101 Strings

101 Strings - East of Suez Record label mogul David L. Miller first came to prominence by releasing the first Bill Haley & His Comets’ records in 1952–1953 on his own Essex label. Following the rise of mood music (later to become known as Easy Listening), 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 three 101 Strings albums were released in November 1957, and twelve more 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 Francis Kuhn, and Robert Lowden. All three proved adept at writing 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 he became 101 Strings' "Now Sound" specialist following the British Invasion. Kuhn concentrated on radio-friendly numbers in the "Pops"'s orchestral manner ("Blues Pizzicato", etc.) which provided Somerset its initial catalog of originals. Lowden composed lounge ballads (such as "Blue Twilight"). Their body of early 1960s work was recycled via re-release throughout the next twenty years.

In 1964, Miller sold the franchise to Al Sherman, a successful record label distributor, who renamed the label Alshire (based in Los Angeles) 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 to younger markets and beginning in 1969, eventual stagnation (although late efforts by Les Baxter and Nelson Riddle were released under the 101 name in 1970). Output decreased from 1974 on. A tribute to John Lennon (composed of earlier Beatle tribute material – 101 Strings play Hits written by The Beatles) in January 1981 marked the final 101 Strings effort.

Many 101 Strings albums are simply orchestrated versions of pop hits and show tunes, although 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 were 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.

A (Partial) List of 101 Strings Albums:
- 25 Years of Show Hits (1961, Somerset P-13700; Stereo-Fidelity SF-13700)
- 101 Strings Plays Hit Songs for Girls (1967, Alshire S-5064)
- 101 Strings Play Hits Written by the Beatles (1968, Alshire S-5111)
- 101 Strings Play Love is Blue (1967, Alshire S-5086)
- 101 Strings Play Million Selling Hits, Vol. 1 (1967, Alshire S-5087)
- 101 Strings Play Million Selling Hits, Vol. 2 (1967, Alshire S-5089)
- 101 Strings Play Songs for Lovers on a Summer Night (1969, Alshire S-5143)
- 101 Strings Play the World’s Great Standards (1957, Somerset P-4300; Stereo-Fidelity SF-4300; re-released in 1966 on Alshire S-5020)
- 101 Strings Play Three O’Clock in the Morning, etc. (1972, Alshire S-5265)
- Astro-Sounds from Beyond the Year 2000 (1968, Alshire S-5119)
- Award Winning Scores from the Silver Screen (1958, Somerset P-7000; Stereo-Fidelity SF-7000)
- Best of the Soul Series (1967, Alshire S-5069)
- A Bridal Bouquet (1958, Somerset P-6400; Stereo-Fidelity SF-6400)
- Broadway Cocktail Party (1960, Somerset P-12100; Stereo-Fidelity SF-12100)
- Cole Porter (1966, Alshire M-5007 (mono), S-5007 (stereo))
- East of Suez (1959, Somerset P-11200; Stereo-Fidelity SF-11200)
- Exodus and Other Great Movie Themes… (1966, Alshire ST-5075)
- The ‘Exotic’ Sounds of Love (1970, A/S Records AS-201)
- Fire and Romance of South America (1965, Stereo-Fidelity SF-22200; Alshire S-5040)
- Fly Me to the Moon (1963, Somerset P-19600; Stereo-Fidelity SF-19600; also 1964, Alshire ST-5033)
- Gold Award Hits (1969, Alshire S-5161)
- Golden Oldies, Vol. 3 (1973, Alshire S-5297)
- Guitars Galore (1966, Alshire S-5065)
- Guitars Galore, Vol. 2 (1969, Alshire S-5141)
- Gypsy Camp Fires (1958, Somerset P-8100)
- Hawaiian Paradise (1961, Somerset P-12800)
- Here Come the Birds (1968, Alshire S-5148)
- Hits Of Today (1976, Alshire S-5326)
- I Love Paris (1960, Somerset P-13000; Stereo-Fidelity SF-13000)
- In a Hawaiian Paradise (1961, Somerset P-12800; Stereo-Fidelity SF-12800)
- Irving Berlin (1966?, Alshire S-5005)
- Italian Hits (1961, Alshire S-5030)
- (Sounds and Songs of the) Jet Set (1965, Alshire S-5043)
- Lullabies For Baby (1969, Alshire S-5138)
- Memories of Germany (Alshire, S-5079)
- Million Seller Hits (1972, Alshire S-5251)
- Million Seller Hits Arranged and Conducted by Les Baxter (1970, Alshire S-5188)
- Million Seller Hits from Italy (1968, Alshire S-5113)
- Million Seller Hits from Mexico (1967, Alshire S-5099)
- Million Seller Hits of 1966 (1966, Alshire S-5050)
- Million Seller Hits of Today (1968, Alshire S-5112)
- A Night in the Tropics (1957, Somerset P-4400; Stereo-Fidelity SF-4400; also released on Trans-World)
- On A Summer Night (1969, Alshire S-5143)
- Quiet Hours (1960, Somerset P-10200; Stereo-Fidelity SF-10200)
- Rhapsody (1961, Somerset P-13600; Stereo-Fidelity SF-13600)
- The Romance of Hawaii (1970, Alshire S-5177)
- The Romance of Magic Island (1967, Alshire S-5063)
- Romantic Piano at Cocktail Time (1972, Alshire S-5139; with Pietro Dero)
- S.R.O. Broadway Hits (1967, Alshire S-5061)
- Songs of Love (1967, Alshire S-5072)
- The Soul of Mexico (1963, Somerset P-17000; Stereo-Fidelity SF-17000; Alshire S-5032)
- The Soul of Poland (Alshire S 5046)
- The Soul of Spain (1958, Somerset P-6600)
- The Sounds of Love (1969, A/S Records AS-199)
- Sounds of Today (1967, Alshire S-5078)
- Spanish Eyes and Other Romantic Songs (1967, Alshire S-5051)
- Spectacular Brass!!! Fantastic Reeds!!! (1971, Alshire S-5229; with Nelson Riddle)
- Swingin’ Things from 101 Strings (1967, Alshire S-5055)
- Symphony For Lovers (1957, Somerset P-4500)
- The Tijuana Sound (1967, Alshire S-5091)