Marc Myers give Pete Rugolo, Jack Marshall and Shelly Manne some overdue props:
Rugolo's 35mm albums were recorded at Bill Putnam's United Recording, and one of them might have
been done at Radio Recorders. Rugolo also made some great "stereo spectacular" albums out there and,
I think, in Chicago, at the very dawn of stereo, mostly working with Bill Putnam.
I highly recommend those Jack Marshall/Shelly Manne albums on a purely musical basis. Those guys
were spot-on aces. The Contemporary album, recorded by Ray DuNann, has amazing sound, some of the
best percussion recordings I've ever heard.
All of the albums shown were chasing the success of Command Records. Command invented the "Stereo
Percussion" genre, and then got into stuff like "Reeds and Drums" and the like. I would say the
Mercury PPS and f:35d series were shameless copies. Am-Par went as far as to steal Terry Snyder
away, to record a knockoff of "Persuasive Percussion" with almost the same personnel (including the
same studio). Capitol and Contemporary put more of a west coast vibe on things, but they were still
chasing Command's tail. It's a safe bet that Enoch Light saw the irony in all this, because he had
started out as a record-label executive by quickly recording hit-of-the-minute knockoffs on
"extended play" late-era 78's, and sometimes peddling the records door-to-door.
None of this takes away from the fact that some of these records hold up very well, musically.
Others definitely don't, but I think the whole lot of them get stereotyped (pun intended), and so
the better, more swinging records get lumped with "ping-pong bachelor pad music," which correctly
describes only a some of them.
-- Tom Fine