by Ken Mason, DCW staff
Is your favorite corps on CD yet? Check again before answering, because we’ve added another dozen discs to “The Beat Goes On” drum corps audio recording selections. These compact discs are the digital versions of the original recording work of Stetson D. Richmond and Alf Wateska, optimized for your listening pleasure. Treat yourself to recordings of your favorite corps or surprise someone you know with a holiday gift from our audio library.Here’s what’s new in this releaseMore classic junior corps are available via Volume 3 of the 1954 American Legion Nationals (#5404). The four top Jersey junior units led the activity that year, sweeping the top four spots at American Legion Nationals; two of them are included on this disc. St. Joseph’s Cadets are an essential part of any collection of this era. Their 1954 repertoire epitomized the classic arranging work that made Hy Dreitzer a drum corps sensation, delivered with spine-tingling urgency by a corps whose roster reads like a hall-of-fame list.Meanwhile, 1954 was considered a rebuilding year for St. Vincent’s Cadets. But at fourth place in the nation, perhaps they were already rebuilt by the time this show came along. Also on this CD, hear the Austin Grenadiers from Chicago blow the stadium apart on their way to leading the Midwest contenders that day. This disc is also your best opportunity to hear the Irwin Kingsmen and Kenwood Cavaliers in any year.
The 1955 VFW Nationals was not recorded, but Stetson Richmond attended a nearby contest the next night to cover the same corps. The 1955 Tournament of Drums (#5505) was the first of a number of well-deserved visits Richmond paid to Massachusetts. The only recording of the 1955 Madison Scouts was made at this event; hear them compete with top home-state entries like the St. Thomas More Cadets and Most Precious Blood Crusaders. Also included are a second Braintree, MA, unit, the Warriors, and Holy Trinity Cadets, all in the crisp clarity the evening’s recordings are noted for.
While Newark, NJ, was a drum corps hot spot in the 1950s, there was once a drum corps show in Newark, NY, where some treasured sounds were recorded for posterity — 1957 Cavalcade of Drums (#5705). Vying for top spot at this contest were storied names like the Hilton Crusaders, forerunner of their Rochester namesake; the Grey Knights, frequent Legion competitor whose later merger with the Crusaders would create a national champion; and Geneva Appleknockers, legendary for their groundbreaking jazzy brass line and Hall of Fame soloists. Close behind were the Brockport-Batavia Cavaliers. Rare recordings of the Buffalo Continentals and the host Spartans round out this disc.
At last, the 1959 Dream Contest (#5909) joins recordings of his legendary competition from surrounding years in “The Beat Goes On” product selection. This year’s edition of the show did not include enough corps to fill two CDs, so we were careful to select six corps that were not already available on other CDs from that season. This is the place to go to hear either side of the annual Reilly/Archer-Epler duel, as both corps are featured in late-season form here. And no collection of drum corps audio is complete without these two Philadelphia-area icons. Then again, the same claim could be made on behalf of the crowd favorites from Massachusetts, the Lt. Norman Princemen. On the junior side, St. Kevin’s Emerald Knights won their first of three straight Dream titles in 1959. Audubon Bon Bons and Paterson Cadets also had strong seasons in 1959, to which their inclusion in the Dream contest slate attests.
1960 Spectacle of Brass (#6012) presents the Kewanee, IL, contest that gathered top Midwest senior corps from five different states all in one convenient place, with the solid sound of Ken Kobold’s recording work. Leading the field at this contest were the RSacine Boys of 76. This may be your best chance to enjoy the Edison Lamplighters, as all three of their recordings from nationals (one from VFW, two from American Legion) have technical problems. Satan’s Angels, in their final season of competition, were still exchanging victories with the four Legion finalists and are also featured on this disc. Spirit of St. Louis, one of those aforementioned finalists, lived up to their name in this show. Relative newcomer Kenosha Kingsmen and host Kewanee Black Knights complete this set.
Toronto Optimists were arguably the most highly-competitive unit Canada has ever fielded. The 1962 Music in Motion (#6212) show in Titusville, PA, was one of their opportunities to demonstrate why, as they took their junior corps to a senior contest and won top honors. Hear them in late-season form, with the scintillating clarity of Alf Wateska’s audio. And while you’re at it, check out the seniors, too. Pittsburgh Rockets had one of their finest seasons in 1962, while the Westmoreland Esquires and Meadville Thunderbirds provide evidence of the depth of area corps activity we’ve been probing with two previous 1962 releases, NY-Penn Selections (#6207) and West Penn Selections (#6211). Hamburg Kingsmen and Flying Dutchmen crossed state and national borders to spice up the event.
