Record Keeping of Records

A few weeks ago, I won the four Frankie Laine Standard Program Library records on Ebay. These recordings consist of several of Frankie Laine’s early recordings created exclusively to be played on the radio. I have always wanted these records. Now I have them.

Years ago, when Helen Snow was president of the Frankie Laine Society of America, she made me a cassette copy of these recordings from her collection. Unfortunately, the recordings were in bad shape and a couple of the songs were so badly scratched they were almost unlistenable. Nevertheless, I was excited to get them and add them to my collection! I held these recordings in my collection until the CD Setting the Standard was released a few years ago, which featured these recordings.

Nothing compares with having the actual records. I was further delighted after receiving the records and discovering that they were in mint condition! Of course, I cannot play the records. They are 16-inch discs that were manufactured to be played on a radio station turntable. But we collectors covet the originals, playable or not. Besides, I can always listen to my CD of the transcriptions.

I am always glad after receiving records that I’ve won during online auctions that come to me in good condition. Records, especially old shellac 78 r.p.m. platters, are not the easiest items to send.

I recall a couple of years ago I discovered a 78 by Frankie Laine that a seller had posted for sale on Ebay. It was a Mercury 78 with an unusual label—the type I had never seen before. I thought that this would be a nice addition to my Laine Library, so I bought it. It arrived at my house in five pieces! I had already owned this Mercury record, but because of this unique label, I didn’t want to dispose of the record. I merely glued the pieces of the record together and placed it into my collection. Yessiree!

I wasn’t quite so lucky several years earlier, after I had won a Frankie Laine 78 on Ebay. It was one of the Columbia Records duets by Frankie and Jimmy Boyd. At that time, I didn’t yet have the actual platter. I knew I was in trouble when the 78 arrived in the mail in one of those big yellow envelopes. I opened the envelope and poured out the record as if I were pouring instant oatmeal from a packet.

Catalog

After receiving my transcription records, I updated my Frankie Laine Collection Catalog. I painstakingly compiled this catalog several years ago. I keep it in electronic form, so I can add to it without breaking up the Roman numeral designated categories. This catalog lists my entire collection in nine-point, single-spaced Helvetica font. My categorization includes Frankie Laine items such as rare audio, hardcopy printed material, radio programs, television shows, movies, and much more. After adding my newly-acquired transcription records to the listing under “Standard Program Library,” I decided my catalog should also include the titles of the Frankie Laine albums I hold within my library. After all, I list the titles of Laine sheet music and the titles of Laine CDs.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I borrowed my wife’s laptop, opened up my electronic version of the catalog, and readied myself for a major cataloging event. I don’t know why I hadn’t cataloged Frankie’s albums before.

I walked into my Frankie Laine Library, opened a few cabinets, and started collecting albums. I had to make a few trips to the area next to the laptop. I figured that it would be easy to just type in each album title in chronological order. Not so much!

Starting with all of my 25 Laine Mercury albums, I noticed that some re-issues didn’t maintain the album number sequence. I managed to get the titles close to the correct order. It was more important to me to be able to list the titles in my collection. Of course, a few of the earliest—beginning with Frankie’s first Mercury album Frankie Laine Sings, are 78 sets. I have just over 100 Laine albums. I am guessing I have all of the original releases as well as several re-released, hits, compilations, different labels, and so on.

After typing in my Laine album titles with headings Mercury, Columbia, Capitol, ABC, and others—in reasonably close chronological order—before the listing of CDs in my catalog (and adjusting my Roman numeral designation), I thought I was finished.

I began with Roman numeral XXVI for the album sets. I finished with XXXII. The next category of CDs was already listed. I was hoping the Roman numerals would automatically re-set. They didn’t. I finished my new cataloging chores with XXXII and then the CD listing was XXIII! Yikes! Also, to make matters worse, the new bullets I had added to designate each album title (trying to be consistent with the rest of the catalog) somehow turned out the incorrect size, thus messing up the line space of each listing!

After an extra amount of time and effort, I was able to get my catalog finished to my satisfaction. I always print the catalog after each update and reassemble the pages in a large notebook I keep of all notations of my works.

I like to keep things in order. And it is wonderful to have a record of my Laine records.

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About the Author:

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Craig Cronbaugh, Director of the Legislative Information Office with the Legislative Services Agency at the Iowa State Capitol. As famed singer Frankie Laine’s special friend and a collector of Laine’s recordings and career memorabilia, Craig has written articles; has written, produced, directed, and hosted a distinctive radio program; and has appeared on Iowa statewide television regarding his Frankie Laine avocation. Craig has been highlighted briefly and has been given a research screen credit in the 2003 internationally distributed documentary Frankie Laine: An American Dreamer. Craig’s book, a memoir, Reaching for a Star, featuring his friendship with Laine, was published in 2005.