitomizes what many people might expect to hear when it comes to "Nickelodeon" music -- an old-fashioned, snappy, toe-tapping melody that has its musical quirks and a "rinky-dink," slightly out-of-tune character. The three machines featured on this recording were on display at Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., for a relatively short period of time, one of them being a part of the Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., reference collection, an extensive group of coin-in-the-slot pianos and orchestrions that came to be a very popular attraction during the years of 1967 to 1972. Various of these reference instruments were often used to make LP recordings, which were marketed by means of catalogue and over the counter sales. Occasionally, however, a coin-in-the-slot piano would come along that was in original condition and that still played exceptionally well, sometimes with the aid of a little patch work. While the infrequent purchase of an out of the ordinary instrument did not make it part of the regular reference collection, there were, nonetheless, certain machines considered worthy of inclusion in an LP release -- even though they might not be in perfect working condition. Two of the Cremona instruments on this Archive CD (the Cremona G Flute Piano and the Cremona Style K Orchestrion) met this criteria, and were recorded "as is."
Cremona was the brand name for coin-in-the-slot pianos and orchestrions manufactured by the Marquette Piano Company, Chicago, Illinois, which was admired for producing quality machines made with exceptional care, all the parts being of superior quality. Cremona coin pianos and orchestrions were known for their mechanical durability, and, according to a route operator that Dave Bowers met during his research on automatic musical instruments, you could put them in a location and never worry about having to go out and fix them. This kind of statement testifies to the robustness of the Cremona instruments, which is why, during the late 1960's, it was still possible to buy a Cremona machine that still played reasonably well. So, while two of the instruments on this CD were not technically part of the H&B reference collection they played well enough to be recorded during the short period of time they were waiting for a happy new owner to come along. In comparison, by today's standards, for anyone seeking to find a pristine, un-restored coin piano today (in the year 2002), you may well appreciate hearing what was a fairly common find during the opportune days of H&B.
Catalogue illustration of a Cremona Style G Flute Piano.
The three Cremona instruments featured on this Archive CD provide a delightful sampling of what many old-time automatic musical instrument collectors enjoyed and often referred to as "nickelodeon" music. Regrettably, however, the original 1/4-inch analog stereo master tapes for the music on this Archive CD were thrown out some twenty-five years ago. This meant that the audio had to be captured from several used condition vinyl LP's, old recordings originally issued and sold by Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., circa 1968-72. Once the audio signal from the LP's had been digitized, it was painstakingly processed to remove a lot of impulse noise (pops and ticks) and a considerable amount of objectionable crackle. Following this, low frequency rumble and vinyl surface noise components were removed, along with many subsequent specialized noise removal passes deemed necessary to eliminate sporadic and oftentimes difficult to remove noise artifacts. All this processing was followed by equalization to remedy any bias introduced by the vinyl LP recording process itself. Obtaining an end result that was thought to be good enough for an Archive CD distribution was a challenge, but the final product, using professional quality audio restoration software and techniques, is an enjoyable listening experience of music you might not otherwise ever be able to hear.
A handsome piano by any standard, it was decorated with two brass-trimmed electric art lamps and three elaborate and beautifully crafted art-glass panels of geometric design. The Style G was a popular instrument that played the common ten-tune type "A" music roll, thus its toe-tapping musical tempo, a common trait of "A" roll music. Musical instrumentation consisted of a full piano, with mandolin attachment, and a rank of pleasantly toned wooden flute pipes. This piano was displayed and recorded in the main salon/showroom of Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., and while technically not part of the H&B reference collection, it stood alongside and was demonstrated right along with the reference collection instruments.
Catalogue Illustration of a Cremona Style K Orchestral.
The instrumentation of the Cremona Orchestral Style K orchestrion is as follows: Piano, with mandolin attachment, three sets of pipes for effects of flute, piccolo and violin, and trapwork consisting of triangle, tambourine and castanets. The Style K was a late addition to the Cremona line, and was built in the traditional Cremona manner -- high quality components throughout. Its stunning case design, enhanced by four elaborate beveled glass art panels and two hanging brass-trimmed art lamps, make the Orchestral K a prized visual attraction in any mechanical music collection. It utilizes the ten-tune type "M" music roll, which is somewhat rare, and arranged rather differently than other more commonly found music rolls made for orchestrions of American manufacture. Of the surviving Cremona orchestrions, the Orchestra K is probably the most plentiful. This particular instrument was displayed and recorded in the main salon/showroom of Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., and while technically not part of the H&B reference collection, it was situated alongside and was demonstrated right along with the reference collection instruments.
Catalogue Illustration of a Cremona Style J Orchestral.
The Orchestra J is the largest of the Cremona orchestrions, and it was installed in a very attractive keyboard style case that was handsomely adorned by five eye-catching art glass panels. Extant specimens have one of two distinctly different art glass type: (1) an intricate set of beveled glass geometric designed panels or (2) the rare opalescent art glass panels of a more simple design (pictured at right), but beautiful nonetheless. Instrumentation consists of: a full piano, with mandolin attachment, flute pipes, violin pipes, xylophone, bass drum, snare drum, triangle and cymbal. Only one Orchestral J tune was available for inclusion on this Archive CD, but it provides a good example of how a Style J might sound. As with the Orchestra K above, the Style J plays the same ten-tune type "M" music roll, which is somewhat rare. This particular Orchestral J belonged to Dave Bowers, and was from time to time displayed at Hathaway & Bowers, Inc., as part of the reference collection. Having been restored years earlier, it was in good mechanical condition at the time of this recording, and accurately embodied the usual and somewhat unique Cremona J sound -- a sound peculiar to Cremona orchestrions using the style M music roll.
|Cremona Style G, K and J "Nickelodeon" Music|
26 Tracks -- Total Time: 54:29
|Cremona Style G (Flute) Piano (plays type "A" music-rolls)|
|1.||Walking With Susie, Fox Trot|
|2.||Don't Cry, Swanee, Fox Trot|
|3.||Baby-Oh Where Can You Be? Fox Trot|
|4.||Am I Blue? Fox Trot|
|5.||Blue Hoosier Blues|
|6.||I'd Do Anything For You, Fox Trot|
|7.||Dreamy Melody, Waltz|
|8.||Dance Away the Night, Waltz|
|9.||She's One Of Those Girls|
|10.||Barney Google, Fox Trot|
|11.||If I Had A Talking Picture Of You, Fox Trot|
|12.||Piccolo Pete, Fox Trot|
|13.||Melancholy, Fox Trot|
|14.||Stella, Fox Trot|
|15.||Where Did You Get That Name? One-Step|
|16.||That's You Baby, Fox Trot|
|17.||Your Time Now, Fox Trot|
|Cremona Style K Orchestrion (plays type "M" music rolls)|
|18.||Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue|
|19.||Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses|
|20.||Down By The Winegar Woiks|
|21.||Swingin' Down the Lane|
|22.||Yankee Doodle Blues|
|23.||Tea For Two|
|24.||Toot, Toot, Tootsie Good Bye|
|25.||Carolina in the Morning|
|Cremona Style J Orchestrion (plays type "M" music rolls)|
|26.||Take in the Sun|
Listen to a sample.....