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Enoch Light

Enoch Light was a popular bandleader of the 1940s and '50s who is best known for his Persuasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion albums of the mid-'50s. They were some of the first albums to exploit the capabilities of stereo recording and the practice of using 35mm film as a recording medium instead of tape. During the '30s, he headed the Enoch Light and the Light Brigade big band. The Light Brigade primarily played in theaters and on the radio, although they also toured Europe. The band also managed a hit in 1937 with "Summer Night," which was sung by Johnny Muldowney. After the Light Brigade disbanded, Light became a session musician, playing on various records and radio broadcasts, including Hit Parade. During the '40s, he recorded versions of popular hits for budget labels, for sale in discount stores. Light's career bounced back in the late '60s, when the Charleston City All-Stars, under his direction, had a series of hit albums entitled Roaring 20's. After their success, he founded the Command record label, which gave him an outlet for his sonically adventurous records. Light happened to begin the label around the time stereo became widely available, and he exploited the new technology to its fullest, creating albums that used the full sonic spectrum of stereo. The first of these albums were Persuasive Percussion and Provocative Percussion, and they were wildly popular, charting in the American Top Ten. One of the most notable features of these albums were their "ping-pong stereo," which featured the music jumping from the left speaker to the right, and vice versa. During this time, Light and Command also pioneered the practice of using 35mm film instead of tape as a recording medium. Light remained the managing director of Command until 1965. While he was the head of the label, he recorded classical albums, big-band records, and collections of film themes. After 1965, Command was bought out by ABC Records, who in turn was quickly bought out by MCA Records. MCA made Command into a budget label, pressing the albums on poor vinyl and putting them into discount stores. By 1970, the label was no longer profitable and MCA shut it down. Light continued working, both as an arranger/conductor and the head of Project 3 Records. His activity slowed in the '70s, though he did continue to record. Light died on July 31, 1978.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo


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