These dozen new titles are now available on our Web site. Click on “New Historic CDs” to place an order.
Back in the early 1950s, Stetson D. Richmond began offering his audio recordings of drum corps contest action to the public by popular demand. The technology of the day required him to split the typical 13- to 15-minute performance of the day into four segments to fit the 78 RPM record format in common use back then.
Even when 33 RPM solved that problem, albums were still custom-cut on noisy vinyl acetate platters. Today, you can upgrade to compact disc format, mastered directly from the original tapes of Richmond and Alf Wateska that are made available as “The Beat Goes On” series, exclusively through DCW. The difference is astounding.
Nowhere is this difference more apparent than in 1954. This particular season poses several challenges for restoration work, the primary holdup being missing tapes. But we can no longer wait for the first of what we hope will be a three-volume treatment of the American Legion Nationals junior contest, captured by Richmond with a stunning presence and frequency response that make it hard to believe that these recordings from ’54 are now 54 years old.
Hear how the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights won it all in just their third full year of field competition. Savor the surprising finesse of the Little Flower Cadets, one of several fine Maryland units making the short trip to the Washington, D.C., area.
And no, you’re not seeing double — the two prominent “St. Mary’s” units of the day are presented here for head-to-head comparison. St. Mary’s Cadets of Nutley, NJ, came of age in 1954, nipping at the heels of the Jersey powers, while the St. Mary’s Cardinals of Beverly, MA, were a title contender in any New England contest.
Of course, it wouldn’t be “nationals” without the Midwest in attendance, represented on this disc that includes the Norwood Park Imperials.
Senior corps were more plentiful back in the 1950s. In fact, you could fill a CD with recordings of just the Illinois senior units of the day. So we did.
Legendary names Skokie Indians and Commonwealth Edison headline this CD and both were in fine form in 1956.
Kewanee Black Knights, a perennial American Legion finalist by this time, joined with the aforementioned units to sweep the top three spots at AL Nationals that year. Sharvin Red Jackets and Taylorville Commanders represent opposite ends of the state in rounding out the disc.
Denver, CO, served as the site for the 1961 American Legion Nationals, where an unusual blend of past and future famous name corps came together. This was the first nationals appearance and first-ever recording for the Troopers. The Casper, WY, corps was a quick learner, vaulting ahead of their more experienced Kansas rivals, the Sky Ryders and Argonne Rebels, creating competition that would benefit all concerned.
Sky Ryders would become even better known in DCI 20 years later, while Argonne’s finest moments were 10 years ahead; however, both units were surprisingly skilled at this point in time.
Another name of DCI fame, Denver’s own Blue Knights, were also around in 1961, pleasing the hometown fans by making the finals cut. Marion Cadets, already Ohio state champs in their inaugural season, also had their first recording made at this contest.
And the remaining big-name corps on this CD needs no introduction — they are the Garfield Cadets, recorded while earning their eighth of 10 American Legion titles.
In our effort to make the widest possible variety of corps available, “Pageantry and Patriotism” casts light on yet another segment of the busy 1960s activity, the National Association round-robin circuit, one of two circuits run by the Philadelphia-area judging association of the same name.
The 1962 edition of this contest included several of the growing contingent of Maryland junior units, such as the Zorro Raiders, Hurricane Girls and Westminster Starlighters. In fact, the Media Fawns were the only Pennsylvania unit competing in this event. The Bellaires of Bellmawr, NJ, were the circuit leader and an exhibition performance by the Vasella Musketeers makes this CD a collector’s item.
The 1962 edition of Torrington’s “Pageant of Drums” further exemplifies the growing depth and range of the Northeastern senior circuit. This contest’s entrants spanned from the winning Carver Gay Blades of New Jersey to the Bath Buccaneers from Maine, in their only known recording.
In between, we have the powerful Springfield Marksmen, the scorching horn line of the Fitchburg Kingsmen, another entertaining edition of the Bridgeport Troopers and the host Vagabonds in one of their stronger seasons.
“Shoreline Sounds” documents the 1963 Atlantic City contest, which brought an interesting assortment of unsung heroes together. In closely-matched competition, the Royal Sabres of Washington, D.C., edged out the Ridley Park Rangers in a duel of corps both at their all-time peak level of achievement.
Blue Rock and the Belles of St. Mary, potent competitors themselves, were relegated to lower placements despite their efforts.
Host Victorians of Egg Harbor and nearby St. Joseph’s of Hammonton add more rarely-heard material to this CD.
As with the previous CD, collectors looking for those hard-to-find Blue Rock years will want to take note of the 1965 New Jersey American Legion issue, which captures the corps in late-season form.
While you’re at it, there are 11 other corps featured in this set, many of which were in their prime during the mid-1960s. The clarity and full dynamic range of Richmond’s recordings from this event suggest that conditions were particularly favorable on that September weekend.
The “March of Champions” contests have provided compelling recordings through the years, thanks to the Memorial Stadium acoustics and the top-notch competitive slates attracted by the Yankee Rebels.
We now add 1967 to the series. Six of DCA’s most prominent corps are presented in mid-season form, with a few interesting contrasts and an occasional repertoire change versus end-of-season performances.
Again, in expanding the variety of offerings, we present a rare look at the Long Island Circuit. Stetson D. Richmond only recorded the Long Island Circuit championship in 1970. We don’t even have the contest results (let us know if you do), but it must have been quite a matchup to see the highly-skilled Wynn Center Toppers take on the emerging Long Island Kingsmen.
Rare recordings of the Miraculous Medal Orbits, Oceanside Legionnaires, Farmingdale Regimentals and Brooklyn Blue Angels round out this offering.
The prolific 1972 season of the Garden State Circuit will be commemorated with a two-CD set. Even with circuit alumni like St. Andrew’s Bridgemen and Falcon Cadets having moved on, the 1972 field was abundant with membership and staff talent. Corps swapped places all year, even to the final day.
Valley Grenadiers delivered a textbook performance to take the title over the strongest-ever edition of the Royales, who had edged VG out the previous day. Things got crowded at the top, as the powerhouse Philadelphia P.A.L. Cadets, momentum-building Monarchs, Brooklyn’s Riversiders (oh, that drum line!) and the late-developing merger of the Dukes and Imperial Guardsmen all met in the same contest for the only time that season.
The top six finishers at the 16-corps title show, each memorable in their own right, have been compiled together on volume 1, with other selected championship competitors on volume 2.
“The Beat Goes On” is a series of 136 historic recordings from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Listings of the contents can be found in advertisements in Drum Corps World, or search online at the DCW online store — www.drumcorpsworld. com — view the full list of 136 CDs.