Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The Royalaires Accordionly Yours Cavern Custom Recordings 1971
The Royalaires were a 22 piece teen orchestra from Belton, Missouri. That's not strange, except that most these kids play the accordion. It's pretty much an accordion orchestra, which I didn't know could exist until I found this at a Goodwill. Props to them, though, because in a moment of absolute brilliance, the album is titled Accordionly Yours...seriously, I giggle every time I look at it.
The Royalaires were led by a Carl A. Jesse, who must have been the best accordion instructor in all of Missouri as he was able to convince kids to play the instrument, convince people that putting out an album was worth while, and he does an amazing job of adapting standards for orchestra and pop hits of the day for the accordion. The pop hits include, "Close to You", "The Immpossible Dream", "Music to Watch Girls By", and in a stunning display of bravado, the "Overture" from the Who's Tommy; on accordion. The back liners were written by Jesse and he admits the following, "We do not pretend that this recording is the ultimate in musical perfection." So needles to say, as novel and as fun as the idea may seem at first, it's tough to get through the entire thing in one sitting, it's kids playing a bunch of accordions. I'm not sure people ever wanted to hear more than 10 professional adult accordion players simultaneously, let alone an army of children. It was recorded in Independence's Cavern music studio, so the numerous accordions sound great and have natural echo...but, again, it's a lot of accordions.
So, that's kind of where I'm at with this LP. This was put out in 1971 in Belton which is right outside of the Kansas City. How did all these teenagers get hooked on accordion and not guitars? It's not an instrument played in school bands, or at church, or anywhere but Oktoberfest. I mean, the guy who ran the local Belton music store must have had a banner year when 20 or so kids decided to force their parents to buy an accordion. And, Jesse, had to be the only guy teaching accordion in town, he likely cleaned up as well.
As no logical explanation can exist, I started to think that maybe this band is owed to a short-lived Belton religious cult. For family fun, the cult played accordion or something. Having little or no access to the outside world, the kids thought accordion was "cool." But, that can't be as there are no religious tunes on the LP and they cover the Who; the kids were hearing rock and roll. Then I thought, maybe there's a large German population in Belton, MO., Germany is down with the accordion, right? Nothing verifies any sort German culture in Belton. No little German Town, no famous Oktoberfest, nothing. Besides, cultural based neighborhoods were a thing of the past by 1971. So yeah, I'm stumped. But, props to this Jesse guy for pulling this off, I bet he's the guy that owned the music store in town.