The 1965 Symphony in Brass (#6507) captures several of western Pennsylvania’s usual entries, but top honors at this event went to a visiting corps, Kitchener’s Flying Dutchmen. In fact, runner-up Hanover Lancers aren’t from the Western half of the state, either, so they and third-place Albion, NY, Grenadiers could also be considered visiting corps, except they visited more frequently. Leading the Western Pennsylvania contingent in this show were the Meadville Thunderbirds. The Warren Cornplanters had announcers apologizing for their depleted manpower in 1965 introductions, but you’d never know it from hearing them perform. Westmoreland Esquires might have prevented the visitors from sweeping the top three spots, but as the host corps, the performance you’ll hear was in exhibition.
“The Beat Goes On” aims to offer the widest selection of different corps to choose from. Discs like the next two are offered specifically with that goal in mind. The 1966 Garden State Circuit Championship (#6613) CD focuses on corps not previously offered. Turns out that four of the ten performers are already available on the AL state CDs, leaving a full six-corps disc of shows not yet released. Chief among them is the title-winning Lakeland Goldenaires. Also noteworthy are St. Martin’s Troubadours, whose entire audio history is owed to Stetson D. Richmond’s attendance at GSC Championships over the years. Also included here are the Rochelle Park Cadets, the Riversiders, the only-ever recording of the Wayne Cadets and an exhibition performance by the Corvettes.
Recording engineer Bill Domler gives us a rare glimpse into 1969 Yankee Circuit action with the 1969 Spectacular II (#6910). The Yankee Circuit was a prolific junior forum in the 1960s and early 1970s that didn’t always get full attention from the drum corps media (press and recordings). In fact, we don’t have the results on file for this August 2 contest, hosted by the Stafford Springs Crusaders (if you do, please contact DCW — email@example.com). Based on other 1969 scores, this would have been the opportunity for the Fletcher Raiders to try and take top spot over past circuit mainstays like the Springfield Targets and their cross-town rival, St. George Olympians. Killmen of Wyantskill, NY, were improving and may have been in the mix. Fairfield Colonades and the host corps are among these recordings, noteworthy for their true dynamic range.
The 1971 World Open Senior Invitational (#7105) was a one-time-only attempt to resurrect the senior portion of the World Open as a stand-alone event staged in Bridgeport in late August. The 10-corps contest provided an excellent cross-section of DCA’s participants, making it a valuable source for recordings of corps just on the wrong side of DCA’s prelim cut. This is the only event to produce a recording of the Westshoremen in 1971 (all the more significant since 1972 is unaccounted for). Also notable is the only late-season recording of the Renegades — that is, the Everett, MA, corps. The exhibition corps, New Haven, CT’s Emerald Cadets, are also included on this disc, since this was their only 1971 recording. Along with those three collectors items, you will also find the perennially-strong Reading Buccaneers; Quebec’s finest, Les Diplomates, in their gut-wrenching prime (CLICK HERE FOR A SAMPLE); and a fiery performance from a Syracuse Brigadiers corps intent on rebounding from a previous off-year.
The 1972 Rhapsody in Brass (#7209) contest provides the season’s best set of West Penn junior recordings and an added treat for collectors. This show was the only competitive outing for the Brookhaven Crusaders in 1972. On the local front, competition was evolving into a duel between the General Butler Vagabonds and upstart Royal Crusaders, the two corps that would lead the region for the rest of the decade. Cambria Cadets of Ebensburg took third place. Quasar of Penn Hills and Butler’s Catholic Daughters of America occupy the remaining spots on this disc.
1977 Great Lakes Selections (#7704) brings together six interesting corps from the Great Lakes region, as they were recorded in action at the American International Open in August. The Marion, OH, Cadets were an Open Class competitor at that time, while the Saginaires were establishing forward momentum in Class A competition. This was far and away the banner year for the Windsor, ONT, Guardsmen, spearheaded by a creative drum line. Ventures from Kitchener, ONT, were already a top competitor in the all-girl category. Lions of London, ONT, and the earliest-ever recording of the Grand Rapids, MI, Coachmen fill, out the remainder of this CD.
“The Beat Goes On” is a series of recordings digitally remastered from the original tapes of Stetson D. Richmond and Alf Wateska, not scratchy albums or secondhand copies. Advanced digital audio workstation tools are brought into play to fix master tape defects, restore the full dynamic range and reduce tape noise, yielding a product vastly improved over the technology available when Richmond and Wateska reproduced these recordings personally.
Look for the ad with our product listing in ther latest version of Drum Corps World’s on-line magazine (see November, page 17 — go to www.high-velocity-media.com). Or search for your favorite corps (more than 550 junior and senior units) at the Drum Corps World on-line store (www.drumcorpsworld.com, click on “Richmond/Wateska Historic CDs” in the center of the front page), where you can view the full list of 196 compact discs (November, pages 68-75) — and counting — along with a small selection of historic DVDs from 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976 (November, pages 62-63), along with the five history books produced by Sights & Sounds, Inc. over the past 10 years (1,800 total pages, 5,000-plus photographs and illustrations — November, pages 35, 43 and 47).