Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford were a huge success back in the 1950s. They sold millions, they had 16 top ten hits in the space of four years and they also had a televison show, Les Paul and Mary Ford at Home. Their sound was pretty new and unique for the time involving multi-tracked vocals from Mary and plenty of echo on Paul’s multi-tracked electric guitars. Les Paul, who is still a well known name for his solid body electric guitars, was an innovator who was one of the first to work with overdubbing, multi-tracking and tape echo. He was also a great player. The back cover of this record proclaims “a dazzling cascade of notes… a sparkling combination of phantom guitars… the blend of a gentle voice with its own reflection… these are the hallmarks of music by Les Paul and Mary Ford.” It’s a good record. When you listen you get the feeling that the techniques are new because there’s a sense of novelty and a little bit of excitement that someone could be singing their own harmonies. I like their renditions of Frankie and Johnnie, and St Louis Blues. It’s all fairly laid back and relaxed, well played, well sung and nicely produced. It’s easy on the ear and good for winding down after a long day.
This album is a 10 inch EP, a little smaller than the regular 12 inch LP. I’ve only got about 30 10 inch records. The problem with 10 inch records is that often there’s more surface noise than with a 12 inch since the grooves are closer together and the volume of the music can’t be as loud. Also, for some reason the 10 inch records I own seem to be made of more brittle material than LPs. What is nice about them is that the artwork still looks great and the they are more convenient to carry than full size LPs.
Anyway, back to Les and Mary, they had a messy divorce back in 1963 which put an end to their musical collaboration. Mary Ford kept making music, sometimes with her sisters, and she died in 1977. Les Paul kept performing and recording until his death in 2009 at the age of 94. Their contribution to musical history was significant.