Joe´s Music Rack
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101 Strings

101 Strings Orchestra was a highly successful easy listening symphonic music organization, with a discography exceeding a hundred albums and a creative lifetime of roughly thirty years. Their LPs were individualized by the slogan "The Sound of Magnificence", a puffy cloud logo and sepia-toned photo of the orchestra. Depending on the selections and arrangements, the orchestra is composed of 124 to 141 players. Of these, there are 30 first violins, 26 second violins, 20 violas, 18 cellos and 7 string basses. The rest may be woodwinds, brass or percussion.

The 101 Strings orchestra was composed of an all male except for the harpist and was conducted by Wilhelm Stephan. The orchestra's famous official photograph (above) was taken in the Musikhalle Hamburg.

Record label mogul David L. Miller (born on 4 July 1925, son of Albert L. Miller and Olive-Jane (Bardsley) Miller in Philadelphia, died 24 May 1985 in London) came to prominence by releasing the first Bill Haley and His Comets’ records in 1952-1953 on his own Essex label (followed by Trans-World, then Somerset Records). In this capacity, Miller played a role in the creation of rock and roll.

Following the rise of mood music practitioners Mantovani and Jackie Gleason Presents, Miller subcontracted the Orchester des Nordwestdeutschen Rundfunks Hamburg (the Northwest German Radio Orchestra of Hamburg) conducted by Wilhelm Stephan to play in-house arrangements of popular standards. The first 101 Strings album was released in late 1957; an astounding 24 titles were released in 1958 (many of which featured recycled material from earlier albums attributed to the New World Orchestra, Rio Carnival Orchestra, and other light music orchestras). These records were pressed by Miller’s own plants and released through his own distribution channels (such as grocery stores).

His core staff arrangers were Monty Kelly, Joseph Kuhn and Robert Lowden. All three proved adept at penning original compositions that were stylistically consistent both with contemporary hit songs and each other. Miller placed these on 101 Strings albums to provide additional publishing revenues.

Kelly’s earliest successes were Latin and Spanish travelogues (such as the Soul of Spain series) although, following the British Invasion, he became 101 Strings’ ‘Now Sound’ specialist. Kuhn concentrated on radio-friendly numbers in the ‘Pops’ orchestral manner ("Blues Pizzicato," etc.) which provided Somerset its initial catalog of originals. Lowden penned lounge ballads (such as "Blue Twilight"). Their body of early 1960s work would be recycled via rerelease throughout the next twenty years.

In 1964, Miller sold the franchise to (background link) Al Sherman, a successful record label distributor, who renamed the label Alshire (based in Los Angeles, California) and moved recording to London. Sherman retained Miller as a partner to oversee production and A&R. The Alshire era is characterized by large-scale expansion of product, attempts to branch out into younger markets and, beginning in 1969, eventual stagnation (although late efforts by Les Baxter and Nelson Riddle were released under the 101 moniker in 1970). Output decreased from 1974 on. A tribute to John Lennon (composed of earlier Beatle tribute material) in January 1981 marks the final 101 Strings effort.

Although many 101 Strings albums are simply orchestrated versions of pop hits and show tunes, the early Somerset material contains many examples of the exotica and lounge genres. Songs of the Seasons in Japan, Hawaiian Paradise and East of Suez are three such albums. 101 Strings Play the Blues and Back Beat Symphony comprise early experiments in symphonic-pop hybridization, while Fly Me To The Moon contains five noir-ish originals. Alshire releases include ‘Now Sound’ albums such as Jet Set, Sounds of Today and Astro-Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000, the last of which has been frequently sampled by electronic music artists of the 1990s and 2000s (decade).

The Alshire catalog was sold to Madacy, Inc.** in the 1990s and, under the direction of Greg Sims, a ‘New 101 Strings Orchestra’ began releasing a series of CDs (including a two-volume Beatles set). 101 Strings compilations were reissued on CD during the ‘lounge revival’ of the 1990s. Few 101 Strings LPs have been re-released in their original form.

