Rare gramophone records “The Vogue Picture Record”. Part VII

Vogue Records was a short-lived United States-based record label of the 1940s, noted for the artwork embedded in the records themselves. Founded in 1946 as part of Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan, the discs were initially a hit, because of the colorful artwork novelty, and the improved sound compared to the shellac records dominant at the time. Vogue picture records were of a very high quality, with little surface noise. The first 10-inch Vogue picture record (catalog number R707) was released to the public in May 1946. Production ceased less than a year later in April 1947, with Sav-Way entering into receivership in August 1947. During this time, approximately seventy-four different 10-inch Vogue picture records were released.

Each illustration has an “R” number (or catalog number) printed on it, ranging from R707 to R786. There are gaps in the sequence; not all of the eighty possible catalog numbers were used. There is also a “P” number (or matrix number) printed on the illustration (next to the copyright symbol). The printed matrix number should match the matrix number inscribed in the lead-out area of the record. Normally both sides of a record have the same catalog number, but this is not always the case. Several records were released which had different combinations, such as R725/R726. The combinations were likely due to the hard financial times on which Sav-Way had fallen; they were hard-pressed to come up with new artists near the end of their one-year production life, so they resorted to re-using previously released material. The colorful artwork on the records have made Vogue Records a collector's item.

There are ten such records in the museum Collection Sound Library. The one that is described today bears the number R770.
On one side of this record is “The Whiffenpoof Song”; on the other side – song “If that Phone Ever Rings (And It's You). Both compositions are performed by Art Kassel and his Orchestra, vocal by Jimmie Featherstone.

Digitized recording of the Vogue Picture Record R770 is in the museum Sound Library.

Art Kassel (1904-1965) was an American singer-songwriter and saxophonist. Art Kassel and his ''Kassels in the Air'' were a staple on the Chicago music scene for more than thirty years. Debuting in 1924 at the Midway Gardens the group later spent a 15-year engagement at the Bismark Hotel and frequented both the Aragon and Trianon ballrooms, where it received national radio exposure. In the late 1950s, Kassel moved to the West Coast, where he appeared for two years with his orchestra on a local television program, “The Gloria Hart Show”.

In its early years the band boasted such jazz artists as Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, and Mugsy Spanier, Kassel switched to sweet music during the 1930s. This latter orchestra was never very impressive, though it had an extremely loyal following. Recording for RCA Victor, vocalists were Norman Ruvell, Thal Taylor, Billie Leach, Harvey Crawford, Grace Dunn, Marian Holmes, Jimmy Featherstone, and a three-piece vocal group, the Kassel Trio. After Kassel's death in 1965, the orchestra continued to perform West Coast engagements.

“The Whiffenpoof”  that is performed on this record by Art Kassel and His Orchestra was first sang at Mory's1) Temple Bar in New Haven, Connecticut by members of the Varsity Quartet of the Yale Glee Club. As the song became popular, the group changed their name to “The Whiffenpoofs”. A four-part male-voice choral song became the group's traditional closing number. The chorus and much of the style; the scansion, though certainly not the mood, is derived from the poem "Gentlemen-Rankers" (1892) by Rudyard Kipling, which was set to music by Guy H. Scull (Harvard 1898) and adapted with lyrics by Meade Minnigerode (Yale 1910). Tod B. Galloway (Amherst, 1885) had already set the poem to music and the sheet music was copyrighted in 1909 and 1918 and again in 1936.
In the lyrics, "Mory's" refers to Mory's Temple Bar, a restaurant next to the campus and especially hospitable to Yale undergraduates (it allowed them credit), and "Louie" to its owner (1898–1912), Louis Linder. "Shall I Wasting" is shorthand for "Shall I Wasting in Despair", and "Mavourneen" stands for "Kathleen Mavourneen", both popular part-songs in the Victorian era.

To the tables down at Mory's,
To the place where Louis dwells,
To the dear old Temple Bar
We love so well,
Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled
With their glasses raised on high,
And the magic of their singing casts its spell.
Yes, the magic of their singing
Of the songs we love so well:
"Shall I Wasting" and "Mavourneen" and the rest.
We will serenade our Louis
While life and voice shall last
Then we'll pass and be forgotten with the rest.
We are poor little lambs
Who have lost our way.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

We are little black sheep
Who have gone astray.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
Damned from here to eternity
God have mercy on such as we.
Baa! Baa! Baa!

The Yale Whiffenpoofs” is a collegiate a cappella singing group. Established at Yale University in 1909, it is the oldest such group in the United States. The line-up is completely replaced each year: the group is always composed of rising seniors, who often take a year leave of absence from the university to tour the United States and internationally. Former members include Cole Porter (1891-1964) and Jonathan Coulton (b. 1970).

The Whiffenpoofs have performed for generations at a number of venues, including Lincoln Center, the White House, the Salt Lake Tabernacle1), Oakland Coliseum2), Carnegie Hall and the Rose Bowl3). The group has appeared on such television shows as Jeopardy!, The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, 60 Minutes, Gilmore Girls, The West Wing, and Glee. In December 2010, the group appeared on NBC's a cappella competition "The Sing-Off"; they were eliminated fourth, on the second show.

During the school year, the Whiffenpoofs perform on Monday nights at Mory's, known more formally as Mory's Temple Bar, circulating from room to room. The Whiffenpoofs travel extensively during the school year and take a three-month world tour during the summer. The group's business manager and musical director, known in Whiffenpoof tradition respectively as the "Popocatepetl" and "Pitchpipe," are chosen by members of the previous year's group. An alumni organization maintains close ties with the group.

The song has been covered many times. It became a hit for Rudy Vallée in 1937 and in 1947 for Bing Crosby, credited to Bing Crosby with Fred Waring and The Glee Club. It has also been recorded by Elvis Presley, Count Basie, Perry Como, Ray Conniff, Mitch Miller, the Ames Brothers, the Statler Brothers, and countless others.

The group adopted the Whiffenpoof emblem in 1912. Depicting a heraldic wyvern with mint leaves for wings, a horse's neck, and a swizzle stick for a perch, it was designed by a cartoonist from campus humor magazine The Yale Record.

1)The Salt Lake Tabernacle was designed for large gatherings and events for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
2)Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a multi-purpose stadium in Oakland, California, United States
3) Rose Bowl is an outdoor athletic stadium located in Pasadena, California. Opened in October 1922, the stadium is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and a California Historic Civil Engineering landmark.

What's a Vogue Picture Record? "The Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors"
Vogue Picture Records from the Todd Collection at the University of California, Santa Barbara Library