Wednesday, April 09, 2014


In the 50's the biggest slab of record buyers were affluent middle-of-the-roaders who bought "easy listening" Mantovani and Gleason albums. Some were stereophiles, some were bored…so Les Baxter, Esquivel and "stereo demonstration" albums began doing well. Melachrino offered albums to play for "relaxation," "reading" and "dining." Mood music for "romance" was plentiful, including sexy album covers and some with overt titles, including "How to Make Love to a Blonde." Unfortunately, that one was nothing but bland music.

The opposite of bland was what I call "uneasy listening" albums…with corny music played on unusual instruments (Spike Jones, obviously, but also discs by Don Elliot and Jack Fascinato) and "off key" items from Morris Garner (not Errol; deliberately bad piano playing) or Edward and Darlene Edwards (not Paul Weston and Jo Stafford; deliberately bad singing).

In that genre was the minor fad for anti-mood music with titles including "How to Break a Lease." As if Spike Jones wasn't good enough? This novelty album was a surprise hit. The perps, Sid Feller and Don Costa, didn't even put their names on the thing…except way down in small print in the bottom corner of the back sleeve. You can imagine record store owners happily putting the album in the window, with its zany cover and promise of hi-fi hi-jinks. The sequel, "How to Break a Sub-Lease," had the credit "Don Costa's Free Loaders" proudly and prominently on the front and back cover.

So…how lousy is the music here? Very. Both albums (and "More Music to Break a Lease") are collections of shitty 1920's music, sung by a bunch of middle-aged jackasses. The "Sub Lease" album ups the ante a bit by having an undercurrent of party noises in the background. That's how to break a lease: the neighbors begin complaining that YOU are having swingin' parties every night. Haw haw.

Among the many competing albums: "Music to Break Any Mood," which LOOKS like it might be a clever satire of mood music albums in general (the same way Irving Taylor's albums satirized pop music of the day). But…no, not really. The point of most of this was to fool an idiot into paying $4.98 on cover alone. No chance to audition the record first, and no returns accepted.

"Music to Break Any Mood" had the potential to at least be a decent rival to some of those "persuasive percussion" albums…ones featuring a lot of vibraphones, woodblocks, timpani and a maraca or two (at least two). No such luck. As you'll hear, it's just your generic middle-of-the-road stuff. Why don't we do it in the middle-of-the-road? Because it stinks like a dead skunk.

The downloads are just to confirm what you already suspected…that when you buy an album based on the cover alone, you might as well put a hole in the middle of the cover and play the cardboard.

Hail Hail - Roll Out the Barrel Breaking a Lease

Margie - Who's Sorry Now Breaking a Sub Lease

Breaking Your Mood with South Rampart Street Parade/Walkin' My Baby Back Home Breaking Your Mood

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