If one goes to the Madacy site to view their 101 Strings collection, exactly the same description that was used on the Bel Canto's ST- 76 two track stereo release about the 101 Strings sound is reprinted. That annoying 50 Hz hum heard on many of those tape recordings was due to the Ampex 350's filtering which was not well suited for European 50 Hz power. The "My Fair Lady" and "King and I" releases have what appears to be the sound of dirty mixing pots used on the fly during those sessions. There were a number of tape releases that sounded like tape copies of pristine Stereo Fidelity vinyl which actually, were not all that pristine. Stereo recordings were made with a triangular cutting stylus. This resulted at times in pinch distortion which early conical styli did not handle well. Inner grooves especially, due to the increased density of the recorded information due to the slower relative movement of the track under the stylus, were more susceptible to distortion with conical styli in use at the time this record was released. The later development of elliptical styli allowed more precise tracking of the track and greatly reduced inner-track distortion.

eBay has an almost complete Madacy catalog in one form or another from these early tapes made from 1957 in Germany by D.L. Miller.

In the 10 years and 2 months of their existence, 101 Strings sold over 50,000,000 records worldwide.

The orchestra had five hit albums in the UK, including one number one.
Down Drury Lane to Memory Lane #1
Gypsy Campfires #9
Grand Canyon Suite #10
The Soul of Spain #17
Morning Noon and Night #32

** Madacy Entertainment is a company based in Mount Royal, Quebec that publishes DVDs, CDs, and formerly VHS tapes. Most of the products are frequently seen in Walmart, Best Buy and other discount stores in the United States and Canada, often at low retail prices, as compared to releases by major labels. It is owned by the Canadian investment company Clarke, Inc, a Halifax, NS, who bought the company in June 2008 via a stock take over. Additional reading links: - about 101 Strings and George Sims


A Mediterranean Cruise to The Rivieras - Spain, France, and Italy
Somerset Records...P-9000

A Night In The Tropics
Trans-World P-4400 US 1957
Somerset Records...P-4400 US 1957
Somerset Records...SF-4400...Stereo-Fidelity

A Night Serenade in the Quiet Hours
Alshire Records....M/S-5026...33 1/2 LP

A Night In Vienna
Somerset Records...S-6800...33 1/3 LP

A Romantic Mood For Dining and Dreaming

After a Hard Day - Music to Relax By

African Safari - The Activity and Excitement of an Actual Big Game Hunt!

An Evening of Pops Concert Favorites

Astro-Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000

Award Winning Scores From The Silver Screen
Alshire Records...M/S-5041...33 1/3 LP
Somerset P-7000...33 1/2 LP

Back Beat Symphony
Somerset Records...P-11500...M1-11500A/B...33 1/3 LP...High-Fidelity

Best Loved Songs of Rudolf Friml and Sigmund Romberg
Alshire Records...S-5250

Bicentennial Celebration - American Marches / American Theatre
Alshire Records...SF-103-2...A/B...S-2590...33 1/3 LP...1975...Stereo

The Blues...7" Reel

Broadway Cocktail Party
Somerset Records...P-12100...A/B...33 1/3 LP...High-Fidelity

Cole Porter
Alshire Records...M/S-5007

Come Said With Me

Concerto Under the Stars
Alshire Records...S-6700...33 1/3 LP
Somerset Records...SF-6700...33 1/3 LP
Stereo-Fidelty...SF-6700...33 1/3 LP
Madacy...cassette SBP-4-3217...1997

Concertos for Lovers

Dynamic Percussion

East of Suez
Alshire Records...M/S-5027...33 1/3 LP
Somerset Records...P-11200...33 1/3 LP

Exodus and Other Great Movie Themes
Alshire Records...S-13500...33 1/3 LP

Fire and Romance of South America
Somerset Records...SF-22200...A/B...33 1/3 LP...Stereo

Fly Me To The Moon
Somerset Records...SF-19600...A/B...33 1/3 LP...Stereo-Fidelity

The Glory of Christmas
Alshire Records...S-7100...33 1/3 LP

The Golden Age of the Romantics
Somerset Records...S-5092

Gold Award Hits

Great Composers - Romantic Favorites

Greatest Hits of Ray Charles

Guitars Galore
Alshire Records...S-5065

Guitars Galore - Volume 2
Alshire Records...S-5141

Gypsy Campfires
Somerset Records...P-8100..Hi-Fi
Somerset Records...SF-8100...Stereo

Hawaiian Paradise
Somerset Records...P-12800...Mono...1961
Somerset Records...SF-12800... Stereo-Fidelity...1961
Somerset Records...SF 128 Stereo-Fidelity...Canada...1961
Alshire Records...S-5028...Stereo...1965

Hit American Waltzes
Alshire Records...M/S-5022

Hit Songs for Girls

Hit Songs From Hit Movies

Hits Written By the Beatles

Hoagy Carmichael and Duke Ellington
Alshire Records...M/S-5008

I Left My Heart In San Francisco

I Love Paris
Somerset Records...S-13000

Italian Hits
Somerset Records...S-14600

Love is Blue (L'Amour Est Bleu)

Lullabies for Baby

Many Moods of 101 Strings - this Bonus LP1-A was "not for sale."

