Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cows in the lounge--selections from Morton Gould's "Wagon Wheels"

Morton Gould's Wagon Wheels LP, released on Columbia in 1954 or 1955, is the usual superior Gouldesque easy listening. And I can't believe I just typed "Gouldesque easy listening." (I did. ) Ohhh-kay. We'll just move on.

So, what do I mean by "Gouldesque"? I guess I mean light orchestral music as streamlined as the smoothest 1940s Andre Kostelanetz, yet as big-sounding as early-1960s Mantovani. I don't know how Morton managed to pull off both gimmicks at once, but it made for an interesting contradiction in style(s). We like a little conflict in our easy.

Especially Mantovani-esque (ooo, I love that!) is the LP's first track, High Noon. And, you know, looking at this track line-up, I have to wonder if these weren't actually recorded around 1953 and not released until later. Just a guess, but seeing as how Morton moved to RCA in 1955, do you suppose Columbia might have had him record a bunch of stuff so that their Gould catalog wouldn't suddenly run dry the moment he departed? (Such as Victor did with Paul Whiteman before he moved to Columbia?) So, I'm guessing this stuff is more like 1953.

No matter. Whether it's from 1953 or 1955, the big, big sound of this track is way ahead of its time. In my opinion, anyway:

High Noon (Tiomkin, arr. by Morton Gould), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954/55. From the LP Wagon Wheels.

Here are three more Western-lounge gems from that Columbia LP:

On Top of Old Smoky, Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Wagon Wheels (Billy Hill-Peter De Rose), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Tennessee Waltz (Redd Stewart-Pee Wee King), Morton Gould and His Orchestra, 1954 or 1955.

Riders in the Sky didn't survive the transfer from my Dell to, so we'll start with it next time. More cows in the lounge to come....



Anonymous lady domi said...

Looks like I should check this one too, uh?

3:17 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Great stuff. Now thanks to you I have 3 versions of High Noon and 2 of Wagon Wheels (great song).

Agree with you on the ahead of its timeness.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...

Lady Domi,



My pleasure. Yeah, "High Noon" is amazing--the kind of fill-your-speakers arrangement that we don't associate with the period.


11:25 PM  
Anonymous David Federman said...


I respectifully dissent from the (until me) unanimous praise of Morton Gould's arrangement of "High Noon." Compared to the superb, haunting Norman Luboff version which you posted, this is, to my tin ears, vulgar and garish. And the "Bolero-esque" portions toward the end are blasphemous. I have a high regard for Gould, but this is one of his lapses. Sorry.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


"Bolero"-esque! Excellent description. Yes, it does go over the top (and then some) toward the end, but isn't it amazingly close to some of the background sounds in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"? (I wonder if Morricone heard this LP?) Not that being ahead of the curve is necessarily a good (or bad) thing. But it's historically in'er'sting, I think. To use my native Toledo dialect.

If Artie Johnson were from NW Ohio, his shtick would have been "Vellllllly in'er'sting!"

I liked the Luboff side a lot, too. It brought out the mournful nature of the lyrics, even moreso than Frankie Laine's version.

I have three more to put up from this--you might like Gould's own "Buckaroo Blues." It's far more contained in style, volume, and mood than the first track!

And I have a couple of cool 1953 Jack Pleis instrumentals to upload and post, assuming has stopped pulling its "No such file" routine.


2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lee...

Founded this article about Morton Gould "Wagon Wheels" i'm currently searching a specific Version of "Wagon Wheels" and i've seen, that the links to the track samples aren't working anymore..

But please check out this link:

Is that the version of Morton Gould? I couldn't find any sample on the internet from the LP you described above...


5:17 AM  

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