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Original 1963 album liner notes

Under The Direction Of Randy Sparks

Side 1 – 14:50

RAMBLIN’  2:46
-Sparks- Arr. Harbert
Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

Sparrow Music Co. (ASCAP)

New Christy Music Pub. (BMI)

Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

THE DRINKIN’ GOURD (The Muddy Road To Freedom)
-Sparks-Woods- Arr. Woods
Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

Side 2 – 12:33

New Christy Music Pub. (BMI)

Sparrow Music Co. (ASCAP)

WAGONER’S SONG (Land Of The Sacramento)  1:38
-Sparks-Grasso-Podell- Arr. Podell
Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

-Sparks-Podell- Arr. Podell
Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

-Woods-Sparks- Arr. Woods
Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

Cherrybell Music Pub. (ASCAP)

Produced by Jim Harbert

We of the Christies are well informed on the subject of this album.  Many months ago, before any of us had enjoyed the kind of success we have shared collectively, each of us might have been correctly classified as a kind of rambler.  Together we found a winning formula for entertaining people, and for a while it looked as though we were going to be settling down.  There were the days of breaking-in the act at the Troubadour in Hollywood and the hectic-but-fun days of doing the Andy Williams Show week after week.  We nearly became homebodies, at least those of us who call Los Angeles home.  Then, once again, we took to the open road…this time to meet the demands of a busy concert and personal appearance schedule.

There exists an unwritten law that if there is to be an exchange of emotion between singer and audience, there must be understanding of the emotion expressed.  This album carries that kind of understanding.  It was recorded in the last week of a lengthy stay at New York’s famed Latin Quarter – a time for all of us when the word ‘home’ took on new meaning.  We were truly singing emotion, not just words in songs.

At this writing, having just returned from performing at Harold’s Club in Reno, filming a documentary short at the Salton Sea, and recording the title song for MGM’s “Wheeler Dealers,” we’re on our way again…this time to Houston, Denver, San Diego and Honolulu.  Yes, it’s true that folksingers understand the ‘Wanderin’ Song’…at least we do.

Mighty Mississippi and Rovin’ Gambler are songs of kindred spirit.  The one ingredient which weds songs of this ilk is the mightiest of rivers during its romantic riverboat days.  It was said a man could ramble up and down the Mighty Miss, never touch foot on land, and become a millionaire.  These were the days of derringers and gay deceivers…of southern belles and magnolia blossoms…of banjos and big talk…and some of that big talk was sung.

Hi Jolly sounds more like myth than fact, but this song remembers more about Southwest history than most textbooks.  Hi Jolly was the name rough-and-tumble cowboys gave to a peculiar individual whose birth certificate (if birth certificates are the rule in Syria) read Hadji Ali.  By occupation, he was an expert in animal husbandry, more specifically in the tender care of Bactrian camels and dromedaries.  Brought into this country as a transportation experiment (to decide the worth of these beasts of burden in the arid lands of the Southwest), the camels were abandoned, along with Hadji, when military leaders turned their eyes to the troubles of the Civil War.  But records prove that the trial journey by camel was a success.  The camel could outperform the mule and the ox, but not the “iron horse.”  Hi Jolly lived out his colorful life in California and died just across the border in Arizona.  He was a gad-about with a magnificent sense of humor.

Ramblin’, A Travelin’ Man, Green, Green and Last Farewell are expressions of the wandering song.  They tell the tale of those restless souls who ramble without specific destination, any way the wind blows.  They speak the plight of the occupational traveler, and the sorrow of he who is torn between the call of the open road and the love of a woman at home.

Ride, Ride, Ride is a song of the open spaces that is still up-to-date in many parts of the country.  Cattle drives, a necessary part of the marketing of beef, were once much longer than they are today.  The loneliness of a cowboy is still very real.

The Drinkin’ Gourd (The Muddy Road To Freedom) was a song of great import to the mistreated slave who, prior to the Civil War, found himself traveling along ‘The Muddy Road to Freedom’ or the underground railway.  Runaway slaves and sympathizers sang directions to those who would escape: “Keep your eyes pinned to the skies, and when the clouds cover the stars, then follow the river.  Sleep by day…travel under the cover of darkness…”  It was a song of hope and encouragement, but mostly it was a roadmap which could be memorized and transferred without detection.  The most important of its many directives was to follow The Drinkin’ Gourd, those stars that shine in the North, sometimes called the Big Dipper.

Down The Ohio  Anyone who remembers the days of the gala overnight boats on the inland rivers will feel a compulsion to join in the singing.  Oldtimers will tell you ‘those were the days!’  Young folks would board the stern-wheelers for passage down the river by night and return on the same craft in the early morning.  The captain acted as chaperone, but still there were cries from the older generation that ‘the young folks were going to the dogs.’  Sound familiar?

My Dear Mary Anne  This song was perhaps originally sung by a fur trader of the Far North.  Mary Anne was, of necessity, a most patient and understanding wife.  In the winter, when the pelts were full and most prized, her lover tended the trap lines, and when the spring thaw opened the shipping lanes, she would be left alone for weeks, perhaps months, while he transported the catch down to the sea.  This parting song was sung to allay her fears that he would never return.

Wagoner’s Song  Those with the pioneering spirit, caught up in the clamor for gold, were drawn westward to California in the middle of the last century.  They were a hearty lot, quite eager to rough it.  Their goal was the fabled land of the Sacramento Valley.  They traveled by wagon, and they sang hearty songs to keep spirits bright.

Randy Sparks

Barry Kane and Barry McGuire appear through the courtesy of Horizon Records.
Nick Woods appears through the courtesy of Joey Records.

Stereo – CS 8855
Monaural – CL 2055


Stereo “360 SOUND” represents the ultimate in listening enjoyment.  Every aspect of recording activity has been carefully supervised by Columbia’s engineers and craftsmen, using the very latest electronic equipment.  Stereo “360 SOUND” creates the effect of surrounding the listener with glorious, true-to-life active sound.  It is as if one were sitting in the first row center at an actual performance.
Columbia’s studios have been designed with uniform sound characteristics and are equipped with sixteen-channel consoles and custom-calibrated multi-track tape machines engineered and built to Columbia’s own specifications.  The microphones used are chosen for their individual sound properties depending upon the orchestration, the artist and the concept of the producer of the recording.  Some of the microphones are: the Sony C37A; Telefunken-Neumann’s U67, U47, M49B, KM54A, KM56; the AKG’s C60, C12 and Electro Voice 655C.  Only high-output tape affording maximum signal to noise ratio is used.  Such tape, of great tensile strength and thickness, additionally aids in the elimination of print-through and reduction of distortion and hiss.
The reduction of the original multi-track tape to the final master tape is performed on editing consoles hand-tooled by Columbia’s engineering staff to accommodate any number of channels.  The transfer of master tape to master lacquer is made via a Westrex or Ortofon cutter installed on a Scully lathe equipped with automatic variable pitch and electronic depth controls.  Before production is begun, a master pressing is compared to the final tape (A-B checked). It is only after the recording has passed this critical test that Columbia’s engineers give the final approval for manufacture, secure in the knowledge that each Stereo “360 SOUND” disc will have the same full-bodied, multi-dimensional sound as that originally recorded in the studio.

Cover Photo: Columbia Records Photo Studio – Henry Parker

© Columbia Records 1963/All Rights Reserved
® “Columbia” Marcas Reg. Printed in U.S.A.

Stereo – CS 8855


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