Million Seller Hits Composed by Jim Webb and Burt Bacharach

Million Seller Hits from the Golden Age of the Dance Band

Million Seller Hit Songs of the 30's
Somerset Records...P-21000...M1-21000A/B...MO-AU-503...33 1/3 LP...High-Fidelity

Million Seller Hits of the 40's
Alshire Records...M/S-5036
Somerset Reoctds...P-21100

Million Seller Hit Songs of the 50's

Million Seller Hits - Volume 1

Million Seller Hits - Volume 2

Million Seller Hits - Volume 3

Million Seller Hits - Volume 4

Million Seller Hits of Today

Million Seller Hits of Today written by Simon and Garfunkel

Million Seller Hits of 1966
Alshire Records...S-5050

More Of Todays Hits And Other Original Hits
Alshire Records...S-5345...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1977...Stereo

Piano Choncertos and Rhapsodies

Plus Dynamic Percussion
Alshire...S-5145 (re-issue ofMotion in Percussion, Somerset LP plus Trumpet

Porgy and Bess

Alshire Records...M/S-5042
Somerset Records...S-13600

Richard Rodgers

Rodgers and Hart
Alshire Records...ST-5009...A/B...33 1/3 LP...Stereo

Romantic Hits

Romantic Melodies of Victor Herbert

Romantic Piano at Cocktail Time

Romantic Songs of The Sea

Russian Fireworks

S.R.O - Standing Room Only - Broadway Hits

Songs Made Famous by Olivia Newton-John

Songs of Faith

Songs For Inspiration and Meditation

Songs From George M. Cohan

Songs of Carole King

Songs of Hank Williams and Other Country Greats

Sound Of Magniicence
Alshire Records...S-5175

Sounds of Today

The Soul of Israel
Alshire Records...S 5044...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1972...Stereo

The Soul of Mexico

Soul Of Music U. S. A.
Somerset Records...SF 17800...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1972...Stereo

The Soul of Poland
Alshire Records...S 5046...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1972...Stereo

The Soul of Spain
Somerset Records...S-6600

The Soul Of Spain Volume Two
Somerset Records...P-9900...MI-9900 A/B...33 1/3 LP...High-Fidelity
Somerset Records...SF-9900...SF-9900A-G...SF-9900D-G...33 1/3 LP...Stereo

Soul of the Blues

Sounds and Songs of the Jet Set

Sound of Henry Mancini

Spanish Eyes
Alshire Records...S 5051...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1972...Stereo

The Stephen Foster Songbook
Alshire Records...S 5050...A/B...33 1/3 LP...1972...Stereo

Sugar and Spice
Somerset Records...S-6900

The Supremes

Swingin' Things from 202 Strings

Symphony For Lovers
Somerset Records...P-4500...MI-4500A/B...33 1/3 LP...Momo
Symphony for Lovers...7" Reel

The Tijuana Sound

T.V. Themes (1975)

Twenty-Five Years of Show Hits

Victor Herbert

With Love From London
Somerset Records...SF-16500...A/B...33 1/3 LP...Stereo-Fidelit

