Hear How To Converse In Spanish, Carlton How To Series, CHH-21, 1961
Carlton Records was a small New York based label that had a few hit records from the late 50s through the mid 60s. The biggest “stars” on the label were Jack Scott and Anita Bryant (!). Like most small labels, they were always strapped for cash and always looking for ways to sell a record. Their “How To” series was the result.
It’s a simple idea. You’d pay an expert in a field to narrate a script once and then you’d have a record you could sell for years with no further investment. Naturally, basic language instruction was a no-brainer, but topics included bowling, typing and throwing the perfect dinner party. I’m guessing the “Hear How To Achieve Sexual Harmony In Marriage” album didn’t sell well.
If all of the albums are as bad as this one though, I can see why Carlton Records isn’t with us today. It’s pretty funny to listen to, with the stern announcer giving clear, concise instructions in English before incomprehensibly raving in Spanish. “Listen…carefully…to…the…following…conversation…” “Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala”. It’s not a way to learn a language, at least in a way that would help a traveller in a Spanish speaking country. But maybe it was a good way to sell a few records.
Cost: $2, $237 Remaining
Dr. Murray Banks, What You Can Learn From The Kinsey Report, Audio Masterworks LPA-1210, 1956
The first thing I learned from this record is that Dr. Murray Banks missed his calling. Instead of being a Clinical Psychologist, a professor, and an in demand public speaker, he should haver been a stand-up comedian. At least he tries really hard to be one on this, his first of many self-help records he released from the 50s to the 70s. The Queens accent only adds to the charms of the lecture. When he tells stories of people who were interviewed by Kinsey, it’s like getting sex advice from Archie Bunker.
I suppose the comedy approach is what allows Banks to explain the material without coming off as creepy or perverse in the Eisenhower years. He has to explain some things that are probably not as taboo as they once were, and the record sounds even more dated when he delves into the “proper roles for genders”. Apparently Mrs. Dr. Murray Banks enjoys being home with the children while Dr. Murray Banks travels the country talking about sex to college co-eds.
What makes this record a must for a cocktail party though are the stories. One man who reveals his interest in a particular horse got irate when the interviewer asked if it was a male horse or a female horse. The man insisted that the horse was female and didn’t want anyone to think he was a queer. Speaking of queer, Audio Fidelity, the highly technical company that helped pioneer stereo records, released this record on the Audio Masterpiece label. I suppose it would have been difficult for Dr. Murray Banks to land a major label deal and Audio Fidelity came to the rescue. At least they didn’t go all out on describing the technical aspects of recording this lecture. That it’s in mono is just fine, lest we hear a horse screech from one channel to another.
Cost: $2, $285 Remaining