with Twin Pianos - Million Seller Hits

World's Great Standards
Alshire Records...ST-5020

Numerical listing


M - Mono S - Stereo
All Albums title are 101 String Play - we dropped that in the list for space reasons
M/S-5000 The Stephen Foster Songbook M/S-5001 Victor Herbert
M/S-5002 John Philip Sousa - George M. Cohan M/S-5003 Sigmund Romberg - Rudolf Friml
M/S-5004 Jerome Kern/Vincent Younmans M/S-5005 Irving Berlin
M/S-5006 George Gershwin M/S-5007 Cole Porter
M/S-5008 Hoagy Carmichael - Duke Ellington M/S-5009 Richard Rogers - Lorenz Hart
M/S-5010 Richard Rogers - Oscar Hammerstein M/S-5011 Fered Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite
M/S-5012 Victor Young - Leroy Anderson M/S-5013 Hank Williams and other Country Great
M/S-5014 Alan Jay Lerner - Fredrick Lowe M/S-5015 The Sounds of Henry Mancini
M/S-5016 Concertos U.S.A. M/S-5017 Trendsetters of the 60's
M/S-5018 The Soul of Spain, Vol I M/S-5019 Songs of the Seasons in Japan
M/S-5020 World's Great Standards M/S-5021 Pops Concert Favorites
M/S-5022 Hit American Waltzes M/S-5023 Mood Vienna
M/S-5024 Soul of the Gypsies M/S-5025 Opera Without Words
M/S-5026 Quiet Hours M/S-5027 East of Suez
M/S-5028 Hawaiian Paeadise M/S-5029 Paris Avec Amour
M/S-5030 Italia Con Amore M/S-5031 Inspiration and Meditation
M/S-5032 Soul of Mexico M/S-5033 Fly Me To The Moon
M/S-5034 For Dining and Dreaming M/S-5035 Hits of the 30's
M/S-5036 Hits of the 40's M/S-5037 Hits of the 50's
M/S-5038 Hits of the 60's M/S-5039 My Fair Lady
M/S-5040 Fire and Romance of South America M/S-5041 Award Winning Scores From The Silver Screen
M/S-5042 Rhapsody M/S-5043 Sounds and Songs of the Jet Set
S-5044 The Soul of Israel S-5045 Soul of Erin
S-5046 The Soul of Poland S-5047 Soul of Greece
S-5048 Soul of the Blues S-5049 Soul of Russia
S-5050 Million Seller Hits of 1966 S-5051 Spanish Eyes
S-5052 Soul of Spain Vol. II S-5053 Fiesta Espanol
S-5054 Concertos For Lovers S-5058 Camelot
S-5059 Country Hall of Fame S-5061 S. R. O. Broadway Hits
S-5065 Guitars Galore S-5068 Doctor Zhivago
S-5069 Best of the Soul Series S-5070 Million Seller Hits Songs Of 1967
S-5074 A Toast To Broadway S-5075 Exodus
S-5076 Best Of Ernesto Lecunona S-5078 Sounds Of Today
S-5079 Memories Of Germany S-5080 Gone With The Wind And Other Films
S-5086 Live Is Blue S-5088 Million Seller Hits Vol. 3
S-5089 Million Seller Hits Vol. 2 S-5090 Million Seller Hits Vol. 4
S-5091 The Tijuana Sound S-5092 Hits From The Golden Age
S-5093 Hit Made Famous by Nat King Cole S-5119 Astro-Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000
S-5140 The Sea S-5141 Guitars Galore Vol. II
S-5142 Million Seller Movie Themes S-5175 Sound Of Magniicence
S-5250 Rudol Rriml and Sigmund Romberg S-5260 Polka Party
S-5302International Tango S-5345 More Of Todays Hits
2-110 Johann Strrauss, Jr. Best Loved Waltzes 2-115 Around The World
SF-103-2 Bicentennial Celebration 2 LP Set

P - Mono S - Stereo
S-1800 Symphony For Blues P-4300 World's Great Standards
P/S-4400 A Night In The Tropics P/S-4500 Symphony For Lovers
S-5000 Pal Joey and The Red Mill S-5800 The Blues
S-6200 Hit American Waltzes S-6400 A Bridal Bouquet
S-6600 Soul of Spain S-6700 Concerto Under The Stars
S-6800 A Night In Vienna S-6900 Sugar and Spice
P-7000 Award Winning Scores From The Silver Screen S-7100 Glory of Christmas
S-8100 Gypsy Campfires P-9000 A Mediterranean Cruise to The Rivieras - Spain, France, and Italy
P-9900 Sould of Spain Vol. II S-10200 Quiet Hours
P-11200 East of Suez P-11500 Back Beat Symphony
P-12100 Broadway Cocktail Party S-12800 Hawaiian Paradise
S-13000 I Love Paris S-13500 Exodus and other Great Movie Themes
S-13600 Rhapsody S-13700 Twenty Five Tears of Show Hits
S-14400 Stephen Foster S-14600 Italian Hits
P-15400 Victor Herbert Favorites S-16500 With Love From London
P-17000 Soul of Mexico S-17800 Soul Of Music U.S.A.
S-19600 Fly Me To The Moon P-21000 Million Seller Hits Songs of the 30's
P-21100 Million Seller Hits Songs of the 40's S-21200 Million Seller Hits Songs of the 50's
P-21900 Strings After Dark S-22200 South America
S-3DS A World of Romance 2 LP Set P-3A 101 Years Of Favorites
The music of the 101 Strings Orchestra was prominently featured throughout the film, "Easy Listening" in 2002

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101 Strings Section
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